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Sonos DTS Audio Problem on the Beam & Arc Soundbar

How to Play DTS Audio on Your Sonos Soundbar: Close up of a soundbar speaker

Updated:

Sonos soundbars are ideal for many people. But one problem is they don't support DTS audio. Find out how to play DTS audio on a Sonos Arc or Beam soundbar.

Sonos soundbars are an excellent option for getting better audio from your TV.

The Sonos Arc, Beam and Playbar provide excellent sound quality and many useful features for playing movies from your collection – or streaming audio and video from the Internet.

However, one issue has been a long-standing problem for some Sonos soundbar users – Sonos products have never supported DTS audio formats.

Now, this is not an issue that will have been noticed by all owners of Sonos soundbars.

Many people may have been using a Sonos speaker for years and are unaware of this issue.

But, if you are an avid movie fan and have an extensive collection of DVD and Blu-ray discs, the chances are that this issue will have inconvenienced you.

So what solutions are there for the Sonos DTS audio problem?

UPDATE

Sonos now supports DTS audio for all products compatible with the new Sonos S2 app.

See the updated section of this article.

What is DTS Audio?

DTS audio is a multichannel audio format used for many movie soundtracks.

The most common place where you will find DTS audio formats are on DVD and Blu-ray discs.

The original multichannel format was DTS 5.1, a compressed surround sound format like Dolby Digital 5.1.

Later versions of DTS audio include the high-resolution DTS-HD Master Audio and the object-based audio format DTS:X.

What Home Theater Audio Formats Do Sonos Soundbars Support?

All Sonos home theater products, including the Sonos Playbar, Playbase, Beam (Gen1) and Ray:

  • Stereo PCM
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 (aka AC-3)
  • DTS (S2 app only)

Sonos Arc and Beam (Gen 2):

  • Stereo PCM
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 (aka AC-3)
  • DTS (S2 only)
  • Dolby Digital Plus (aka E-AC-3) + Dolby Atmos
  • Dolby TrueHD + Dolby Atmos (eARC connection only)
  • Multichannel LPCM (eARC connection only)
  • Dolby Multichannel PCM (eARC connection only)

If you are interested, there is a detailed guide about comparing the Sonos Beam and Arc.

Why Does Sonos Not Support DTS?

As with many things, the answer probably comes down to money!

To use DTS audio on a hardware device, the manufacturer must pay a license fee to DTS. Much like with Dolby audio formats.

Sonos decided from day one that their soundbar products aim to improve your TVs’ sound, and all the broadcast TV and streaming movie services use Dolby sound formats.

Why pay a DTS license fee if most users won’t be using it?

As far as Sonos is concerned, there just isn’t the demand from their consumers.

However, the problem for some Sonos users is they love the products, but they also want to play content with DTS audio.

Will Sonos Ever Support DTS?

Who knows what Sonos will decide in the future? It may happen if it makes business sense for their soundbars to support DTS audio.

But, given that Sonos hasn’t supported DTS audio yet, it is probably unlikely.

Update: This prediction was incorrect, and Sonos now supports DTS audio!

Is the Lack of Sonos Support for DTS a Problem?

Many Sonos soundbar users won’t have an issue with the lack of DTS audio support and won’t even know what DTS audio is – and care even less.

If you are just connecting the soundbar to your TV, you probably won’t notice.

If you only watch broadcast TV – over-the-air or through a cable TV box – you will most likely get stereo PCM or Dolby Digital 2.0/5.1.

The same with streaming services like Amazon Prime, Netflix and Disney Plus, which all use Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital Plus audio and work flawlessly with any Sonos speaker.

The problem comes if you are the proud owner of a Sonos soundbar – and an extensive collection of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

If you are someone who wants to connect a Blu-ray or DVD player to your soundbar – either directly or via an optical or HDMI ARC connection from your TV – then no DTS support is more likely to be an issue.

Many Blu-rays and DVDs have only DTS multichannel soundtracks; some may have a Dolby and DTS version.

But most are one or the other – and DTS is much more common on discs.

Update: Sonos Now Supports DTS Audio for Most Products

Sonos confounded this article’s prediction and finally supported DTS audio, which is excellent news for all movie fans who love Sonos speakers.

If you still use any of the unsupported products, you can still use the suggestions in this article.

Here are the details of the new Sonos DTS support.

How Do You Get DTS Audio on Your Sonos Speakers?

Sonos speakers now support DTS audio via the updated S2 app. If you are still using the old S1 app, you will need to update it to the new S2 version.

Do All Sonos Products Work With the New S2 App?

No, although most of them do.

Which Sonos Products Only Work With the Old S1 App?

These Sonos products only support the old S1 app. Therefore, you won’t be able to play DTS audio on them. Refer to the rest of this article for suggested workarounds:

  • Bridge
  • CR200
  • Connect (Gen 1)
  • Connect:Amp (Gen 1)
  • Play:5 (Gen 1)
  • ZonePlayer 80
  • ZonePlayer 90
  • ZonePlayer 100
  • ZonePlayer 120
  • ZonePlayer S5

Which Sonos Speakers Work With Any Sonos App (S1 or S2)?

These Sonos products will work with either the S1 or S2 app. If you want to play DTS audio, you will need to upgrade to the S2 app version:

  • Amp
  • Beam (Gen 1)
  • Boost
  • Connect (Gen 2)
  • Connect:Amp (Gen 2)
  • Move
  • One (Gen 1)
  • One (Gen 2)
  • Play:1
  • Play:3
  • Play:5 (Gen 2)
  • Playbar
  • Playbase
  • Port
  • Sub (Gen 1)
  • Sub (Gen 2)
  • SYMFONISK WiFi bookshelf speaker (Gen 1)
  • SYMFONISK table lamp with WiFi speaker

Which Sonos Speakers Only Work With the S2 App?

These speakers will only work with the S2 app, so you will have DTS audio support on all of them:

  • Arc
  • Beam (Gen 2)
  • Five
  • One SL1
  • Ray
  • Roam
  • Roam SL
  • Sub (Gen 3)
  • SYMFONISK Picture frame with Wi-Fi speaker
  • SYMFONISK Speaker lamp base with WiFi
  • SYMFONISK WiFi bookshelf speaker (Gen 2)

How Can You Play DTS Movie Soundtracks on Your Sonos Soundbar?

Now that you understand why there is no Sonos DTS audio support – and why that is a problem for some people – the next question is, what can you do about it?

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer.

The options listed below are workarounds that will help you play that movie with a DTS soundtrack on your Sonos soundbar.

So, if you were hoping for a simple solution, you are out of luck.

However, if you are ready for a bit of work, then one of these options may help.

1. Buy a Player that Decodes DTS 5.1 to Dolby Digital 5.1

Some DVD and Blu-ray players can play a DTS soundtrack and decode it to Dolby Digital on-the-fly.

This is probably the best way to solve this problem.

You just play the DTS soundtrack as usual in the player and set the audio options to output Dolby Digital.

Sony BDP-S6500 Blu-ray Player DTS to Dolby Digital Conversion
Sony BDP-S6500 Blu-ray player DTS to Dolby Digital conversion

The problem is, there aren’t many new Blu-ray players released these days – and most of the players that have this feature have been discontinued.

So, you are unlikely to find a new one anywhere. Therefore, you might have to buy one second-hand on eBay or similar.

These players have been confirmed as having DTS to Dolby Digital conversion:

  1. Samsung BD-H6500
  2. Samsung BD-F7500
  3. Samsung BD-D5500
  4. Samsung BD-F5900
  5. Samsung UBD-K8500 (UHD)
  6. OPPO UDP-203 (UHD)
  7. Sony BDP-S6500/S5500/S3500 (optical only)
  8. Sony BDP-S3700
  9. Xbox One X
  10. Xbox One S
  11. PlayStation 4

There may be others if you look around.

Some players may only send 5.1 audio through the optical/coaxial output, not HDMI – check the manual for your device – or just try both and see which works.

The Xbox One X and Xbox One S can transcode DTS 5.1 to Dolby Digital 5.1 via the HDMI or optical outputs.

The PS4 can also transcode DTS to Dolby Digital via the optical output, but the PS5 has removed this feature.

Final point. If you connect the player directly to the TV, the TV’s audio output may downmix any surround audio to stereo.

If so, you may need to buy a switch to send the TV and player audio into the single soundbar audio input.

It can get complicated…

2. Convert the Audio Output to PCM

Another option is to set up your DVD or Blu-ray player to decode the DTS audio and send uncompressed PCM.

Usually, you would set the audio output to ‘bitstream’ in a Blu-ray player.

This means the player sends the encoded data to the amplifier for decoding and playback.

The audio output setting for bitstream is sometimes called ‘auto’ – as in the example below:

Bitstream/Auto and PCM Setting in a Blu-ray Player Audio Menu
Bitstream/Auto and PCM setting in a Blu-ray player audio menu

However, if you set the player’s audio output to PCM, the DTS soundtrack is decoded on the player first.

Then, the decoded sound is sent as PCM audio – and Sonos soundbars can play PCM audio.

However, only the newer Arc can play multichannel LPCM via an eARC connection – the Sonos Beam and Playbar can only play stereo PCM audio.

So, you may be stuck with stereo-only sound.

3. Play the Stereo Soundtrack Version

Most Blu-rays and DVDs have multiple versions of the movie soundtrack.

There will be at least one multichannel soundtrack plus several versions in different languages.

However, you should also find a stereo mix of the movie on the disc.

DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Track on A Blu-ray Disc
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track on a Blu-ray disc

This will usually be PCM or, maybe, Dolby Digital 2.0.

Regardless of which one there is, both will play on your Sonos soundbar.

OK, so it won’t be as good as the discrete channels of the multichannel version, but it’s a quick and easy way of watching a movie that only has a DTS surround sound mix.

Here’s another general tip if you are playing the stereo soundtrack.

You might want to investigate the audio output settings for your DVD/Blu-ray player. Many players have an option to create a multichannel mix from a stereo signal.

For Sony Blu-ray players, this is called ‘Downmix’ on many models.

Therefore, if you enable the ‘Downmix – Surround’ setting in the audio menu, you will get a virtual surround mix to play on your speakers.

You may need to enable PCM audio as the output format to get this to work.

It won’t sound as good as a ‘real’ multichannel soundtrack, but it can be better than stereo only.

However, there are some caveats to this.

Depending on your player, this function may be limited to the optical/coaxial or HDMI output – so you might not be able to use this depending on how you connect your soundbar.

Also, some players might only create a virtual DTS surround mix, which, as we know, is no good for a Sonos soundbar.

Finally, if the surround output is multichannel LPCM audio, this may only work with an Arc soundbar, not the Beam.

But if you get a multichannel Dolby signal, it may work on both.

Check the manual for your player for more details.

4. Rip a Copy of Your Blu-ray and DVD Discs

This option suits technical people who like playing around with software, so it’s probably not for a beginner.

You can use an application like MakeMKV to make a copy of your Blu-ray or DVD disc.

Many other software tools can do this – free and paid – but MakeMKV is an excellent way to test this for free.

Once you have a digital file sitting on your hard drive, there are many good media servers and players that can play the file.

However, the bonus is that many have options to alter the soundtrack format.

This means you have options to convert from DTS to Dolby Digital on-the-fly – just like with the Blu-ray players mentioned previously.

Plex Media Server and Kodi

Plex Media Server is a top-rated application for playing media files in your home.

Plex Media Player
Plex media player

With Plex, you can stream live TV and movies from the web – and control your collection of movies and music sitting on your home network.

There are two parts to Plex. The server controls the location and distribution of your content and the front-end player where you navigate the content on the server.

Another option for controlling a local media library is Kodi.

You can configure the Plex and Kodi server software to transcode DTS Surround to Dolby Digital 5.1.

You can also use a device like an Apple TV to grab your ripped movie from your server (Plex or Kodi) – and use this to transcode DTS audio to Dolby Digital 5.1.

Popcorn MKV Audio Converter

Another option is to convert the audio in the MKV file from DTS to AC3 (aka Dolby Digital).

You can use audio encoding software like PopCorn MKV AudioConverter.

Before you get on and start ripping your discs, you should be aware that ripping a digital copy of any Blu-rays and DVDs you own is not legal in some countries.

So, please check the copyright law in your part of the world before doing this. And, even then, play fair and never share these files with anybody else.

5. Buy a Different Soundbar

The bottom line is you can’t play a DTS soundtrack directly on a Sonos speaker.

You will need to jump through some hoops and find a workaround.

If you are somebody who wants to play DTS surround soundtracks from a disc, then you might be better off buying a soundbar that supports DTS.

Sonos makes some of the best soundbars, but other excellent brands may allow you to play more audio formats.

If you are unsure where to start, learn how to choose a soundbar.

However, if you are set on the Sonos brand and want to play DTS audio files, you must consider the workarounds suggested above.

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How to Play DTS Audio on Your Sonos Beam & Arc Soundbar

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About Home Cinema Guide

Paul started the Home Cinema Guide to help less-experienced users get the most out of today's audio-visual technology. He has worked as a sound, lighting and audio-visual engineer for around 20 years. At home, he has spent more time than is probably healthy installing, configuring, testing, de-rigging, fixing, tweaking, re-installing again (and sometimes using) various pieces of hi-fi and home cinema equipment. You can find out more here.

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