Playbar audio drops out


Userlevel 1
I experience intermittent audio dropouts with the Playbar on Dolby Digital 5.1 broadcasts. I do also have the Sub and two Play 1 speakers setup as surrounds. I have an LG 55LA7400 connected via an optical cable to the Playbar. The dropouts occur sporadically and last 1-2 seconds. You can watch a TV show for a 30 minutes or more with no dropouts and then randomly hear a few at random times for the rest of the show. Now, when I check the Sonos app using my iPad, iPhone, laptop etc., it does say that it's receiving DD 5.1 audio. Also, if I change the audio to stereo then I don't have this issue. I really love the TV and the soundbar so I'd like to get this resolved if possible.

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179 replies

Userlevel 2
I'm shocked at how this has been a known issue for over 2 years and Sonos keeps acting like people are doing something wrong or using bad settings or source devices. The issue is that Dolby Digital Plus is now a common audio standard in cable boxes, apps, and other hardware. Sonos has a fatal design flaw by only having an optical audio input. The Dolby Digital Plus stream won't fit down an optical audio pipe, only HDMI, so there will be no fix for this issue on current Sonos hardware. Sonos refuses to acknowledge this officially as it would drastically affect sales.
Userlevel 3
Badge +3
Gordon M
This issue is being reported in many threads. One that I have been following has been archived and is not visible to community members, even though the followers are still commenting on this issue. I have been suffering the same issue for several months and recently gave up trying to resolve it as the conclusion from Sonos support teams is that the issue is due to lots of HD broadcasts being in Dolby Digital Plus which is not fully supported by the playbar. The only way is to downgrade to stereo which defeats the point of investing in a high end surround system.
I am starting to think that there is a real problem here that SONOS are hiding by archiving threads. With the DTS problem from BluRay and the DD+ issue from Netflix and HD channels, there are not many sources left that the Playbar supports. 
What are SONOS going to do with all these problems from a complete lack of correct product development.
Userlevel 5
Badge +2
I'm shocked at how this has been a known issue for over 2 years and Sonos keeps acting like people are doing something wrong or using bad settings or source devices. The issue is that Dolby Digital Plus is now a common audio standard in cable boxes, apps, and other hardware. Sonos has a fatal design flaw by only having an optical audio input. The Dolby Digital Plus stream won't fit down an optical audio pipe, only HDMI, so there will be no fix for this issue on current Sonos hardware. Sonos refuses to acknowledge this officially as it would drastically affect sales.
Userlevel 1
That is exactly what I get. When i play my digital files with DD 5.1, imget no drop outs, its only when I am watching cable TV with DD 5.1 and that may be HD broadcast with DD Plus because sound drops out every 2 to 5 minutes. I just hope that Sonos can at least make the soundbar compatible with the extended formats. I invested alot in Sonos hardware. And to be honest I am happy with the sound when it plays cotrectly. All i need is for the format cpmpatibility and of course would be awesome to be able to play DTS.
Userlevel 1
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That is exactly what I get. When i play my digital files with DD 5.1, imget no drop outs, its only when I am watching cable TV with DD 5.1 and that may be HD broadcast with DD Plus because sound drops out every 2 to 5 minutes. I just hope that Sonos can at least make the soundbar compatible with the extended formats. I invested alot in Sonos hardware. And to be honest I am happy with the sound when it plays cotrectly. All i need is for the format cpmpatibility and of course would be awesome to be able to play DTS.
This is what I was told by Customer Care to my ticket:

Thank you for this information. This provides us with good news. The behavior you are seeing is an issue we are already actively investigating. We know the cause and are working towards a resolution. I wanted to give you more background info now that I can be sure what the issue is. After researching we determined that the source audio device (whether that's the TV or some input on the TV) isn't sending audio data at a consistent rate. To deal with any delays in data it basically sends a "wait" message where it doesn't send data. When Sonos reads this signal it currently interprets this as a dropout and that's where you hear it cut out. Ideally we should be able to release a software change to correctly read this as a wait message and wait accordingly.

This process is ongoing and at present an update is not available. 

So basically, Sonos isn't correctly handling the Dolby Digital standard's wait command.  I'm giving them another month to get a fix for it, before I contact my consumer protection agency.
Userlevel 4
Badge +1
Agree. I have contacted support re this issue as the Playbar cuts out intermittently. Netflix and others have been encoding with DD+ for some years now. Sonos appear way behind the times with their decoders. If they want to be in the business of Home Theatre then they need to support Home Theatre technologies. I'm aware that DD+ is an over-HDMI and not optical technology, but Sonos recommend that we link the Playbar via out tv's. Unfortunately, this rarely works (is the impression I get) as few tv's can pass 5.1 over optical, and those that can sometimes pass the signal straight through. The tv's support DD+, DTS etc. but Sonos can't so we end up with incompatibility and sound cut-outs. It's not what I expect when paying such a large some of money for a home theatre system. It's so close to working, and sounding great, but the cut-outs cause serious problems - including annoyed looks from the wife.

Downgrading to PCM stereo is not an option, for home theatre, and therefore not the solution.

I am sure that a software upgrade is appropriate and not beyond the realms of Sonos engineers, although DTS appears to be...

All this talk on forums about the use of optical switches, HDMI switches just defeats the object.

Please Sonos, live up to your marketing and deliver us Home Theatre that "is simple to set up", can "create your perfect home theatre system",  and that "easily connects to your TV to play everything".
With my 2011 Samsung TV it NEVER happened.Playbar worked perfectly. Just upgraded to the new SUHD 65" and dropouts are CONSTANT. So incredibly annoying. Not sure why they can't just fix it rather than just pointing fingers at everyone else. Sonos...we love your stuff, but come on...work with us.
I have the same problem w my new Samsung 65" JS8500 and a newly purchased Playbar. Like everyone else on this thread, streaming music is no problem, but I get sound cuts of just over a second every now and then when watching TV/Movie. If I watch Netflix through the SmartTv app or Apple TV 4 Gen makes no difference, still experience sound cuts. Sonos, this needs to be fixed!
Userlevel 5
Badge +2
Sonos playbar will not decode dolby 5.1 from dish network receiver without constant drop outs vip722 and their is no fix per sonos rep switch to pcm 60 year old stereo and be happy and I have new 3000 dollar sony television that does output dolby digital 5.1 per optical output on all channels sonos mis leading thousands of customers they blame dish network so pay attention all new customers do not buy sonos playbar!!!
Userlevel 2
I apologize for the multiple posts. On iOS Safari, this forum's javascript kept giving me errors telling me my posts weren't being made.
Userlevel 5
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2 new dish receivers 722k sonos cannot play 5.1 audio from this receiver without audio drop outs look like no fix in sight remember all future sonos soundbar potential customers no 5.1 sound as it stands now just a heads up.
Userlevel 1
Not sure if this will sort out the issue for Samsung TV users, I just noticed an option called HD audio in the settings menu, selecting off converts audio to standard audio maintaining DD5.1! I'm testing to see if this sorts the drop out issues...fingers crossed!
Userlevel 5
Badge +2
My SONOS PLAYBAR had audio drop outs as wel, especially while streaming online radio.
Sometimes it picked up the signal after about 10 seconds, sometimes it took minutes and manual retries before the radio stream would come back. 
I was able to exclude connection drops from the router to be root cause as the logs didn't show any relevant disconnects.
I was also able to exclude DHCP client lease time to be the issue because a larger nor a shorter lease time had positive effect on the audio dropouts.
I then read this FAQ on the SONOS support site:

Use of a 2.4Ghz or DECT wireless phone. 
  • In order to determine if a 2.4GHz phone is causing interference with your Sonos Wireless HiFi System, try unplugging the base station to see if it resolves the problems with audio dropouts. If so,try relocating the base stationfurther away from your Sonos Components. If this fails to resolve your dropouts, consider replaceing the 2.4Ghz models with 5.8Ghz phones.
  • Make sure that all DECT phone base stations are located a minimum of 1 meter away from any ZonePlayer. Please also note that the BT Home Hub router supplied by BT Internet contains a DECT phone base station and should be located as far away from any wired SONOS Components as allowed.
After moving my DECT phone away from the PLAYBAR no more audio drops appeared.

If you tried everything to no avail, and you own a phoneset described as above, give this a go and move your device(s) away from any SONOS devices.

Since this concerns mainly the same logic about interference of signals, I would also like to mention that other cabling or (magnetic) devices can interfere and interrupt each others signals. Putting your Subwoofer on top of an ethernet cable for example is really not the way to go...
Using shielded twisted pair ethernet cables is also advised when you want optimal protection against EM-interference.
Userlevel 1
I have finally fixed my issue with sound drop outs. this is with a Samsung UE55JU7000, so will probably will work with similar Samsung TVs.

I bought a HDMI ARC extractor from amazon for £12, pretty cheap if you ask me! The device basically extracts the HDMI ARC feed from the ARC port (HDMI4 in my case) and feeds it to an optical cable linked to the Playbar. For configuring the correct TV setup, select PCM for "HDMI audio format" and Dolby Digital for "audio format", this works well for me and maintains a Dolby Digital 5.1 feed when available.

hopefully this helps...

Amazon link:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B018QKOFD8/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_3?pf_rd_p=569136327&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B0153JMN3E&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_r=YD5B790VAJ91GWX6E1RC


Userlevel 5
Badge +2
Daviper it is not designed for television such as cable tv, direct tv, dish network it will never play any of these without dropouts in 5,1 mode, you will have to put your television in pcm 2 channel mode on your optical out selection, I have tried 2 new dish receivers makes no difference, I have bought the very best HDMI cables and digital cables. No help were just stuck with a worthless soundbar. Sonos doesn't care they just keep selling them and 99% of the people selling them have no knowledge of all the problems. Even if your optical out supports 5.1 dolby digital it still won't play without drop outs. No fix not now, not ever. If its not to late take it back for refund I learned the hard way, it was to late for me.
Userlevel 4
Badge +1
Hello Tony,

In the case that this may be coming from interference, could you change the wireless channel your Sonos is operating on? The following Answers page describes how to do this:
https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1230/

If the issue persists you may want to try replacing the optical cable that connects the TV and your PLAYBAR.

Regards,
Gordon
I have the same problem as well - sound cuts out for half a second during movies when there is a particularly loud sound e.g. gunshot, explosion.

Have also tried changing channels and have bought a new optical cable, but it makes no difference. It's really frustrating - please help!
Userlevel 1
I have the same issue. What is Sonos doing about this? Hopefully this is not permanent as i would return the whole system as i have the playbar, sub and play 1 for surround
Userlevel 1
I play mostly digital files, movies and tv both. To be honest, it's been a lot better recently and I'm not quite sure why. Most of the time digital movies in DD 5.1 play without issue and tv is what sometimes has an issue in DD 5.1. Although, sometimes if there's a quiet scene with two people just having a conversation, the audio will cut out when there are gaps between the speech. So, if the people are pausing before speaking, the audio will cut out repeatedly like the Sonos stops transmitting audio when the source is not continuously outputting something.
Userlevel 1
That is exactly what I get. When i play my digital files with DD 5.1, imget no drop outs, its only when I am watching cable TV with DD 5.1 and that may be HD broadcast with DD Plus because sound drops out every 2 to 5 minutes. I just hope that Sonos can at least make the soundbar compatible with the extended formats. I invested alot in Sonos hardware. And to be honest I am happy with the sound when it plays cotrectly. All i need is for the format cpmpatibility and of course would be awesome to be able to play DTS.
Now, to me that's an acceptable answer as long as they address the issue and fix it. Clearly it's not the optimal response of here's the problem and here's the patch to fix it but I just want to see effort and a response instead of silence or change your wireless channel. This gives me hope that a fix will come because what they describe sounds like exactly what's happening.
Userlevel 3
Badge +3
That is exactly what I get. When i play my digital files with DD 5.1, imget no drop outs, its only when I am watching cable TV with DD 5.1 and that may be HD broadcast with DD Plus because sound drops out every 2 to 5 minutes. I just hope that Sonos can at least make the soundbar compatible with the extended formats. I invested alot in Sonos hardware. And to be honest I am happy with the sound when it plays cotrectly. All i need is for the format cpmpatibility and of course would be awesome to be able to play DTS.
I guess though that the problem with the many DD+ and DTS sources will continue though ?
I have the same issue. Have been waiting for a software update since mid-December. Love my system but this is getting ridiculous
Happens to me too. Interestingy, it sort of reproducible for me. When watching the 5PM news on WNBC New York via a TIVO Premier, it ALWAYS drops when they bring up the weather maps.
Userlevel 1
I've been suffering this issue for quite a few months (since 11/13) and even recorded the dropouts ( using their diagnostics running on a laptop) for Sonos customer service which they identified as a problem with their softwares interpretation of the audio stream. The latest update is as follows:" there has been an update just recently. One of our developers appears to be working on how we read and process these audio streams. There are also a few customers who had hardware issues that caused the same behavior. The specific model # varied but the issue was a CI module (stands for common interface and is a digital processing module). But in all the cases I've seen so far, this was a module in the TV. Since the cable box has the same issue directly into the PLAYBAR the set top box would need to have this same type of module. From a search it doesn't appear that it does (though this is not conclusive)." Mine is caused by a Samsung cable box (Optimum cable) not the TV (tested both and all cables). I truly hope Sonos fix this soon with a software release, and let their loyal customers know the issue will be resolved soon. Julian
I'm still waiting on a solution.  It would be nice to get some kind of updates from Sonos on where they are at with the problem