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, there is one issue that 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 many years and be completely unaware of this issue.
But, if you are an avid movie fan, and have a big collection of DVD and Blu-ray discs, then the chances are that this issue will have inconvenienced you.
Let's take a look at how to play DTS audio on your Sonos soundbar.
|Image||Model||Speakers||Home Theater Audio||Dimensions (W X H X D)|
|Sonos Arc||11 Class-D digital amplifiers: 8 full-range woofers + 3 tweeters||Dolby Digital Plus (Dolby Atmos), Dolby TrueHD (Dolby Atmos), Multichannel LPCM, Dolby Digital 5.1, Stereo PCM||45 x 3.4 x 4.5 in (1141.7 x 87 115.7 mm)||Check Price|
|Sonos Beam||5 Class-D digital amplifiers: 4 full-range woofers + 1 tweeter + 3 passive radiators||Dolby Digital 5.1, Stereo PCM||25.625 x 2.7 x 3.94 in (651 x 68.5 x 100 mm)||Check Price|
DTS audio is a multichannel audio format used for many movie soundtracks.
The most common place that you will find DTS audio formats are on DVD and Blu-ray discs.
The original multichannel format was DTS 5.1, which is 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.
Sonos Playbar, Sonos Playbase, Sonos Beam:
If you are interested, I have a detailed guide comparing the Sonos Beam and Arc.
In my opinion, as with many things in life, 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 are aimed at improving your TVs' sound.
And all the broadcast TV and streaming movie services use Dolby sound formats.
Why pay a license fee to DTS if most of the 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.
Who knows what Sonos will decide in the future? If it makes business sense for their soundbars to support DTS audio, then it may happen.
But, given that Sonos has never supported DTS audio yet, I would say it is unlikely.
Many Sonos soundbar users won't have an issue with the lack of DTS audio support. They won't even know what DTS audio is – and care even less.
If you are just connecting the soundbar to your TV, then 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. These all use Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital Plus audio.
All these services will work perfectly 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.
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.
All 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.
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.
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:
There may be others if you look around.
Some players may only send 5.1 audio through the optical/coaxial output – and 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 only.
I believe the new 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 both the TV and player audio into the single soundbar audio input.
It can get complicated…
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 example below:
However, if you set the player's audio output to PCM, then the DTS soundtrack is decoded on the player first. And then, the decoded sound is sent as PCM audio.
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.
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.
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 that movie that only has a DTS surround sound mix.
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.
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 are connecting 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, then this may only work with an Arc soundbar – and not the Beam.
If you get a multichannel Dolby signal, then it may work on both.
Check the manual for your player for more details.
This option is more suitable for those who are technical and like playing around with software. 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.
There are plenty of other software tools that can do this – both 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 of these have options to alter the soundtrack format.
This means that you have options to convert from DTS to Dolby Digital on-the-fly. Just like with the Blu-ray players that I mentioned previously.
Plex Media Server is a top-rated application for playing media files in your home.
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.
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.
By the way, I should mention that ripping a digital copy of any Blu-rays and DVDs that 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.
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 will want to play DTS surround soundtracks from a disc, then you might be better buying a soundbar that supports DTS.
Sonos makes some of the best soundbars around, but other excellent brands will give you support for more audio formats.
One example is the Samsung HW-Q60T – which has nine speakers, including a center speaker – and support for Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS Surround and DTS Virtual:X.
Another is the Sony HT-G700. This is a 3.1-channel soundbar with support for Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos, DTS, DTS HD Master Audio and DTS:X.
In you are unsure, learn how to choose a soundbar in my simple guide.
However, if you are set on the Sonos brand and want to play DTS audio files, you will need to consider the workarounds suggested above.
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.