PCM VS Dolby Digital: Which is better? (Solved!)

PCM VS Dolby Digital: Which is better? When it comes to managing digital audio recordings, there are two standard technologies to choose from.

The most common method for converting analog audio to digital audio is pulse-code modulation. PCM audio is a two-channel stereo digital audio track that can be found on DVDs.

PCM VS Dolby Digital: Which is better?
Is PCM Better Or Worse Than Dolby Digital? (Find Out Here!)

Dolby Digital® is used in multi-channel applications such as surround sound system for home theaters, film audio, and other similar applications. With its various formats, it employs left, right, and center channels. If you have Dolby 5.1, you have five tracks and a subwoofer to use with your system.

From a technical standpoint, most people would consider PCM to be worse than Dolby Digital because it offers fewer channels. The reality of this comparison is a little different. Wondering if PCM better or worse than Dolby Digital?



When comparing the sound quality of PCM vs. Dolby Digital, you must decide whether you require uncompressed or compressed audio. The first option is direct stereo, while the second offers various formatting options with additional compression.

The question of whether PCM is better or worse than Dolby Digital arises as a result of the settings on a modern television. You can choose between these two options when configuring your audio. Which one is better for your current setup?

The goal should be to match the input to what your television offers. If you're watching a DVD on a standard player, the PCM setting may be the best option. When you watch an HD television station, the audio format is frequently in the Dolby Digital format.

This option provides up to 5.1 channels of audio for your listening pleasure. If you have that equipment at home, you'll be able to reap the full benefits of this technology. If your only source of entertainment is the television speakers, the PCM setting is the best choice because it lacks compression.

You’ll hear muted tones and less audio clarity when using the Dolby Digital setting with your stock setup. You’ll need to take advantage of your TV’s ARC support if you want to maximize the audio in either format.


As previously stated, PCM has been providing service to their customers for over 100 years and continues to provide their standard service of transferring sound streams. They used an algorithmic technology that is used to serve analog audio streams on devices.

That is independent of the type of file you send through it. It is capable of transmitting both uncompressed and compressed audio data. When a device that uses this algorithm receives data, it decodes it and sends it to the receiver. The regular PCM, which has quantization levels determined by amplitude, is one of two types of PCM.

Another is LPCM, which stands for Linear Pulse Code Modulation and refers to quantization levels that are linear. The method of transmitting audio files using any of these types, however, remains the same. Every time a device that uses PCM receives data, it decodes it and sends it to the receiver.

PCM works well with both digital and analog audio input, which is why it has remained popular for so long. Because most AVRs are PCM compatible, this type of connection is mostly used for CD players.


Dolby Digital is well-known for its multi-channel features. If you have a sound system with various types of sound applications such as film audio, surround sound system, or home theaters and the same type of features. Dolby Digital will be ideal for you in this situation because it employs right, center, and left channels, as well as its various formats.

Dolby Digital, on the other hand, began its journey in the cinema with Batman Returns in 1992; in a very short time, it reaches a large number of people and provides the service of a powerful audio system. In general, it is intended for large rooms or home theater sound systems. It produces high-quality sound, creating a cinema-like atmosphere and providing viewing entertainment in the comfort of your own home.

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Its advanced and cutting-edge technology provides the best audio quality. If you use a Dolby 5.1 sound system, you can use five tracks and a subwoofer. The right surround channels, left stereo, center channel, and stereo left and right front channels are among the five channels.

You might wonder why it's called 5.1 if it only has five channels. The reason for this is that the subwoofer has an LFE channel, which stands for Low-Frequency Effects. It is referred to as the 0.1 channel because it only works when a rumbling bass impression is desired.

When watching a High-Definition TV station, the audio is usually formatted in the Dolby Digital format. This option provides you with up to 5.1 channels of audio enjoyment. If you have that material ready to use in your home, you can reap the full benefits of this advanced technology.

Dolby Digital vs PCM
Dolby Digital vs PCM


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When it comes to maximizing your home theater settings, you must consider the input and output types. Your television receives audio signal and video signals from the input. A cable box, satellite receiver, set box, game console, DVD players, Blu-ray players, or anything else that can be connected is an example of one of these items.

When you direct a computer to display on a television, that item becomes an input. The output is what your television sends to the devices. If you want to listen to audio, the signal sends it to the speakers for you to enjoy.

Even if you only use the TV's stock speakers, you're still taking advantage of this feature. The output can also be used to route audio to soundbars, Surround Sound system speakers, or headphones. The correct audio signals format setting is determined by the device that will receive the audio signal output.

That is, depending on your setup, you should choose PCM or Dolby Digital from the menu options. When you select the HDMI input audio option in the TV's setup menu, you'll usually see PCM or Bitstream as options. If you select the first option, your entertainment system will only provide two-channel sound.

That’s why you must choose bitstream if you plan to have the audio processed through a soundbar or a home theater system after it goes through the television.

It’s the only way for you to achieve the multi-channel effect that you want from Dolby Digital. Some TVs cannot deliver this output, which means you’ll need to reference your owner’s manual to see what is possible in your situation.

Select the Best Digital Output Setting for Your Setup

The output format you select when selecting an audio signal format for your television is determined by the equipment connected to the television. If you're not sure what each device offers, it's a good idea to read the owner's manual for each one. Setting up a home theater system may necessitate a different set of parameters than setting up high-quality headphones.

Is there nothing connected to your television? If that's the case, the TV's stock speakers will work better with the PCM setting. If you choose the alternative environment, you may experience audio loss, volume problems, or other issues.

Set the TV's menu to the highest mode that your equipment supports if you want the best sound experience possible. Because an optical cable cannot deliver the correct output, you'll need to use the HDMI ARC if your setup requires support for more than 5.1 channels.


If you're trying to decide whether PCM or Dolby Digital is the best option for your audio needs, you may notice that some options are grayed out or unavailable on the menu. When you run into this issue, the audio signal output is unavailable for some reason.

This problem could be caused by the current content sent to the TV's input, app settings, or the requirements of your home theater equipment. On some televisions, you can only select the options that are currently available with your input and output.

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As a general rule, you should only use PCM audio if your sound system has issues with higher settings. If you encounter the latter problem, it is most likely because your setup is incompatible with Dolby. You may see additional options in addition to PCM and Dolby Digital. They include automatic, DTS, and Dolby Digital Plus settings.

In exchange for more bandwidth, these options may provide better sound quality or more channels to use. If you need Dolby Atmos for your output, most televisions will only allow you to use the automatic setting. To achieve your desired result, you should still choose PCM or Dolby Digital for everything else.


Dolby Digital is a cutting-edge technology that provides the benefits of a multi-channel facility and is found on the majority of DVDs and blu-rays. PCM, on the other hand, is the uncompressed data stream that the player can create from the Blu-ray for use in AVR receivers, which may not suit DTS or DD, despite the fact that 99.9 percent of modern systems accept it.

PCM also supports insignificant sounds such as administrators' commentary. There is a possibility that these secondary sounds will be incorporated into the stream.

According to a discussion, different audio players and receivers may cause minor variations in the decoded audio stream, resulting in different audio quality on different players. Aside from the highest bit rate and individual frequency, there are restrictions on the number of channels transmitted through the PCM stream.

Alternative Video: Is PCM Better Than Dolby Digital?

Is PCM Better Than Dolby Digital?


1. Digital formats

Dolby employs compressed data formats that allow it to be used in DVDs and surround formats. DTS and Dolby digital are methods for compressing and saving pulse code modulation stereo and surround.

Depending on the nature of the data to be transmitted, pulse code modulation may be a better option than Dolby digital.

2. PCM uncompressed

The audio is transmitted uncompressed in pulse code modulation, which reduces data loss during compression. Pulse code modulation blue-ray formats are slightly compressed, making pulse code modulation a better choice than Dolby digital.

3. Transmission mediums

The stereo and surround signals are sent from the source to the receiver using different methods depending on the nature and requirement of the transmitted signals in pulse code modulation. Digital coaxial, high definition multimedia user interface, and optical are some of the methods available.

Because transmission of uncompressed digital formats in pulse code modulation requires a large bandwidth, high definition multimedia interfaces are the best option for transmission. To transmit audio from the microphone to the signal processor, modern telephones are outfitted with technology that employs pulse density modulation and improved pulse code modulation.

Although pulse code modulation is simple to control, pulse density modulation provides low interference of the transmitted signal from other signals at a low cost. To transmit a signal over a communication channel, Dolby digital employs six discrete audio signals channels.

This increases the likelihood of bleed overs between channels. During transmission, the transmitted signal is also separated, making it less noticeable in the sound information. Dolby digital is useful when it is necessary to mix noise, such as in speakers where each speaker is fed its own channel.


When you want to maximize your sound system’s use, the equipment relies on your television to deliver results.

That means you’ll need to invest in a high-quality product that provides a reliable output to create the home entertainment environment you want. These televisions have proven that they know how to deliver the successful outcomes you want for your audio needs. 

1. LG NanoCell 85 Series 75-Inch TV

This television is one of only a few on the market that features a genuine NanoCell display. With over 8.3 million active pixels, you get four times the resolution of standard HD for a more lifelike image. When you combine that benefit with Dolby Digital's enhanced audio properties, you'll have an incredible viewing experience.

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The LG NanoCell 85 Series works well with PCM settings, particularly local dimming, to improve backlight balance. For a more immersive experience, you'll get deeper blacks, improved contrast, and realistic sound. With its artificial intelligence platform, upscaling, and automatic settings, you don't need to do anything to get impressive sounds.

2. TCL 75-Inch 5-Series 4K UHD TV

If you're looking for a low-cost home television with a slew of smart features, this TCL model is a must-have. It used QLED technology to produce an impressive result, and the Roku app enabled instant streaming. By pairing the TV with an Alexa device, you can add voice controls to it.

The image clarity is excellent, particularly with Dolby Vision HDR lighting the way. With a few menu clicks, you can configure the sound on the TCL 5-Series TV. Even if you don't get an owner's manual in the box, the process is simple. You'll get one eARC input and three other HDMI connections to sync your audio signals and video sources for the best viewing experience.

3. SunBriteTV 55-Inch 4K UHD

This television has the added benefit of being waterproof. Install it outside beneath your veranda, screened gazebo, or four-season porch to create a relaxing outdoor entertainment area.

Its direct LED backlighting is up to 50% brighter than that of a typical indoor TV, ensuring that you get the 4K UHD HDR viewing experience you desire. The SunBrite TV is designed to withstand all weather conditions. It includes tough components and a sturdy case for permanent installation.

This design uses aluminum so that it guards against snow, extreme temperature changes, and even insects. You’ll receive 3 HDMI and one HDMI ARC to use for your audio needs. 

4. KUVASONG 55-inch Sun-Readable Television

You will appreciate the clarity and functionality of this television due to its wall-mount design and added durability. It provides all of the expected connections for an unrivaled home entertainment experience!

Although it is not completely waterproof, it is extremely durable, allowing you to install it in an outdoor covered area to watch Netflix, YouTube, and other services. This KUVASONG television has a brightness of 1,500 nits for a natural viewing experience.

It provides UHD HDR with 4K brilliance while allowing you to customize the audio settings for your home theater. It comes with a built-in soundbar that produces good sound at the default levels if you're just getting started with your system.


Comparing Dolby Digital to PCM is analogous to comparing grapefruits and apples. These two have distinct advantages and specifications that distinguish them as distinct sound materials for a home theater setup.

Even though the uncompressed vs. compression debate has some merit from an audiophile's perspective, the general public wants the best audio signals quality possible from their sound system.

That is why Dolby Digital consistently outperforms the competition. It has a greater number of channels than PCM. If you cannot get those channels to work in your home, you can use PCM as a solution. Most televisions nowadays have an automatic sound setting, which you can use without worrying about anything else.

PCM or Dolby Digital?
PCM or Dolby Digital?

FAQs About PCM vs Dolby Digital

Is PCM audio high quality?

Both have excellent audio quality. Most DVD and Blu-Ray players can play both Bitstream and PCM files. To be heard through the speakers, both signals must be converted into analog form.

Is PCM suitable for surround sound system?

That is fine for CD playback, but for Dolby Digital or DTS surround signals that have been converted to PCM, you must use an HDMI connection because it can transfer up to eight channels of PCM audio.

Should I set my TV to PCM or auto?

By setting HDMI audio output to AUTO, when playing a Standard DVD, the audio will be sent via Bitstream. If you watch an HD DVD, it will be sent via PCM. So AUTO is the best method for HDMI audio.

Barry Moroney

Hi, Barry here. I'm a tech writer and blogger. I write about the latest technology, gadgets, and software. I also provide the best how-to and guides on the latest sound systems. I'm always excited to share my knowledge with others!


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