PlayStation 4 Audio Problems and Inadequate Sony Support

Recently I noticed a problem with my PlayStation 4. When watching a Blu-ray with one of the new audio formats (DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD) it would only play in stereo. Play a game, stream something, or watch a DVD or Blu-ray with an audio track of Dolby Digital or DTS and they played correctly. Whatever settings I tried I couldn’t get them to work.

I contacted both the audio receiver manufacturer and PlayStation support to try and get an answer, none has been forthcoming, and I’m really confused, especially when the PlayStation 3 plays the audio perfectly.

Before I tell you about the support experiences I’ve had, and they aren’t good at all, let me explain the set-up I have and what I’ve tried. Maybe you are a PlayStation 4 (PS4) home cinema enthusiast who knows the exact problem and solution, here’s hoping anyway.

My PlayStation 3 (PS3) and 4 both connect to my Onkyo TR-SR605 receiver through HMDI. HDMI then connects the receiver to the television, and the six speakers are connected to the receiver. Simple. No other connections and the audio passes through HDMI as well.

In trying to solve the problem I’ve tried the different audio settings on the PlayStation 4 both while playing a Blu-ray and in the main system settings. I’ve also tried the same Blu-ray through the PS3, and it works there when it fails on the PS4. To ensure that there’s nothing different in the cabling or systems I’ve even disconnected the HDMI from the PS3 and plugged it into the PS4 and it still does not play the audio correctly.

Stumped, totally stumped. So I contacted Onkyo support, this is what I asked:

I have a PlayStation 4 connected to my SR605 and I wonder about the correct audio settings to ensure that Blu-ray audio comes through and plays correctly on my 5.1 speakers. What I find is that either all the speakers play the same output channel or I just get stereo.

The PS4 is connected to the SR605 through HDMI and I have set the PS4 to output audio through the HDMI. I believe I should set it to Linear PCM and also Linear PCM on the output settings when the Blu-ray is playing. However this doesn’t always work and often Bitstream (DTS) ends up being the best output option for the PS4 to get separated 5.1 sound.

If you could advise I’d be most grateful. Now I feel like my Amp and 5.1 audio system just isn’t any use for films any more, and this is difficult when I actually review films!

This is what I received from Onkyo:

you need to set the PS4 or BluRay Player to bitstream to get Dolby Sourround 5.1 it is not working with PCM with the most movies.

Please use always Bitstream.

Well I tried that and it didn’t make any difference. So I thought I would contact Sony PlayStation support, after all it was now clear the problem lay with the PlayStation 4 and the format it was outputting the audio in. Here’s what I asked:

I’ve noticed a problem with DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD between my PlayStation 4 and my Onkyo TR-SR605, for Blu-rays with the above audio tracks it will only play in Stereo. However, if I play through my PlayStation 3 into the same Onkyo receiver it will play both DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD.

I’ve contacted Onkyo who say that I should play with the Bitstream settings from the PlayStation 4, but whichever I chose, Bitstream or Linear, these audio tracks will not play.

I’ve swapped the HDMI cable from the back of the PlayStation 3 and placed it into the Playstation 4 so that everything from the HDMI cable through to the speakers was the same set-up, however it still played the Blu-ray in stereo.

The Blu-ray I’ve used in the above test was Inception with a DTS-HD MA audio track.

Can you advise what I should be doing in the PlayStation 4 to ensure it can output the audio in the same way that the PlayStation 3 does? Otherwise the PlayStation 4 is useless for the majority of Blu-rays I purchase and receive as screeners.

The first response from the support team initially seemed quite helpful, they responded with a number of points. Note that I’ve added letters to the start of some of the lines as I’ll reference them in my response back.

Regarding your issue, we suggest to check the following.

A) HDMI Connection – Check that you have the HDMI cable connected correctly.
B) Digital (Optical) Connection – Ensure that the optical cable is correctly connected.

C) 1. Ensure that you have the correct output options selected within the console’s sound settings.
D) 2. If you have the console connected to a TV, have you selected the surround sound option? If so, deselecting all options may resolve the issue.
E) 3. If you have the console connected to a home cinema system, do the options selected within the system’s sound settings match the requirements of the cinema system?
F) 4. Are speakers connected correctly?

Also, here’s some helpful information.

G) When you connect your PS4™ system to your TV, home theater, or other connected device, the audio format that is output from the PS4 is automatically optimized for that device. The PS4 will automatically output sound via HDMI, so it is usually not necessary to adjust these settings.

H) If you connect a device such as an AV amplifier for a home theater to the PS4™ system’s DIGITAL OUT (OPTICAL) port, you can manually change the audio output setting. To adjust settings, select [Sound and Screen] > [Audio Output Settings] > [Primary Output Port] > [DIGITAL OUT (OPTICAL)].

I) Note that if the selected output format from the PS4™ system is not supported by the connected device, the speakers might be damaged.
J) If a device that is not compatible with the HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) standard is connected to the PS4™ system using an HDMI cable, video and audio cannot be output from the system.

K) Audio Format (Priority)
You can set the format of audio output from the PS4™ system. Select [Sound and Screen] > [Audio Output Settings] > [Audio Format (Priority)]. The default setting is [Linear PCM].

So I went back with detail on what I have as a set-up, what I’d done in testing, and answers to everything they’d come up with. At this point I had felt that I’d tried absolutely everything.

To confirm a few things, as I’ve covered most of these points already in testing and it still isn’t working. Let me just describe my connections and my setup before I continue, just so you know what I have.

These are the connections I have to my Onkyo TR-SR605.
PS4 (Audio and Video HDMI) to Onkyo
PS3 (Audio and Video HDMI) to Onkyo
XBox 360 (Audio and Video HDMI) to Onkyo
PS2 (Video Coaxial / Audio Optical) to Onkyo
CD (Digital) to Onkyo
MiniDisc (Digital) to Onkyo
Tuner (Coaxial) to Onkyo

The Onkyo is connected to a Mission 5.1 sound system and has been in operation for around five years now.

All the connections above work and output sound.
The Onkyo is capable of decoding both DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD.
The PS3 plays Blu-rays with DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD to the Onkyo without problem with both Audio and Video through the HDMI, the PS4 does not.

In order to disprove the issue is with anything from the HDMI port of the PS4 to the speakers, I removed the rear HDMI output from the PS3 and attached it to the PS4, this did not output the correct sound formats to the Onkyo. This would show that the problem is not with any connections from the PS4 output port onwards as with the same connections the PS3 does output the correct formats to the Onkyo and the PS4 does not. This test was also carried out with the same Blu-ray.

I’ve addressed your points with letters so I can reference them below.

A) HDMI cable is connected properly.
B) Digital Optical is not used for audio in my set-up as this provides a lesser bandwidth for the newer audio formats.
C) This is the question I am asking. I have tried a combination of the two settings on the console’s main settings and the settings while playing a Blu-ray, neither outputs the correct audio format and always results, in the case of the new HD audio formats, stereo only.
D) The console is connected to the Onkyo with HD pass-through for the picture only to the television.
E) The Onkyo can support all audio formats, and Onkyo support have told me that Bitstream is the setting to choose. Having done this, the PS4 will still not present the correct audio formats to the Onkyo while the PS3 does.
F) Yes. They have been tested with the PS3 and all the other above connected devices without problem. Indeed watching a Blu-ray or DVD with a non-HD audio track does output in more than just stereo to the Onkyo.
G) There are not many settings to adjust, as far as I can see, other than HDMI audio output and either Bitstream or PCM, again neither work.
H) The audio output for the PS4 is not via the Optical output.
I) Understood.
J) Video and audio are output perfectly well from the PS3 and in HD formats. The PS4 will only present the Onkyo with stereo for these audio tracks, with other non-HD audio tracks it does present them correctly and the audio is heard.
K) I have tried these options, the PS4 will still not present the HD audio correctly while the PS3 will.

Can I ask for further assistance please? One of the main features I bought the PS4 for was to output these Blu-ray HD audio formats and it is not and yet the system I have is capable of playing them as seen with the PS3 and the Onkyo specifications and their support channel.

Their response was a little disappointing. Here we see that they haven’t read much of what I’ve said regarding the set-up of the system and they’re already resorting to the standard “we don’t know the answer responses”, one of which is the standard “it’s someone else’s problem”. Except it’s an Onkyo receiver, one which handles the new audio formats, and in my set-up does just that when played through the PS3.

Does the PlayStation 4 output sound to other devices when it is connected directly to a television via HDMI?

Whilst we do support a number of different output settings on the PlayStation 4 the compatibility with third party devices cannot be guaranteed.

This compatibility may also differ between other console such as the PlayStation 3.

Now I get a little frustrated and start to push the point a little more.

I’m not sure what you’re asking here. My PS4 is connected to my Onkyo Receiver via HDMI and it will output audio except when playing a Blu-ray with either of the HD audio formats, these both output as stereo. The exact same connections and Blu-ray with the PS3 outputs the audio with the correct HD audio formats.

So is the answer to this that the PS4 does not output HD audio formats to the industry standard Onkyo receiver, but the PS3 and XBox consoles do?

Can you clarify that for me please, as if this is the case then half the function of the PS4 is effectively useless to me.

If the above is the case then could you tell me what the approved audio receivers for the PS4 actually are?

Now the support team resort to the worst standard response, reset everything.

I’m sorry to hear that you‘ve experienced a problem with your PS4. You might solve this issue by restoring the system software of the PS4™ system to its default settings.

On your home screen, select [Settings] > [Initialization] > [Restore Default Settings].

If this doesn’t work I advise you to speak again to Onkyo in order to single out any other compatibility issues.

I was even more frustrated now. So I tried again.

I’m not resetting my PlayStation 4 to default settings. This is a standard support response, something I know having worked with various financial organisation’s support teams from first to third level, and not one that diagnoses the problem. It’s a common one used when a solution is not known or understood, or worse still, to avoid a support call.

Regardless of this, it does not tell me what the settings should be on the PlayStation 4 to match those of the PlayStation 3. The suggestion to contact Onkyo also misses the key point of the support call – playing the same Blu-ray on the PS3 outputs the correct HD audio, on the PS4 it does not, and this is with the same HDMI connection swapped between the two consoles, the only component in the entire set-up that changes is the PlayStation version.

Since you manufacture and support both the PlayStation 3 and 4, and the PlayStation 4 is sold as dealing with the HD audio formats through HDMI, I had expected you could tell me which settings should be made in order to allow the PlayStation 4 to output the HD audio formats through HDMI in the same way that the PlayStation 3 does. Otherwise I have to infer that the PlayStation 4 does not handle the HD audio formats correctly.

Please advise and confirm.

At this point I’m still waiting to hear, I actually think the support teams have just abandoned my call and are ignoring it. My next port of call will be to check with Onkyo once more and probably pointing them to this very posting.

The upshot of all of this is that there is no solution. The PS3 will output the new audio formats correctly, the PS4 will not, even with exactly the same set-up from the back of the PlayStation all the way to my ears. How can that be? Frankly I’m stumped, and I’m forced to watch all my Blu-rays through the PS3, or through the PS4 in stereo.

7 comments on “PlayStation 4 Audio Problems and Inadequate Sony Support”

  1. Brian Reply

    Did you manage to solve this problem? I seem to be in the same position with my PS4 and Onkyo SR508 receiver. I have resorted to using my PS3 to get proper decoding for DTS Master Audio.

    • Richard Reply

      Hi Brian. Sorry it took so long to respond, I had some technical problems this end, other than with the audio system!

      I’ve not resolved this. I had an update from Onkyo that I need to add here where they tried to assist further and they suggested a PS4 reset so that the Onkyo and PS4 forget their current connection options. This isn’t a viable option though.

      I might revert to the PS3 for playback in the meantime and then buy a new, Sony receiver. Crazy that the options are use an older player, reset the PS4 or buy a new receiver.

  2. Mallan Reply

    My phillips surround sound system worjed fine until I updated my PS4. Now it’s all stereo. All of ’em. It’s the system software 3.50 Update that wrecked it up. The problem is that most of all ps4 owners doesnt own a surround sound and just play it through tv or headset where you cant notice the sound. We had the problem since the Update 3.50.

    • Richard Reply

      Excellent find Mallan. No responses on it yet, but here’s hoping.

      It talks about audio through the Optical, interestingly mine is through the HDMI to my Amp and Optical to my 5.1 headset, and the headset works!

  3. Dennis van den Berk Reply

    I have similar problems with my setup. I have my PS4 hooked up via optical to my Sony StrDb940 QS. Because I have been playing only Minecraft for the last 2 months or so I didn’t notice I had lost my surround to the rears, even though my amp still sees a 5.1 signal, there is nog signal going to the rears. After reading your problems I’m somewhat relieved because this is most likely a software issue in the PS4 and not a hardware problem in one of the devices. I have sent a help request to Sony’s helpdesk but that probably will result in the same back and forth email chain as yours.

    Let’s hope more people are having issues and reporting them so that the PS4 software can be updated.

  4. Luke Reply

    I can confirm issues with my surround sound lately. Not sure when the issue started exactly, but assume it’s related to a PS4 update as there haven’t been any other modifications to my setup. If I switch from Linear PCM to either bitstream for audio I lose sound completely in a few apps (eg: YouTube and Plex). I had previously had my PS4 set to bitstream DTS since the time of purchase. This is extremely disappointing… I’m using optical output and not HDMI by the way.

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