Answered PCM or Bitstream? Which is best for receiver setup? Please help

Krypt17

Novice Member
Hello. I'm new to the forums and hoping that someone can help me. I've been trying to research how to properly set my tv and receiver to properly play sound. I apologize ahead of time if my question is a little confusing. Here is what I have:

TV: Samsung 55inch 4k UN55kS800FXZA
Costco Wholesale

Receiver: Yamaha RX-V481BL
RX-V481 - RX-V - AV Receivers - Audio & Visual - Products - Yamaha United States

Basically my question is how I should output the sound from my TV. I have my AT&T Uverse and Playstation 4 connected to the TV, both via HDMI. From there I have a HDMI ARC cable going from the TV to the receiver. For days I've been trying to figure out whether to use PCM or Bitstream for HDMI Audio and also PCM/Dolby Digital/DTS Neo 2.5 for audio output. After reading all of these forums and websites, I've read that PCM would be lossless over a HDMI cable. When I choose PCM, I see that only the front two speakers (so therefor 2.1 audio) are the only speakers active when I choose STRAIGHT on the yamaha receiver. I'm continuously reading different pages contradicting each other, one says to use PCM and the other Bitstream (one or the other will claim to be lossless). So My questions for help is.. Which should I choose and which is actually lossless?

When I set my receiver to STRAIGHT, how should I set the HDMI audio and Audio out settings on my television?

To anyone that is able to answer, thank you very much!
 

citywalker

Member
Bitstream to receiver means, that receiver gets non decoded info directly and then receiver decodes it.
PCM to receiver means, that your source decodes info to PCM and sends to receiver.
Bitstream is better, if you want to decode all the info in the receiver.
But some old (10y) receivers can't understand new audio formats like dolby truehd or dts hd, but they can understand PCM. In this case pcm is better and only option.
Bitstream is better, but for stereo source it is basically the same, except if your sources pcm decoding is bad somehow. For newer audio formats is bitstream always better.
Up to 5.1 sound it's your decision pcm or bitstream, over that choose bitstream.
Straight mode changes nothing, you get what is in the singnal - is it stereo or 5.1 or something else.

Someone correct me, if I'm wrong.
 
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Violator

Well-known Member
First off you should have the PS4 connected to your AVR, then AVR to your TV. I'm not sure what an AT&T UVerse is (you're in the US I guess?), but can that be connected to the AVR too? Your TV can only output probably stereo sound and only DTS/DD (no HD). Connecting the PS4 to the AVR would let you take advantage of HD sound.

Bitstream audio means the receiver will decode all the sound, this is generally the easiest option for newer AVRs. PCM means the device itself decodes the sound and sends it. It's exactly the same sound either way.

STRAIGHT mode just means you're getting whatever the signal that's being sent is with no additional processing by the AVR. You don't need to change anything.
 

Krypt17

Novice Member
Thank you both for your replies.

The only reason I didnt put my cable box (at&t uverse) and playstation 4 directly into the avr was because I would have to switch the video settings manually on the TV every time I switched between the two.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
Note that multichannel PCM cannot be conveyed via optical or HDMI ARC. If you set you TV's digital audio output to PCM as opposed to BITSTREAM then you'd not gwt anything more than 2 channel PCM via the TV. It is also suggested not to passthrough audio associated with Blu-ray titles via a TV because such films are more often than not encoded with HD formats such as DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD. You cannot pass these formats through a TV and they cannot be conveyed via either S/PDIF optical or via HDMI ARC. You'd need a direct HDMI connection from a source to an AV receiver in ord to be able to bitstream these formats to an AV receiver.

There's strictly speaking no difference in quality between a bitstream digital signal and one that results from letting the source do the decoding prior to then sending the resulting PCM data, but you can only convey multichannel PCM via HDMI and you can only convey the higher bandwidth multichannel HDbformats via HDMI.


There's only really one reason to send PCM as opposed to bitstreaming that being secondary audio. On most Blu-rays, there are audio elements in addition to the main soundtrack. The audio that accompanies PIP (picture-in-picture) commentaries and the sounds that onscreen buttons make when you click on them. If you set the player to send bitstream, you won't hear this secondary audio, but if you set it to send PCM, the secondary audio is mixed with the main soundtrack so you can hear it. It should be noted that if wanting to access one of the new 3D imersive formats such as DTS:X or Dolby Atmos then you have to bitstream the audio. THese formats are not channel based and rely upon metadata that is sent along with a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio or TrueHD base layer. If a player is allowed to do the decoding then the Atmos or DTS:X metadata is discarded in the process. Your receiver doesn't however have Atmos or DTS:X playback abilities.
 
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Krypt17

Novice Member
So there is no way to transfer the correct audio from my cable box & ps4 if they are connected to the tv and ARC to the receiver for it to decode? (instead of connecting the devices straight to the receiver) I guess the reason I want to do it this way is because it's a pain in the ass to switch sources especially if I'm using the Netflix app on the samsung tv. I have to switch sources on the tv remote to go back to HDMI4(Arc), then switch audio sources on the yamaha remote to go back to (either cable or ps4). Sorry again if I'm not making sense.

On a side note, when I did connect the devices straight to the receiver, I did start seeing PL2, Dolby Digital, DTS-HD, etc (compared to when I had the devices connected to the tv)

Again, my complaint it that its a hassle to switch so many different sources with two remotes (I know I know.. I could always get a harmony remote.. but I'm hoping there's another option with what I have). This also is a problem as I'm sacrificing video settings.. For instance on my TV, HDMI1 is my cable.. I have the settings different to HDMI2(ps4) which has game mode on.. If I plug these devices into the receiver on HDMI4(arc), I'm limited to only programing HDMI4's video settings. If I set it to Game mode it looks like complete garbage when watching cable. Is there something I'm missing?
 
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citywalker

Member
If you need better sound, then connecting directly to the receiver is only option.
But if your tv can do 5.1 PCM, then it isn't bad option. If stereo only, then yes, connect directly to the receiver.
Why you need so many clicks on the remotes?
One click and you can control everything what is connected to the receiver.
For Netflix app you need one click for yamaha and one or two for tv to be on correct input? And do you really clicking constantly all the time between Netflix and other sources?
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
HDMI 2.1 just announced includes eARC (enhanced ARC) which will include the ability for TV's to pass through higher resolution audio formats to a receiver. For now, I would recommend having audio outs from your sources connected directly to the receiver (and depending on source a separate video out to the TV for video only), and then getting something like a Logitech Harmony for controlling it all via 'activities'.

EDIT: Ordinarily you wouldn't need a separate video out from source to TV, only if the AVR cannot passthrough the video format that you need it to.
 
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Krypt17

Novice Member
My current setup on the receiver is:
HDMI1=Cable
HDMI2=PS4
HDMI3=n/a
HDM4=n/a
HDMI-ARC - TV

TV sources are now:
HDMI1-n/a
HDMI2-n/a
HDMI3- n/a
HDMI4- ARC-RECEIVER

Say I'm watching cable and I want to watch a netflix movie.. I have to take the samsung remote, switch the sources to the netflix app.. Then I have to take the yamaha remote to switch to AV4 (default for tv audio). When I'm done watching that movie and want to go back to watching cable.. I have to go back to the samsung remote and switch sources back to HDMI4 (arc-receiver) and then on the yamaha remote switch to HDMI1.

It's just alot of switching =X
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
With a Logitech Harmony remote you can set up different activities and that will automate all of that with one button press. I am sure other universal remotes are available also.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
If you need better sound, then connecting directly to the receiver is only option.
But if your tv can do 5.1 PCM, then it isn't bad option. If stereo only, then yes, connect directly to the receiver.

No TV has an output option able to carry multichannel PCM. Neither ARC nor S/PDIF optical can canvey more than 2 channels of PCM data. The only interface able to convey multichannel PCM is conventional HDMI (not ARC) and no TV has an HDMI output.

Simply go into the TV's sound settings and there should be a setting where you can change the digital output from PCM to Dolby Digital. Set the setting to Dolby Digital and you should then be able to output 5.1 Dolby Digital from the TV to an AV receiver when available either via optical or via ARC is available. THe PCM setting will result in nothing more than 2 channel PCM being output.

Note that you still cannot passthrough HD formats such as Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio though. A direct HDMI connection from a source to an AV receiver is the only way to convey such formats.
 

Krypt17

Novice Member
So I caved and bought a Harmony remote. Expensive.. But works extremely well.

Andddd for my last and final question.. What are the best settings for my ps4 (mostly audio). Please let me know if you would change anything..
Video:
Resolution=Auto
Y Pb/Cb Pr/Cr Range = Full
Deep Color = Full

Audio:
Output port = HDMI
Audio Format = ????? (Linear PCM/Bitstream(Dolby)/Bitstream(DTS))

After researching about the audio format. I've read articles that said to choose Linear PCM because it sends the audio from the ps4 as uncompressed pure sound. But I'm hoping you can shed some light on it for me so I can choose the best options. I'm not sure if the PCM is 2.1 in this case?
Here is one source.. I can find more: Best Audio settings for Home Theater Setup? Linear PCM vs. Bitstream, etc. - PlayStation Nation - GameSpot



Again everyone.. Thank you for your help!!!!!!!!
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
So I caved and bought a Harmony remote. Expensive.. But works extremely well.
That was quick :eek: Glad you like it though :smashin:

I am not sure about the other question as I don't have a PS4.
 

Violator

Well-known Member
So I caved and bought a Harmony remote. Expensive.. But works extremely well.

Andddd for my last and final question.. What are the best settings for my ps4 (mostly audio). Please let me know if you would change anything..
Video:
Resolution=Auto
Y Pb/Cb Pr/Cr Range = Full
Deep Color = Full

Audio:
Output port = HDMI
Audio Format = ????? (Linear PCM/Bitstream(Dolby)/Bitstream(DTS))

After researching about the audio format. I've read articles that said to choose Linear PCM because it sends the audio from the ps4 as uncompressed pure sound. But I'm hoping you can shed some light on it for me so I can choose the best options. I'm not sure if the PCM is 2.1 in this case?
Here is one source.. I can find more: Best Audio settings for Home Theater Setup? Linear PCM vs. Bitstream, etc. - PlayStation Nation - GameSpot



Again everyone.. Thank you for your help!!!!!!!!
Turn off Deep Color. The PS4 should auto-detect the best audio setting but if you were connecting to the TV choose LPCM, if you're connecting to your AVR you might as well choose Bitstream (then you'll see what the PS4 is outputting).

LPCM = PS4 decoding
Bitstream = AVR decoding

Both are exactly the same data and will sound the same.
 

Krypt17

Novice Member
Turn off Deep Color. The PS4 should auto-detect the best audio setting but if you were connecting to the TV choose LPCM, if you're connecting to your AVR you might as well choose Bitstream (then you'll see what the PS4 is outputting).

LPCM = PS4 decoding
Bitstream = AVR decoding

Both are exactly the same data and will sound the same.
The PS4 is connected directly to the AVR.. So should I choose Bitstream(dolby) or Bitstream(dts) ?
 

Violator

Well-known Member
Neither. If that's the only bitstream options you get choose LPCM. Those options will give you lossy DD or dts.
 

Krypt17

Novice Member
These are the options in the PS4 settings. If I put in a blu-ray I get options such as DTS-HD etc..

So in the PS4 Settings your saying to choose LPCM?
 

Violator

Well-known Member
These are the options in the PS4 settings. If I put in a blu-ray I get options such as DTS-HD etc..

So in the PS4 Settings your saying to choose LPCM?
Yep. Just means the PS4 will decode. You'll also see something like Multi-Channel PCM on the AVR as well.
 

Krypt17

Novice Member
Yep. Just means the PS4 will decode. You'll also see something like Multi-Channel PCM on the AVR as well.
I'll give it a shot tonight and see if it makes any difference. Right now I *think* I have it set to Bitstream(Dolby) on the ps4 and that's when the blu-rays display DTS-HD. Thanks for all your advice!
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
After researching about the audio format. I've read articles that said to choose Linear PCM because it sends the audio from the ps4 as uncompressed pure sound. But I'm hoping you can shed some light on it for me so I can choose the best options. I'm not sure if the PCM is 2.1 in this case?
Here is one source.. I can find more: Best Audio settings for Home Theater Setup? Linear PCM vs. Bitstream, etc. - PlayStation Nation - GameSpot



Again everyone.. Thank you for your help!!!!!!!!

The articles you've read are incorrect and those writting them are ill informed.

For games the PS4 will output LPCM, but not because this is of a higher quality and because it allows the console to mix sounds it creates into the audio. Games audio will be output as PCM even if the console is configured to BITSTREAM audio. You can force it to BITSTREAM games audio, but I'd advise against thos because it prevents the console adding in audio it creates and serves no beneficial purpose.

For Blu-ray films then you can set the console to bitstream the audio. PCM is not of a better quality than bitstreamed audio formats and the bitstreamed package is where the PCM data was sourced from. The only difference is which device is used to decode the compressed format to get the uncompressed PCM data. If you bitstream then it is the AV receiver that is doing this decoding. Think of it of being like when you download a zip file and unpackage it on your computer. You get the same content irrespective of what device is used to unpack the zip file.

Note that it isn't simply a matter of setting the audio output from PCM to BITSTREAM. To configure the PS4 to bitstream audio associated with movie Blu-rays then see here:

ENABLING DOLBY BITSTREAM PASS-THROUGH ON PS4
In order for the PS4 to output Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD formats we must first configure the PS4 to output audio via HDMI, and ensure that the "Audio Format (Priority)" is set to "Bitstream (Dolby)."

  1. In Settings -> Sound & Screen -> Audio Output Settings:
Now that we’ve configured the audio output of the PS4, let’s look at the settings that pertain to the Blu-ray player software. First, we need to ensure that we are selecting the correct audio format, and then we need to inspect the Settings menu to confirm that the audio format is set to “Bitstream (Direct)”.

  1. Select the Dolby audio format in the audio menu of the Blu-ray
  2. While the Blu-ray is playing...
  3. Check the AVR display to confirm that it is indicating receipt of a Dolby format
Dolby Developer

The console will retain this configuration for use with all future Blu-rays or until you reconfigure it with different settings.


Also note that you have to bitstream audio if wanting to access either DTS:X or Atmos soundtracks. The associated Atmos or DTS:X metadata cannot be conveyed if not bitstreaming the audio. Sending it as already decoded PCM will not convey this metadata!


There are absolutely no audio or signal quality benefits to sending PCM as opposed to BITSTREAMING the format for the receiver to decode.


The only real benefit associated with having the source do the decoding is that associated with SECONDARY AUDIO. More on this here:
Blu-ray Disc Audio - Bitstream vs PCM Output - Which Is Best?
 
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soodgautam

Novice Member
I have a similar issue - posting here if anyone can help

I need some help in setting up my Home Theater + PC + Smart TV

Below are the details of the devices
AVR - Denon AVR 1912 (8 years old and does not support 4K)
TV - 75 Inch Samsung Smart TV (Supports 4k)
PC - Have a GeForce card which has 2 HDMI out and both support 4K

Now the issue is that as my AVR does not support 4k - So I have to connect HDMI from PC to TV directly.

For Audio I have 3 options
Option 1 - Optical (SPDIF) from TV to AVR:
Issue is that I will not get 5.1 output from TV to AVR

Option 2 - HDMI ARC from TV to AVR:
Issue is that I will not get 5.1 output from TV to AVR

Option 3 - Second HDMI from PC to AVR to just transfer audio:
Issue is that in this case my graphic card starts treating AVR like a second/extended display creating issues

Is there any other way to solve this issue?

Thanks in advance for the help.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
I have a similar issue - posting here if anyone can help

I need some help in setting up my Home Theater + PC + Smart TV

Below are the details of the devices
AVR - Denon AVR 1912 (8 years old and does not support 4K)
TV - 75 Inch Samsung Smart TV (Supports 4k)
PC - Have a GeForce card which has 2 HDMI out and both support 4K

Now the issue is that as my AVR does not support 4k - So I have to connect HDMI from PC to TV directly.

For Audio I have 3 options
Option 1 - Optical (SPDIF) from TV to AVR:
Issue is that I will not get 5.1 output from TV to AVR

Option 2 - HDMI ARC from TV to AVR:
Issue is that I will not get 5.1 output from TV to AVR

Option 3 - Second HDMI from PC to AVR to just transfer audio:
Issue is that in this case my graphic card starts treating AVR like a second/extended display creating issues

Is there any other way to solve this issue?

Thanks in advance for the help.

See here:
 
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Rambles

Distinguished Member
I have a similar issue - posting here if anyone can help

I need some help in setting up my Home Theater + PC + Smart TV

Below are the details of the devices
AVR - Denon AVR 1912 (8 years old and does not support 4K)
TV - 75 Inch Samsung Smart TV (Supports 4k)
PC - Have a GeForce card which has 2 HDMI out and both support 4K

Now the issue is that as my AVR does not support 4k - So I have to connect HDMI from PC to TV directly.

For Audio I have 3 options
Option 1 - Optical (SPDIF) from TV to AVR:
Issue is that I will not get 5.1 output from TV to AVR

Option 2 - HDMI ARC from TV to AVR:
Issue is that I will not get 5.1 output from TV to AVR

Option 3 - Second HDMI from PC to AVR to just transfer audio:
Issue is that in this case my graphic card starts treating AVR like a second/extended display creating issues

Is there any other way to solve this issue?

Thanks in advance for the help.
Option 3 will get you the best possible sound. HDMI ARC and Optical (SPDIF) are both restricted in the types of audio they can pass, using direct HDMI from source to AVR should give you all formats.

The second display is annoying, but if you just set it as a clone desktop, then ignore it, it shouldn't cause any issues.
 

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