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My Windows 10 eARC Experience with Sonos Beam Gen 2
Version 0.812

Recently I attempted to upgrade my 2.1 Aego M (discontinued) analog sound system to a 5.1 digital sound system Sonos Beam Gen 2 + Sub + a pair of Era 100s.

It came with a a lot of surprising problems.

This review is still ongoing as of May 2023. As of last update, adding rears fixed the audio issue and I am finally enjoying 5.1 digital audio. Review is being updated

Current Hardware Config

Only the relevant hardware

  • Acer Z321Q 144hz 32" G-Sync Monitor hooked via DisplayPort
  • Intel 9900K + 32GB RAM + ASUS TUF Motherboard
  • Windows 10
  • Sound Blaster Audigy RX (has a Optical out port but no Dolby Digital live)
  • ASUS nVidia 2080ti (has HDMI and DisplayPort ports)

Why Sonos Beam Gen 2 Soundbar

I was looking for a modular 5.1 setup from my current 2.1.

The Logitech Z906 was a huge contender, however it was released in 2011 and I wanted a more recent one. Plus the cables would be messy.

People were recommending a separate AV receiver and standalone speakers. However, it was too clunky a setup for me.

I finally settled on the Sonos Beam Gen 2 due to these reasons

  1. It is not too wide (the Arc is very, VERY wide)
  2. Supports 5.1 (It supports Atmos too but there's no upfiring speakers unless you opt for ERA 300s as surround)
  3. Sub and surround speakers are wireless and require only a power connection
    • Bose's Smart Soundbar 600 was a contender but the surrounds are messy - each speaker comes with a wireless-receiver box, power cable and power adapter. The Sonos Era 100 has only one power cable.
    • JBL's detachable surround speakers are battery powered, their lifespan depends on the battery. Generally, I avoid built-in rechargable battery products whenever possible for this reason.
    • Most other soundbars are either too wide and/or do not have surround speakers
  4. Has a good reputation and community around it.
  5. Surround speakers should use 5Ghz wireless if possible to minimize interference.
  6. I was not able to find an all in one 5.1 compact PC speaker set that uses HDMI for uncompressed audio
  7. Does not support Chromecast though, which could be very convenient feature. Bose's Smart Soundbar 600 does though.

There's a BIG MAJOR con - the price. It is much much more expensive as compared to the Logitech Z906, about 400% more - that's around $2,100. You have been warned - don't enter the Sonos ecosystem without researching properly.

The best other cheaper alternative is Bose's Smart Soundbar 600 with Surround and either Bass Module 500 or Bass Module 700. As of 30 May, this costs around $1,297.00 with BM500 or $1,597.00 with BM700.

My Sonos configuration consists of


In Dolby Atmos mode

This is my experience of the 3.1 Dolby Atmos experience with the Sonos Beam Gen 2 (connected via eARC => eArc Adapter => nVidia 2080ti HDMI in Windows 10 Desktop PC with Dolby Access Home Theater with Channel Upmixer disabled) + Sub

  • The sound quality with music and Windows is great.
  • The bass appears to be sent between the Beam and Sub. When testing the bass only on Speaker setup, both the Beam and Sub generate the test audio. This is a neutral issue.
  • MAJOR ISSUE: Some 5.1 game sounds sound metallic / hollow / muffled. Black Desert Online NPC voices, Black Desert Online horse sounds, Elder Scrolls Online ambient noises. It works fine in Stereo mode but not in Dolby Atmos mode. UPDATE: This has been fixed by adding rear surround speakers. More details below.

In 5.1 / 7.1 Multi Channel PCM mode

This is my experience of the 5.1 audio with the Sonos Beam Gen 2 + Sub > (connected via HDMI eARC) > HD Fury 4K Arcana > nVidia 2080ti HDMI

  • The sound quality with music and Windows is great.
  • The bass appears to be sent between the Beam and Sub. When testing the bass only on Speaker setup, both the Beam and Sub generate the test audio. This is a neutral issue.
  • MAJOR ISSUE: Some 5.1 game sounds sound metallic / hollow / muffled. Black Desert Online NPC voices, Black Desert Online horse sounds, Elder Scrolls Online ambient noises. It works fine in Stereo mode but not in Dolby Atmos mode. UPDATE: This has been fixed by adding rear surround speakers. More details below.

In Stereo PCM (2.0) mode

This is my experience of the 2.1 audio with the Sonos Beam Gen 2 (connected via optical/eARC) + Sub

  • The bass is lacking even when cranked to maximum. With or without Sub, the difference is subtle as compared to the surround modes above
  • All games and apps work. No metallic / hollow / muffled audio issues or latency.
  • All games are only in 2.0 (2 speaker) mode, no 3.1 (3 speaker + sub) audio support.

In All modes

  • RANDOM MINOR ISSUE: The taskbar refuses to hide during full screen games when the eARC Adapter is used in Extend Multi Display mode. I suspect Chrome full screen to be the cause of it. I am now using Clone Multi Display mode instead and will update if the issue occurs again.
  • RANDOM MINOR ISSUE: Winamp crashes frequently especially when changing sound modes or resuming from monitor standby. Simply right-clicking the volume icon on the system tray is sometimes enough to trigger a crash.
  • (In fussy mode) Sound Blaster MIDI Synth does not work (or works in very low volume), but I can now use OmniMIDI instead although I can't find the exact SoundFont my Sound Blaster RX uses.

(Fixed) Major Issue: Surround Games sound metallic / hollow / muffled

Certain sound effects in multi surround games sound metallic / hollow / muffled when the sound system is set in anything other than Stereo PCM mode

It sounds fine in Stereo PCM 2.0 mode but not in Multichannel PCM / Dolby Atmos / Dolby Digital 5.1 mode. The problem occurs in both Optical and eARC mode.

Guaranteed to happen with certain sound effects in the following games

  • Black Desert Online NPC voice overs (press e to talk to any NPC)
  • Black Desert Online Character Footsteps
  • Black Desert Online Horse Braking
  • Elder Scrolls Online ambient audio
  • Elder Scrolls Online mount noises (press space when idle on mount)

No support from Sonos due to "Unsupported setup". Sonos support will not provide any assistance on this as the only supported setup is a TV connected to the Beam via HDMI ARC/eARC, with the audio source being from a TV app itself.


This major issue has been fixed by adding rears. I tested with 2x Sonos One SL and 2x ERA 100s. Note that you can't mix different models for surrounds.

eARC or Optical

Here are the pros and cons


Recommended by Sonos - Source

I have only tried this without a Dolby Digital Live sound card

  • CON: Needs a sound card that encodes Dolby Digital Live like Sound Blaster Z to get 5.1 otherwise you will only get non-surround (2.0) Stereo PCM. You'll get 5.1 for Dolby Digital movies without the sound card though.
    • I tried "APO" drivers to output Dolby Digital 5.1 via Optical and it works. However, there was some noticeable delay in audio
  • CON: If Dolby Digital surround is used, sound is compressed (in 5.1 Dolby) but difference is minimal
  • CON: Some game sounds are metallic / hollow / muffled in surround (non Stereo PCM mode) when used without rear speakers, described above. No such issue with 5.1 movies
  • PRO: The less-wires layout as compared to eARC which requires an eARC adapter, an extra HDMI cable andan extra power cable.

eARC (Uncompressed Audio)

This is what I am trying now

  • CON: Needs a powered middleman box like HD Fury 4K Arcana or OREI HDA-935 (or HDA-935) to extract the audio and send it to your soundbar via eARC as no video card or sound card currently has an eARC output as of May 2023. You cannot use standard HDMI ports for eARC function so you'll need to "extract" them using this box.
    • ALTERNATIVE: You can use a TV that has an eARC HDMI port as a monitor. However such monitors may be too big, fixed at 60hz refresh rate and/or may introduce other issues when used as a monitor.
  • CON: Many convenience issues as below
  • PRO: Uncompressed audio. Dolby Atmos support

I went with the OREI box as it was much cheaper than the HD Fury. However, I later found out that it does not support Multi Channel PCM. Hence I am using the HD Fury 4K Arcana now.

Issues You Will Face

Soundbar volume resets after every restart

Usually I keep the volume at the minimum level.

However after a restart of the eARC adapter or a resume of the "external" monitor, the soundbar volume goes to 20%. This is a minor inconvenience, but it happens.


If you don't play any audio for some time, you may hear silence for a while and then the audio works.

Fortunately, I found a workaround for this - SoundKeeper. It plays a quiet white noise that can be heard if you max out the Beam's volume but it is tolerable.

Extra Issues You Will Face with eARC

Multi Display Problems

Note: This is only an issue with OREI eARC Adapter as it only supports 60hz refresh rate when cloned.

You'll need to extend your desktop as the eARC adapter creates a virtual monitor when connected. There's seems to be no way of sending audio without sending a video signal.

You'll also need to extend the eARC adapter desktop by placing it in a corner and hope no windows open there. By placing the second monitor in a corner, your mouse pointer will not move there accidentally to an invisible display.

If you attempt to Clone the display, you cannot use refresh rates higher than 60hz as the OREI product can't support it. UPDATE: With the HDFury Arcana, I was able to get up to 144hz 1080p when cloning the display.

Any screenshots taken with Print Screen key in Extend mode will include the additional monitor display. However, this is one way to confirm whether the secondary display has any rogue windows or pop-ups.

Unable to get Multi Channel PCM (Update: Due to OREI limitation)

During my experience, I only had the options Stereo and Dolby Atmos to choose from. Dolby Atmos had a major muffle/echo issue in games so I needed PCM.

This issue could not be directly due to my Beam Gen 2 product as this Sonos article on the official site says that the Beam does support Multi Channel PCM over HDMI

Things I have tried to get Multichannel PCM Audio

  • Updated drivers and Windows 10
  • Connected the HDMI cable from the OREI box to the Z390 motherboard's built-in HDMI. Using this adds two additional encode options (Dolby Atmos MAT 2.0 and Dolby Atmos MAT 2.1) but no Multi Channel PCM
  • Tried 2ch 5.1ch 7.1ch modes on the OREI box
  • Tried various resolutions with the OREI box
  • Tried editing the EDID with Custom Resolution Utility CRU and force in Multi PCM but no audio is heard.
  • Tried asking OREI Support - no go

UPDATE: OREI support finally admitted that the product does not support Multichannel PCM.

I will be attempting to return the box.

Now with the HDFury Arcana, I get the following options. However, Quadraphonic does not work.

Suspending monitors cuts off audio

If you set a screen timeout in your power settings, the eARC adapter will suspend too causing audio to cut off since it is a "monitor".

There is a Reddit hack here I have not tried yet. Simply tape over pin 19 on the HDMI cord coming out of your GPU to the eARC Adapter as that pin is only used for hot plug detections

Getting audio to start working requires a series of steps (Partially Fixed)

The 99% best way to get the audio to start working

  1. Power up your soundbar and desktop PC
  2. Wait about 30 - 60 seconds
  3. And then power on the eARC adapter

If audio doesn't come (especially when switching resolutions or sound mode), try playing a video file with Dolby Digital audio. If that works, close the video file and sound should continue working in about 5 seconds.

If it still doesn't come, you'll need to power cycle the eARC adapter box. Simply power off the eARC adapter for least 10 seconds. Rarely I had to power cycle the box up to two times.

Things that don't work

  • Switching speakers to built-in monitor speakers and then back to eARC Adapter
  • Enabling/disabling the eARC Adapter display in "Set up multiple displays"
  • Enabling/disabling the eARC Adapter audio in "Set up digital audio"
  • Disable/Enable nVidia Video Card

UPDATE: With the HD Fury Arcana, setting the Scaler to 1080p 8b SDR reduces the occurence of this issue.

HD Fury 4K Arcana vs OREI HDA-935/OREI HDA-931

I was able to test both the HD Fury 4K Arcana and OREI HDA-935. The only difference between the HDA-935 and HDA-931 model is that the 935 allows 3 HDMI inputs, effectively a 3 HDMI switcher built-in.

The Arcana has only one IN and two OUT, one for soundbar, one for TV. In my case, the TV output was unused. The Arcana firmware can be updated and allows a plethora of configuration options, but I did not use any of it. Update: I had to set the Scaler option to allow all devices to power on at the same time. Otherwise I will need to wait till the Beam's LED stops blinking to power on the Arcana as the audio would not work otherwise.

One thing to note is that Multi PCM passthrough is not supported on the OREI products, which is what the Nintendo Switch uses for surround sound.

Support wise, both OREI and HDFury were responsive to my queries.

So my recommendation is to get the OREI product as it is much cheaper UNLESS you are planning to use it with the Switch or a desktop PC directly. But if you can afford it, go for the HDFury Arcana to avoid some of the issues I encountered above.

Last Updated 3 June 2023.

Errors? Omissions? Need Help? Know something? Post your queries in the comments below.

This document is Copyright(©) 2023 by G.Ganesh.

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