Sonos Arc has a Dolby Atmos issue but a "fix" is being worked on

Sonos has acknowledged the Arc popping problem that's driving some owners up the wall

Sonos Arc
(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 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.

The issue is that, when the Sonos is connected to an Apple TV 4K or Xbox Series X, the soundbar can occasionally emit a loud popping noise then cut the sound completely. And by loud, we mean really loud.

The problem appears to be down to the way those devices transmit Dolby Atmos. While many other sources transmit the audio information as a compressed bitstream, the Apple TV and Xbox send it over HDMI 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 quite a few users have reported the issue.

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, a friend of T3's has been given two official workarounds: either disable HDMI CEC or disable Dolby Atmos entirely.

Neither is great, as they each mean losing functionality: CEC control in the former and Atmos audio in the latter.

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

According to the company, it has found 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 wrote.

"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 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, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (