Frustrated by a silent soundbar? Here’s everything you can try before you have to call customer service.
By Whitson Gordon
Silent movies might have been a big hit back in the 1890s, but nowadays, it’s not very fun to watch a movie without audible dialogue. A thin flatscreen television may look great, but it often needs a high-quality sound system to get the audio it deserves. If you aren’t hearing anything from your soundbar, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can take to get your talkies up and running again.
Double-Check Your Inputs and Cables
This may seem obvious, but make sure the volume is turned up and your soundbar is set to the correct input.
If your TV is plugged into the soundbar’s HDMI 1 port, make sure your soundbar is set to HDMI 1. If your TV is plugged in with an optical cable (also known as TOSLINK), look for an Optical or Digital In option. If your soundbar has a companion app for your phone, try using it to change the input, as it may be more reliable than the remote—or vice-versa. (Also, make sure the volume is turned up).
You should also check that the cables are plugged into the ports you think they are. If you’re convinced your TV is plugged into HDMI 1 but it’s actually HDMI 2, you’re inducing a lot of unnecessary frustration.
Try a different cable just to rule that out as an issue as well—remember that certain cables may be required for certain game consoles—and it probably wouldn’t hurt to try another streaming box, if you have one lying around, to eliminate that as a variable.
Also make sure you’ve removed the plastic covering on the end of your cables—this is especially easy to miss on optical cables, since the plastic piece is so tiny.
Finally, open your TV’s menu, head to its audio settings, and make sure the TV is set to output audio to the correct place. This may require selecting the corresponding setting to the cable you’re using—like HDMI Out, Digital Out, or something to that effect, rather than TV Speakers.
There are a few ways to connect a soundbar to your TV, whether your “source” is a Blu-ray player, cable box, streaming device, or game console:
Source box > TV > Soundbar over HDMI
Source box > TV > Soundbar over Optical
Source box > Soundbar > TV over HDMI
If you aren’t using a separate box as your source (and are just using your TV’s built-in smart apps), then it’ll be one of the first two options, with the box removed from the chain.
The first item on that list—sending audio from the TV to the soundbar over HDMI—requires gear capable of something called HDMI ARC, or Audio Return Channel. This can be finicky, so if you’re trying to set things up this way, make sure you’ve done everything properly; read the manual carefully for each step.
For example, most TVs only have one ARC-capable port, and it’s not always the one you’d expect, so you may have to run your HDMI cable from HDMI 3 down to the soundbar instead of HDMI 1. Double-check that you’re connected to ports labeled ARC or eARC before continuing.
In addition, you’ll also probably have to enable a feature called HDMI-CEC on your TV and soundbar. This allows your TV remote to control your soundbar and vice-versa, and it’s usually required for ARC to work properly. Annoyingly, this is called something different on every TV—Samsung calls it AnyNet+, while Sony calls it Bravia Sync, and LG calls it SimpLink. Again, check your manual for more information, and turn this on in the settings.
If you can’t get HDMI ARC to work, try an optical cable instead. I’ve found this a bit more reliable in the past, though it may not be able to send every audio format, which is its own issue.
Look Up Compatible Audio Formats
When watching movies and TV shows, the audio is usually encoded in one of a few formats. Most streaming content is encoded in Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital Plus, while Blu-rays can use Dolby formats or DTS. Some devices can decode the audio themselves and send it as raw PCM as well. Here’s the problem: not all TVs and soundbars are capable of decoding every sound format. Some TVs, for example, may only be capable of decoding Dolby Digital, but can’t decode the DTS audio that comes on some Blu-ray discs.
Furthermore, your connection can be a bottleneck—optical cables, while easier to set up than HDMI ARC, don’t have enough bandwidth to carry 5.1-channel PCM, or the ability to send Dolby Atmos signals. So if you’re sending a format to your TV or soundbar it isn’t capable of decoding, you won’t get any audio. You can look up your TV in Rtings’ database to see which audio formats it has built-in.
You’ll also need to head to your TV’s audio settings and pick the right sound format for it to work properly. Look for an option to change the sound format between bitstream, Dolby Digital, PCM, or other similar options. Play with this setting to see if you can find something that works—you may also have a similar setting on your soundbar and even your source device.
For stereo sound, you shouldn’t have trouble finding the right setting, but this can get really complex if you’re trying to use surround sound, so you’ll have to experiment with the settings. And depending on what kind of audio you’re sending, HDMI ARC may be your only option, since it has more bandwidth for high-fidelity audio formats.
Remember those three connection methods I mentioned above? If your soundbar has enough ports, you might find everything more reliable if you plug your source box into the soundbar first, then plug the soundbar into the TV. It eliminates a lot of the hassle that comes with HDMI ARC and the bandwidth limitations of optical cables, and helps mitigate audio delays too.
The downside, of course, is that you’re limited to the number of ports on your soundbar—many may only have one HDMI input—and it doesn’t work for your TV’s built-in apps or antenna tuner, which will require HDMI ARC or optical. Still, if you’re having problems with one game console or Blu-ray player, try plugging it into the soundbar instead of the TV.
Many TVs and soundbars have built-in features that turn them off after periods of inactivity. Sometimes this is automatic—check your device’s manual—in which case you may have to wake it up with the remote if you’ve paused your show for an extended period of time.
In other cases, it’s a feature you can turn on and off. Check your TV and your soundbar’s settings for a Sleep Timer setting you may have accidentally set. You can also turn off any “eco” settings that might futz with the sound output in an effort to save energy.
Re-Pair the Subwoofer and Surround Speakers
Maybe you’re hearing audio from the main soundbar, but not the other surround speakers or subwoofer that came with it. Since these add-ons usually communicate with the soundbar wirelessly, they can sometimes cut out. Try unplugging the subwoofer and/or rear speakers from the wall, and plugging them back in. You may also need to press a “pair” button on the subwoofer or rear speakers to re-connect them to your main soundbar. Check the manual for full instructions on how to do this, as it can vary from model to model.
Update Firmware or Perform a Factory Reset
Finally, if none of the above options work, search your TV and soundbar’s settings for an option to update the firmware, just in case a latent bug has been fixed by a recent release. If all else fails, try a factory reset on one or both devices. If you try to contact the company’s support, they’ll almost certainly provide this as a troubleshooting step, so you might as well try it before you dial that number.
SOURCE : https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/what-to-do-if-your-soundbar-has-no-sound