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DaleG

BAR 48 Surround volume at max but can barely hear them

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Update Monday 20 January 2020. I received the JBL Bar 5.1 soundbar and subwoofer yesterday. It works right out-of-the-box just like I expected a 5.1 sound system to work and sound in full-time, room-filling 5.1 sound from all sources, both stereo and 5.1 source. Let me repeat that: 5.1 surround sound full-time from all sources, whether stereo music sources or 5.1 video sources. Full-time 5.1 surround sound, loud enough to be heard ALL the time during two 2+ hour movies (Star Wars, The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens). The Klipsch Bar 48 5.1, in comparison, played surround sound barely loud enough for only a few seconds at a time and only during a few loud scenes during the same two 2+ hour movies. Also, Bluetooth paired with no problems to my computer and smartphone (Klipsch Bluetooth failed to connect on 2 of 3 units I tried). After trying three BAR 48s with 5.1 in the last six weeks, the result is obvious to me now: Klipsch fails to deliver 5.1 surround sound on the BAR 5.1, nor do they acknowledge the problems (including Bluetooth failure to pair), nor do they promise a date when it will fully work as well as the competition does right out-of-the-box. Competition 1, Klipsch 0. Game over for me. I'm happy with the JBL Bar 5.1 and will be returning the Klipsch BAR 48 5.1 today.

*****

Update 15 January 2020. Where to start? Klipsch has really dropped the ball with the BAR 48, in lack of features and poor quality control.
1) Out of 3 BAR 48s I’ve had in two months, two fail to pair with Bluetooth, including the latest unit. This is a show-stopper for me. I haven’t decided whether to seek a 4th replacement or get a refund and go with a competitor which I know works well and sounds nearly as good.
2) Out of 3 sets of Surround 3 speakers I’ve had, one pair produced static, none are loud enough while playing 5.1 surround videos (such as Star Wars Last Jedi), and none play stereo sources on the S3 speakers louder than a whisper, which I fully expected to enjoy (given that simple car audio and home theater receives plays stereo sources on all speakers using ‘Balance’ for left-right and ‘Fade’ for front-back balance). I may just return them for a refund, since 5.1 is an option for me, as I’m fine with 3.1.
3) I’ve an online support request. The tech said he has forwarded a bug report to engineering. I replied I hope he forwards these concerns to marketing, engineering and manufacturing so they can decide on a competitive feature set and improving product quality.
4) Kudos to Amazon for their extended return/exchange dates during the annual holiday period starting at Thanksgiving (extending normal 30-day returns to January 31).

 

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Update Mon Dec 30, 2019, 1200PM PST. In short, I received the replacement BAR 48 (from Amazon), updated the firmware (to v23 of 12/13/2019) and was disappointed (again) the Surround 3 (2nd set) speakers remain whisper quiet even with Dolby Digital and Surround lights on. To add insult to injury, Bluetooth does not connect (Bluetooth on the 1st BAR 48 worked fine to connect to both my Windows 10 computer and Android smartphone). Bottom line, if this were any other brand and I absolutely had to have 5.1 rather than 3.1, I'd shytecan it and never look back, but I'm a long-time fanatic for the Klipsch sound and Klipsch delivers for me again in amazing 3.1 sound from the affordable BAR 48. Having 5.1 with the Surround 3 speakers is an option that doesn't work for me and I'll simply return them for a refund. I can easily exchange the BAR 48 on Amazon again to get Bluetooth back online (Kudos to Amazon. Each year, from Thanksgiving onward, Amazon offers deep discounts and allows returns/exchanges through Jan 31 for almost everything).

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Update Sun Dec 22, 2019, 1640PM PST. In short, I'm waiting to received a replacement BAR 48, then will test the Surround 3 volume output. I chatted with Amazon tech support, explained everything I have done (firmware update, exchange of Surround 3 speakers). After we tried an HDTV audio out adjustment, they will exchange the BAR 48 for a new one. I should receive the new replacement BAR 48 in a few days. Note: Klipsch tech support has not responded to my online service request in 12 days.

 

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Update Dec 21, 2019, 1800PM PST. Bad news for the replacement S3 speakers I received today. I received the replacement Surround 3 speakers, plugged them in and connected them. The low-volume sound problem still exists with this new set of speakers. I have the BAR 48 Surround volume turned up all the way for both channels. I have to put my ear up to the speakers to hear them, which makes them useless. I am confident I properly installed the BAR 48 firmware v23 (dated 12/13/2019) several days ago (all the lights lit up in sequence as the PDF said they would). Update 1830PM. I updated the BAR 48 to firmware v23 again. No change in the low-volume problem. Sigh.

 

*****
Update 12/16/2019: Klipsch just posted a firmware update for the BAR 48, firmware v23, which includes this fix: "Increased Surround Output when Rear Surrounds are present." Ironically, two days ago I returned the Surround 3 speakers and am waiting for a replacement set to be shipped to me for this exact problem. I went ahead and installed the firmware update and will be ready when the Surround 3 speakers arrive. Fellow owners, if you want to try this on your BAR 48 to see if it improves sound volume for the Surround 3 speakers, please post here and let us know your findings.

 

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Original Post 12/09/2019: I have a BAR 48 sound bar, which I love. I just added the Surround 3 speaker pair and adjusted the surround volume to maximum, but I can still barely hear the sound. The surround speakers are on my desk. By comparison the BAR 48 across the room drowns out the surround speakers.
My BAR 48 firmware was up-to-date out of the box (I just checked in klipsch.com, which said it has the current firmware, v14, released 7/17/2019, region Global).
I've adjusted the Surround 3 speaker volume to maximum (using the Surround button on the remote as per the Klipsch PDF).
Is there another way to turn up the surround speakers louder? Am I missing something else? Or should I request support from Klipsch?

Edited by DaleG

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Klipsch has posted new firmware for BAR 48 that addresses the problem. See my update to the original post. If you try the new firmware, please comment about your experience with it and the Surround 3 volume problem.

Addendum:
Interesting to note the version is may be different globally. I'm in USA. It say v23. Others have mentioned v83. They look the same.
Version: v23 (S/N: 106655719280001 - 106655719470250)
Released: 12/13/2019
Region: Global
 

Bar 48 2.4GHz v23 - Change Log:

  • Increased Surround Output when Rear Surrounds are present.
  • When volume is set to minimum, sub volume now mutes.
  • Content continues playing after Bluetooth connection is made from device to soundbar.
  • BT switches input when coming from other audio input after BT connection is made from device to soundbar.
  • Sub Volume Increase/Decrease LED indication improved on bar
  • Can power off soundbar when HDMI content playing with button on soundbar or remote.
  • Installer Mode Added
  • External Player Mode Added
  • Various Bug Fixes
Edited by DaleG

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Update Dec 21, 2019, 1800PM PST. See my OP for updates.

Edited by DaleG

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On 12/9/2019 at 6:14 PM, DaleG said:

Update Sun Dec 22, 2019, 1640PM PST. In short, I'm waiting to received a replacement BAR 48, then will test the Surround 3 volume output. I chatted with Amazon tech support, explained everything I have done (firmware update, exchange of Surround 3 speakers). After we tried an HDTV audio out adjustment, they will exchange the BAR 48 for a new one. I should receive the new replacement BAR 48 in a few days. Note: Klipsch tech support has not responded to my online service request in 12 days.

 

@DaleG in my BAR 48 Surround Button post I included the pages from the manual that describe how to increase the volume of the surround speakers. As usual, the instructions are incomplete.

 

The diagram shows there the surround volume can be increased to +8 or decreased to -8 from the neutral setting. To increase the volume on my speakers I had to press the volume up  about 28 times to get to the +8 level as the original setting appeared to be around -6. Holding the volume up button didn't seem to work!

 

The other thing to consider is your source:

  • What is it?
  • How do you know there is rear channel content?
  • If you are listening to YouTube, I believe it only provides stereo output regardless what the video description might say.

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19 minutes ago, KevinB said:

 

@DaleG in my BAR 48 Surround Button post I included the pages from the manual that describe how to increase the volume of the surround speakers. As usual, the instructions are incomplete.

 

The diagram shows there the surround volume can be increased to +8 or decreased to -8 from the neutral setting. To increase the volume on my speakers I had to press the volume up  about 28 times to get to the +8 level as the original setting appeared to be around -6. Holding the volume up button didn't seem to work!

 

The other thing to consider is your source:

  • What is it?
  • How do you know there is rear channel content?
  • If you are listening to YouTube, I believe it only provides stereo output regardless what the video description might say.

Thank you KevinB. When I receive the replacement new BAR 48, I'll be testing the Surround 3 speakers. I was able to turn the surround volume up/down with the remote following the procedure in the doc you posted above and did notice a very slight increase in volume, but it was still a whisper compared to the volume coming out of the BAR 48. I've updated the BAR 48 firmware, then replaced the S3 speakers to no avail, so I hope the replacement BAR 48 will do the job.

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I unfortunately have the same issue...just bought the Bar48 w the Surround 3 speakers, have done the update, and have the 2 surround speaker volume at it's maximum and the only way I can hear them, is to have the speakers less than 24" from my ear, and at ear level.    Very disappointing..I'm ready to return them :(  The soundbar and sub however, are amazing.

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The firmware update is one of those things that you just have to try and see. For some issues, it may fix the problem. For others, you will have to submit a warranty claim to Klipsch and have it replaced. *My original BAR 48 never worked out-of-the-box, even with all the firmware updates. **I am happy to report that the replacement BAR 48 system they sent me just before Christmas is working perfectly so far.

 

Bottom line: Klipsch sold a lot of sound bars that do not work (a very disappointing experience overall) and it is up to the customers to let them know and file a warranty claim with them to receive a replacement that works.

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On 12/29/2019 at 9:29 AM, CanadianAndy said:

have the 2 surround speaker volume at it's maximum and the only way I can hear them, is to have the speakers less than 24" from my ear, and at ear level.

 

I too had the same issue. The new firmware helped a lot as well as setting the surround speaker volume to maximum. Even now if the source is not Dolby Digital the volume from the surround speakers is barely audible.

 

Now, when watching a Dolby Digital movie having surround content the sound level from the surrounds is adequate with the surround volume at maximum..

Edited by KevinB
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14 hours ago, KevinB said:

 

I too had the same issue. The new firmware helped a lot as well as setting the surround speaker volume to maximum. Even now if the source is not Dolby Digital the volume from the surround speakers is barely audible.

 

Now, when watching a Dolby Digital movie having surround content the sound level from the surrounds is more than adequate.

 

I've googled what the best surround movie to watch is, and seems it is The Dark Knight from the Batman collection...which I have.   So I will give that a shot in a few hours and let you know if the Surround is any better.  As of right now with the TV on, still very faint volume....You know on the Klipsch website it says these Surround speakers are 60W however if you look closely where the cord is plugged in, it says 35W.    Since I am in a condo, I can only use the system with loud bass during the day out of respect for my neighbours.  Fingers crossed. 

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On 12/9/2019 at 8:14 PM, DaleG said:

Update Sun Dec 22, 2019, 1640PM PST. In short, I'm waiting to received a replacement BAR 48, then will test the Surround 3 volume output. I chatted with Amazon tech support, explained everything I have done (firmware update, exchange of Surround 3 speakers). After we tried an HDTV audio out adjustment, they will exchange the BAR 48 for a new one. I should receive the new replacement BAR 48 in a few days. Note: Klipsch tech support has not responded to my online service request in 12 days.

 

Update Dec 21, 2019, 1800PM PST. Bad news for the replacement S3 speakers I received today. I received the replacement Surround 3 speakers, plugged them in and connected them. The low-volume sound problem still exists with this new set of speakers. I have the BAR 48 Surround volume turned up all the way for both channels. I have to put my ear up to the speakers to hear them, which makes them useless. I am confident I properly installed the BAR 48 firmware v23 (dated 12/13/2019) several days ago (all the lights lit up in sequence as the PDF said they would). Update 1830PM. I updated the BAR 48 to firmware v23 again. No change in the low-volume problem. Sigh.

Update 12/16/2019: Klipsch just posted a firmware update for the BAR 48, firmware v23, which includes this fix: "Increased Surround Output when Rear Surrounds are present." Ironically, two days ago I returned the Surround 3 speakers and am waiting for a replacement set to be shipped to me for this exact problem. I went ahead and installed the firmware update and will be ready when the Surround 3 speakers arrive. Fellow owners, if you want to try this on your BAR 48 to see if it improves sound volume for the Surround 3 speakers, please post here and let us know your findings.

Original Post 12/09/2019: I have a BAR 48 sound bar, which I love. I just added the Surround 3 speaker pair and adjusted the surround volume to maximum, but I can still barely hear the sound. The surround speakers are on my desk. By comparison the BAR 48 across the room drowns out the surround speakers.
My BAR 48 firmware was up-to-date out of the box (I just checked in klipsch.com, which said it has the current firmware, v14, released 7/17/2019, region Global).
I've adjusted the Surround 3 speaker volume to maximum (using the Surround button on the remote as per the Klipsch PDF).
Is there another way to turn up the surround speakers louder? Am I missing something else? Or should I request support from Klipsch?

Did you get the new Bar 48 yet from Amazon?  

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21 minutes ago, CanadianAndy said:

You know on the Klipsch website it says these Surround speakers are 60W however if you look closely where the cord is plugged in, it says 35W.

 

I hadn't noticed that... 

 

I just took another look at the Surround 3 Speakers - Sound Bar Surround Sound Speakers Spec Sheet. It states:

MAX ACOUSTIC OUTPUT: 94dB @1M Anechoic each / 100dB @1M Anechoic pair

 

The BAR 48 Sound Bar + Wireless Subwoofer Spec Sheet states:

MAX ACOUSTIC OUTPUT: 103 dB

 

The 3 dB difference means the BAR 48 should sound twice as loud as the pair of the Surround 3 speakers or, to put it another way, the Surround 3 speakers should be capable of producing sound levels half as loud as the BAR 48. Be that as it may, we all know the sound we are getting from the surround speakers are nowhere near those sound levels!

 

Those of us posting to this forum represent a small number of the BAR 48 owners experiencing issues. I encourage anyone reading these posts who is experiencing similar issues to reply to one of them even if it is only to say "me too". 

 

Tech support is provided by a third party and I am not at all convinced that they are willing or able to resolve issues related to firmware defects. I'm told that Klipsch staff sometimes looks at these posts and that this is the best way to make them aware of issues.

 

I wish there were a better way to notify Klipsch of our dissatisfaction with this product!

 

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Update Mon Dec 30, 2019, 1200PM PST. In short, I received the replacement BAR 48 (from Amazon), updated the firmware (to v23 of 12/13/2019) and was disappointed (again) the Surround 3 (2nd set) speakers remain whisper quiet even with Dolby Digital and Surround lights on. To add insult to injury, Bluetooth does not connect (Bluetooth on the 1st BAR 48 worked fine to connect to both my Windows 10 computer and Android smartphone). Bottom line, if this were any other brand and I absolutely had to have 5.1 rather than 3.1, I'd shytecan it and never look back, but I'm a long-time fanatic for the Klipsch sound and Klipsch delivers for me again in amazing 3.1 sound from the affordable BAR 48. Having 5.1 with the Surround 3 speakers is an option that doesn't work for me and I'll simply return them for a refund. I can easily exchange the BAR 48 on Amazon again to get Bluetooth back online (Kudos to Amazon. Each year, from Thanksgiving onward, Amazon offers deep discounts and allows returns/exchanges through Jan 31 for almost everything).

Edited by DaleG

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1 hour ago, KevinB said:

 

I hadn't noticed that... 

 

I just took another look at the Surround 3 Speakers - Sound Bar Surround Sound Speakers Spec Sheet. It states:

MAX ACOUSTIC OUTPUT: 94dB @1M Anechoic each / 100dB @1M Anechoic pair

 

The BAR 48 Sound Bar + Wireless Subwoofer Spec Sheet states:

MAX ACOUSTIC OUTPUT: 103 dB

 

The 3 dB difference means the BAR 48 should sound twice as loud as the pair of the Surround 3 speakers or, to put it another way, the Surround 3 speakers should be capable of producing sound levels half as loud as the BAR 48. Be that as it may, we all know the sound we are getting from the surround speakers are nowhere near those sound levels!

 

Those of us posting to this forum represent a small number of the BAR 48 owners experiencing issues. I encourage anyone reading these posts who is experiencing similar issues to reply to one of them even if it is only to say "me too". 

 

Tech support is provided by a third party and I am not at all convinced that they are willing or able to resolve issues related to firmware defects. I'm told that Klipsch staff sometimes looks at these posts and that this is the best way to make them aware of issues.

 

I wish there were a better way to notify Klipsch of our dissatisfaction with this product!

 

You're confusing 'maximum output' with balanced output. Normal listening output/volume is less than a quarter of maximum rated output. Just like left and right channel output is balanced, front and rear/surround speaker sound output can and should be able to be balanced to the users taste. In the case of the Surround 3 speakers, Klipsch fails miserably, imho.

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On 12/30/2019 at 12:37 PM, DaleG said:

Normal listening output/volume is less than a quarter of maximum rated output. Just like left and right channel output is balanced, front and rear/surround speaker sound output can and should be able to be balanced to the users taste. In the case of the Surround 3 speakers, Klipsch fails miserably, imho.

 

You are correct. The point I was trying to make is this: if the surround speakers are capable of producing such sound levels there is no reason why they shouldn't do so. When listening to two channel stereo input with surround enabled the sound level from the surround speakers is pathetic. 

 

Klipsch really has to address these issues but I don't even know if they are aware how frustrated we are!

 

Edited by KevinB
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I was able to get Bluetooth paired on my 2nd BAR 48. Basically, BT must be the source when you power off, then on, then BT will be the first source when the BAR 48 is powered up and pairing must be the first thing you do. After that, connecting to the paired device should be as normal as any BT device.
I've posted the procedure here and would like feedback on whether this helps others:

 

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It may sound dumb, but make sure you check the volume output levels on whatever device(s) you're trying to connect to it.  By default most devices have their Bluetooth volume levels set fairly low.

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It's *always* good to check the basics and the obvious. My uncle used to say, "It's always in the last place you look". :)

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I watched "The Dark Knight" yesterday with my Surround 3 speakers and it sounded like the centre speaker audio was coming through them, not surround.   Still not very loud at all and the way I have them set up, is for my listening pleasure...anyone else in the room would not be able to enjoy it due to the direction the speakers need to be for me to hear it.   I think I will return them to Best Buy and get my money back.  Very Disappointing from a brand like Klipsch. 🔇

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