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Answered Onkyo TX-NR686 no sound Zone 2

KeithXP

Standard Member
Just got this amp, specifically because having checked this years 'Best Buys' (Sony STR-DN1080, Denon AVR-X2500 etc) and similar receivers, this one can accept Zone 2 speakers and can apparently output all input sources, including HDMI to zone 2.

All my speakers are working perfectly, and have been for 5 years. I disconnected my Denon AVR-1900, hooked up the cables to the new Onkyo. Configured... everything working perfectly EXCEPT no sound from zone 2 - from either TV via HDMI, or StreamBox or CD input. I can toggle Zone 2 on/off, indicator light goes on/off. Adjust volume.. no sound. Zone 2 is definitely configured in speaker configuration.

Any ideas? I can't believe the feature that I specifically bought this amp for is the one that is not working!

thanks
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
Firstly, your AV receiver has no HDMI second zone abilities and its second output is merely a mirror of the main output. This is included in order to make it easier to connect a PJ in a room or setup that also includes a TV.

As to why you're not getting audio in association with certain sources. You'll find that the second audio zone is restricted to 2 channel analogue sources or 2 channel digital PCM sources. You will not be able to convey multichannel digital sources accessed via the receiver's S/PFIF digital inputs to the second audio zone. I'm also under the impression that the receiver has no ability to convey any audio sourced via HDMI to its second audio zone?


From page 37 of your receiver's manual:
  • To output audio from an externally connected AV component to ZONE 2, use either a digital coaxial cable, digital optical cable or analog audio cable for connection. Also, the audio from externally connected AV components can beoutput to ZONE 2 only when the audio is analog or 2ch PCM signal. Whenthe AV component is connected to this unit with a digital coaxial cable or digital optical cable, change the audio output of the AV component to the PCM output.
Could this be the reason you are not getting anything in the second audio zone?
 
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KeithXP

Standard Member
Hi Dante, thanks for the reply.

Also in the manual, it says on p.65:

You can enjoy 2-ch audio in the separate room (ZONE 2) while performing 7.1 ch playback in the main room (where this unit is located). The same source can be played back in the main room and ZONE 2 simultaneously.​

That is what I read pre-purchase, and took to mean that it could output to zone 2 even with HDMI input... And I also don't get sound in Zone 2 when I select the CD input (optical connection to Sonos Connect), surely this is 2ch PCM output?

Confused...
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
What about the AV receiver's inbuilt tuner or audio sourced via its internet radio or networking capabilities? Can you play any of these sources in the second audio zone? Are you sure that you are correctly selecting the second zone source? Note that the second zone's source has to be selected independently of the source you've selected for the main zone and the receiver will not automatically set both sources as being the same for both zones.

Also note that both standby status and volume level are also independent for both zones. Ensure that the second zone isn't in standby and that the volume level is set high enough to be audible for that zone.
 
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KeithXP

Standard Member
Well it seems you are correct re zone2 and hdmi inputs, which sadly means I really bought the wrong amp. I can get Zone 2 output from SkyQ by connecting it additionally by optical cable and setting the Zone 2 input to that. Or by using the optical out from my Samsung TV. But I am a bit stuffed on my Nvidia Shield which I use for Netflix and Plex. It only has HDMI out - I can connect it direct to the TV, and use the optical audio out back to the Onkyo, but then I only get 2 channel audio in the main room.

I thought I'd done my research well, but that para I quoted from p.65 of the manual mislead me completely. What a *****!

thanks for your input though.
 

sfrohman

Novice Member
I recently bought a 686 and after many attempts was also surprised that HDMI sources could not play out to zone 2. A bunch of online research suggests that capability only sits in significantly more expensive models (over 2x what I paid for my 686). Even across other manufacturers.

The technical constraint, I believe, is there is no conversion in the receiver from the pre-amp HDMI audio format, which is supported in the main zone, to a more analog audio format, which is all that zone 2 supports amplifying.

I have implemented a workaround that is working nicely so far. You need a simple ($30) HDMI audio splitter to pull the audio out of the HDMI signal. This is an electronic box you can buy online that take an HDMI input and power, and it outputs (among other things) audio in one or more different formats. Then follow these steps:

  1. Turn on both HDMI audio outputs on your receiver (Input/OutputAssign->TVOut/OSD->HDMIOut to “MAIN+SUB”).
  2. Enable the selected main zone audio to go back out on the HDMI outputs (Hardware->HDMI->AudioTVOut to “On”).
  3. Turn off the speakers or set volume to zero on your external TV so you don’t hear audio from it (assuming that’s what you want).
  4. Hook up the output from the HDMI audio splitter, either digital optical or RCA jacks, back to a receiver input. I used an optical cable and chose the digital optical “TV” input on the back of the receiver.
  5. Map the input you chose to the component you want to select in Zone 2 to play (in my case, InputOutputAssign->TV to “OPTICAL 2”).
  6. Extra credit: Change the name of the input to reflect what you've done (in my case, Source->NameEdit, press the "TV" button on your remote, then type "zone 1 in").
NOTE: Many config changes require you to exit the setup menu before they take effect. I would have come to this entire conclusion hours earlier had I realized this. :eek:

Once this is set up, all sources will now play through to zone 2. Whatever you select for zone 1 also plays in zone 2, whether analog/RCA or encoded on an HDMI input.

Happy listening!

Scott
 

KeithXP

Standard Member
Hi Scott

Thank you so much. I have a half baked solution now with the satellite box connect via hdmi for z1 and optical for z2 but there are sync issues which make it very unsatisfactory! I’ve just ordered a splitter. I’ll report back!
Keith
 

KeithXP

Standard Member
Ok so I bought this HDMI splitter, and without making any of the changes to the receiver setup you describe and installing it between the HDMI ARC output and my TV, with the optical looped back, it worked. Then I realised it would only work on SD channels... this box has three settings for EDID (passthrough, 2.0ch, 5.1ch). It doesn’t work with an HD channel on any of them.

So I went back an made the adjustments to the receiver setup (HDMI outputs etc.) in your reply. Still no joy when the input signal is HD. I’m stumped now! Incidentally, your method involves enabling both HDMI outputs. I don’t think you specifically say it, but did you set up the splitter on the SUB output, leaving the ARC output for the display panel? I’ll need another HDMI cable for that...

I’m talking to the splitter supplier too but if you have any ideas please chip in!

Thank you very much
 

sfrohman

Novice Member
Keith, I did enable both outputs, and the sound was the available on both. I believe I used the SUB for the zone 2 sound loopback (the splitter), but am not sure and remember it not mattering which I used. Are you saying that when you tune the cable box to an HD channel sound doesn't split, but it does for SD? I can check tonight but I'm pretty sure we've been watching both HD and SD. And is the "box" you refer to the splitter or the cable box?
 

KeithXP

Standard Member
Hi Scott,
Yes, the box (technical term!) is the splitter. The problem may lie there, as I guess the SD channel sound doesn’t require conversion as it is already 2CH PCM but the HD sound does. So when my SkyQ box is on an SD channel it works, switch to HD and zone 2 is silent.

Thanks K
 

sfrohman

Novice Member
I checked 4 source types:
  1. HDMI from Cable box (HD),
  2. HDMI from Cable box (SD),
  3. internal source (FM)
  4. non-HDMIT feed (wii input)
All 4 played through the splitter into Zone 2. I hope you get yours working.
 

KeithXP

Standard Member
OK, thanks Scott. Could you share with me the actual device you purchased? Maybe it is available here in the UK?

best,
 

sfrohman

Novice Member
I thought about that for my original post, but it's an unbranded (presumably cheap) device the cable company left here for another purpose. Here are pictures.
 

KeithXP

Standard Member
Just for your info, and anyone else reading this thread, the issue I discovered is that the particular HDMI audio extractor I purchased cannot decode Dolby Digital (DD or DD+). SkyQ boxes and Netflix on streaming box both output DD/DD+, so as soon as the Sky channel switched to HD the sound went off in Zone 2.
I am now trying to find an audio splitter that supports DD/DD+, 4K up to 60Hz and HDCP 2.2... and it is not easy. I think this extractor should do it but I am double checking with supplier.

thanks again for all the help!
 

werther595

Novice Member
I've been dealing with the same issue. I stream music over my Roku and simply want the same thing played in both rooms, but this is aparently impossible. Couldn't Onkyo simply make Zone 2 replicate the Front L+R output, like a "B" speaker option? Firmware upgrade?

If I designate the Zone 2 speakers as Front L/R biamp, could I then run those lines to my second zone? Can I designate both "bi-amped" channels to deliver the full range of the audio signal?
 

KeithXP

Standard Member
I don't know about teh biamp option. The only way I could get it to work was for SkyQ, which has its own 2-channel sound output via Optical, so as soon as I choose another device I lose the Zone B output. Even the HDMI Audio splitter boxes fail to work as none of them will decode Dolby Digital, which it seems is what most current devices output. I guess the manufacturers don't want to pay the Dolby license.
I am guessing it would take more than a firmware update to fix but live in hope!
 

djarvis8

Novice Member
Trying to do the same here. I use a optical audio cable from the TV to the receiver which Zone 2 refuses to play. Why is this such a hard problem? I haven't tried using RCA audio out from the TV to see if that works. If it does I'll have to plug that into some other input and set Zone 2 to that and have Zone 1 play from the optical input.

I'm thinking of digging out my old Denon receiver as a second unit JUST to drive the other speakers and forget about Zone 2 completely.
 

Rook008

Novice Member
djarvis8: I was just trying the same thing and I only got sound out of Zone 2 when I set the TV to "Audio Out - PCM"
When the TV is set to output Dolby Digital or Bitstream I get no sound from the Onkyo on Zone 2.
RCA audio out from the TV should also work as it's an analog stereo signal. (I think that's right)
 

Rook008

Novice Member
The reason I signed up to this website was to say thanks to sfrohman for his solution to my Zone 2 problem. I'm going to give it a try and see how it works.
Thanks.
 

djarvis8

Novice Member
Rook008: Cool. Yes I was reading about PCM output potentially working.

I now have HDMI going from the TV to the Onkyo Receiver and then turned on HDMI passthrough and something else to get audio back to the TV. So I think I can use an HDMI audio extractor as mentioned above to sniff out simple analog stereo from the audio going back to the TV and then feed it back into another input on the receiver. The only thing with this is that it's not as nice from the receiver's perspective to not simply be able to say "same as source" for Zone 2 selection. It'll have to be set to another input (i.e. TV versus Roku input).

Edit: Just re-reading the above about the HDMI audio extractor. I don't have one yet but it seems that if they don't decode dolby digital or DTS or whatever other dozens of formats they came up with, it won't decode these and thus won't output the 2-channel analog? Has anyone found an HDMI audio extractor that can do this?

(And why is this so amazingly difficult to do here in the year 2019? Shouldn't all of this be all figured out an streamlined by now?)
 
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John I

Novice Member
(And why is this so amazingly difficult to do here in the year 2019? Shouldn't all of this be all figured out an streamlined by now?)
It shouldn't be this hard! I have been splitting the output of my Yamaha for years while playing 7.1 on my main speakers. When my Yamaha recently died after only five years, I decided to get an Onkyo TX-NR696 mainly because of the Zone 2 output and a whole separate HDMI connector! The description on the Onkyo page made it sound like the greatest thing on earth for my purposes. Boy was I wrong.

I wanted to be able to run 2160p with Dolby Atmos on my main system in the living room. The source is from my Xbox One S as the media hub. The plan was to use zone 2 HDMI to feed the other three 1080p TVs in the house. This worked fine on my old Yamaha minus the Dolby Atmos by using a splitter on the single HDMI output of the AVR. The other TVs ran stereo. With the Onkyo, once Zone 2 is connected my Main setup suddenly switched from 2160p to 720p and stereo whenever Zone 2 was activated!

So then I decided to go back to using a splitter on the AVR Main Zone HDMI output. I bought the fanciest splitter on Amazon to be able to handle all the Dolby and 4K in the living room along with 1080p downconverting for the other rooms. As soon as I hooked that up, I found out that Onkyo either has sound over the amp OR through the HDMI to the TV speakers, but NEVER BOTH AT THE SAME TIME. So to listen to all four TVs at the same time I would have to go deep into the menus on the AVR and turn on the TV sounds, which disables the surround speakers. (Once again, my Yamaha always put out sound to the TV in stereo no matter what was going through the amp. )

So then I decided to move the splitter to split the signal on the output of the Xbox One S before it got to the Onkyo receiver. Once again I ran into a brick wall. No matter what I do the receiver won't lock into a picture and the sound cuts in and out every 5 seconds.

To me this is all unacceptable and I am half tempted to look into returning the Onkyo receiver. I have a friend with the equivalent Denon and I will be testing it out at his house this week with my splitter and his Xbox One.
 
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bob2020

Novice Member
I've just bought this Onkyo 686, and hooked up a set of Polk speakers as zone 2 only to find that this is not a thing that this receiver can do, despite having the apparent outputs to do so. One should not need splitters or extra equipment. This is a thing that receivers in the 1980s could do, independent of surround sound. Is there any class action lawsuit against Onkyo for this?

I will never buy any Onkyo product again after this experience. If anyone here has information on group actions against Onkyo I would be interested to participate.
 

BWalz

Novice Member
I was struggling to figure out why my zone 2 speakers weren't working, glad I found this thread. But, now I am terribly disappointed that I can't simply mirror the audio out from my HDMI source without some kind of work around. Can anyone confirm that this is a hardware limitation and not something that could potentially be fixed with a firmware update?
 

pahdiv

Active Member
I get no sound from my surrounds and sur back speakers during music play back from my RZ820. When I select all stereo mode, all the speakers work. Apart from the all stereo mode, the only sound I hear is from the centre and sub. If I put "centre spread" to on, I get sound from the front too. The only sound I hear from the other speakers is a low reverb /echo kind of sound. I have used 906, 818 and 5010 and that was not a problem at all. Any mode selected during music playback, clear sound will be coming from the surround and sur back too. It doesn't happen when I'm playing movies. I am doing something wrong or the new onkyos are just like that?
 

pahdiv

Active Member
I get no sound from my surrounds and sur back speakers during music play back from my RZ820. When I select all stereo mode, all the speakers work. Apart from the all stereo mode, the only sound I hear is from the centre and sub. If I put "centre spread" to on, I get sound from the front too. The only sound I hear from the other speakers is a low reverb /echo kind of sound. I have used 906, 818 and 5010 and that was not a problem at all. Any mode selected during music playback, clear sound will be coming from the surround and sur back too. It doesn't happen when I'm playing movies. I am doing something wrong or the new onkyos are just like that?
To explain myself clearly,
It's like listening to a choir with a lead singer. The lead singer voice only comes through the centre and all the other voices comes through the surrounds and sur back. I think in DTS mode, the lead voice comes from the 2 fronts. I am not really a fun of all stereo as it turns to have too much bass. I normally sit to listen to music and hearing the vocals only come out from the surrounds and the lead through the centre in the older onkyos. (906, 818 & 5010)

I have gone through all the settings on the rz820 but nothing to change that. Movies are alright.
 

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