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Soundbar Not Working? How to Fix a Broken Soundbar | Reviews by Wirecutter

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Soundbars should make TV viewing better and easier. The idea at the time was that as TVs became thinner and thinner, and the space for internal speakers became smaller and smaller, the soundbar could provide better sound without you having to deal with connecting six speakers and browsing AV receivers. The complexity of the menu. However, the use of many sound bars today can be more challenging than the most advanced home theater systems. Although we cannot successfully resolve every soundbar problem, we have compiled a list of fixes that are useful to us. We also consulted some soundbar manufacturers to find out the most common setup errors and solutions.

From the online review, our review section

, And a poll we conducted on Twitter and among Wirecutter employees, we concluded that most of the problems encountered by soundbar buyers are related to the connection and communication between the TV and the soundbar, and It is not related to the soundbar itself. We have seen the complaint

Unexpectedly, the soundbar cannot receive audio from the TV.

(The audio from the sound bar lags behind the picture on the TV), and the sound bar’s


The root of these problems lies in the HDMI technology used by most soundbar connections. HDMI is more than just the port you plug the connecting cable into. It was created to make things simple by combining audio, video, and control signals into a single cable that will allow devices of different brands to detect and recognize each other and work together seamlessly. In theory, this is great, but in the real world, it is often difficult for owners of HDMI-equipped devices to make them work together. Figuring out why two HDMI devices are not communicating is usually a guess, even for TV and soundbar manufacturers.

These cheap HDMI cables can be used with all the devices you currently use, even 4K HDR TVs and signal sources.

The more complex the soundbar, the greater the chance of failure. In the era when most sound bars are simple, 2.1-channel (left and right speakers and subwoofer) design, such as our current budget choice,

. Additional advanced features, such as surround sound speakers,

Immersive sound technology,

, Multi-room audio functions and voice control functions (such as built-in Alexa or Google Assistant) seem to increase the possibility of HDMI failure, firmware error (software running on the internal microprocessor of the TV or soundbar) system configuration , And ordinary old user errors.

Therefore, let us introduce some general issues of HDMI, and then we will provide tips for solving specific issues.


Many sound bars include several types of audio connections and cables, but if the sound bar has an HDMI port, it is recommended that you start with that connection and then keep the other cables in the box. If you connect other cables, the soundbar may automatically switch to those connections instead of using HDMI, which can reduce the sound quality or completely cut off the audio connection.


The soundbar can have two types of HDMI connections (see figure below):

Designed to connect directly to the TV (for more instructions, read item 3 below), while the standard HDMI input should be used with your source (such as a streaming media player or cable box). Make sure that the correct input is selected on the soundbar for the sound source you want to hear. In the remote control or soundbar menu, the HDMI ARC port may be labeled "TV".


ARC allows the TV to send audio signals from its internal services (such as streaming applications) and connected AV devices (such as cable boxes) to the soundbar. But it only applies to HDMI jacks specifically marked HDMI ARC. If you use other HDMI jacks on your TV or soundbar, you may not hear the sound.


Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) allows the TV (and its remote control) to control the volume of the soundbar. In order for the HDMI ARC function to work properly, CEC must be activated. This option is usually available in the "System" menu of the TV.


Most TVs have a setting in the audio menu that allows you to turn the built-in speakers on and off. The functions and labels of this control vary from TV to TV, so if you have any questions, please consult the TV's instruction manual. Generally speaking, plugging into an HDMI-equipped soundbar using an HDMI ARC connection will automatically send the sound to the soundbar, but you should switch the TV’s internal speaker setting to "Off" or "Auto".


Enhanced audio return channel (or

) Is a feature of the new HDMI 2.1 specification. As long as both devices support eARC, the new TV can send higher-quality uncompressed multi-channel audio signals to the soundbar or AV receiver. A manufacturer told us that if the TV is connected to a soundbar that does not support eARC, turning on the eARC function of the TV may cause unforeseen connection problems. You should be able to turn off eARC in the audio settings menu of the TV.


Sometimes, re-establishing the HDMI "handshake" state between the TV and the soundbar can solve some glitches.


Manufacturers often try to fix known HDMI failures by updating the firmware. Check in the menu of the device itself or in the support section of the manufacturer’s website to see if your TV or soundbar has the latest firmware. If not, you need to install the firmware, usually by downloading it directly from the Internet or transferring it with a USB memory stick. After doing this, make sure to unplug the TV or soundbar for at least 10 seconds, and then plug it in again. Following the instructions below to perform a factory reset may also help.


A complete reset of the device may cause the HDMI connection to work properly. On TVs, this option is usually in the system submenu. For sound bars, restoring factory settings usually requires pressing buttons in a certain order. For instructions, please consult your manual or the support section of the manufacturer's website. Please note that many or all of the previous settings on the device may be deleted after resetting, so if you use an antenna, re-establish Wi-Fi connection, etc., you may need to rescan TV channels afterwards.


HDMI cables that have been around for many years may not have enough bandwidth to handle the latest HDMI technology, and it may be difficult for some devices to understand HDMI cables. We recently encountered this problem on the Roku Soundbar, and it didn't work occasionally until Roku suggested that we switched to a new HDMI cable. Fortunately, as we are

Guide, high quality, up-to-date cables, for example

It can be bought for about two Frappuccinos.


If you have tried all the methods that can make the HDMI connection work, but it still does not work, you can use an optical digital audio connection (optical cable connection, usually referred to as "optical") to bypass HDMI-related failures. From TV to sound bar). However, this solution has some disadvantages and may be a big problem for some people. The most obvious is that you cannot pass Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio through an optical digital connection. Look

Below for more details.

If the TV speakers still have lip sync errors, the problem is not in your soundbar, but in your source device (such as a media streamer or Blu-ray player), or a technical failure in your streaming service Or an error in the video production process.

Many TVs and source devices provide lip sync adjustments that allow you to compensate for these errors. Check the "Settings" menu in your device to make this adjustment (see the example in the photo below), and if available, increase the compensation until the lip-sync error disappears. You may need to adjust this setting between one program or another. For example, when a news broadcast is switched from studio shooting to remote shooting, its lip sync may disappear.

Make sure that all HDMI cables are firmly inserted into their jacks and are not subject to shocks or bumps.


This setting determines whether the digital audio signal is decoded in the device (TV or Blu-ray player) or in the soundbar. The bitstream option provided in the audio settings menu of the TV and the source device (see photo below) can set the device to send the exact digital signal encoded in the program, whether it is Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby Atmos, stereo audio or similar . Many devices (especially TVs) convert all these signals to two-channel PCM digital signals (the same as those used by CDs) by default, which may cause audio interruptions in the first few seconds of movies or TV shows. Some TVs and source devices have an "auto" option for digital audio output, which should be a safe choice. Please note that the soundbar must be able to decode the bitstream signal in order to get the correct sound. Almost all sound bars can decode basic Dolby Digital surround sound, but many cannot decode DTS surround sound or more immersive formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. In addition, some TVs cannot process DTS signals through HDMI ARC-in this case, please set your source device to output Dolby Digital.


If you use Wi-Fi to stream video, make sure that your source device, smart TV and/or soundbar with streaming capability has a solid wireless connection. Most devices provide you with a way to check. If your device cannot establish a strong wireless connection, please consider moving the network router or upgrading the network. Look"

"For advice. If using a wired Ethernet connection, check all cables between the modem, router, and audio/video equipment.

As mentioned above, using the latest HDMI cables can sometimes solve the problems in the audio/video system.

The guide provides a very affordable option.

Most sound bars equipped with surround sound speakers provide several different surround sound modes. The repair procedure may be simple, such as setting the surround sound function or surround sound speakers to "on", or it may involve selecting a sound mode, such as "movie" or "cinema", which may include surround sound.

Although all sound bars with surround speakers can be set to deliver surround sound from stereo sound tracks and music, if you input sound bars encoded in 5.1 or more channels (such as Dolby Digital (or DTS), , If your soundbar supports the format). Check to make sure the program you are watching has been encoded for surround sound.

As mentioned above, this option (available in the audio settings menu of TVs, streaming devices, and Blu-ray players) sends the original, surround-encoded audio signal from the source to the soundbar. If you choose the PCM setting instead, you will only get stereo. Some devices provide Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital/DTS settings instead of or in addition to bitstream options, and this setting will also work.

Many Atmos-equipped sound bars offer "Atmos on/off" or "high on/off" options. If you want to get the full effect of Atmos (DTS:X if Soundbar supports it), you need to turn on this feature.

The standard HDMI ARC connection supports Atmos signals using the compressed Dolby Digital Plus audio format, but to obtain full-resolution Dolby Atmos sound, an eARC connection is required. In addition to the HDMI ARC port, most sound bars equipped with Atmos also include an additional HDMI input. If your soundbar or TV does not support eARC, to get full resolution Atmos and/or DTS:X, you need to use this additional HDMI input to connect the source device directly to the soundbar.

Sound bars that are not equipped with HDMI almost always provide optical digital input (sometimes called Toslink) and analog input. Most TVs can send sound in both directions. Some sound bars add coaxial or RCA digital inputs, but this connection is not compatible with most TVs. The optical digital connection (see photo below) can support Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 channel signals, so if you have a soundbar that supports surround sound, it is the best choice. But its output level is fixed on most TVs. In this case, you need to use the remote control of the soundbar to adjust the volume. If your soundbar is a 2.1-channel or 2.0-channel model, the analog audio connection is very good, and most TVs allow you to set their analog audio output to "fixed" or "variable". Setting it to "variable" allows you to use the TV's remote control to control the volume.

If the analog audio output of the TV is set to "variable" and there is no sound from the sound bar, try increasing the volume of the TV. If you turn off the TV completely, you will not hear sound even if the sound bar is set to maximum volume.

Some Wirecutter employees and Twitter commentators found that even though they tried all the tips in the soundbar troubleshooting guide, the problem still persists. If you have gone through all the methods we described above, but to no avail, it's time to contact the manufacturer. No matter what is wrong with your soundbar, it is likely that someone else has it, and the manufacturer also knows how to fix it. Also, if the company still cannot solve the problem, the unit may have to be replaced, or you may want to return it to the supplier and try other solutions.

Brent Butterworth

Brent Butterworth is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter, responsible for audio and musical instrument research. Since 1989, he has been an editor or writer on audio-centric websites and magazines (such as Home Theater, Sound & Vision, SoundStage, and JazzTimes). He regularly plays double bass (and sometimes ukulele) with jazz bands in the Los Angeles area.



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