PCM vs Dolby Digital: Is PCM Better Than Dolby Digital?

Watching movies or playing awesome video games is an amazing and enjoyable thing to do. Amazing sound effects create a lively atmosphere at home, which adds more excitement to the viewers. To get that kind of sound output, you have to find the best quality sound system with a standard audio transmitter.

There are quite a few audio-transmitting technologies that renowned brands are used in their TVs. PCM or Pulse Code Modulation and Dolby Digital are both very popular methods to transfer audio from the player or transmitter to the receiver or speaker. It is essential to understand which of those two gives more perfect sound output because getting the proper audio arrangement benefits from getting more from your sound system.

Dolby Digital technology and Pulse-Code Modulation or PCM refer to a variety of digital sound recordings. PCM is a common process of transforming old analogue sound into digital sound. They have some different components and methods to perform their conversion. While PCM used uncompressed audio for their encoding, Dolby Digital technology utilizes a setup of 5.1 or six-channel.

If you are in a situation of maintaining a sound system, you have to look at these two standard technologies. Both of them are very popular and useful in this context. However, PCM is quite familiar because they are in the market for a long time ago. But now, the maximum number of experts suggested using Dolby Digital for a sound system because it gives the user more channels than PCM, which is suitable for Smart TVs.

The Basics of PCM


As we stated earlier that, PCM giving service to their customer for more than 100 years, they still continue their standard service of transferring sound streams. They used an algorithmic technology that is applied to the devices to serve analog audio streams. That’s it doesn’t depend on the type of file you sending through it. It can transmit both uncompressed and compressed sound data. When a device using this algorithm receives data, it decodes it and sends it to the receiver end.

There are two types of PCM; one of them is the regular PCM which has the quantization levels resulting from amplitude. Another is LPCM means Linear Pulse Code Modulation which quantization levels are linear. But the method of transmitting audio files using any of these types remains the same. Every time the device that uses PCM receives the data, and after decoding, they send the data to the receiver.

PCM performs well with both digital and analog audio input; that’s why it remains so popular for a long time. People mostly use this kind of connection for CD players because most of the AVR’s are suited to PCM.

The Basic of Dolby Digital

Dolby Digital

Dolby Digital is known for its multi-channel facilities. If you have a sound system of different types of sound applications like film audio, surround sound, or home theaters and the same kind of features. Dolby Digital will be perfect for you for this kind of situation because it applies right, center, and left channels, including its different formats. However, Dolby Digital started its journey in the cinema of Batman Returns in 1992; in a very short time, it reaches a vast number of people and gives the service of the powerful audio system. Generally, it is designed for big rooms or home theater-type sound systems. It creates high-quality sound, making a cinema hall-like feeling and giving you a viewing entertainment at house. Its higher and latest technology provides the best audio quality.

You can use five tracks and a subwoofer for a sound system if you use Dolby 5.1 sound system. These five channels include the right surround channels, left stereo, center channel, and stereo left and right front channels. You can ask if it gives us five channels, then why it is called 5.1. The reason is there is an LFE channel means a Low-Frequency Effects channel for the subwoofer. It is considered as the 0.1 channel since it only works if a rumbling bass impression is required.

When viewing a High-Definition TV station, the audio formatting is commonly within the Dolby Digital structure. This selection gives up to 5.1 channels that provide you with hearing pleasure. If you’ve got that material ready to apply at your house, you can get the full advantages from this advanced technology.

Is PCM Better Than Dolby Digital?

Dolby Digital is for multi-channel applications, including surround sound for home theaters, film audio, and similar purposes. It uses left, right, and center channels with various formats. If you have Dolby 5.1, that means you have five speakers and a subwoofer for your system.

Pulse-Code Modulation is a type of system that turns an analog sound into its digital form. It is most often used in DVDs, and when you see PCM on a DVD, it means that there is a two-channel stereo digital audio track. From a technical point of view, people would say that PCM is worse than Dolby Digital because it has fewer channels. But the reality of this comparison is different.

When deciding between PCM and Dolby Digital for sound quality, you need to decide if you want uncompressed or compressed audio. The first option is stereo and the second option has different formats options with extra compression.

The Differences Between PCM and Dolby Digital

Dolby Digital is an advanced technology that gives the benefits of a multi-channel facility, and it is used on most DVDs and blue-rays. On the other side, PCM is the uncompressed data stream that the player can build from the Blu-ray for filling in AVR receivers, which may not suit DTS or DD, even though 99.9 percent of modern systems take it. PCM also supports inconsiderable sounds similar to

administrators’ commentaries. There is a chance that is these secondary sounds can be incorporated into the stream.

A discussion implies that several audio players and receivers could create little variations to the decoded audio stream so that you may find different audio quality on a different player.

Another thing is there are restrictions on the number of channels transmitted through the PCM stream, besides the highest bit rate and individual frequency.


Comparing Dolby Digital to PCM is similar to making a comparison between grapefruits and apples. These two have enough individual benefits and specs that is enough to make them different sound materials for a home theatre setup.

Even though the uncompressed vs. compression composition can produce some validity from an audiophile’s point of view, the general public desires the most effective audio quality achievable from their sound system.

And that is the reason Dolby Digital is always winning the comparison. It provides more channels than PCM. If you don’t get those channels to apply at your house, then you can take the PCM one for your solution.

You will find most televisions at this time offering an automatic sound setting, and you’ll be able to apply that function without any concern about anything else.

-our editorial board has reviewed this article and has been approved for publication according to our editorial policy.

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Lance Ulanoff is a renowned tech journalist, commentator, and on-air expert with over 36 years of experience. He has held esteemed positions including Editor in Chief of Lifewire and Mashable, where he delved into the impact of technology on daily life. Lance's expertise has been featured on major news programs globally, and he has made appearances on Fox News, CNBC, and the BBC.