After some trouble getting audio to work right for surround on my Sony 4k Android TV and trying all reasonable options I could find, I had almost given up. I really liked the TV picture and general interface, but the audio issues were not fixed even after multiple software updates.
I was doing some general techie research and came across the new line of Rokus that were released this year. I picked up the top of line new Roku, the Roku 4 Ultra, on the long shot that it would fix my issues. It would mean almost entirely abandoning the Android TV interface built into the TV, but if it worked well, all my content could be accessed through it, and it output the audio in 5.1, I’d by ecstatic.
The Roku hooked up with ease. I used the HDMI out from the Roku to go to the TV and hooked the ethernet port up to my wired network. The Roku 4 supports wireless, but streaming HD and 4K content over the air has never worked really well for me. The Roku 4 has an optical output as well, which I was going to use as a fall back to hook up directly to the Sonos Playbar, in case the HDMI didn’t pass the audio through correctly.
I ran through the setup on the Roku. One of the system settings was the audio output format. I happily selected always output Dolby Digital 5.1. Since I already had a Roku account from when I used a Roku XD from long ago, it imported the channels I had on the old Roku automatically. I was thrilled to see every streaming service I have ever used or heard of supported as a Roku channel. Including HBOGo, which is NOT supported on the Android TV when your provider is Comcast!
It took a little bit of time to go through and activate or login to each of the channels I selected, but it wasn’t difficult or painful. The very first one I setup, however was the Google Play channel. I immediately streamed Star Wars: The Force Awakens and glorious surround sound came though the Sonos system. I double checked the Sonos app on my smart phone, and sure enough it reported Dolby Digital 5.1 as the source. I tested every other app that could have surround sound, including Netflix, HBOGo, Showtime, etc., and they all worked flawlessly and output the 5.1 surround sound through the Roku and out to the TV.
I was so happy with the speed and capabilities of the Roku, I have since added one to each of the other two TVs in the house. Since there is no monthly charge at all for the Roku itself, only the content you choose to pay for, or most likely already pay for, I highly recommend it for streaming heavy/cord cutter households!
Of course, the Roku solution would work with any TV, but I recommend at least the Roku Premiere+ if not the faster Roku Ultra if you are streaming HD/1080p or 4K content, since they have the wired ethernet option. If wired ethernet is not an option, you can look at any of the other Roku 4 models, but definitely go with the 2016 line up. I have tried the Roku Express, the very cheap $29 one, and it is great for those on a very tight budget, but it is much slower and WiFi only.