How to troubleshoot and fix a Soundbar out of sync with TV

Is your TV out of Sync with your soundbar? This is known as a lip-sync error or a lip flap.

Lip sync errors occur if the video on your TV and the audio on your soundbar does not match. The audio may lag behind the video or vice versa may happen.

Sync errors between TVs and soundbars are common but are usually few millisecond lags of less than 33 milliseconds in most cases. To the consumer, these errors mostly go unnoticed but with more severe errors, this can be very frustrating, especially if you are a sensitive viewer.

This lag may come directly from your source, may be due to the settings you have on either your soundbar or your TV, a faulty/loose connection, or even due to differences in video and audio processing speeds.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to troubleshoot and fix this problem that we are going to look at in this guide.

Here are the steps you can take to troubleshoot and possibly fix a soundbar that is out of sync with your TV.

1.      Check your source

In some cases, the lip-sync errors may come directly from your source which can be a movie or a music video.

If you are streaming directly from your TV or watching a local broadcast using an antenna connection, change the channel or play a different title on your streaming services to see if the problem goes away.

On the other hand, if you are using a TV box, a Blu-ray player, or even a gaming console as your source, try playing something different or change the source to see what happens.

The program you are watching may be at fault, the fix may be out of your control and there is not much you can do about it.

However, if an external source connected to the TV or the soundbar is the cause of the lip-sync errors, connect all your sources to the TV, disconnect the TV from the soundbar, play some videos or any content you like to see what happens.

If the lip-sync issues are there for each source, the TV is the problem. However, if the problem only exists for one of your sources, you should exclude it for further diagnostics and possible fixes.

You may also be using the TV directly as the source and you can tell if it is the culprit by disconnecting other sources from it and disconnecting it from the soundbar to use its built-in speakers

2.      Check your cable connections

Sometimes audio and video sync problems may be limited to the cables or any interconnects you are using between your source, Tv, and soundbar.

First, check if there is any loose connection on any of your devices then try using different cables and removing any switcher, adapters, repeaters, or splitters that may be in the mix.

If you are using an HDMI connection between your TV and your soundbar, use a different HDMI or optical cable that you may have at home to figure out if it is causing the lag. Do the same for your sources.

If the problem lies within one of your cables, you will need to invest in a better high-speed cable for that connection.

3.      Power your entertainment system off and on again (reboot)

The third thing you should do in your troubleshooting steps is to shut everything down, give every device some time to cool down before powering them back on.

Sometimes all your devices may need to solve the temporary lag between the audio and the video is to cool off.

4.      Tweak the settings on your TV, soundbar, or source

On the TV;

If you have turned Game mode on, turn it off in case your audio is lagging behind the video. You can also turn Game on to disable video processing if the video is lagging behind the audio coming from your soundbar. This may not necessarily be a fix but it is worth testing.

You may also need to disable other video and audio processing features on your TV depending on whether the video or audio is lagging. This can be disabling noise reduction or motion enhancement if the video is lagging or by disabling any audio processing on your TV if the audio is lagging.

On your TV, you can also change the audio processing mode to Bitstream. This will allow the TV to send a compressed and unprocessed audio signal to the soundbar where the processing will be done. Using bitstream will reduce the TV’s workload as in many cases the soundbar will have superior sound processing.

Another setting worth testing on your TV is the sync settings. You can choose between Auto, On, or Auto and compare them to see where the audio and video match best.

On the soundbar;

If you have set your TV/source to Bitstream, your soundbar will be responsible for the audio processing. This will be handy since in most cases, the processing on your soundbar will be way better than that on the TV.

However, this may cause the video to lag behind the audio. Your soundbar or TV may have an option to delay your audio which you can test until the lag is eliminated and that the audio and video match.

If you already had the TV set to bitstream and experience lag, change it to PCM. With PCM, the TV will be responsible for audio processing but because most TVs can’t process surround sound formats, you will only get stereo sound signals which should not be a problem if you do not have a surround sound soundbar system.

On the source;

Some sources such as Blu-ray players have Lip sync/Audio delay/Audio sync features which you can use to delay the audio for anywhere between 10 and 240 milliseconds if your video is lagging.

You can also choose between Bitstream or PCM to see what works best for you.

In some devices, the audio delay features can be either positive or negative. Negative audio delay can come in handy if your audio is lagging behind the video, but this is not a feature found in many A/V devices.

5.      Split your video and audio from the source

Splitting your Audio and Video signal directly from the source can help eliminate some of the detectable A/V delays.

This will involve running your audio directly to the soundbar using an HDMI or optical connection and the video directly to the TV. You can then run another cable connection between your TV and Soundbar if your Soundbar has enough connection ports.

However, splitting the signal will only be useful if you are using an external source and will not be applicable if you are streaming content directly from your TV.

6.      Connect your sources directly to your soundbar

This is not an option for most consumers that experience sync errors between the soundbar and the TV since most soundbars will not have enough inputs. Usually, most soundbars will have one HDMI input, one optical, and one aux port but are worth trying out if there are enough ports on the soundbar.

After connecting your sources to your soundbar, you can then feed your video signal to the TV using an HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC or eARC).

This option may also not be viable if your TV serves your streaming needs or if the TV broadcast is connected directly to the TV.

The final verdict

If your soundbar and TV are out of sync, it can be distracting and annoying to you as the viewer.

However, this will also depend on how severe the lip-sync errors are and how you perceive the issue. These issues may only affect one or two frames which most people may not even notice but once your eyes pick it up there will be no way to ignore it.

Thankfully, some fixes can be as simple as rebooting your system or checking for a loose connection to as complex as needing to contact customer support.

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