I’ve been having an issue with both of my Fire Stick 4K devices. The issue is mostly with Netflix, but there is a minor but similar problem with other apps on the device.

When watching a program on Netflix that only has a stereo soundtrack, the Fire Stick, regardless of what audio setting I have it set at (Best Available, Stereo, DD+, DD), it always sends that stereo signal in a 5.1 wrapper, eliminating the option of using a surround setting on my receiver (Dolby Surround, DTS Neuro:X, etc.).

Amazon and Netflix support are useless, not really understanding the issue. Of course, the simple solution is to watch Netflix on Roku instead. But my wife likes to switch back and forth from DVR on the Recast to Netflix, Disney+, and Prime and doesn’t want to change devices.

Anyone else have this issue or know of a solution?
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Todd Erwin

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Todd Erwin

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This is Amazon's most recent response to my issue:

Hello Todd,

I’m following up with your recent case regarding Fire TV Stick audio issues. I appreciate your patience.

We would like to troubleshoot your concern by the following troubleshooting steps:

Step 1 - Try to play audio natively on the TV (without a Fire TV or Fire Stick). This step is just to make sure all your external equipment (if any) are connected appropriately and audio is being routed correctly from the TV. If you hear audio natively on your TV or from the external device, move to step 3.

Step 2 - Loose Physical Connections Double check all your external devices are plugged in properly and all the devices are powered on. Verify the television and/or receiver volume is at an audible level and not muted Restart all devices and try step 1 If still no audio, please troubleshoot TV and external devices by themselves, this is only a Fire TV troubleshooting guide.

Step 3 - Faulty HDMI port Try changing the port of the fire stick device If there is only one HDMI port, try connecting to another TV to check if it is working. Try changing the HDMI cable.

Step 4 - Troubleshooting audio on Fire TV: Update your software: Updating your device to the latest release of software ensures that all bugs/errors in previous versions are fixed and you get the optimal experience. Check the Audio Settings on your Amazon Fire TV or Fire Stick Bluetooth Speakers: Please check if a bluetooth audio device (speaker, headset, soundbar, etc.) is paired with your device. To check, please go to Home Page → Settings → Controllers & Bluetooth devices → (find your device) → see if it reads 'paired'/'connected' below the device name. If connected, audio will go through the bluetooth device - make sure your bluetooth device is powered on and not muted. If you don't want your audio to go through the bluetooth speakers, please disconnect this device. After disconnecting from Bluetooth device, if still no audio follow the remaining steps:

Some TVs do not report this accurately and report support for formats they really do not support leading to no audio or bad audio. Fire TV Stick 4K has a setting overrides the automatic selection based on capabilities reported by the TV and can force the output into one that actually works. Stereo is the most likely to work with all TVs.

If the TV supports Dolby Digital that will offer improved sound over Stereo. Dolby Digital Plus is the best, but supported by the fewest TVs. Note : If you are using any device which has on device speaker, please disconnect and reconnect the HDMI cable and check for audio again by following the below steps:

1-Start from Settings and select 'Display & Sounds'
2-Move down and select the 'Audio' option
3-Move down and select 'Surround Sound'
4-Move down and select either 'Always Dolby Digital' Or 'Stereo'.
5-Check for the Audio. Please Note : If the sink device does not support Dolby Digital/Dolby Digital Plus, choosing "Always Dolby Digital Plus" or "Alway Dolby Digital" will cause the no audio issue. The best way is to set "Best Available" to get compatible with all of cases.

Step 5: Restart /Factory Reset the Device As obvious as this may sound, restarting the device/Application could solve many issues which could've been caused because of reasons beyond our control.
1-Start from setting and select 'My Fire TV'
2-Move down and select 'Restart' If this does not fix the problem, move further down in this menu and select the 'Reset to Factory Defaults' option as a last resort and check for audio one last time. Caution: you will lose all user settings and have to re-register your device by doing so.

Once you’ve completed those steps, can you please let us know if you are still experiencing the same issue?

If you’re still experiencing problems, please also reply to this email and let me know. I’d be happy to further work on a solution.

Thanks for choosing Amazon.

We'd appreciate your feedback. Please use the buttons below to vote about your experience today.

Best regards,
Fabian S.
Amazon.com
I feel like I am going around in circles. It was documented that I had already attempted these troubleshooting steps, and have even stated multiple times that the Firestick is NOT connected to my TV but to my Denon AVR. Also that I am having the SAME issue on BOTH Firesticks installed in my two setups. I sent them two diagrams - one of the connection layout of devices, the second of how the Firestick appears to be re-encoding audio from its streaming source and onward to the receiver. We'll see if they understand the issue better.... I doubt it.
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JohnRice

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They can only go by their script. Period. Nobody you're likely to come into contact with actually has any idea how anything works.

An example that comes to mind is a friend whose cable kept going out. He'd call and say that his cable keeps going out. They'd respond that they guarantee 99.9% uptime. He'd explain that is exactly the problem. That his cable is out about 1/4 of the time. They'd respond that's not possible, because they guarantee 99.9% uptime. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Unless you can manage to escalate the issue to someone in firmware development, I doubt it gets fixed, until someone else gets to the right person. I have to presume that it's happening to everyone who's using the exact same device with the same firmware.
 

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I have escalated to jeff @ amazon (dot) com. Fabian is who was assigned the case, yet the technical team keeps feeding him the same steps for me to complete.
 

JohnRice

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That's a weird problem. I don't think I've ever heard of that before.
 

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Tech Support keeps thinking and treating this is as a "no audio" issue. I'm hoping the diagrams better relay when the problem is. Although, I did get another e-mail from Tech Support telling me, yet again, that Amazon only supports connecting a Firestick directly to a TV and not an AVR. At least that's the outsourced overseas techs, since I have spoken to state-side techs who have said that there is no such policy and connecting to an AVR is perfectly acceptable.
 

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Amazon's official response after weeks of going back and forth:

Hello Todd,

I'm following up with you regarding your Fire TV Stick concern.

I'd like to let you know that your concern is an expected behavior.

When the HDMI Sink connected to Fire TV Stick is capable of multi-ch (which is the case here), the audio from Fire TV stick is always multi-ch regardless of the input content from the App. It is mainly:

- To avoid HDMI sink close and re-open when the App(s) switches the content from stereo to multi-ch & vice versa. This is mainly a requirement from Netflix because HDMI sink reconfiguration results in audio mute for few sec.
- Support multi-ch PCM audio streaming from Apps like Plex, Kodi etc.

In addition, our technicians mentioned that they are not sure why Netflix mentioned this as a hardware issue, while it is a requirement from them on this Fire TV products (supports DD/DD+ output to HDMI sink) to support continuous output mode and avoid HDMI sink reconfiguration while switching between different titles etc.

That being said, there is no possible solution to feed Stereo content as Stereo and multi-ch as multi-ch content to the HDMI sink without re-configuring it.
 

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Amazon's official response after weeks of going back and forth:

Hey Todd

I got a 4k Fire stick and ran into the same issue with Denon X520BT - content encoded with DD+ runs fine but everything else is a mess.

"Best Available" and "Always Dolby Digital Plus" options on Fire Stick 4k behave similarly - DD+ playback for DD+ content but only Direct/Stereo for stereo content => no output to center or surround channels!
"Stereo" option - it allows Denon's Multi Channel Stereo but still no PL2 or DTS Neo upscaling for Stereo streams. But DD+ content also goes as Stereo, which is blah.
"Always Dolby Digital" surprisingly works the best - it allows all modes of upscaling for Stereo content and DD mode for DD content. However DD+ is presented as DD only which is again a downer.

I have also had a Fire Stick (regular 2nd gen stick) for an year. The Dolby Digital Plus Automatic mode just right -> DD+ for DD+ content, DD for DD content and Upscaling for Stereo content. If it works just fine on old gen Fire Stick SD, why can Amazon not support it on the new 4k stick? Amuses me. DD Plus Automatic option is similar to Best Available, but the implementation of Best Available on 4k stick is just wrong. Most likely a bug which might be fixed through a firmware update as long as Amazon acknowledges it.

Thinking of returning it. My TV can also send DD to my AVR through Optical (sadly no ARC on the 520BT) and might just live with that.
 

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Not that it affects you, but apparently Amazon has disabled, possibly inadvertently, Dolby Atmos playback on their only two titles on Prime: Jack Ryan and Carnival Row. Amazon (finally) merged the 4K and HD versions into one ASIN. Searching for the 4K versions now come up empty, but playback is up to UHD, but only with Dolby Digital+ 5.1 audio. This is not just a Firestick issue, as the Prime Video app on my Roku 4K and Apple TV 4K devices have the same issue.
 

grjr53

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The Aeronauts and Honey Boy are still in Dolby Atmos. They must have forgotten about them.
 

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The Aeronauts and Honey Boy are still in Dolby Atmos. They must have forgotten about them.
It's not like there is an actual list of content with Atmos audio on Prime.... I had a chat agent have me check Ready Player One on Prime, claiming it was in Dolby Atmos. The movie isn't even available in 4K on Prime!

Oh, and BTW - Dolby Atmos has been restored on Jack Ryan and Carnival Row - it got disabled when they combined the HD and 4K ASIN numbers for those titles.
 

grjr53

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It's not like there is an actual list of content with Atmos audio on Prime.... I had a chat agent have me check Ready Player One on Prime, claiming it was in Dolby Atmos. The movie isn't even available in 4K on Prime!

Oh, and BTW - Dolby Atmos has been restored on Jack Ryan and Carnival Row - it got disabled when they combined the HD and 4K ASIN numbers for those titles.
Thanks for the info on Jack Ryan. I had written that one off. I see that it has Atmos on both seasons now. IIRC, it was only on season two previously.
 

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Thanks for the info on Jack Ryan. I had written that one off. I see that it has Atmos on both seasons now. IIRC, it was only on season two previously.
It's actually come and gone and come back again on that first season - Amazon made a big deal about the fact that they would be streaming that first season in Dolby Atmos when it premiered - except that for the first few weeks it only played on Atmos on non-Fire devices! And that was even after most of the press releases tried to say that the Atmos track was exclusive to Fire devices!!!