PCM Vs Dolby Digital Comparison: Helpful Beginner’s Guide

Have you ever had to go through the ordeal of converting digital audio recordings? Boy, let me tell you, it requires exceptional quality choices to hit this process on the nail. However, among the two bests – PCM vs Dolby digital, which one to choose?

Both PCM and Dolby Digital can tailor to converting audio recordings. Whereas PCM relies on the uncompressed conversion of analog sounds to digital, Dolby Digital practices a 5-7 channel setup. From a technical perspective, users prefer Dolby over PCM due to higher channels, but the output’s quality matters greatly too.

However, this isn’t enough knowledge to decide on which piece would satisfy your needs. And that’s why you need to go through our PCM versus Dolby Digital comparison review. You’ll have enough information to guide you straight to your perfect choice by the end of it!


PCM Vs Dolby Digital Comparison Table With Technical Specifications:

Searching for specific features to acquire top-notch audio output quality? This comparison table will help as it breaks down both of their specifications, so you can get a clearer picture.

FeaturesPCMDolby Digital
Channels2-channel digital5.1 or 6
Blu-ray disc data rate27.648Mbit/s640kbps
ConnectionsHDMI, digital coaxial, digital opticalS/PDIF, IEEE 1394, HDMI
CapabilitiesComputer audio, compact disc, digital audio, digital telephonyStreaming & mixing
SupportsUncompressed, raw filesDolby metadata
DVD data rate11.08Mbit/s488 or 384kbps

These specifications can only teach you surface-level information about how they work and through which mechanisms. But, it’s no surprise that there’s more to the story.

Therefore, if you’d like to choose the best digital recording converting processes, you have to stick around longer. Let’s dive in deeper and check out their features in-depth.

PCM Vs Dolby Digital Comparison:

Diving headfirst into the PCM vs Dolby Digitalcomparison won’t give us any in-depth details. Even with differing technological aspects, they sometimes have similar sound quality output. Moreover, these are both picked by users for various personal preferences.

This is why it’s essential to look at these pieces individually to understand why they stand out and what they offer. So, PCM or Dolby digital, which is better? Let’s compare them, and you might have a winner for yourself.

What Is PCM?

Before beginning, let’s address the million-dollar question first – what is PCM audio? Pulse-Code Modulation, PCM has been around for over centuries, and they continue to provide us with their services which are to transfer sound streams. PCM utilizes an algorithm that applies to analog audio streaming.

So, it doesn’t matter what kind of file users send these through, as PCM can tackle both compressed and uncompressed data. PCM does it by receiving the data via an algorithm, decoding it, and sending it to the receiver’s end.

Additionally, there are two kinds of PCM, linear PCM and generic PCM. PCM’s quantization levels result from the amplitudes, whereas in LPCM, the quantization’s outcomes are linear.

However, the transmittal of the audio files remains the same for both. Each time the PCM device receives data, it’s decoded and sent to the receiver. Therefore, PCM allows analog and digital audio inputs, thus remaining the most renowned method.

Features of PCM

To understand what PCM is even better, we should look at some of its features. PCM delivers on-point audio quality every time and within its range of compatible devices. But how does it do so? Let’s check.


PCM methods are incredibly cheap. Since the digital circuitry is cheaper than Dolby Digital, many users conform to its uses and applications. However, that’s not all. PCM has extensive services too. It has a broader usage on multiple applications making it highly versatile at a cheaper rate.

Signals And Communication

PCM is a result of all kinds of analog signals, such as audiovisuals, video, and so on. It also works concerning data signals from laptops or digital computers. PCM generally functions seamlessly and communicates over fast-speed standard telecommunication digital schemes. The multiplex technology that PCM uses is also known as TDM.

Signal-Noise Ratio

The signal-noise ratio in PCMs is top-notch, and many say that it’s better than digital systems. To improve the output quality even more in PCM, users must utilize encryption-based coding so that the chances and risks of errors are minimized even further. A more comprehensive bandwidth capacity can also help immensely rectify and bring accurate results for PCM systems.

Advantages of PCM Digital

Let’s gander at some of the best-known digital audio out PCM‘s benefits. If you’re still confused about its high points, this section should clear it up immediately.

  • Users can encode utilizing PCM technology
  • PCM’s signal to noise ratio is excellent
  • This method is specifically lenient and convenient for long-distance communications
  • PCM enables high performance in noise’s presence
  • It has unparalleled noise immunity
  • OCM enables uniform and seamless signals
  • The system delivers diligent regeneration and SNR

This is why PCM is so popular and well-liked amongst experts. However, the system doesn’t come without any cons. So, let’s take a quick look at them.

Disadvantages Of PCM Digital

Let’s not break into a sweat yet because the good news is that PCM doesn’t have many drawbacks. However, since you’re about to make a vital decision, it’s worth looking at. Here’s what the disadvantages are.

  • PCM requires a larger bandwidth
  • The circuitry for PCM is quite complex
  • PCM requires seamless syncing between the receiver and transmitter

In reality, these aren’t severe drawbacks but more of a cautionary step before and during the utilization of PCMs. Users are good to go when the elements needed to perfect a PCM transmittal are in order. Thus, these don’t pose considerable threats to many users or deal-breaker cons.

What Is Dolby Digital?

Dolby Digital is renowned for its modern, multi-channel services. If your sound system carries multiple audio applications such as home theaters, surround sound systems, or film audios, your choice among the PCM vs Dolby digital fight should be Dolby, and here’s why.

In any such situation, Dolby Digital will perfect all the channels, left or right, and also carry out multiple formats as needed. Dolby Digital only began its journey in 1992 but quickly skyrocketed afterward. It’s safe to say; that this audio system caters to vast rooms or settings like home theaters.

It gives a feeling and sound quality that matches a cinema auditorium, enabling a full-blown experience with high quality and booming sound quality. Dolby Digital’s latest editions and technologies also provide the best audio sound qualities.

For example, with a Dolby Digital 5.1 system, you can utilize one subwoofer and perhaps five tracks. These channels will enable left stereo front and right front, center, left surrounding, and right surrounding channels.

Generally, the LFE denotes a low-frequency effect for subwoofers at 0.1 channel since it operates only during a rumbling bass appearance. Moreover, Dolby Digital generally also takes care of all TV stations that require high-definition viewing.

Since Dolby provides 5.1 channels, the hearing and sounding experience are quite pleasurable due to the entire structure and selection. In any case, when users like to explore and get the full taste of modern, advanced technology, Dolby Digital is their answer.

Features Of Dolby Digital

So far, we understand the fundamental dynamics of PCM vs Dolby digital soundbars, but that’s not all that we need to make an informed decision. The quality and experience need to be put into perspective even further. So, here’s an in-depth illustration of Dolby, its features, pros, and cons.

Multi-Channel Sounds

In Dolby Digital, the 5.1 channels provide high-quality and crystal clear audio that can please users at all times. It plays keeping in mind the center action and expands to the stereos on the left and right as needed. Since the 5.1 multi-channel surround users from every corner and focus on the center of the room, it has a 360-degree approach that enhances users’ overall experience by a mile.

Encoding And Decoding

In this digital world, Dolby Digital solely operates via zeroes and ones. However, the audio we hear is in analog waves; thus, converting these into digital information is step one. Dolby Digital further analyzes the original tracks, omits data, and withholds the necessary ones.

This distribution and emission of sound information can, in return, take multiple forms, such as downloads, TV broadcasts, DVDs, and film prints. One of the significant distinctions in the PCM or Dolby digital for soundbar tug of war comes from Dolby’s use of metadata.

Metadata comprises the instruction set harbored by the bitstream. Hence, whether you need a 5.1-channel, stereo, or mono system, Dolby Digital can deliver all of it with bonus features.

Dolby Digital Plus

Dolby Digital Plus is another advanced technology for surround audio systems that can elevate users’ browser, operating system, smartphone, and home theater experiences. Moreover, it contains around discrete 7.1 channels with high-fidelity sound systems. This doesn’t only provide coherent audio quality but is also designed for the future and evolving supporting media.

Advantages of Dolby Digital

Now, let’s review some of the best-known Dolby Digital advantages that users can’t get enough of.

  • Extremely high performing during movies or in-home theater settings
  • Dolby Digital operates on industry standards
  • Comes with an extensive 16-20 bit system
  • Offers multiple additional features, including EX mode along with rear-center channels
  • All the channels are coherently delivered at high accuracy to the discs
  • Dolby Digital offers endless software choices for concert DVD videos
  • The system makes easy accessibility for DVD software

Even when we consider PCM vs Dolby digital plus, we will immediately experience these benefits with Dolby over PCM. Users get an array of opportunities and features, but most importantly, they get seamless sound quality worthy of a cinema hall.

However, Dolby has a few cons that one must know before coming to a conclusion.

Disadvantages of Dolby Digital

Let’s look at the drawbacks of this audio converter system.

  • It doesn’t come with any audio CD
  • Dolby Digital is limited to the range of 48KHz
  • If there’s too much compression, the dynamics and sound could sometimes be compromised

So, are these drawbacks the end of the world? Not really. People witness them rarely and don’t make a big deal out of it, as the benefits and value received from Dolby generally surpass all expectation levels.

PCM Audio Vs Dolby Digital – Which One Is Better?

Users need to decide whether they need compressed or uncompressed audio. With compressed choices, you will get various formatting selections, and with uncompressed alternatives, you will acquire a direct stereo.

Moreover, they’d also have to match your device’s input to the setup. For example, if one likes to watch a DVD with a player, they should opt for a PCM, whereas Dolby should be the pick if one needs an HD TV with proper audio formats.

So, it’s less about the tradeoff and more about what you need and matching it with PCM vs Dolby digital‘s features.



  1. What is PCM audio meaning?
    PCM’s a process that can digitally represent analog signals. It’s a benchmark form for digital audio in multiple digital audio applications such as digital telephony, compact discs, or computers.
  2. What is PCM digital audio output?
    PCM tailors to multiple recordings of digital audio. PCM relies on conventional processes to alter analog audio into digital ones.
  3. Which is better – linear PCM vs Dolby vs DTS?
    There’s simply one exception between these forms of audio recording transmissions. The bitstream for these will either handle analog or digital conversion, and that’s where the main distinction lies.

Final Words:

Let’s wrap up this PCM vs. Dolby digital review. So, which one is the winner? Both of them – if you know what your requirements are. Although if you’d like to decide on one particular product, you could consider the usage possibilities and price range.

Dolby Digital should be your first choice if you love to have versatility in terms of usage and device compatibility. It has enormous channel possibilities and can tailor multiple devices with top-tier sound quality.

On the other hand, you can acquire traditional results with consistent sound quality but at a much cheaper rate with PCM. There’s a vast difference in their mechanism; however, the sound quality distinction may be slim to none if implemented correctly. So, choose wisely.

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