Troubleshooting a soundbar is a difficult endeavor. Most soundbars have a minimal number of controls and no display to tell you what is wrong. Because of this, troubleshooting soundbars often means a lot of trial and error. However, knowing what to try first can save you some time.
Most soundbar issues result from improper connection, an incorrect device setting, a poor physical arrangement. Most fixes are fairly simple, though some may require some time to troubleshoot. Try the simplest solutions first, and move up in complexity only if needed.
Your soundbar could work improperly for a host of different reasons. Below you’ll find nine of the most common issues users have with their soundbars. If you follow these troubleshooting instructions step by step, you should be able to fix what’s wrong while saving the most time and money.
Before you try any of these steps, you should always try a power cycle first. Unplugging your device and plugging it back in after about 15 seconds is the easiest troubleshooting step, which can solve a variety of problems.
When the System Won’t Work at All
Without going too deep, the first category of problems covers instances where the system fails to work at all.
The System Won’t Turn On
Most power issues are fairly simple problems with equally simple solutions. The first thing you want to do is check if it is actually off. Usually, soundbars will have an indicator light of some kind indicating that they are powered on. Consult your manual to determine what this looks like on your device.
You may have to download the complete manual on your manufacturer’s website. If the indicator light is on, chances are you have a sound problem rather than a power problem.
If your soundbar is indeed not powering on, be sure to use the power button on the soundbar instead of the remote. If this works to turn on your soundbar, your remote’s battery, or the remote itself, may need to be replaced.
If you still don’t get power to your soundbar, check all the connections. Your soundbar needs to be connected both to a device sending sound to it as well as a power source. Check all outlets and ports to ensure that they are free of debris and securely connected, and ensure that there are no cut or damaged wires or cables in your setup.
If there are, try replacing these. You may be able to get a replacement power cable from the manufacturer, even if your soundbar is out of warranty (more on that below).
There’s No Sound
If your soundbar is powering on, but not producing any sound, check your volume settings. Try your remote first, but also try the volume controls on the soundbar itself if this doesn’t work. Also, be sure to check the volume settings on your source device. The volume of your source device should be set at the maximum and all volume control should be handled by the soundbar.
If you connect your soundbar to your source device with HDMI, you may be able to take advantage of a feature called HDMI CED (which we have some more detail on in a separate article). Among other features, it enables you to have a universal volume control across all of your connected devices, as well as the ability to control it all with one remote.
If you still are getting no sound from your soundbar, check your connections. If the connections appear secure, try using alternative ports if you have them. This will eliminate the possibility that one of your ports is damaged. If you are connecting wirelessly, ensure that your device is paired.
If your connections appear secure, try a different cable to connect your soundbar to your device. This will eliminate the possibility of a faulty cable. If all else fails, try connecting an audio source through a different connection. If this doesn’t work, it may indicate internal damage to your soundbar.
Problems with System Performance
The next category of common issues reflect a system that powers on and is functional, but may have some performance issues. In addition to these troubleshooting steps, you can reference our guide on how to make a soundbar sound better in general for more tips here.
No Improvement from TV Sound
If you get sound, but it sounds like your TV’s sound, it probably is. Check your audio settings to ensure that your source device is routing sound to the soundbar. The easiest way to do this is to consult the manual for your source device and follow installation instructions connecting external audio devices.
This may result in similarly poor audio quality or no sound. If either of these is the case, follow the instructions for dealing with no sound above. You may either have an issue with your volume settings or your connections.
Sound Is “Weird” or Quiet
If you’ve taken the above steps to fix your sound to no avail, you might have your soundbar in a special audio mode. Some soundbars come with night mode or dialogue-enhancement mode which modify the sound for specific uses.
Night mode is designed to reduce certain frequencies so as not to disturb people in adjacent rooms. Dialogue-enhancement mode amplifies higher-pitched frequencies and is good for watching the news and other highly narrated content.
However, when you enable either of these settings accidentally, it can make your content just sound weird. This is especially the case with movies that have powerful soundtracks. Consult your manual on how to disable these special sound modes.
If you still have trouble, it might mean that your source device is broadcasting a type of audio your soundbar can’t fully produce. This may be the case if your source device is broadcasting a 5.x surround sound signal to a 2.x or 3.x soundbar.
If this is the case, the rear channels which would usually fold into the left and right channels may drop out completely. Consult your soundbar manual and adjust your TV’s audio settings to match the speaker arrangement.
Sound and Picture Out of Sync
This problem can occur when your source device is connected directly to your soundbar which passes the video on to the TV. Many TV boxes, Sky boxes, and disc players have a feature to prevent this. In your box’s audio settings menu, you may find an “audio delay” feature. Adjust the audio delay until you are happy with the syncing.
Noise of “fuzziness” in the sound can come from a few different places. For that reason, we can break our approach here down into two categories:
Checking All Connections and the Source
The most likely culprit when it comes to unwanted sound is the cable. This is especially the case with analog audio. Check all connections to ensure they are fully inserted and secure. If your connections are good, you might be dealing with some sort of interference. Although this is likely your cable causing it, the effect may be amplified with improper volume settings.
Be sure that your source is set to maximum volume and you control the volume primarily with the soundbar. This helps because low input volume can be overwhelmed by interference which your soundbar will amplify along with the audio signal.
Modifying the Positioning
The mere position of a particular cable can create a loop that captures radio interference. One simple solution is moving or organizing your cables. Although this can be as simple as using rubber bands or twist ties, there are other accessories you can use to organize your cables like the JOTO Cable Management Sleeve (on Amazon).
If the connections you use are shielded, such as HDMI, you might want to consider upgrading your cables. Cheap cables may use poor shielding materials, allowing for interference.
Another possible cause of unwanted noise is “60 cycle hum” or “mains hum.” 60 cycle hum sounds like a constant low buzzing and is caused by nearby high-voltage currents. The most common sources are household wiring and fluorescent lighting. This is usually solved by moving the soundbar. If your soundbar is mounted to your wall, take it off the mount and find an area on your wall where you do not get the hum, and reinstall the mount there.
Problems with Device Connections
These issues are around the devices failing to connect, or failing to stay connected.
Soundbar Turns Off During Playback
If your soundbar repeatedly cuts off while you are watching content, it may be due to energy-saving settings. Since these settings may be beneficial both to the environment as well as the longevity of your device, you might want to keep them on if you can.
One thing that can trigger this behavior is poor volume calibration. Ensure that the volume of your source device is set to maximum. Since energy saver mode is sometimes triggered by a lack of audio signal (especially with analog connections), using maximum volume will minimize if not eliminate this problem. You should always control your volume with your output device whenever possible.
If this doesn’t fix your problems, you may want to disable energy-saving mode. If it fixes the problem, you likely won’t notice any difference otherwise.
No Sound from Subwoofer
Being unable to get sound from the subwoofer is especially frustrating since subwoofers can add a lot to a soundbar setup (our article). As always, check whether the subwoofer is powered on. Sometimes, the subwoofer may have its own power source you need to connect. Consult your manual for details.
If you still don’t get sound, check the connections. Ensure that wires are not damaged by swapping them out. If you are using a wireless connection, consult your manual to ensure the devices are properly paired.
Can’t Connect Wirelessly
If you are trying to connect to your soundbar with Bluetooth or WiFi, you may have difficulty with pairing. The most common cause is additional devices already paired. Consult your manual, and unpair your soundbar from all devices. This is usually as simple as turning off Bluetooth connectivity and turning it back on again.
If this doesn’t fix your issue, be sure to reference our article on how wireless soundbars work to better understand what may be causing the problem.
Still Having Trouble?
If nothing above worked for you, it’s time to consider some nuclear options
If all else fails, you can try a factory reset. The process for doing this will differ from device to device, but it will restore your device to its factory settings. Consult your manual for instructions on how to do this.
Return/Exchange (Under Warranty)
If you have a new soundbar that is giving you issues, you should first determine whether it is eligible for your retailer’s return or exchange policy. The easiest way to fix persistent problems is to simply replace the soundbar.
If you bought it from a store, repackage the soundbar and its components to the best of your ability, and bring it to customer service or a manager to discuss an exchange. If you bought it online, do your best to talk to a customer service representative, preferably by phone.
Return/Exchange (Not Under Warranty)
Even if your soundbar is outside of the return or exchange period, it’s worth a shot to try calling anyway. If you are denied, you can politely plead your case, but understand that the person you are speaking to may not have authority to alter company policy. If this is the case, you should determine if your device is under warranty.
If this is the case, follow the warranty instructions that come with your soundbar. It is important to do this before going to a repair shop, since it may void the warranty. You may be asked to return the soundbar to the manufacturer for repairs. If this is the case, inquire about the cost of shipping and repairs to avoid any surprise costs.
If your device is not under warranty according to your documentation, try contacting them anyway. Often manufacturers are more interested in retaining you as a loyal customer than saving what is to them a small amount of money on shipping and repairs. Further, they may be able to connect you to other departments within the company or licensed repair shops that handle non-warranty repairs, probably at an expense.
If you are passed on to another company department from the warranty claims department, get an estimate and a quote for shipping and labor cost as well as the expected turnaround time. Understand that until they are able to examine your soundbar, they will not be able to give you an accurate quote for labor time or necessary materials.
The Final Solution: Selling for Parts
Ultimately, your particular priorities will determine which option you choose. If the repair tech identifies the problem as being unfixable, or if enough repair techs are unable to source the problem, you may want to consider selling it for parts.
Many repair techs and recycling companies will pay a small amount to gut your soundbar to repair for working parts and raw materials. It may not be much, but it can contribute to buying something that works.