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Express 4K+ no Dolby sound except on AppleTV app

I have been through the mutlipld DD audio issues thread and tried every variation of Audio, Leveling and output options, to no avail. I have the Express 4K+ Model 3941X, OS 12, build 4184-CR.

Here is the problem: Apple TV outputs to 5.1 DD, but no other channel will, including Max, Netflix and Prime. All these channels will output DD if I play them directly through the Sony TV, so it is not a connectivity issue with the TV's throughput. The audio is outputted through the TV via optical cable to Sonos Playbar. I even got an audio splitter and plugged the optical directly into the soundbar, but still just PCM from the Roku. I believe this is a software issue with the 12.0 update since A) Apple TV works in DD and B) all the other channels stream in DD directly from the TV to the sound bar.
I have spent days switching the roku audio output settings, etc. and nothing changes. Is there another update coming to fix this or is there a way to roll 12.0 back to a time when the DD actually worked?

I am hesitant to update to the Ultra model because if this is an OS/software issue, it may just be the same problem at a higher price point. Any help appreciated. Thanks!  

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Community Moderator
Community Moderator

Re: Express 4K+ no Dolby sound except on AppleTV app

Hi @221paul,

Welcome to the Roku Community!

Thanks for bringing this to our attention about this ongoing issue with the Dolby Digital. We'd like to know how we can be of assistance.

Have you tried to plug your Roku Express device directly to the TV with no external audio devices connected to see if you are still seeing the issue occur?

If the issue still occurs with your Sonos Playbar disconnected, please provide us with the following information:

  • Roku device model, serial number, device ID, and software OS/version (these can all be found in Settings > System > About)
  • Does this issue occur on a specific channel? if so, what channel and what version/build is the channel (this can be found be selecting the channel on the Home screen and pressing the * button)
  • Specific content title that they are trying to play with DD
  • Tracker ID when this issue occurs (when you see this issue occur, press the Home button 5 times, followed by the Back button 5 times and provide us with this ID)
  • Steps to reproduce the issue you are seeing
  • Screenshot of the issue occurring with no DD on the content

We'd be waiting to your response. Thank you!



Roku Community Moderator
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Re: Express 4K+ no Dolby sound except on AppleTV app


TL;DR:  You probably need to get a streaming device with a Dolby decoder, such as the Ultra 2020/2022 (4800/4802) if you want full 5.1 streaming service/app support with your current HTS setup.


You must not have read the important DD/5.1 threads, because if you had you'd know:

1.)  Almost all streaming services that deliver multichannel 5.1 (or 7.1/Atmos) audio are using either DD+ (Dolby Digital Plus/EAC3) or DD (Dolby Digital/AC3).

2.)  DD+/EAC3 is not directly backwards compatible with DD/AC3 - it requires a Dolby decoder to convert/transcode it to AC3 for output.

3.)  Only 3 Roku player models have Dolby decoders:  4640 (Ultra 2016), 4800 (Ultra 2020), 4802 (Ultra 2022); all other players models only passthrough DD+/DD, including the Express 4K+ (3941).

4.)  All TVs of the last decade or so (including Roku TVs) have Dolby DD+ level decoders, and can transcode/convert DD+ to DD for output (this is why your TV's internal apps can output DD - even if they receive a DD+ encoded stream, it converts it to DD for output via ARC or Optical).

5.)  Some TVs can transcode DD+ from HDMI to DD for ARC/Optical, but it depends on the TV/TV settings.

6.)  Some streaming services only use DD+ (e.g. NetFlix, Prime, Hulu, Disney+, Max (HBOMax used to use both), Peacock TV).

7.)  Some use either DD+ or DD (e.g. Paramount+, Apple TV/Apple TV+, YouTube, YouTube TV) depending on device/configuration.

8.)  Some use only DD (e.g. The Roku Channel).

9.) HBOMax was capable of either DD+ or DD, but the change to Max eliminated the DD support.

Your Express 4K+ (3941) cannot decode DD+/DD and can only passthrough DD+/DD to your Sony TV (model/configuration unknown), which apparently is capable of DD passthrough from HDMI>Optical, but is either NOT capable of accepting DD+ from HDMI, or is not capable of transcoding/converting DD+ from HDMI to DD for Optical, which is why NetFlix/Prime/Max only send 2.0 audio.

Its possible your TV may be able to transcode DD+ from HDMI to DD for Optical output and simply requires the correct setting(s) in its configuration menus.

Otherwise your TV doesnt accept DD+ from HDMI - you can check this via your Roku's audio settings:  Highlight Settings/Audio/Digital output format = Auto - if you see "Dolby Digital" or "Dolby Audio - DD" (and no mention of Dolby Digital+/DD+) listed as an available format, then your TV doesn't accept DD+ from HDMI.

Assuming your Sony TV (model unknown) and Sonos SoundBar (model unknown) do not support HDMI/ARC, and assuming you TV doesnt support DD+ from HDMI or cant be configured to transcode DD+ from HDMI > DD for Optical, and that you are NOT going to replace the TV/SB, then if you want full 5.1 streaming service support you need a streaming device with a Dolby decoder.

If you plan to stick with Roku you'll need either the $70-100 Ultra 2020/2022 (4800/4802), or another device such as the $20 ONN 4K Streaming Box or the Amazon Fire TV $40 Stick or $50 4K Stick Max - all of these devices have Dolby decoders and can transcode/convert DD+ to DD for output.

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