How to set up your Roku® streaming player or Roku® Streaming Stick® for surround sound

Background

All the movies and TV shows accessible through your Roku streaming player are available in stereo; however, some are also available in surround sound. Although most Roku streaming players do not decode surround sound audio, they can pass-through the audio to an audio/video receiver (AVR), sound bar, or TV, that is capable of decoding surround sound.

If you have a Roku player capable of outputting 4K, be sure you review how to setup your Roku streaming player for 4K.

If you do not have an AVR, sound bar, or TV capable of supporting surround sound, then follow the specific set of instructions in the appropriate link below:

Setting up your Roku streaming player to play surround sound

Most Roku streaming players do not decode Dolby Audio or DTS surround sound, however all Roku players can pass-through the audio to an AVR, sound bar, or TV, that is capable of decoding surround sound.

  • Note: Surround sound pass-through is only available when your Roku streaming player is connected via HDMI or S/PDIF (optical) connection.

Different AVRs and TVs support different audio formats; some may only decode Dolby® Digital (DD) audio; whereas others may decode Dolby Digital Plus (DD+), Dolby ATMOS, and/or DTS®. Check the manufacturer’s documentation to understand which audio formats are supported.

Content partners such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu may provide surround sound in different formats; for example, Netflix® encodes their audio in Dolby Digital Plus (and stereo). VUDU® encodes some audio in Dolby Digital, some in Dolby Digital Plus, and some in Dolby ATMOS (and all in stereo). To play the audio in surround sound, your Roku player must be connected to an AVR, sound bar, or TV capable of decoding the format used by the content partner.

  • Note: The Roku Ultra* provides an additional option to transcode Dolby Digital Plus to Dolby Digital. This allows you to connect your Roku Ultra to an AVR, sound bar, or TV that supports Dolby Digital, but not Dolby Digital Plus, and still hear the audio in surround sound.

    * Not available in all countries.

Audio/video connections

If you are connecting a Roku player (and not a Roku Streaming Stick), begin by firmly attaching a Premium High Speed HDMI Cable to the HDMI port on the back of the Roku player. If needed, you can purchase a Premium High Speed HDMI Cable from the Roku accessories store.

A Streaming Stick does not require an HDMI cable as it connects directly to an HDMI input on your AVR, sound bar or TV.

Depending on the devices you are connecting to your Roku player, follow one of the recommended options below.

  1. Connecting to a surround sound compatible TV

  • Connect the end of the HDMI cable that is not attached to your Roku player, or connect your Streaming Stick to an available HDMI input on your TV.
  1. Connecting to an AVR (or sound bar with audio/video switching)
    AVRs are designed to be a single point where you switch audio and video between your different devices (e.g., Roku player, cable box, gaming console). Connect all your devices to the AVR and a single cable to your TV. Some sound bars have this same functionality and can be connected the same way. Refer to the manufacturer documentation if you are not sure if your sound bar has this capability.

  • Connect the end of the HDMI cable that is not attached to your Roku player, or connect your Streaming Stick to an available HDMI input on your AVR (or sound bar).
  • Connect a Premium High Speed HDMI Cable to an output on the AVR (or sound bar). Connect the opposite end to an available HDMI input on your TV.
  • AVRs can be complicated to configure. If you have trouble, consider seeking help from a service like the Best Buy Geek Squad.
  1. Connecting to a surround sound compatible TV and AVR with ARC (Audio Return Channel)

    If your TV and AVR both support ARC, this configuration can be simpler because the AVR can easily receive audio from the TV’s tuner and other devices connected to your TV’s HDMI inputs, not just the Roku streaming player or Streaming Stick. This option allows you to switch audio and video between your different devices on your TV.

  • Connect the end of the HDMI cable that is not attached to your Roku player, or connect your Streaming Stick to an available HDMI input on your TV.
  • Connect a Premium High Speed HDMI Cable to the HDMI port on your TV that supports ARC (it is usually marked “ARC”). Connect the opposite end to an HDMI port on the AVR that supports ARC. Both the TV and AVR must support ARC. Consult your TV and AVR product documentation for more information about this requirement.
  • AVRs can be complicated to configure. If you have trouble, consider seeking help from a service like the Best Buy Geek Squad.
  1. Connecting to a sound bar without audio/video switching

    Use this option if your sound bar is not able to switch between your devices like an AVR. This type of sound bar does not have an HDMI output and often only has a single S/PDIF, or optical input. Refer to the manufacturer documentation if you are not sure what type of sound bar you have.

  • Connect the end of the HDMI cable that is not attached to your Roku player, or connect your Streaming Stick to an available HDMI input on your TV.
  • Connect an optical cable to the S/PDIF output on your TV. Connect the opposite end to the S/PDIF input on your sound bar.
  1. Connecting to a surround sound compatible AVR using S/PDIF (optical)

    Use this configuration if your Roku player includes the S/PDIF connector, and your AVR does not support HDMI.

  • Connect the end of the HDMI cable that is not attached to your Roku player to an available HDMI input on your TV.
  • Connect an optical cable to the S/PDIF output on your Roku player. Connect the opposite end to a S/PDIF input on your AVR.

Guided setup

After the connections are made, power on your Roku player or Roku Streaming Stick+ and complete guided setup using instructions from the appropriate link below.

Troubleshooting

If you do not hear audio:

  • Press Home on your remote control, scroll down to Settings and select Audio > HDMI (or HDMI and S/PDIF on Roku players with an S/PDIF connector). Instead of “Auto detect”, select the option that matches the capabilities of your TV or AVR. If the behavior continues, review more suggestions for determining why you do not hear audio.
  • If you are using S/PDIF, check that the input you are using on your AVR has S/PDIF assigned as the audio source. Refer to the manufacturer documentation if you are not sure how to assign the audio source for an input on your AVR.

If you can only hear stereo audio:

  • Press Home on your remote control, scroll down to Settings and select Audio > HDMI (or HDMI and S/PDIF on Roku players with an S/PDIF connector). Instead of “Auto detect”, select the option that matches the capabilities of your TV or AVR.
  • Some channels may also require you to change the audio setting within the channel. For example, Netflix may require you to select “English (5.1)” under “Audio and Subtitles”.

If you do not see video:

  • Make sure the correct input is selected on your TV
  • If you are using an AVR or sound bar with video switching, check that the correct input is selected.
  • Make sure your Premium High Speed HDMI Cables (if any) are firmly connected to all devices. If you are using a Roku Streaming Stick, make sure it is firmly attached to the HDMI input of your TV or AVR (or sound bar).
  • If the behavior continues, review the suggestions for determining why you do not see video.

If you cannot see 4K video:

  • When connecting your 4K capable Roku player or Streaming Stick, be sure you are using Premium HDMI cables and HDMI 2.0 inputs that supports HDCP 2.2. Learn about all the requirements for setting up your Roku streaming player for 4K.
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