Sonos admits that the Arc has a Dolby Atmos issue but their solution is not great

Sonos Arc og Sonos Sub i en hyggelig stue
Sonos Arc og Sonos Sub (Image credit: Sonos)

The Sonos Arc is one of the best soundbars you can buy today, which makes it all the more frustrating when it experiences issues – you just don't expect audio problems on a soundbar that costs so much money. But some users have encountered just that, and they've been trying to get Sonos to take them seriously for some time now.

I haven't experienced this myself – my surround setup is based around an AV receiver – but my best pal is a serious Sonos fan and she's encountered the same problem as others. When the Sonos is connected to an Apple TV 4K or Xbox Series X, the soundbar emits loud popping sounds. And by loud I mean really loud.

The problem appears to be down to the way those devices transmit Dolby Atmos: while many devices transmit the audio information as a compressed bitstream, the Apple TV and Xbox send it over HDM as uncompressed PCM audio with metadata. That, apparently, isn't too popular with the Sonos soundbar and appears to be the cause of the problem. It doesn't affect everyone but it seems to have affected quite a few users.

So, how do you fix it?

Sonos is still searching for a fix

Like many other Sonos users, who've been trying to get this solved for over two years now, my friend was told of two workarounds: disable HDMI CEC or disable Dolby Atmos. But both of those workarounds mean losing functionality: CEC control in the former and Atmos audio in the latter.

Sonons has now issued a statement to The Verge acknowledging the issue. That's the good news. The bad? There's no fix yet.

According to Sonos, the firm has been finding it hard to reproduce the issue. That's echoed by KeithFromSonos, a Sonos employee who's well-known on Reddit for answering customer concerns: "I hesitate to say a ‘fix’ is in the works. Only because I don’t want anyone to get tied to the idea that something is coming ‘soon’," he writes. "The team has been and is actively working towards a solution, the biggest issue we have is reproducing the loud pop.”

The news that Sonos is at least trying to find a solution is good, but of course that's not much consolation to anybody who's shelled out on an expensive soundbar only to have to limit some of its key features. For the time being, if you want to experience full Atmos on your Apple TV 4K or Xbox Series X, it might be wise to consider one of the best rival soundbars instead.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.