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Sep 13, 2017

SoundTouch 300 + Android TV + HDMI ARC = grief, is buying a receiver the only solution?

Hey everyone,

 

TL;DR I have 3 devices (PS4 Pro, Xbox One S and Apple TV 4th gen) connected through HDMI ARC and my Android TV (Philips POS9002 to be exact, it runs android 6.0) is the "receiver", while a 4th device (Nintendo Switch) is connected directly to the soundbar. The TV has limited audio output format settings: Multichannel, Multichannel (bypass) and Stereo. Each of these 3 options cause problems with either the built in android tv apps like youtube and netflix, or with the other devices.

 

Long story long:

I bought the SoundTouch 300 to compliment my new TV. Initially I used it primarily with Apple TV and most of the time for listening to music. I really liked the sound of it so I bought the Acoustimass 300 shortly afterwards.

The Apple TV were connected directly to the soundbar to allow listening to music without the tv turning on (if SoundTouch had Apple Music built in like Spotify I would only need the Apple TV for my movie library now and then).

When in this mode the TV received only the picture signal and I did not notice any lag at all. Sound quality was great as well and it's why I've completely fallen in love with the system. I use the QC35 daily as music is incredibly important for my productivity. But I have never experienced audio fill the room like the ST300 + AM300 does, I got to experience music I love like I heard it for the first time! 😄

 

But then I started connecting more stuff as I started to explore the capabilities of the TV. With chromecast built in, as well as youtube, I used it to test out if all these "OLED/4K/HDR/UHD Premium/Wide Color Gamut/HDR10" acronyms and labels lived up to the hype. That's when I noticed youtube video had a horrible lag. Sound came 2-3 seconds after the picture.

I found the Audio Output Format settings in the tv settings and managed to turn off output delay there and change the output to "Multichannel (bypass)". Voila no audio delay, the quality of the sound was much much improved over the "Stereo" output format setting which was the default one. There's a notable sound quality difference between Multichannel and Multichannel (bypass) which leads me to suspect that the audio tv is doing some kind of transcoding or some other lossy transform on the sound on the other options.

Sadly though this setting is no silver bullet. The built in netflix app works fine on some titles with this setting while others do not, more details on that below.

 

Other specs: CEC is enabled, I have not tested if the SoundTouch "Alternate On" CEC setting makes a difference. All devices uses the HDMI cables that came with the device. For the PS4 and Xbox it's HDMI 2.0 cables, SoundTouch is connected using its own cable.

I swapped places between Apple TV and Nintendo Switch because the only case the Switch do not suffer a noticeable audio delay is when it's connected directly to the soundbar.

 

Stereo output format:

* built in apps have a terrible delay on the soundbar, but not with built in speakers.

* All HDMI ARC devices suffer severe lag and degraded quality.

 

Multichannel output fomat:

* built in apps have a terrible delay on the soundbar, but not with built in speakers.

* PS4 suffers lag no matter what output format it chose.

* Xbox does not suffer lag if it runs in Dolby 5.1 mode.

* Apple TV have weird sound drops, as if a slow start. (swipe to the next app, no sound, keep swiping and the sound appears) but little delay.

 

Multichannel bypass:

* built in apps do not have delay on the soundbar anymore, but it has situations where the soundbar sometimes produces no sound. (Streaming a title with Dolby 5.1 sound don't work, while changing it to Dolby 2.1 does work correctly).

* PS4 Pro suffer various lag depending on the option, ranging from worst to best (bitstream (Dolby), Linear PCM, and Bitstream(DTS)). The lag on Bitstream DTS is not consistent, in some cases if I reboot the soundbar this setting have no sound delay at all. Other times DTS mode produce no sound at all. And while gaming the sound can drop out for half a second now and then.

* Xbox must also run in stereo dolby mode to work, surround mode produce no sound at all.

* ATV is the worst in this regard, it has 3 options: you can choose "Best Quality available" and it's like the built in tv apps, no delay but on some video there's no sound. The other two options are "Dolby Digital 5.1" which is silent (and where ATV will re-encode the audio to this format), or Stereo output which has lag. I have tested and confirmed that connecting the ATV directly to the soundbar eliminates lag and other issues, but that was using the Best Quality available option. I don't think I tested it with a Dolby 5.1 source, I think all the video used LPCM audio.

 

One more interesting tidbit: The switch is connected to the soudbar directly. It has two audio output options. Stereo and Surround. If I chose surround and run the test. It instructs that you should hear 6 sounds, but I hear only two. The left and right front speakers probably. It's interesting that the Acoustimass does not respond. I am unaware what format the Switch outputs.

 

All in all, how best to solve these problems? I want to avoid switching to optical as I find the CEC functionality quite useful, I do not want to juggle multiple remotes. Being able to simply press a single button on a gamepad to start playing is in my opinion the way it should be.

 

Is it possible to get this working properly with just the soundbar and ARC, or will I have to get a receiver? If so, which receiver should I get? It's hard to find a receiver that is capable of supporting 4K HDR content while at the same time not be overkill on the audio part. And tbh it feels like a very expensive way to solve these sound dropouts and inconsistent delays. I will contact Philips as well, but the fact that bypass mode works (with the right source formats) makes me wonder if there's a problem with the soundbar?

7 REPLIES 7
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Sep 13, 2017

Re: SoundTouch 300 + Android TV + HDMI ARC = grief, is buying a receiver the only solution?

Today I've tried with optical instead of HDMI ARC and the behavior is exactly the same 😞

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Sep 13, 2017

Re: SoundTouch 300 + Android TV + HDMI ARC = grief, is buying a receiver the only solution?

Aw c'mon you guys.

I'm going to be pushed to page 7 while others get a reply from Bose Officials within 24 hours?

 

I've been spending a lot of time doing my best to provide all the information you need and to figure this out. At least try and respond in due time so that your customers don't end up feeling like purchasing your products is a complete waste of money and that you don't give a **bleep** 😞

 

I've been testing more with both HDMI ARC and Optical. On some formats it works, on others it don't. TV is set to pass through the sound without converting anything. Internal TV speakers work great in every scenario and in any sound setting on the gaming consoles, built in apps or whatever. The problem is most likely with the soundtouch 300. Now please tell me if you are going to fix it or what receiver I should get.

Or I'll just give up and sell it and buy Sonos products from now on…

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Re: SoundTouch 300 + Android TV + HDMI ARC = grief, is buying a receiver the only solution?

Still waiting for a reply…

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Re: SoundTouch 300 + Android TV + HDMI ARC = grief, is buying a receiver the only solution?

Bump!

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Jan 5, 2017

Re: SoundTouch 300 + Android TV + HDMI ARC = grief, is buying a receiver the only solution?

Adding a receiver would 1) likely introduce more audio delay issues and 2) it won't control the volume on the soundbar.

 

With the TV unable to be set to one output format for both internal and external sources, there's nothing the soundbar can do about that. It's interesting that the soundbar has no delay with some TV sources but not others. This lets us know the soundbar can process the audio signal from the TV in time with the picture the TV's displaying, but the TV can't provide the audio signal in time for the other sources. Any firmware updates available for the TV?

 

 

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Re: SoundTouch 300 + Android TV + HDMI ARC = grief, is buying a receiver the only solution?

Unfortunately no update yet that changes the behavior.

 

However I am not entirely sure the fault us with the tv. Connecting the nintendo switch directly to the soundbar can not use the surround output mode.

 

I am now using ARC and the tv in ‘stereo uncompressed’ mode, its the least worst option right now. If the soundbar could handle the formats used by netflix and youtube on HD and higher quality content I could stick witht the multichannel bypass mode as it appears to be the only “true” bypass mode the tv got.

I am not sure the delay problem would get worse with a receiver, at least for external sources. Since it appears that the tv itself is acting like a receiver and the soundbar isnt able to handle a few specific formats (yet to identify what they are, or find an official list over formats that the soundbar supports).

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Re: SoundTouch 300 + Android TV + HDMI ARC = grief, is buying a receiver the only solution?

I wrote a mile long post but decided to delete it and keep it simple (if anyone wants all the details ask and I'll post it somewhere) and cut to the chase (I got the new firmware today and have run a ton of tests):

 

The problem is both in the TV and in the Soundbar.

TV supports DD and DD+ (Dolby Digital Plus) formats for 5.1 sound (built in Netflix app only supports 5.1 sound in DD+, using stereo sound works but there's no setting to make it the default thus every time you play a new episode or movie there's no sound until you manually change it) and no DTS for built in apps, you have to use pass through mode.

Soundbar supports DD and for higher quality audio it does DTS. No DD+ though (or DTS Master).

 

That leaves me with these **bleep**ty options:

Multichannel bypass mode Pros:

- Use DTS sound on Xbox and PS4 without lag for awesome sound combined with 4K HDR gaming and netflix streaming, youtube etc.

- Use ATV for streaming services that isn't on xbox or ps4 and tolerate the small lag caused by setting it to convert all audio to Dolby Digital 5.1.

Cons:

- Nintendo Switch is stuck on stereo.

- Can't use most of the Android TV apps since it's not possible to configure the TV into bypassing formats the soundbar supports and convert the formats it don't down to stereo, it's all or nothing. Goodbye "smart" tv of 2017, meet mr overpriced OLED monitor.

- The built in Chromecast feature is rendered useless.

 

Multichannel pros:

- In the rare occasion that the source input is standard Dolby Digital 5.1 it "just works", no matter if it's from a TV app or external device without lag. 

- When it's DTS or DD+, you at least get a sound output even though it's noticably delayed.

 

Multichannel cons:

- Almost everything have insufferable lag.

- In addition to lag the source material is molested by the TV to compressed **bleep**ty stereo that makes my soundbar sound much more like a Doss than a Bose.

- I don't know what's worse, no sound or delayed sound.

 

Stereo pros:

- With every device as well as the TV set to stereo the quality isn't great but it's better than when the TV downscales a multichannel source on the fly.

- No delays.

 

Stereo cons:

- The bass is really weak, like a 2.0 system not a 2.1.

- Compared to when ST300 is getting a good DTS 7.1 source, or even DD 5.1, you're downgrading a soundbar capable of competing with 2 front and 1 senter speaker systems to just a basic stereo system that constantly forgets there's a sub.

- Paying premium price for inferior sound.

 

Which brings me to my last question really, since it's already known that DD+ can't be added to ST300 in a software update... is it possible to use ST300 and AM300 as "passive" speakers and put a receiver in there to handle whatever formats the ST300 can't handle?