Netflix is among the most ubiquitous streaming sites out there and using it on your home theater is a no brainer. You can sometimes encounter, however, some issues with the audio, particularly with soundbars. This issue is more common than you can imagine.
If you’re experiencing audio issues with your Netflix on the home theater soundbar, check for any loose connections or bad wiring. If the soundbar works with other apps, you can also check the audio settings and change for a compatible option. Check your TV settings too as some will not audio outputs configured.
Are you experiencing the same problem with your soundbar? Let’s take a look at the potential solutions you can have and do a deep dive into much of the troubleshooting. We’ll also look at other potential audio issues you can experience with Netflix on your home theater.
Understanding Common Netflix Issues
Before we try to look at the potential issues of Netflix with your soundbar, let’s understand a few basic details. By learning a good chunk of the basics, you’ll also learn how to find out the source of your issue.
Netflix tends to be a build-in app in many smart TVs these days. This can be a godsent or a headache, depending on what systems you use for the TV. Most of the time, built-in apps will work out of the box. There will be times where all you need to do is a software update, and you should be good to go.
The common issue comes when your TV connects to a surround sound external audio. For many home theater enthusiasts, any experience is incomplete without adding superior sound systems. Adding better audio makes sense, considering you’re watching your favorite movies and TV shows. Immersion is what you’re looking for right now.
I HIGHLY suggest you read my article on How to Watch Netflix with Surround Sound to make sure you’ve got the setup right.
Soundbar and Netflix Common IssuesNetflix can have a slew of different sound issues, depending on what your hardware is. The most common audio issue that you’ll see on the internet are soundbars without audio. This issue has a few potential causes. These causes include:
- Wrong Netflix audio setting
- Wrong TV audio settings
- System drivers didn’t load
- Out of date software
- Out of date firmware
- Loose and damaged cables
- Damaged or incompatible hardware
As you can see, we’re starting at the least intrusive solution before going to the most intrusive. Let’s take a look at these typical soundbar issues with Netflix and how we can solve them.
Wrong Netflix Audio Settings
Among the most common cause of Netflix’s soundbar issues tends to come from the app’s audio settings. Netflix uses separate containers for their video, audio, and subtitles. Each of these is something you can configure per movie or show.
The usual issue comes from Netflix choosing stereo 2.0 audio by default. Almost all their movies assume that you will listen to it on a phone or a computer that uses a stereo. When that happens, you can experience either bad audio or no audio at all.
If no audio comes out of your surround system soundbar, the first check is with the audio settings on Netflix. You will usually find some audio options in the movie. It can be available in your native language with either 2.0, 5.1, or Atmos.
There are a few caveats to this issue. For one, not all titles have a 5.1 or an Atmos track. If you are playing a title that doesn’t support surround, you’re likely out of options. To know if a title supports surround, you’ll see an icon on the description page with 5.1 or Atmos.
You also need to make sure that you have devices compatible with a 5.1 or an Atmos movie. If you’re still having issues after configuring this, move on to the next step.
Wrong TV Audio Settings
Bad TV audio settings are the most problems that TV owners have when watching with a soundbar. Most TVs will have their own ways of dealing with external audio output. Most of the time, the automatic settings should be more than enough to handle such problems. If it continues to be an issue, here’s what you can do.
Within your TV, you would want to use the remote and go to the Settings or Options of the TV. Look for the Audio or Sound from your choices, and you will see different sound options. Look for either:
- Digital Audio Preference
- SPDIF Selection
- Sound Out/Output
- Digital Sound Out
- Primary Output Port
- Audio Format
For Digital Audio Preference, you would want to choose what you have on your soundbar. This preference is usually Dolby Digital. As for SPDIF Selection and Audio Format, set it to PCM.
Why choose PCM?
PCM is an abbreviation for pulse-code modulation. PCM is a type of audio that allows digital representation of analog audio signals. This format allows for digital signals to work with your analog systems and vice versa.
For the Sound Out/Output, you would need to pick from some detected audio outputs. You will likely be able to find the option for “External Speakers” and choose it. Always pick PCM as your digital sound output.
Many online users note that this is enough to resolve most of their issues. This problem tends to come from TVs following their default setting of using TV speakers as output.
System Drivers Didn’t Load
In some cheaper and older TVs you will likely have a problem with your soundbar. Many cheap TVs have a very rudimentary operating system and will likely have trouble detecting anything new. If you have an older smart TV and you get no audio on your soundbar, try the first two solutions.
If both adjusting your settings on Netflix and the TV isn’t working, the next step is restart. Shut down both your TV and your soundbar. Let them sit for 10 – 30 seconds and turn them on again. Most of the time, this works.
When Smart TVs run for a long time, they run the risk of filling up their RAM. This is a traditional problem with PCs, but with new tech on TV, more and more use memory. When you have too many things loaded, most instructions stay in the RAM. This storage allows for recall of used apps faster than booting them for the first time.
Restarting or powering off your devices can clear off device memory, enough to correct issues. Some devices will also run software that can corrupt from interference. When this happens, a restart will clear out any issues.
Some devices would even need unplugging, as power can still go to capacitors. A full hardware shutdown and reset do the trick most of the time. If it does not, let’s look at the next solution.
Out Of Date Software
Another common reason that many soundbar users get issues with Netflix is out of date software. Outdated software tends to be problematic, as many platforms tend to change ways to connect to servers.
Many TV owners don’t update their software right out of the box. Most of the time, there’s no issue with this as most work without having to update for a while. Even then, if there are big security vulnerabilities in the software, your TV will likely need a software update.
It’s in software updates that the manufacturer also adds new drivers for different devices. By updating your software, you will get improvements in the current performance. You will get the right drivers, especially for newer devices.
The only problem with this can come from a potential issue with TVs that don’t do software updates. Many cheap TVs will have their software as is and will not have updates for their TVs.
Out Of Date Firmware
Much like out of date software, out of date firmware can also be a plague. Many firmware installations will have a specific set of instructions in them. If support for your soundbar is not one of them, you’ll likely need to find a firmware update.
Firmware updates work on the read-only memory (ROM) of your TV. These are inaccessible to the average user, encoded deep into the system. Firmware helps your hardware understand what to do, what to show, and how to interact with each other.
When you need a firmware update, most manufacturers will prompt for the installation. In essence, you would need to install the firmware and let it download without interruption. Why?
Firmware is what handles how hardware understands and interacts. Updates come by way of flashing, which is a one-way write interaction on the ROM. If the update undergoes interruption via power outage or resets before it finishes, you’ll brick the TV. Bricking means your TV is no longer usable, as the hardware doesn’t have proper instructions to follow anymore.
When updating firmware, be careful during the process. Make sure nobody interrupts it. If you’re still experiencing issues after an update, it’s time to check on your hardware.
Loose And Damaged Cables
Among the biggest annoyances across hardware are the wires. They connect your soundbar to your TV, so they’re crucial in sending the audio signals. Even then, wear and tear or bad handling can result in a faulty system. If you suspect this is a problem, here’s how you solve it.
First, try to reset the cables in their proper position. Make sure that they are in their right ports, as wrong ports are a common problem. If they are not in their right ports, correct the issue as soon as possible. You can even try to look for color-coding on the cables to prevent confusion.
If they’re in their proper seats and you connected them well, is it working? If not, the next step is to check if the port connection is loose. Is the connector firm in its connection to the port? If it isn’t, make sure it’s firm in place.
With some cables, you can also experience some minor movement. If the connector is moving, check the pins on both the cable and the port.
Are there any bent pins or broken locks? Check the port for the same. Some cables wear down so bad that consistent connection, removal, and reconnection can damage them. Small pins at the end can corrode, which will not send a signal to the system. You will also need to check the port for any issues like damage.
Look for damages on the cable like hits, nicks, or bends. If the cable has damage, it’s best to buy a new one. If you have spare cables, test your devices with the spares.
Damaged or Incompatible Hardware
In some cases, there is hardware out there that can be incompatible with each other. At most, incompatible hardware has a few reasons, which can be problematic.
Incompatible hardware can come from proprietary systems that only work with the same brand hardware. When this happens, your device will not have drivers that allow them to read and perform tasks.
In the case of incompatible hardware, the only thing you can do about it is looking for documentation. See if there is a real incompatibility and if there are any workarounds. If there aren’t workarounds, the only other option is a replacement.
The worst-case scenario when you have issues with your soundbar and Netflix is hardware. If you have damaged hardware, it will likely cost you some money to do a replacement. If you have a warranty, you would need to send it for servicing or replacement.
To check for potential hardware damage, test the device on other systems. Test your TV with a known working soundbar and see if it works without an issue. Do the same with your soundbar and test with a different TV.
Preventing Any Issues With Your Soundbar
Now that you know how to do troubleshooting, what can you do to prevent having this problem? There are many different ways to go around a soundbar and Netflix audio issue. All this depends on the type of hardware that you have.
For starters, check online for the brand and if there are common issues with the hardware. Most of the time, you’re not the only one who will experience the issue. There are entire forums online dedicated to handling specific hardware. Give it a good look and see if there are any potential problems.
Another thing to search for is a product review of the hardware you like. Most of the time, people will have an honest review of the devices they test. See if people are happy with the device and if there are any gripes about it. If you think the cons are things you can live with, decide if you want to go for it.
If you’re buying your products in brick and mortar businesses, have them test the devices first. Many department stores and appliance centers are more than happy to test the units in front of you.
Once you get the devices home, read the instructions. Many people can miss out on important details by not reading the instructions. We understand it’s not cool these days, but it helps a lot. Instructions will teach you how to navigate around the interface and teach you where to find settings.
Much with many systems, make sure that your cables are as new as possible. Some cables like HDMI have limitations on what signals they can handle. Check to make sure that all pins and ports are in good condition.
Once you do the first setup, follow the setup wizard if there’s one available. These help new users around the proper setup. If you think you can handle it without the setup wizard, make sure always to consult the user guide.
Most customers also advise using third-party systems to handle apps like Netflix. Streaming devices like Google’s Chromecast and the Roku Stick are better at handling software. They are also updateable and easy to uninstall and reinstall in case there’s an issue with the software.
Soundbar issues with Netflix are a common issue and there are many ways to resolve it. You can check on the settings first, making sure that your software and TV audio settings are correct. Try to reset your devices by turning them off and on again.
Check your hardware if there are any issues with damaged or incompatible devices. See if your cables are loose or have damages that can affect your experience.
When you’re having issues with your devices, it’s best to stay calm. Be logical on how you test the device and exhaust all the non-intrusive options first. Once you do so, test your hardware using other devices. See if you can get it to work when you connect it to other units.
Identify the problem and think of potential reasons why the issue is happening. Test anything in the software first before moving on to the hardware. Many times, issues crop up with improper settings, and the fix can be easy.
In worst-case scenarios, talk to your manufacturer or a tech person and see if they can help. Make sure to keep yourself safe throughout the entire process. If you have to, unplug any sockets before handling or moving electronics.
Are you looking to get your soundbar working for that Netflix and chill? Check out our troubleshooting steps above and see if there’s something that can help.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.