I'm hoping I can get some help figuring out why I'm not getting good surround sound with my new soundbar 500 (I also purchased the 500 bass module and the sattelite speakers). I know how it should sound since I've heard it in a demo. I suspect that the issue is my setup but I'm hoping someone more knowledgeable can advise. Here's my setup.
Amazon Firestick connected via HDMI to a Samsung TV model ln46a550p3fxza which is connected to my soundbar 500 through optical. Unfortunately the TV is a 2008 model and does not have HDMI/ARC connection, so this is why I am using optical. I believe that the Firestick will pass Dolby Digital Plus sound to the TV, but in the Firestick settings, I see that it says Dolby Digital Plus Through HDMI. Does this mean that 5.1 will only work through an HDMI/ARC connection?
I'm thinking the problem is the TV, but before I go out and buy a new one, I just want to get some confirmation that if I get a TV with HDMI/ARC that I will get surround with my Firestick (for the content that carries 5.1 sound). Can anyone with experience in this kind of setup help?
Hi @A.A. Leil
I'm in a similar situation with a 2011 D-Series Samsung TV. This is my understanding of the situation so far:-
Optical connections (also known as TOSLink) are fairly low bandwidth, they only support uncompressed audio streams in Stereo (PCM audio in a 2.0 format). The optical link also supports surround sound, but only using compressed formats such as Dolby Digital and DTS. However, this is absolutely fine as both of these formats are full 5.1 surround sound, and in my opinion sound awesome (back when I had a full 5.1 AV system). Dolby Digital is the common format that most media will use to supply surround sound.
The Bose Soundbar 500 supports both Stereo and Dolby Digital. The Soundbar 700 also includes support for DTS.
My 2009 Samsung TV will output Dolby Digital when using the TV as a sound source. I.e. using the built in Freeview tuner (when broadcast) or built-in apps in the TV. However, it explicitly states in the manual of my Samsung TV that you will only get a stereo signal from the TOSLink when using an HDMI input. This is a common problem on Samsung TVs, and it appears to be difficult to get this information from marketing matterial.
So in this case the only option to get Dolby Digital would be to plug the optical cable directly into the third party device. But the second generation FireTV boxes do not have an optical connection, which means no surround sound
My 2011 Samsung TV does support ARC, but I think it has the same limitation of only supplying a stereo signal when using an HDMI source.
I have thought about ordering an HDMI switch with a built-in audio extractor, which may solve my problem. However, the Bose soundbars have no information available to show what format stream is being recevied. So in my case I've held off from buying the Bose Surround Speakers because I cannot be sure I will get a surround signal. I have already asked in this forum about this limitation, see How to tell what audio signal is being received by the Bose Soundbar 700
A Bose salesman told me that the Soundbar can still produce surround sound from a stereo signal, but I don't really beleive that!
Thanks for your response and the information! I'm willing to possibly buy a new TV but only if it resolves the problem I'm having. Based on what you said, it sounds like I could get 5.1 surround on a new Smart TV with HDMI-ARC port at least with the apps installed directly on the TV. Using a firestick plugged into an HDMI port would depend on the specific TV model passing the 5.1 signal from the Firestick to that HDMI-ARC port? Is that correct?
I'm also thinking of buying a new TV just to fix this issue. I get the impression modern TV's will pass 5.1 from HDMI sources, but I can't find any absolute information about this, and if you ask a salesmen in the shop, they obviously will just say yes regardless.
I think I just found what we need! The TV I've been considering isn't on the list though (LG UK6500), but similar ones from LG are.