Surround sound issue

My problem is that not all my TV’s support surround via the Tablo box, not to mention my ‘Dolby’ laptop for some reason. If I enable surround on the Tablo, I get nothing on the older TV, so I have to use ‘regular’ sound.

Netflix, Amazon, and such all can adjust for this as I get sound on all devices (surround on the capable ones).

Why can’t Tablo build in something that will record in surround, but if a device can’t handle it, play it in stereo/mono?

If memory serves, I think it is because they are only capable of recording one audio stream. I believe the other services you mention have multiple audio streams available. I’m not sure if Tablo’s limitation is a space issue or a processing issue. Or perhaps they just haven’t gotten around to supporting the recording of multiple streams or the playback of a choice of recorded audio streams.

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5.1 Surround Sound

Once you enable the Surround Sound feature, your Tablo will deliver this audio profile to all your devices, whether that device has the capacity to decode surround sound or not.

Tablo doesn’t build the devices that can or can’t.

Devices that cannot decode surround sound – like many Android smartphones - will receive video, but no audio.

Suggest it’s a “two piece” issue -

Supported streaming set-top-boxes, sticks, or mobile devices must have the appropriate device-level passthrough settings enabled and (if applicable) be connected to a device (TV and/or audio device) that can decode 5.1 Surround Sound.

First need a streaming device with proper settings… the device capable of playing 5.1 – and a “3rd party” to know both are playing together? Probably a massive headache.

Headache or not, when you have a device that is supposedly capable of streaming to multiple platforms/devices, you should never put in a ‘feature’ that doesn’t take this into account and allow for usage across all platforms. I bet there are many, many people that can’t use surround sound because of this issue. Just saying ‘sorry’ is wrong, they should figure out a way.

I had to switch my soundbar with my A/V receiver due to lip syncing issues while using the Tablo. Again, only Tablo was exhibiting this behavior, other services were not. Anyway, when switching to my A/V receiver, I’ve found that Tablo thinks this isn’t a surround sound device, so no sound. Yeah, right… while it’s older, it certainly has surround sound capability.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like my Tablo, I would just like to see them fix things that are broken before moving on to other features.

Yes, tablo kind of comes one-size-fits all… and, well that’s not always going to work for everyone - everywhere.

Many at least several users often come here with issues concerning “shortcomings” concerning their tablo, including myself. Your surround sound, across multiple devices seems challenging to work around - most are just annoyances.

As you noted, tablo isn’t all bad, it does a fairly decent job at what it’s designed to do… particularly when accepting it’s various UI constraints.

What playback device? This isn’t specific to the Tablo app. For example on the Roku, it can auto-detect the wrong audio settings. This can be manually fixed under the Roku system settings. So it is not the settings in the Tablo app.

I completely disagree. This was done because so many users said “Give me surround sound, even if it doesn’t work on all devices”. The users here were willing to live with this limitation (or at least claimed to).


Some things to consider. Recently I had an HDMI cable giveaway me problems between the Roku Tablo app and my Denon AVR. Swapping cables and following the suggestions I saw onscreen seemed to have fixed the problem.

Well, it may have been a “Give me surround…”, but I bet the ‘doesn’t work on all devices’ was taken as surround wouldn’t work on all devices, not that audio wouldn’t work if a device didn’t support surround. Anyway, it’s just a PITA as implemented.

IMHO, the issue is “surround sound” and total lack of “good implementation” across the board.

It’s a passthrough hack. It’s like:

I want surround sound.

“Oh, we never thought of that, the protocols and codecs don’t support it. Let’s just pass through whatever crap you want to passthrough and hope for the best.”

But, there’s a gazillion standards (i.e. there is no standard).

“We’ll just pass it through and hope you can deal with it on your end.”

Essentially, this IS what surround sound is today (regardless of Tablo, etc.)


I agree with this. The surround sound audio from the Tablo is the untouched 5.1 AC3 audio track from the OTA stream that is passed through to your HDTV or AVR.

The HDTV OTA tuner can decode the 5.1 AC3 audio so you can hear audio.

Because your playback device can’t decode the audio cause it doesn’t have a AC3 codec isn’t the fault of the Tablo. But almost all HDTVs and AVRs can decode 5.1 AC3 audio passed through to it. If you’re not hearing audio it’s cause you have not set up your configuration properly, which again has nothing to do with the Tablo directly.

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As a new user of a Tablo Quad, and the owner of 3 Rokus (Ultra and 2 Premiers), I was extremely disappointed to find out that when surround sound is enabled the Tablo “thinks” that my Roku Ultra connected to a modern Denon home theater amplifier with literally all of the Dolby modes supported is not a device that will play surround sound! And, even if it would process the sound for our home theater, the other two Rokus are merely attached to TV sets without surround sound and if surround sound is turned on, it isn’t possible to even access live or recorded shows…period!

This is really unacceptable; especially with no advance warning prior to purchase or even unboxing and activating the unit.

I am a technician and have been an installer and user of home theater equipment since there has been home theater going all the way back into the 80’s. I was a beta tester for Roku when they first came out and have upgraded my units every time there is a new batch on the market. So when Tablo came out with a unit that would work on my network and be accessible to all our Rokus, I jumped at the opportunity to get one.

Now I have to compromise and keep surround sound off on the Tablo so that it may be used everywhere in the house. I have filed my complaint with Tablo support. I have also applied to be a beta tester in the hope that future firmware will solve this problem, but frankly, if another company comes out with a similar unit and it does support ALL of our Roku installations AND have surround sound for at least one of them without shutting off access on the others, I may jump at the opportunity again and there will be a used Tablo for sale on eBay.

Take a look at this…

I have surround sound enabled on my Tablo for use with our Atmos system on our main TV and it works fine on our bedroom TV with a Roku Ultra that uses the TV speakers. I have heard in some cases people factory reset the Roku and then change the Roku audio settings because it’s like it doesn’t forget the previous settings when they previously didn’t have surround enabled on their Tablo.

My point is more than just the incompatibility issues. It’s the way that the Tablo responds to those issues. All other sources of content work just fine with my Roku and my home theater. If I choose to enable direct over the air reception of TV with surround sound, my home theater amplifier processes it just fine in all Dolby surround sound modes. If I choose to use my Sony PS3 for content and send it to my home theater amplifier, it is processed just fine in all Dolby surround sound modes. If I choose to use the Roku Ultra itself and any of the apps other than Tablo, it is processed just fine in all Dolby surround sound modes. I spent easily 6 hours playing with all the Roku Ultra modes and the Tablo; none of them worked with the Roku Ultra.

And, even if had been able to get the home theater setup working, my other Roku Premiers attached directly to TV sets in the kitchen and bedroom would not play the surround sound content if it was turned on for live streaming or recording, so there is no way I can turn it on and leave it on for the home theater and still have content from the Tablo playing in other rooms of the house.

THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE (sorry for shouting). If this were an automobile it would have a recall notice sent out and engineers would be hard at work to correct such a fault. There is no disclosure in any of the product information such as (This Tablo may not be compatible with all streaming devices and televisions/home theater components) and specific warnings in the printed material that comes with the unit.

If I hadn’t already cut the cord and dropped my YouTubeTV subscription, I would be sending the Tablo back for a refund.

Let’s see if a future firmware update solves the problem. I sincerely hope that is the case, or as I posted in my original comments, I’ll be looking for another company’s solution and the Tablo will be on it’s way to a future eBay purchaser.

There isn’t any bug in the Tablo to fix. You likely have a configuration issue, and hopefully you can get with Tablo support to correct it.

This feature has been out since July 2018, and there hasn’t been any updates to it since then. All the Tablo does is record a different audio track and send it to your devices.

Here are all the supported devices and disclaimers that you were asking for:

This is likely a configuration issue. How is your Roku connected to your Denon AVR? Does the HDMI cable go directly from the Roku to the Denon?

As well, the audio settings under the Roku system settings are likely the culprit here. Can you post a screenshot of what they are? This is located on the Roku, go to “Settings”, then “Audio”.

We can help if you’re willing to help yourself.

Reasonably valid points, tablo and 5.1 surround sound particularly over Roku is screwy.
Coming as a “technician” and “installer”… “of home theater equipment since there has been home theater” as well as a “beta tester for Roku” you should have some background and keep up with all the current data and information available. Agree, it’s not readily obvious, but it’s out there especially for a professional to have come across over the years… to be shocked.

As a consumer, at least, looking at the product page -

Does Tablo OTA DVR support 5.1 Surround Sound?

Yes! All Tablo hardware OTA DVRs do support passthrough of 5.1 Surround Sound. To learn more about this, visit the Tablo blog.

Agree, it’s not the most obvious. If it’s was really important, as an above average user, a quick search… it’s all over site (there’s a search box on every page) and several reviewers and Roku forums commenting about it.

I find it misleading, on the box, required: “high-speed internet” for downloading guide data and out-of-home streaming. Really it’s necessary for basic function. So I do get it… but claiming to be a professional, and not having a clue, not researching, makes it… :hear_no_evil: :see_no_evil: :speak_no_evil:

Yes, my Roku Ultra is connected directly to an HDMI input to the Denon home theater amplifier.

Would you like a screenshot of EVERY setting of my Roku Ultra’s audio settings? I have used each one of them in turn and cycled the Roku and the Tablo off and on each time. Thus the 6 hours of playing with this I mentioned in my post. None of them will result in the Roku Ultra being connected to a device that supports surround sound.

I’m repeating myself here, but to emphasize that I feel this is a Tablo design problem, I will repeat myself. Even if we solve the Roku Ultra connected to the Denon home theater amplifier problem, the other two TV/Roku Premier combinations in the home won’t be able to access any content at all. The Tablo app gives the same error saying that those Rokus are not connected to a device capable of surround sound. I did not purchase the Tablo for only my home theater; rather as a whole house solution to having a DVR and providing content to all of the installations.

Snowcat, I’m sorry to disagree with you; if you have a good installation I’m very glad things are working just fine for you.

The link you supply shows this in their table:

Well I am using 3 Rokus in our home; all are “current models”. The Roku Ultra is less than a year old. Two Roku Premiers were purchased last fall on Black Friday.

As a part of my testing, I did take one of the Premiers and connect it to my Denon home theater amp. Same results. The Tablo app continues to state the same error message that my Roku is connected to a device that doesn’t support surround sound. And that is not a true statement.

Almost all HDTVs play 5.1 AC3 audio, so even if your Roku is connected directly to an HDTV, you should be able to hear the surround sound on all devices.

There is no reason this shouldn’t work unless you have a really old HDTV that doesn’t support AC3 audio over HDMI. How about we solve the problem on the Denon first?

So it’s ONE screenshot of ONE menu page. I have seen this error before in the Tablo app when the audio settings on the Roku are wrong.

I have a Roku Premiere Plus Model 4630 so the audio settings page should be the same.

Humour me, post the screenshot. Let me help you.