Question

Sonos Playbar sound issue? Dialogues in movies/shows are not easy to understand fully.


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When my wife and I are watching TV, we are noticing that we are having some difficulty fully understanding what the people in the show are saying. It's as if it's not fully clear or as my wife would describe it, it's a volume issue where the dialogue is being overwhelmed by other sounds perhaps.

It's gotten to the point that we need to turn on sub-titles at times. We don't notice this issue with other TV's/watching TV on a computer, so I think this is isolated to the Sonos playbar.

Also, I've noticed when watching movies that the sound fluctuates a lot, in which in an entire movie I have to hold the remote to adjust the sound up and down. It's like the explosion scenes are way too loud but the speaking scenes are not loud enough so we turn it up to try to hear what they are saying and then something loud happens and it's somewhat jarring to us when we are watching the show.

Is this an acoustics issue? Calibration issue?

We have 1 Playbar, 2 Play 1's as surrounds, the Playbar is wall mounted right beneath our Samsung 55" LED Smart TV.

53 replies

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Have you tried turning on Speech Enhancement in the SONOS app (the square speech bubble on the right of the TV now playing screen, TV has to be selected for it to show up)
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As for the fluctuating sound, try the night mode which is on the left of the now playing screen.
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I haven't tried either one of those. How exactly do those features work? I read about it on their site so I will heck it out but does anyone have any experience with them?
https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1959
We have the same issue with our PlayBar + Sub + 2xPlay:1 setup.
The playbar muffles the dialog.
Turning on speech enhancement / night mode doesn't help.
Turning down the level of the surround speakers HAS helped a little bit, but we still have issues.

Subtitles are the way forward. It's a frustrating problem.
cadd wrote:

I haven't tried either one of those. How exactly do those features work? I read about it on their site so I will heck it out but does anyone have any experience with them?



Wouldn't it be easier just to try them to see what happens?
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japes - do you have issues on all sources? Like DVD has issue, TV doesn't etc.

if tv trouble have your tried hooking toslink direct to cable box to rule out tv processing.
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I tried the enhancements and the night sound and I did a few things with the surround sound but it's still kind of unclear. Any other solutions?
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Did you switch cable to Direct from source vs through tv
Have exact same problem and have tried the Night Mode, which seems to make little if no difference, and the Voice Mode seems to make it tinny. I constantly have my finger on the volume key to adjust sound up and down. Very disappointed so far. My wife prefers an old Bose 1-2-3 which, despite its age, produces far better sound, good voice clarity, and very even sound without (enhances quiet sounds and cuts loud booming sounds extremely effectively). But I like Sonos and really want it to work! I read an old Sonos Playbar review and the reviewer mentioned having a Sub really helped with this situation. Does having a Sub cause the Playbar to accentuate dialog and reduce the Playbar's base because this is now handled by the Sub? While I would like to try a Sub to solve this issue it would be a very costly experiment. While I don't think the TV is enhancing sound (Samsung and the sound types are disabled when External Speaker is selected) it was last on Standard Mode which one would think just passes sound through. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
cadd wrote:

I tried the enhancements and the night sound and I did a few things with the surround sound but it's still kind of unclear. Any other solutions?

I am a loyal sonos user and agree with the frustrating playbar setup. I would not recommend it until Sonos let's you adjust how much voice clarity/volume and night mode volume you want. A software upgrade that lets playbar users adjust the 5.1 effects like you can with a conventional 5.1 system. Then, if we want to raise the center channel up and lower everything else in poorly mixed movies we can!

Sonos, please tell us this is in the works!
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Crossing wrote:

Have exact same problem and have tried the Night Mode, which seems to make little if no difference, and the Voice Mode seems to make it tinny. I constantly have my finger on the volume key to adjust sound up and down. Very disappointed so far. My wife prefers an old Bose 1-2-3 which, despite its age, produces far better sound, good voice clarity, and very even sound without (enhances quiet sounds and cuts loud booming sounds extremely effectively). But I like Sonos and really want it to work! I read an old Sonos Playbar review and the reviewer mentioned having a Sub really helped with this situation. Does having a Sub cause the Playbar to accentuate dialog and reduce the Playbar's base because this is now handled by the Sub? While I would like to try a Sub to solve this issue it would be a very costly experiment. While I don't think the TV is enhancing sound (Samsung and the sound types are disabled when External Speaker is selected) it was last on Standard Mode which one would think just passes sound through. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.



I have a sub with a pair of Play3 speakers, and I get the same problem where I can hardly hear what people are saying sometimes. I also find that during some ads, the surrounds sometime become overwhelming, but if I change them to the ambient setting, I can barely hear them.
I'd like to add my voice to this discussion - my playbar issues are identical to those laid out by cadd, japes, Crossing, jfs, and darrelld. Speak enhancement and night mode make a very slight improvement, but other sounds are far, far louder than dialogue. I have to crank volume to max while watching movies, hold my phone the entire time, ready to quickly drop the volume during action scenes to avoid ticking off the neighbors.

Also, there doesn't appear to be any actual EQ settings accessible within the Sonos app. This statement from Sonos sounds way too Apple-esque for my liking:

"The SONOS players ship with the equalization settings preset to provide the optimal playback experience. If desired, you can change the sound settings (bass, treble, balance, or loudness) to suit your personal preferences."

Well it's not optimal. Currently I have treble maxed, bass almost off (I do have the sub), both speech enhancement and night mode on, and dialogue is barely intelligible with volume at max sitting 8 feet from the playbar.
Also, should it help, my Playbar/Sub are connected to an LG 55LM7600. All movies and TV are streamed via a Plex/Chromecast 2 setup. Issue occurs with TV and movies, seems to be independent of file format, size/quality, etc. I've just submitted this issue to support along with a diagnostic.
I have exactly the same problem. Its a disgrace that this once wonderful company has brought out a product like this. Ive been a customer for 9 years. MAybe they no longer care.
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seanfoy wrote:

I have exactly the same problem. Its a disgrace that this once wonderful company has brought out a product like this. Ive been a customer for 9 years. MAybe they no longer care.


Hi Seanfoy, we'd be happy to help. Can you send us a diagnostic and reply with the confirmation number? Here's an article explaining how: How to Submit Diagnostic
Hi Seanfoy,

I struck out with Sonos support. I directed them to this thread, they shot me a number of questions that were already answered in this thread, I directed them back to this thread, then dead air. I got the feeling they were running through a script or canned support process.

I've been working to troubleshoot this myself. While I still think Sonos should offer more granular audio adjustments (an advanced mode or similar) to EQ settings, and while I do believe those adjustments could fix our issues, I no longer think my root cause is Sonos-related. I run Plex on a PC in another room, and I connect into that wirelessly via Chromecast. When I access movies via Plex in that way, dialogue is always drowned out. When I access/play those same movies wirelessly via my TV’s built in network file browser (using my Playbar/Sub for audio), the dialogue is clear. Plus my TV’s video player has more helpful/granular audio settings than Sonos (how?!), so I can fine tune it if I’d like.

I haven’t yet determined why PC>Plex>ChromeCast>TV>Sonos sounds like crap and PC>TV>Sonos sounds great. I think it’s unlikely to be ChromeCast, so I’m chasing after a Plex-related solution. Given the large number of Plex/Sonos users out there, perhaps someone else will chime in with an idea.
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Ever0095 - A handful of troubleshooting ideas, some of which may be difficult to set up or at least be time consuming:

1) Connect your computer directly to the TV and run Plex without having to stream.

2) Confirm that you are playing the same audio track when you compare Chromecast vs SmartTV. For example, is 1 defaulting to a stereo track and the other to a Dolby 5.1 track?

3) Connect a laptop (or tablet) with an HDMI cable directly to the TV and stream from your Plex server.

4) Get a hold of an alternate streaming device, such as an AppleTV 4, Roku, and/or FireTV, and stream Plex using that box.

5) Unplug the player and try your Chromecast with the built in TV speakers.

6) Move your Playbar and Chromecast to a different TV and try it there.

Just some thoughts to help you narrow down the issue. Good luck.
Thanks jdag!

Running the same video via Plex off a laptop is a good way to narrow this down. This is likely a better question for the Plex forums, but do you know how to determine which audio track/encoding is being used while running Plex? I control movies via the Android Plex app, and see under Settings>Video: Device Supports Dolby Digital, Device Support Dolby Digital Plus, and Device support DTS. By default, all are unchecked.

Is "Device" in this case the SmartTV or Playbar?

I'm reading that Sonos/DTS issues are an entirely different, and I assume unrelated, headache.
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I am not sure if this will help, and I don't have experience with either Android or Chromecast. I do know that when you select a video with multiple tracks on other Plex versions, including AppleTV, FireTV, iOS and web browser, that there is an ability to change the audio track. I assume it is there for Android as well. And of course, that assumes that the video in question actually contains multiple audio tracks.
Max P wrote:

seanfoy wrote:

I have exactly the same problem. Its a disgrace that this once wonderful company has brought out a product like this. Ive been a customer for 9 years. MAybe they no longer care.


Hi Seanfoy, we'd be happy to help. Can you send us a diagnostic and reply with the confirmation number? Here's an article explaining how: How to Submit Diagnostic



Hi there, thanks for your reply. Here is the confirmation number for the diagnostic 6076467
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seanfoy wrote:

Max P wrote:

seanfoy wrote:

I have exactly the same problem. Its a disgrace that this once wonderful company has brought out a product like this. Ive been a customer for 9 years. MAybe they no longer care.


Hi Seanfoy, we'd be happy to help. Can you send us a diagnostic and reply with the confirmation number? Here's an article explaining how: How to Submit Diagnostic



Hi there, thanks for your reply. Here is the confirmation number for the diagnostic 6076467



Hi Seanfoy,

It would be best to continue troubleshooting over the phone. Here's a support ticket: 160411-001431. Please give us a call and we'll help out. You can find our phone number and hours here.
I still think Sonos should have a SW update that lets you adjust the center channel volume just like a conventional 5.1 system. Sonos please reply to this. This would make the sound bar so much more adaptable for your users!
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Jfs wrote:

I still think Sonos should have a SW update that lets you adjust the center channel volume just like a conventional 5.1 system. Sonos please reply to this. This would make the sound bar so much more adaptable for your users!



Hi Jfs,

Thanks for the suggestion of adding a center channel volume control to the PLAYBAR setup. We'll submit a feature request for you.

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