No 5.1 center channel

Hi - I just got a new setup and switched my old Vero 4K onto it. It was previously used on a TV with its built-in 2.1 speakers only, so I’ve never used it with surround sound until now. The new setup is a Vizio P75-F1 and it’s connected to a Vizio sound bar model SB3651-E6 (which has 5.1 sound). The soundbar is connected to the TV via HDMI ARC.

The first thing I tried to play had a DTS HD 7.1 soundtrack. The audio had no center channel. If I switch to 4.1 or 2.1, it works fine (but no surround of course). Switching to passthru results in no sound (as expected).

I tried something that had a 5.1 soundtrack and same problem. Passthrough also did not work (this was not expected).

Other things I tried:

  1. Both audio output options (PCM/HDMI)
  2. All speaker configuration options - only 2.x and 4.x provide center audio
  3. All “output configuration” options
  4. Tried connecting Vero 4K directly to soundbar with toslink cable. Exactly the same: audio only with 2.x and 4.x. So not a problem with HDMI

Basically, I tried every possible option combination I could think of. Either I get surround sound with no center audio (odd-numbered speaker configs), or no surround (even numbered configs), or no sound at all (passthrough).

When I get no sound, and connected via HDMI, in some circumstances the TV shows a message on the screen occasionally that says the audio input is not in a compatible format.

I have an Amazon Fire TV gen 2 also hooked up to this TV, which has Kodi sideloaded, and it works fine with 5.1 passthrough audio. (Kodi running on Fire TV shows it’s using an Android audio device).

Ideas?

Please have a read here: Connecting up your equipment for best audio

Not sure what I should take away from that guide. Do you think I’ve connected something wrong? The only two options I really have to connect it to my soundbar are are HDMI->TV>Soundbar and toslink->soundbar, I tried both, as well as every Kodi audio setting under the sun. If there’s something specific you think I’m doing wrong, please let me know, because I don’t see anything else to try or any other possible way to hook it up.

Edit: One thing I have not tried is HDMI direct to the soundbar (because I would have no video then) – so while I suppose this might provide information, it’s not a practical configuration. But I don’t think there’s a problem with the TV passing the 5.1 signal on to the soundbar, since it works fine with another device (Fire TV)

No. The ‘correct’ way to wire it up is vero->soundbar->TV. HDMI out goes to your TV.

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I will try this tonight, but this seems counterintuitive. How will any other devices (e.g. the TV itself, the fire TV) be able to use the soundbar if the only input is being sourced by the Vero 4K? It only has one input, whereas the TV has many.

Well, y’all know what you are talking about… it works. Things got a little weird at first; whenever I started a movie it would switch from the soundbar input to the old input Vero 4K had been hooked up to. Fixed this by hardcoding CEC ID in OSMC.

i guess the HDMI out from the soundbar is bidirectional, since it still acts as audio input from the TV?

I’m still fairly confused about what this all means. Is the TV incapable of passing through multichannel audio to the soundbar? Kind of defeats the purpose of having multiple inputs if I’m just going to need something else (e.g. a mulitmedia amp) to switch the audio inputs effectively anyway. I figured in 2018 with HDMI, this was a no brainer for new equipment, but I guess we still aren’t to the point where “it just works.” This setup seems OK for now, but will I have the same problem, say, with a blu-ray player? Can I really only have one device providing 5.1 to the soundbar since I have to use it’s single input directly, without adding some new device other than the TV to act as a switch?

Likewise, still don’t understand why direct wiring optical from OSMC to soundbar didn’t work, and why 5.1 on my Amazon Fire TV (connected to the TV, not through the soundbar) also seems to work fine. (Maybe it’s not really playing 5.1 surround, but downconverting to 2.1, and i just didn’t notice?).

Another consequence of this configuration: 4K video doesn’t seem to work. I played a 4K source and it caused the TV to freeze. Stopped the video and things returned to normal.

So it seems like the TV can’t pass through multichannel audio, and the soundbar can’t pass through 4k video.

Guess I’m buying some more hardware…

sigh

I suggest that you read your TV and soundbar documentation. You may be able to use this type of a setup:

Vero -> HDMI -> TV -> Optical -> Soundbar (you would have to turn on passthrough on the TV for this to work. But you may not get 7.1)

Another possible option:

Vero -> HDMI -> TV -> HDMI (ARC) -> Soundbar.

I’ve never done that option, so not sure what options you’d have to set on the TV for this to work.

After much research, it seems most TVs will only pass 2.0 audio through to their audio out from external devices. This is for legal, not technical reasons apparently. Internal apps on the TV will provide 5.1 out, but external devices will have audio downconverted to 2.0 before it’s passed through. This is why it works plugging directly to the soundbar only.

So the only real solution is to get a separate HDMI switch which supports multichannel audio wiith separate audio out and send that to the sound bar.

I was able to demonstrate this is all true with my TV, if I play Netflix (for example) or Plex from it’s built in apps I get 5.1 on the soundbar, but not from external devices. My fire TV wasnt actually playing 5.1 which I verified in the soundbar’s app that shows me the audio format being played.

Amazing how hard it is just to make things work the obvious way. Thanks lawyers!

I don’t know where you found that information, but it is not true. Before I get my new Yamaha amp, I had my setup like this:

Vero -> HDMI -> TV -> Optical (passthrough enabled in the TV) -> Old Non-HDMI amp

And got 5.1 surround with no problems.

I also had

Vero -> HDMI -> TV / Vero -> Optical -> Amp

and that also worked.

Well, it’s correct in many cases, but it has been reported on the forum as well that some TVs do indeed pass through full HD audio. Many TVs don’t though… :wink:

That’s correct. Most soundbars are a compromise when it comes to sound as well as to connectivity. Only HDMI-capable AVRs act as HDMI switches as well - most soundbars don’t.

If the soundbar doesn’t support 4K video passthrough, you may consider @bmillham’s suggestion again: Connecting the Vero directly to you soundbar via TOSLINK and to your TV via HDMI (which will provide 4K video to the TV) at the same time should give you 5.1 sound (no HD audio though) via TOSLINK to your soundbar. You may have to use the “mute HDMI audio” option described in the wiki (Audio setup and information) though, so your TV doesn’t pass audio back to the soundbar via HDMI ARC. The soundbar may favor any HDMI audio over TOSLINK (but that’s just a guess).

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If you re-plug devices, they remember where they were for some reason. Turning them all off, then re-plugging, then turning them on again fixes it.

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If you only have a single HDMI input on the sound bar and the output does ARC then I’d suggest getting an HDMI switcher, so All Sources → HDMI switcher → sound bar → TV. More expensive sound bars generally have more inputs, plus they also supported lossless surround.

I definitely haven’t been looking at them recently at all :wink: Since my requirement is it needs to support lossless audio since that is what I ripped with my BR collection.

@bmillham
I don’t know where you found that information, but it is not true. Before I get my new Yamaha amp, I had my setup like this:

This article:

Worth considering: TV 5.1 output is rare

It’s worth considering that most TVs will not pass a 5.1 signal through their optical outputs, and often their HDMI ARC output either. Which is to say, if you’re running a Blu-ray player via HDMI to your TV, and then a optical cable from the TV to your sound bar, you might not be able to get 5.1 depending on your TV. It’s part of the copy-protection rules…

Not that CNET is the most reliable source for this kind of info, but it exactly matches what’s happening with my setup.

I tried:

Vero → HDMI → TV → Optical → Soundbar
Vero → HDMI → TV → HMDI-ARC → Soundbar

Both give me 2.0 from the external devices (Vero, Fire TV) and 5.1 from internal TV apps. (As an aside, I still think it’s strange that I don’t lose the center channel from Fire TV box, but do from the Vero when hooked up this way, even though both were obviously being converted to 2.0 by the TV, but that’s another mystery.)

@chillbo
If the soundbar doesn’t support 4K video passthrough, you may consider @bmillham’s suggestion again: Connecting the Vero directly to you soundbar via TOSLINK and to your TV via HDMI

I had also tried this, before I originally posted, and I wasn’t getting center channel audio, which is why I was so certain there was an OSMC config issue. But this was also before i figured out that the soundbar’s android app can tell me exactly what kind of audio it’s receiving making it far easier to troubleshoot. In retrospect this doesn’t make a lot of sense knowing what i know now, so I’m going to try it again.

@grahamh
If you only have a single HDMI input on the sound bar and the output does ARC then I’d suggest getting an HDMI switcher

Yeah, I’ve resigned myself to this (and another remote control :neutral_face:). And so begins a whole new rabbit hole of digging through a hundred chinese gadgets from brands I’ve never heard of with reviews of questionable veracity, and I’m sure I’ll find out in a month that whatever I buy doesn’t support Format X that some video stream I have uses… recommendations anyone??

More expensive sound bars generally have more inputs, plus they also supported lossless surround.

This is a cheap sound bar to be sure, wireless subwoofer/rear speakers. I didn’t think I’d need it to be a switcher too… I got it mostly as a stopgap to get surround sound up and running in a new house before I figure out hard wiring speakers and so on which I probably won’t have time/energy to do for a while.

The reality is though, it sounds pretty darn good, which makes it more likely it will be a long time before I set up something else… so if I can get a switcher for 40 or 50 bucks it will at least make everything work.

If you didn’t get proper 5.1 with the Optical connected Vero -> Soundbar then you have a problem with the soundbar.

That’s a 2 year old posting. And completely wrong. My 2+ year old Vizio does passthrough with no problem, via HDMI and Optical. I don’t think anyone on here has posted about a TV that would not passthrough 5.1.

Before spending money on a HDMI switch, I’d say instead to invest in a better soundbar.

@bmillham
That’s a 2 year old posting. And completely wrong. My 2+ year old Vizio does passthrough with no problem, via HDMI and Optical. I don’t think anyone on here has posted about a TV that would not passthrough 5.1.

Before spending money on a HDMI switch, I’d say instead to invest in a better soundbar.

The problem is clearly not the soundbar. It’s not getting a 5.1 signal from the TV. Again:

Vero -> HDMI -> Soundbar In : 5.1 great!
Vero -> HDMI -> TV -> HDMI -> Soundbar: No 5.1!
Vero -> HDMI -> TV -> Toslink -> Soundbar: No 5.1!
TV App -> HDMI -> Soundbar: 5.1 great!
TV App -> Toslink -> Soundbar: 5.1 great!

The soundbar clearly does fine with 5.1, but it’s not being provided with 5.1 when the source is an external device plugged into the TV.

Again - I’m not saying that the CNET article is accurate universally, but this is my experience with the equipment I have. The TV is definitely not providing 5.1 output via HDMI or toslink from external devices plugged in to it. I don’t see why replacing the soundbar (the last thing on the chain in my tests above) would result in a different audio format being provided to it.

Bear in mind that TVs will not encode a 5.1 PCM signal into AC-3 (Dolby) in order to squeeze 6 channels through SPDIF and I’m guessing the same applies to ARC. So if you are playing media that is not DTS or AC-3 on vero or you have not enabled passthrough, you will only be getting FL and FR and the other channels (including FC) will be thrown away. YMMV of course.

Maybe the TV Apps do encode into AC-3.

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Believing this page https://smartplugs.co/tv/reviews/vizio/p-series-2018, the TV should be able to passthrough even to spdif but …

“To get the optical DTS to work we had manually switch to bitstream, as with the auto setting the signal would stay in PCM.”

Perhaps, more a TV setting cause?

@jimKnopf
Perhaps, more a TV setting cause?

I tried all the TV audio output settings: PCM, Auto, Bitstream, Dolby D. Believe me… I spent hours trying every possible combination of TV, soundbar & OSMC settings!

@grahamh
So if you are playing media that is not DTS or AC-3 on vero or you have not enabled passthrough,

I never was able to get any sound with passthrough enabled under any circumstances (for external devices connected to the TV). Tried DTS-HD and DTS 5.1 sources.

Found this in your TV’s manual:

When the TV speakers are set to On, DTS signals
cannot be passed through digital audio outputs.

So, what happens if you set the TV’s speakers to OFF?