Yamaha Receiver Suddenly Displaying PCM
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So your Yamaha receiver or some other receiver is suddenly displaying ‘PCM’, what does this mean? In this article, we will talk about Yamaha receiver PCM and what it means especially considering PCM is practically never used these days. In some cases, a PCM light may come on the receiver instead of Dolby or DTS HD.

To fix this issue, try changing the source device settings to Dolby Digital or DTS, change the SUR DECODE settings, eliminate cable latency, repower the receiver o reset the speaker. 

PCM is direct source audio. It means your receiver is set to ‘pass through which means that the source device is doing the decoding. If you are working with a 5.1 surround audio track and the source device (PS5/Xbox/Blu-ray etc) is also set to PCM, you will not get 5.1 audio from your surround speakers. 

What Is PCM?

Linear PCM stans for Pulse Code Modulation and is a signal format in which an analog audio signal is transmitted without any compression after it is recorded and digitized. It is also transmitted without compression. This is the method used by CDs and DVDs.

PCM works by sampling the analog signal per a very small unit of
time. This means that the analog signal is encoded as pulses and then modulated for recording. 

To learn more, check out our guide on PCM vs Bitstream to learn about these different encoding methods. 

Why Doesn’t PCM Play Surround Sound? 

PCM signals are 2 channel digital signals that cannot carry surround signals like 5.1 audio. This means that PCM does not work like multi-channel audio coding standards like Dolby Digital. This means you cant work with things like Cinema DSP with PCM.

Why Am I Getting PCM and Not Dolby Digital?

Remember, your Yamaha receiver or any other receiver can only display whatever type of signal it is receiving. If it is receiving PCM, it cannot display Dolby Digital and you will not get Dolby sound.

Check out our full guide on PCM vs Dolby Digital to learn more. In this article, we discuss if PCM is better or worse than Dolby Digital.

If you are using your receiver and PCM light is lit, you need to try to enable Dolby on your source device.

How To Fix A Receiver Suddenly Displaying ‘PCM’ Step By Step

1. Source Device Setting

Remember, your receiver can only pass through whatever type of sound signal it is receiving from the source device. As such, if it is receiving PCM, it will display and play PCM.

Please take note that if you’ve configured your receiver to pass through HDMI audio, then the source player will only output audio formats sent by your source player.

If you want to change that, you need to adjust the sound output on your source device. This output setting may be set to PCM, Dolby, DTS or something like that. Change it to Dolby Digital or DTS instead. In other words, make sure that both Dolby Digital and DTS are enabled.

You should also configure your source device (PS5, Blu-ray, XBox, etc) to stream encoded audio formats via HDMI or maybe even optical, ensure that you’ve set HDMI audio output is set to BITSTREAM and not PCM. To learn more about the two formats, check out our guide on PCM vs Bitstream.

In some cases, your source device or player may have an AUTO setting. Thuthat would be the same as setting the player to BITSTREAM. In addition, if your device has a BD audio mix setting, turn it OFF.

2. Surround Decode

Some remotes come with a surround decode setting. In some cases, the button will be marked SUR DECODE. 

Press the decode button and that should fix the issue. However, if the surround decode just displays ‘Straight’, then there is a problem.

You can however use the STRAIGHT mode for testing purposes. This is because your receiver or even your amp cannot apply certain DSP modes to HD audio format. This means that you would force the player to output lesser formats in such cases. On the other hand, if you are using the STRAIGHT mode, you would ensure this isn’t the case.

If nothing is being passed through, the status will read decoder off. 

3. Cabling Latency

Sometimes, cabliong latency can cause this issue. What are you using to connect the soriuce to the receiver? Make sure you are using HDMI or optical. For example, if its a TV, ensure you are connecting your TV to your receiver using HDMI.4

4. Repower The Speakers

In some cases, this issue may be caused by electrical circuitry issues. Just unplug the speaker and power them up again. 

What you need to do is unplug the unit from power, leave it for ten minutes and power it back on.

5. Electrical Issues

In some cases the issue may be due to some sort of electrical or electronic problem. If you are knowdlgedbale about electronics, you can open and inspect the receiver to see if there are any obvious issues with electronics components such as burnt out power supplies, blown capacitors, blown fuses and so on. In some cases, a transformer may be the problem. 

6. Reset The Receiver

Most manuals recommend that you reset you receiver to fix this problem. We normally recommend this as a last resort. So, if you have tried everything else, reset the receive and that may fix the issue. Please note that resetting will cause you to lose other settings.


So, that’s how you fix your PCM issue on your Yamaha receiver or another receiver. Just follow the steps below and try each method until the problem is resolved. First, update the source device settings to output Dolby Digital or DTS, check surround decode settings on the remote, use HDMI or optical, repower the receiver or reset it.