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Linear PCM vs Dolby/DTS

Linear PCM vs Dolby/DTS
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When comparing the sound quality of PCM and Dolby Digital, you must decide if you need uncompressed or compressed audio output. The first choice will give you straight stereo, while the second gives many formatting options and additional compression.

Because of the settings on modern TV, it is not uncommon to see arguments on which is better or worse between Dolby Digital and PCM audio. As a result, this article will examine where each of these two audio formats is superior and where they are not.

Linear PCM (native PCM) or Linear Pulse Code Modulation is a type of pulse code modulation that samples sound waves by measuring the actual wave at each sample point. Dolby Digital and DTS on the other hand are audio compression technologies that provide surround sound codecs for 5.1, 6.1 (rare), and 7.1 setups. They utilize “perceptual” data reduction techniques to remove useless data in PCM signal output, and so preserve high-fidelity sound. They save space either on the disc (Blu-Ray and DVDs) or on streaming bandwidth for services like Netflix.

Read on to learn more about Linear PCM vs Dolby/DTS.

What Is Linear PCM?

Linear PCM is an uncompressed digital representation of a sound that has been recorded. It has all the information in the original audio signal, which makes it very large and not good for digital storage. It should be noted that Linear PCM is synonymous with LPCM and PCM. 

PCM is one way you can digitally encode sampled analog signals. It is the uncompressed version of most digital audio chains and systems that have been decoded and uncompressed before they go to the DAC.

Any processing that takes place leads to a stream of PCM output data. A typical PCM audio stream can have as many channels as needed to make it more interesting and fuller (it can have up to 10 channels).

What Is Dolby Atmos?

Atmos is one of Dolby Labs’ surround sound technologies that can be used to make your movie or TV show sound better. It uses a unique method to code spatial information to make sounds more immersive than other formats.

The sound mixer doesn’t put sound parts on individual channels or speakers. Instead, it places them in 3D spaces (this is where the spatial coding process comes in).

Because Dolby Atmos is object-based instead of channel-based, this means it is better for surround sound than channel-based audio. Of course, we still need a speaker to bring out these results.

A typical Dolby Atmos data is stored in metadata, which is then delivered through a Blu-ray disc or a streaming device. An AV processor or receiver then distributes spatial information based on how many channels and speakers are used.

Linear PCM Vs Dolby

Sampled analog signals can be digitally represented using pulse-code modulation (PCM) or Dolby Digital codec. PCM is the standard form of digital audio in computers, CDs, digital telephony, and other digital applications.

Dolby is a lossless audio codec format. In Dolby Digital, the signal is decoded, processed, and uncompressed after it has been received from the source. The result is a PCM stream with the required number of channels ready to be supplied to the DAC.

To fit more data into the same bandwidth, Dolby compresses the PCM stream, but not at the expense of signal quality.

Dolby is a better audio processing option since it allows you to choose how the audio is delivered. However, you can only get the best of this if you have a surround system that will give you a full and immersive Dolby output experience.

If you want to want to hear the audio exactly as it was recorded and you don’t have a surround system, PCM is a better option. You can still get an immersive sound from your TV speakers in PCM mode. 

If you are interested in learning about regular PCM vs Dolby Digital, check out this guide

Linear PCM Vs Dolby Vs DTS Ps4

On most game consoles, PCM is the default audio setting. This is because the audio is taken directly from the console and is not compressed. Linear PCM allows you to use 5.1 or 7.1 signals, which are supported by most modern sound systems.

While other audio formats (such as DTS) may be preferable for watching movies or streaming your favorite Netflix series, compressed audio formats may degrade the sound quality of a demanding game played on the PS4.

When it comes to the PlayStation 4, PCM is the finest audio format to use. It doesn’t require any additional processing, and the audio isn’t compressed.

DTS and Dolby Digital are both compressed formats that cause additional processing. If you choose DTS as your default, you’ll need a TOSLINK adapter, while PCM will take sound directly from your console.

Linear PCM Vs Dolby Vs DTS Ps5

The new PS5 supports PCM, Bitstream (DTS), and Dolby Digital audio formats, giving you plenty of options for sound quality.

Linear PCM is the default audio format for the PlayStation 5 and the best audio format for most users who have a regular or even an expensive sound system or a soundbar. It takes advantage of uncompressed audio data and has no audio delay.

Linear PCM audio is used by video game producers in their games. So, if you want to play games on your PS5 the way the video game studio intended, use Linear PCM.

DTS employs compressed audio data, making it the second-best audio format on PS5. However, because the PS5 compresses the audio data, there is a bit of delay in the audio production. 

To increase audio quality, Dolby compresses the audio data. If your audio device supports it, you can select this option to experience Dolby surround sound. The disadvantage is that it may cause audio delays when playing games. However, if you’re playing on a PS5 at 30 frames per second, it won’t make much of a difference. 

Linear PCM Vs Dolby Vs DTS PS5 Headset

Using good headphones, the new PS5 setting gives you a 3D Audio experience. Linear PCM is the default option that you get.

According to a new Sony blog post, you’ll need a suitable headset to use these formats because it doesn’t work with built-in TV speakers yet. This option functions similarly to the usual PS5 audio format options, with Linear PCM being the best option. 

Linear PCM Vs DTS

Linear PCM is uncompressed digital audio delivered over optical, coaxial, or HDMI. Via HDMI it can be a stereo or multichannel. This gives it the win over DTS in the same circumstances since DTS uses lossy compression.

What if you don’t have HDMI, but only coaxial or optical, and still want a multi-channel surround? In that situation, the best choice is DTS.


The Linear PCM vs. Dolby format debate mostly has some merit from an audiophile’s perspective. Most users just want their system to produce the finest sound quality possible. That is why Dolby Digital will always come out on top in this kind of debate. This is because there are more channels on it. 

However, when you don’t have access to those channels at home, PCM is the next best option. You can use the automated setting on most televisions today without having to worry about anything else.