I have a 55” UHD tv with built in Media centre that handles .mkv .mp4 but can’t seem to get it to play more than 2.0 stereo via the Denon receiver ? It has hdmi / arc and optical too ??
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At this moment all i can say is: my crystal ball is broken - provide some useful details...
Does your tv have an audio menu where you can choose between 5.1 and 2.0 output on the optical output to your receiver?I think,therefore i am a hamster.
First: of course your video/tv-program has to have surround sound in the first place.
My first jump to mind would be to check johns0's advice. A lot of surround receivers will just show "PCM" when receiving stereo sound, because your tv will output stereo in PCM. When receiving 5.1 bitstream, it will lock into the codec used and will state that on the display.
Secondly, there can be a difference in how your tv handles different types of audio. TV broadcasts (here in the Netherlands, that is) usually carry a Dolby Digital stream in case of surround sound, which will be throughput via HDMI-ARC and optical. Be sure that your receiver's output is connected to the proper HDMI ARC input of your tv.
When using your tv's build-in mediacenter and you play an external video (eg via connected USB drive) audio handling often becomes problematic in case of surround standards that are not compatible with your tv's capabilities.