Harman Kardon SB16 Problems - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 09-07-2011, 07:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi all,

I just bought a Harmon Kardon SB16 and love it. The sound quality is very good. Far better than the Bose Cinemate I had tried earlier.

The problem: it doesn't accept digital signals (DTS or Dolby) directly from a blu-ray or DVD player. It works fine if I connect the player to the TV (new Samsung 6300 LED 46") by HDMI and then take the TV optical output to SB16. But if I connect directly (optical or coaxial) to the soundbar, it fails. However, if I play an old CD with just 2 channel output, it plays (direct digital connection).

I also tested it with a blu-ray player and 2 DVD players and several cables (opt/ coax) and multiple CDs (blu-ray, DVD, CD). The problem is consistent - any native digital output from any device directly connected to the SB digitally does not work. If anything is analog (audio output or analog cable) or routed through the TV, it works fine.

It's frustrating (for a $600 toy) not to be able to play digital audio output directly (I am hoping the sound quality will be even more awesome!) It's also a problem if I want to add another digital device later.

Any ideas? Has anyone set up this unit this way and any tips?

Thanks a lot!
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post #2 of 5 Old 09-08-2011, 10:46 AM
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I have no hands-on experience with that unit, but from your description it appears that it only accepts 2 ch. PCM. That is what the TV puts out over optical, plus you say it plays audio CDs just fine. The owner's manual is completely silent on the subject.

Go into your BD player and change audio settings to downmix to 2 ch. PCM to see if that works. If so, there's the answer. If not, then I've no other suggestions but hopefully someone else will have an idea for you.
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post #3 of 5 Old 09-08-2011, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you very much for the reply! That was indeed the problem. It works now.

The catch is that SB16 does not have any decoders (I finally learned from their customer service after several long phone calls). I am not sure if 'downmixing to PCM' results in any downgrading of quality, compared to soundbars with decoders. Let me try it out for some time.

Thanks again!
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post #4 of 5 Old 06-03-2012, 09:20 PM
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I am having similar problems. I have a sony HX800 and I am running an optical audio cable into the Harman Kardon SB 16. I have a DirecTV box that is running component cables into the Sont TV and it sends the audio out to the bar no problem. However, my blu-ray player, Apple TV and Xbox are all connected to the Sony TV through HDMI, and the audio is not playing out of the soundbar. I connected the bar to the TV through standard red and white RCA cables and now all of the sources play out of the soundbar. How do I get the HDMI sources to play audio out of the optical cable into the soundbar?
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post #5 of 5 Old 06-04-2012, 01:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Please try the solution suggested above - set your BD player (or others) audio output to 'Downmix to PCM' that converts the 5.1 DTS or Dolby to 2 channel PCM. SB16 does not have any decoder and it needs 2-channel PCM (how component audio sends the signal). There is no real loss of quality. Hope that solves the problem for you.

If you are sending the audio from BDP first to TV and then to SB16, you might have to set the audio output 'Downmix' signal on TV instead of BDP - not sure. My problem was not from the optical from TV, but from the audio signal directly from BDP (as described above).
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