Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Real Reason Your PS5 Struggles With 4K

The PlayStation 5 touts numerous features that push console graphics to the max. Ray tracing that simulates how light bounces off objects in the real world. A super-fast SSD that loads game worlds and textures in the blink of an eye. 4K resolution for audiences who love to soak in every pixel — and the more pixels, the better. However, the PS5 can only consistently deliver on two of these promises, which is frustrating many gamers.


Recently, many PS5 owners have run into a bug where 4K resolution and high dynamic range (HDR) functionalities fight with each other. According to reports, you can only activate 4K at the cost of HDR, or you need to sacrifice 4K to use HDR. To make matters more confusing, last-gen consoles like the PS4 Pro don't seem to run into this problem. Granted, not every 4K television is immediately compatible with the PS4 Pro's 4K/HDR functions (and Sony's own "ready for PS5" TVs left a lot to be desired), but Sony has a workaround for these circumstances. The same should apply to the PS5, yet it doesn't.

If this news is giving you a sense of déjà vu, then you probably remember the rumored leak that claimed the PS5 would have fake 4K resolution in a lot of games, especially the upcoming Resident Evil 8. However, that claim was eventually outed as fake, while this news is anything but.


After a bit of digging, dedicated Redditor engineers (and sites such as PCMag and Forbes) seemingly found the culprit: soundbars. Since not everyone has the space or money for a home theater or surround sound setup, many audiences settle for soundbars to provide that sublime stereo experience. However, some soundbars are providing auditory bliss at the cost of visual pleasure.

Apparently, many gamers plugged their consoles into their soundbars the wrong way. Instead of inserting the console directly into their 4K TVs, many accidentally plugged their PS5s into the soundbars and then used that to piggyback the signals into televisions. Although, that is not always the problem. Take for example the story of Reddit user ea_sky, who has a PS4 Pro, a PS5, an LG OLED, and a soundbar. They could squeeze HDR and 4K out of the soundbar, TV, and PS4 Pro, but only while using YUV420 color format. Meanwhile, the exact same setup didn't produce the same results with the PS5. According to ea_sky's findings, cables aren't to blame, because their TV doesn't have HDMI 2.1 compatibility. Bandwidth apparently isn't the offender, either, since their 4K Blu-ray movies play in HDR.

Thanks to the anecdotes of people like ea_sky, entertainment technicians have concluded the problem is inherent to a select number of devices. Forbes compiled a small list of gadgets that are behind most of the 4K HDR bug headaches. As of writing, the devices affected include several LG soundbars, the Samsung K950 soundbar, Samsung's JS8500 TV, as well as a few other devices from Pioneer, Philips, and Atomos.


However, this list is by no means exhaustive. For example, the average gamers can't run 4K and HDR on Onkyo receivers and Hisense 65R8 televisions, but some technically savvy users have discovered unorthodox workarounds. The Onkyo receiver, for example, hides a secret menu item that lets users transfer enhanced HDMI signals through the receiver into the TV. Meanwhile, the solution to the Hisense's issues make a little less sense, since you can apparently activate 4K and HDR on the set by navigating to the TV menu, switching from enhanced mode to normal mode — and then switching back to enhanced mode. Every single time you turn on the TV and PS5.

Going by Forbes' findings, any television that has YUV420 color format is vulnerable to the bug. If you have a TV with YUV422 color and HDMI 2.0 ports, or RBG color with wide bandwidth HDMI, you might be fine. The article posited that the issue might lie in HDMI chipsets not getting along with PS5 firmware, so maybe a firmware update is all that lies between the bug and a solution. But, that fix rides on the shoulders of those affected. The more people who report problems, the quicker Sony hardware gurus can suss out the problem. 

After all, Sony's console works fine with the Sony HT-Z9F soundbar according to one Redditor. What does the Sony soundbar have that various LG and Samsung soundbars don't? Why does one Denon receiver cooperate with the PS5, while another refuses to play with the PS5 or PS4 Pro? More reports equals faster solutions.