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Anakinnnn
Level 7

Low Volume Levels on All Outputs - TCL TVs with Roku Interface

My problem is a recurring and highly publicized issue with the low volume output from hardware using the Roku TV interface.

I purchased a TCL 55R615 in January of this year and love everything about the TV except the volume level. We regularly watch most apps at 85-100 level volume and have since day one of ownership. I didn't think too much of it because I figured the embedded speakers were quite weak. This was what we considered normal for Netflix, Hulu, and pretty much all other apps and input on the TV.
However, we started watching some new shows, particularly Yellowstone on the Paramount App inside the Roku interface, and the dialogue was so hard to hear we found ourselves constantly rewinding. It ended up being so bad that I decided to buy a sound bar.

So last week I bought a Samsung HW-R550/ZA sound bar specifically based on reviews about volume level and dialogue clarity. I also wanted it for the HDMI-ARC ability so we could continue to use the Roku remote control for audio.

I tested the sound bar with bluetooth from my phone and the sound is so loud at level 50 that you can barely hear yourself speak in the same room. But then I plugged it in to the HDMI-ARC port on the TCL TV and it's actually QUIETER than the regular TV speaker output, even at level 100.

I also tried many of the tricks I have seen people discuss about this problem from all over the internet.

Things I have tried with no change:
Hitting the * on the remote and choosing a different sound format, including Theater mode.
Resetting the TV to factory defaults.
Restarted the TV from the main interface as well as unplugged it from the wall for multiple minutes.
Tried the volume with enabled/disabled TV speakers.
Tried it with CEC turned off and on.
Tried to start the app with the volume at 0 and then let something stream and then raised the volume after a minute or so

I then decided to hook up the sound bar to my Onkyo receiver in my living room as an HDMI output and it will blow you out of the room. Same thing with my old Mitsubishi DLP TV output... the volume of the sound bar is exactly what you would expect.

I didn't know what else to try but I remembered I happen to also own a TCL 55P605 from exactly a year earlier.
I connected the soundbar to that and had exactly the same experience as the other TCL.

Both TCL TVs have the latest Roku firmware of 9.1. Both TVs are excellent in all other respects other than volume. I have been quite pleased with the older one because I just use it for a monitor for my PC... and I use a surround sound system from my PC so the sound was never even an issue there. But regardless, it has exactly the same problem.

So what else is there to try? Nothing I have read online has any affect on my TCL TVs.

For a bit more information, It seems like there is no audio at all from level 0 until around 10... and then it increases reasonably linearly until around 50.... and then from 50-100 it seems to increase maybe another 5%. So basically 100 is only slighter louder overall than 50. This applies to Netflix, Paramount, Hulu, and even inbound connections from other sources.

Even more strange, I have tried to output the sound over Digital Optical and it has the same volume issue. The sound volume level is nearly identical.

So I am open to suggestions before I return this sound bar. Is there going to be a fix for this? This is talked about all over the internet... everywhere from Amazon reviews to Reddit and in here. And yet, there doesn't seem to be any acknowledgement that this is an issue for Roku.

I have called TCL and gone through troubleshooting with them just for the heck of it and we got nowhere after an hour on the phone. But my research shows this is a problem with Hisense, Insignia, TCL, and any other hardware that used Roku for the front end, including the actual Roku sticks themselves.

This affects all sound bars I have tried to connect to these TVs as well... borrowed from friends just for testing. I have no idea how this can be going on without someone acknowledging this as a major bug.

Thanks in advance for any insight or help.
Jason

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5 Replies
Community Manager
Community Manager

Re: Low Volume Levels on All Outputs - TCL TVs with Roku Interface

@Anakinnnn Thanks for reaching out and sharing the details here. I'm sorry to hear about the issue you're running into. 

In Settings>Audio, S/PDIF and ARC, have you tried changing the audio type from 'Auto' to Stereo / PCM, Dolby Digital / DTS, etc to see if this makes any difference? 

Do you notice the same audio output issue from Streaming channels, and from a device connected to the TV via HDMI input, such as a gaming console, blu-ray player, etc.? 

 

Feel free to send me a private message with your Roku TV serial number from Settings>System>About, a recap of specific streaming channel & content title examples that you observe the issue with, along with your Roku account email address. I'll follow up with you from there to see what else we can recommend. 

 

Thanks,

Tanner

Tanner D.
Roku Community Manager
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Anakinnnn
Level 7

Re: Low Volume Levels on All Outputs - TCL TVs with Roku Interface

Hi Tanner,

I did try changing all of the audio settings as well, long before your suggestion here. In fact, that was one of the first things I tried.

Here's the thing... after I did a bunch of research on my own (I'm an IT guy, head of a major tech department) I came to the conclusion that this seems to be a very well known and documented problem with TCL TVs specifically with the Roku interface. Not only that, this is something directly related to the Roku OS embedded in most electronics out there right now. In fact, I find it hard to believe that your R&D department is not experiencing this problem with every device out there with your operating system on it.

I could cite hundreds of forum posts from various places all across the internet from people experiencing exactly the issue I am having.

Since my original message to you 6 weeks ago, I obviously have since returned both soundbars I tried. Neither of them were able to increase the sound output from my different model TCL TVs, of which I have two, both with the same software (the current most up to date version).

I spent over an hour with the support team from TCL and they said they knew of the problem and was working with Roku on a fix. They were supposed to call me back a week later and of course I never heard from them again.

It is unfortunate but if I can't find a solution for this particular problem, I will stop buying any device with the Roku interface as the main embedded OS and will recommend the same to all of my clients, friends, and family.

I find it exceptionally hard to believe that the Roku R&D team is not aware of this massive problem.

I am more than willing to try to solve this issue any way I can with you guys, not only for my own well being, but for your other customers. I love the Roku OS, I love TCL TVs, and I was looking forward to buying the new fall line of Roku-based TCL TVs this year as they started venturing into the size TVs I have been waiting for from them (82" and larger).

I would love to work with you and your R&D team to solve this once and for all but I definitely need to make sure you guys understand the problem, recognize it is a major issue plaguing all of the devices out there with your embedded OS, and then be prepared to figure out why this problem exists and how to correct it. Surely it is a software problem.

I can provide my serial numbers for both my TCL TVs along with the current build and OS versions running on them if we can open a dialogue that doesn't expand over 6 weeks per response.

When would you like to start?
Thanks
Jason

Community Manager
Community Manager

Re: Low Volume Levels on All Outputs - TCL TVs with Roku Interface

@Anakinnnn Thanks for sharing your thoughts. There are quite a number of factors involved that make some of these issues difficult to identify or reproduce. I'd be happy to work with you directly to take your information, and help pass this along to my team.

Please see my note above and send me a private message with your details and I'll follow up to gather some more information. If you can include a link to a brief video clip showing the behavior on your TV, including adjusting the volume level on screen from low to high, that would be most helpful for continued investigation. 

 

Thanks,

Tanner

Tanner D.
Roku Community Manager
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Agentb
Level 7

Re: Low Volume Levels on All Outputs - TCL TVs with Roku Interface

 

@RokuTannerD wrote:

@Anakinnnn Thanks for sharing your thoughts. There are quite a number of factors involved that make some of these issues difficult to identify or reproduce.

Hogwash.

TCL and Roku are fully aware of this widespread audio issue. You know it and consumers know it. To reproduce the whisper low audio that emits from your Roku TVs, simply turn one on.

My former TCL TV that's less than two years old had the EXACT same faulty audio issues mentioned in the initial post. I contacted the manufacturer and Roku. After they suggested a few pony tricks, which were less helpful than clicking my heels together three times, I researched the issue myself. I discovered a plethora of TCL TV owners who were experiencing the EXACT SAME ISSUE.

Fix your product and until you can, cowboy up and issue a recall.

I considered forming a support group to alleviate my angst caused by TCL and Roku's deception, but instead I decided to spread the word. Fortunately, I have an endless platform.

I'm a journalist.

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Community Manager
Community Manager

Re: Low Volume Levels on All Outputs - TCL TVs with Roku Interface

Thanks for following up here. I apologize for your experience, but we're definitely here to help.

If you'd kindly send a private message with your Roku TV serial number and a description of the issue that you're observing with details including the streaming channel or content source, we'd be happy to follow up to help investigate further, and pass your report along to our team. 

 

Thanks, 

Tanner

Tanner D.
Roku Community Manager
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