The average flat-screen television is pretty slim, both for functional and aesthetic reasons. But the problem with a thin TV is that the factory speakers are not always as powerful as one might want.
That’s where soundbars come in. Soundbars are bar-shaped speakers that you can hook up to your television. They don’t take up much space, and they give you a more premium sound than run-of-the-mill factory speakers found on most TVs.
That said, it’s not always smooth sailing when dealing with soundbars. Some common problems often occur, and the solutions to these issues might not be immediately evident.
However, if you have some knowledge of soundbars and the typical issues that can accompany them, then troubleshooting should be straightforward.
In this article, we’ll look at the most common soundbar problems and how to fix them.
Maybe you’ve noticed that your soundbar sometimes goes to sleep, even though the TV is still on.
In this case, the energy-saving settings might be off. Most soundbars automatically sleep after a certain amount of time. This setting prevents them from consuming too much power when they are not in use.
Soundbars sleep when they don’t detect an audio signal for a few minutes. And some bars are a little more sensitive than others and will power down even when there is sound, especially if the sound is playing at a low volume.
The best soundbars have coaxial, digital optical, and HDMI cables to connect to the television, while the cheapest ones use a simple 3.5mm audio jack.
If your soundbar uses a 3.5mm jack, make sure the TV volume is at its highest level. If you want to adjust the volume, do so by using the soundbar’s volume settings, not the TV’s.
The maximum volume setting ensures that your television delivers an audio signal loud enough to prevent the soundbar from going to sleep.
The soundbar can also shut off if it’s connected to a set-top box or DVD player that has separate volume controls. The same trick also applies in this instance: Set the DVD player’s volume or set-top box to the maximum level. Then, control the volume via the soundbar’s remote control.
Many people have this common complaint, even when they own high-end soundbars. The usual reason for this issue is that the soundbar isn’t playing any sound at all—it’s the TV’s speakers you’re hearing.
This issue is common when watching TV via a set-top box or separate streaming box.
If your set-top box connects to the television and the television connects to the soundbar, there is no guarantee that the sound will transmit to the soundbar.
Depending on the age of your set-top box, you may need RCA cables (the red-and-white connectors) to connect directly to your soundbar. You will need digital optical cables for the newer set-top boxes. Of course, for the picture, you’ll still need to use the HDMI or Scart cable from the box to your TV.
You should also alter the audio settings on your set-top box to route the sound to your soundbar, rather than the television. The settings will look different depending on the connector you’ve chosen to attach the set-top box to the soundbar. For example, if you used a 3.5mm jack, you’d change routing to the 3.5mm jack on the audio settings.
That said, in an ideal situation, your soundbar and television will support the HDMI ARC (audio return channel). This setting allows you to connect the set-top box to your TV and then the soundbar to the television via HDMI.
Check whether your soundbar and television have this feature by inspecting the ports or reviewing the manual. Generally, only higher-end televisions and boxes offer this feature.
If you are not sure why there is no sound coming from the soundbar, there are a few general solutions to try.
First, there are many input plugs on the back of your soundbar, and you must make sure you have connected the cable to the right one.
Therefore, if the television connects to a particular optical input, make sure the soundbar’s source settings are for that specific input. If you’re sure the source is correct, check the settings on your TV or set-top box to ensure they’re compatible with your soundbar.
This step is especially crucial with optical and HDMI connections, since not all soundbars can process the latest kinds of audio channels. For example, if you have a Blu-ray player that outputs audio in DTS:X format, but your soundbar doesn’t support that format, you won’t get any sound.
Check the manual to discover which audio formats your soundbar supports. You will then have to check your television or set-top box’s audio output settings and look for the ones supported by your soundbar. After switching to the supported output mode on your television or box, you should start to hear sound through the speaker.
The PCM format is universal, so it’s always the right place to start. If you can’t locate your soundbar’s manual, you may have to experiment with some trial-and-error options to find the correct output format.
If your TV, DVD player, or set-top box is plugged directly to your soundbar, there may be times when the sounds rush ahead of the images. Most modern boxes have a way to prevent this from happening, and you can easily find it in the audio settings menu.
This setting is usually known as “Audio Delay” or other similar types of wording. You will usually have to use trial-and-error options to adjust the delay setting until the audio and video are in sync.
This issue mostly has to do with the audio enhancement mode on the soundbar, which may change the way the sound gets balanced.
For example, the Night Mode on some soundbars turns down noises that are likely to disturb people while they are sleeping. Therefore, you should check the audio enhancement mode on your soundbar to make sure it’s not one that changes the balance of the sound unnaturally because of such settings.
You can usually change settings such as Night Mode with the remote control.
Another issue may stem from the dialogue enhancement mode. Most soundbars have this setting, which boosts the volume of higher-pitched sounds so you can hear speech more clearly.
These settings can work well on some speakers, but they can sound terrible on cheaper soundbars. The best solution is to turn off the dialogue enhancement mode. Use the soundbar’s remote control option to ensure you haven’t switched this setting on inadvertently.
Finally, it is possible that your TV, DVD player, or set-top box is putting out a sound that your soundbar is finding difficult to process. It may be that the soundbar can only process 2.1 or 2.0 sound but is receiving 5.1 surround sound.
In this case, you’re not getting the full range of sounds that are part of the viewing content. You’ll have to check the audio output of the TV, DVD player, or set-top box to ensure it matches your soundbar’s abilities.
You can do this by navigating to the audio settings menu and setting the audio on your television or box to either 2.0 or 2.1. This change should take care of the problem.
If your soundbar uses a 3.5mm jack, this is very likely why you hear static. The first step is to ensure the connection is complete by checking that both ends of the cable are inserted into the TV/DVD player/set-top box and soundbar.
The cable should also be clear of other wires, such as the other connectors behind your TV. Sometimes it’s as simple as shifting the 3.5mm cable a little.
If the problem doesn’t get solved by these adjustments, turn the TV volume up and then readjust it via the soundbar’s remote control.
Sometimes the static is due to the volume of the source being low and the volume of the output being high. So adjusting the volume might solve this problem.
If none of the above solutions work, get yourself a ground-loop isolator. This item is an adapter that you place between the soundbar and television to eliminate noise.
Ground-loop isolators cost less than $10 online and can affect the output of the bass performance. They are not always 100% effective, but a quality one may solve your static issues.
You may also consider using an alternative connection to a 3.5mm jack, such as a digital optical or HDMI cable. These aren’t as susceptible to static as the 3.5mm jack.
Resetting your soundbar will vary by manufacturer. Samsung soundbars, for example, must power down. Afterward, you press and hold the STOP button until it shows “INIT OK.” Note that other brands have different reset methods.
A soundbar can significantly improve your television-viewing experience. However, soundbar issues can also be frustrating if you don’t know how to solve them. With the information you’ve learned through this article, you now have the knowledge to fix fundamental issues by yourself, without expensive professional help. Happy viewing!