The issue wasn't that they didn't use eARC, it was that I still constantly needed the remotes to fix issues with the systems. The Samsung forums were loaded with people who had the same problem as me, input consistency and voice delays. I would put Netflix on and the audio would sync up perfectly, then switch back to cable and would need to do +1 or +2 so it wasn't like we were watching a dubbed show. The Sony (HT-ST5000) had the most brutal user interface ever and would take over the TV randomly, bringing up the sony menu that we needed the remote to get out of. So by the time I got to Sonos, I really missed my optical only soundbar that you just plug in and it works. Plus, I like that it is modular and I can buy one piece at a time and continue to add more or use parts of it around the house. Way too expensive, for sure.I just got the second from top of the line Samsung soundbar package (like Q910 or 920, I think there are two versions depending on the store). It was a seamless installation with my Samsung TV and works via eARC, so no need for a separate remote unless you are trying to use it independently (and the main use in that space is streaming music off a phone, which you can use apps for).
I also previously had a like $200 Yamaha soundbar/subwoofer setup that was pretty good. It was a major upgrade from TV sound, but the $1,000 dollar setup I now have is much better, and the surround/Atmos features are really nice. Any halfway decent soundbar setup these days will use eARC, so there is no need to pay for ultra premium pricing or quality to get that benefit or the ability to use a single remote. My prior ARC setup with a $200 soundbar handled that fine too.
Based on my research, I would not suggest Sonos unless you are already a Sonos user. When I looked into this, the general sentiment is that you are paying a lot more with Sonos (top of the line Samsung and LG packages top out around $1,500) for a system that, while still very good, is several years out of date and not as good as premium offerings from other brands.
Overall, my advice is a bit different from everyone else. I think there is no question you should get some sort of non-TV speakers. A true surround system is undeniably the best option, but I personally didn’t want to deal with the extra install work and complexity associated with that option. A premium soundbar system is the next best option. But you can get very good sound (and much better than your TV) spending like $200-300 instead of $1k or $2k, and that is the level I’d recommend starting at if you aren’t convinced you need anything. I’d also suggest getting the soundbar (or speakers) from somewhere with easy returns. Take it home, set it up without mounting, and see if you think it is worth it. If it’s not, return it. If it is, then deal with mounting/permanent installation. But you should definitely try out having better sound, and you probably won’t be able to go back once you do.
As for sound quality, I'm a dumb dumb. You could blindfold me and I'd only have the most basic observations to share. Which is also why I went soundbar over speakers. Other than atmos carrying better above my head with a speaker system setup, soundbar is just great and easy....