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Topic:
PCM vs. Bitstream
This thread has 5 replies. Displaying all posts.
Post 1 made on Tuesday January 10, 2006 at 17:44
DIRTE
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What is the difference? I see PCM, Dolby Digital, Raw, and bitstream on most of the DVD players Ive dealt with. Yet I have no idea what changes, other than whether or not you get surround sound. I have noticed that all sony dvd players come set as pcm but I always have to change it to bitstream or DD (depending on the player) to get surround sound. TIA
"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed with the things you didn't do than by the things you did… Explore. Dream. Discover" Mark Twain, 1879
Post 2 made on Tuesday January 10, 2006 at 22:19
Larry Fine
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My understanding is that PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) is always only stereo. Raw data and bitstream mean the same thing, and are capable of transmitting DD and DTS (discrete multi-channel) to the decoder.
Post 3 made on Tuesday January 10, 2006 at 23:22
Daniel Tonks
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Basically it's "stereo" (like a CD), "Dolby Digital only", or "whatever is on the disc" be it PCM, Dolby, DTS or what have you.
OP | Post 4 made on Wednesday January 11, 2006 at 01:51
DIRTE
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Are you referring to PCM when you say "it's"?
"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed with the things you didn't do than by the things you did… Explore. Dream. Discover" Mark Twain, 1879
Post 5 made on Wednesday January 11, 2006 at 12:42
Spiky
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PCM does not inherently mean stereo, I don't think. But for DVD player settings it does since it means the Dolby signal is downconverted to PCM stereo for output to compatible devices. Everything is compatible with PCM, TV speakers, headphones, etc. Only a Dolby decoder is compatible with Dolby Digital.

Same goes for DTS, except your player may not have a DTS decoder, so it simply outputs nothing if set to PCM. That's why there is often a separate PCM/Bitstream setting for DTS.

Bitstream (and probably "raw") means it simply passes through whatever is on the disc.

Keep in mind this should only apply to the digital output. The analog output is always analog stereo output. So there is seldom an occasion where you need it set to anything but Bitstream.
Post 6 made on Friday January 20, 2006 at 09:14
Daniel Tonks
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I seem to recall that Creative Labs PC sound cards have an option where they will output 5.1 (6.1/7.1?) digital PCM sound over a single wire, but as far as I know the only thing that can actually process it is their own speakers.

Since then other companies have figured out how to do near instant Dolby Digital encoding so most have opted for that, however CL still uses their PCM format.


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