Bitstream or PCM, PS3 or Receiver? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 03-08-2011, 06:53 PM - Thread Starter
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I want the best sound possible, but I am so confused by lossless vs lossy, bitstream vs PCM, HDMI vs optical, PS3 vs receiver "decoding", decoding vs pass-thru (and I have probably missed some, or got some wrong). Can I get a simple answer as to which I should use?

Playing blu-ray movies.
My PS3 can be set to PCM or Bitstream
My receiver can do DTS or DD (as can the PS3).
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post #2 of 14 Old 03-08-2011, 07:01 PM
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If your receiver accepts multichannel PCM over HDMI, set the PS3 to PCM. It will decode lossless dts-MA and TrueHD soundtracks and send the resulting PCM to the receiver.

If your receiver cannot accept multichannel PCM, then set the PS3 to bitstream. It will send encoded DD 5.1 and DTS to the receiver for decoding.

DD 5.1, DTS, dts-MA, and TrueHD are all simply different types of data compression used to save space on a disc. The soundtrack is recorded as PCM. It gets compressed using one of those codecs. But, an encoded track cannot be "played" to produce sound. It must be decompressed (decoded) first, turning it back into PCM.

DD 5.1 and DTS use "lossy" encoding, meaning some of the original PCM is not recovered during decoding. dts-MA and TrueHD use "lossless" encoding, meaning the PCM at the end is identical to the PCM that was fed into the encoder.
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post #3 of 14 Old 03-09-2011, 06:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Part of the problem is that it is never clear as to what are the correct choices among the myriad of choices that are present for my tv, receiver, and PS3. For instance, for my PS3 under Settings, Video Settings (and why would anyone look for sound settings under video I don't know), is this...

"BD/DVD Audio Output Format (HDMI)
Sets whether to output Dolby and DTS audio content in its original format or converted to Linear PCM."

Editorial comment 1: I would think that any sound in 'original format' would be better than audio that was 'converted'.

Then if you choose "Bitstream", you get this warning...
"If you select [Bitstream] some portions of audio from BD may not be played".

Editorial comment 2: So my choices are:
Original audio format (bitstream) where some portions of audio may not be played
OR
Linear PCM which is 'converted' audio.

Silly wording for PS3 settings.
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post #4 of 14 Old 03-09-2011, 07:50 PM
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I disagree. If you have a receiver that can decode the DTS HD and DolbyTrueHD soundtracks then set your ps3 to output Bitstream over HDMI, If your receiver cant handle these HD soundtracks then definitely use LPCM in the PS3.
The difference is if you select LPCM then the ps3 does the decoding of these codecs and sends the lossless audio straight to your receiver. Whereas bitstream sends the compressed signal to the receiver where it is then decoded. My opinion is that decoding in the receiver (if possible) gives you so many more listening options than decoding within the ps3.
The other point is what ps3 is it. If it is a slim ps3 then they are capable of sending the hd signals as bitstream where the fat ps3 can't.
check this out from the ps3 master thread http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=931796 its on the first page few posts down..there is a table attached but i couldnt put it on this post


AUDIO SETTINGS

From the XMB Settings menu there are two drop down menus that you will need to check.
First there is the "Video Settings" menu ("Video Settings" was called "BD/DVD Settings" with PS3 firmware prior to version 2.50 and includes items related to audio as well as video) which includes a sub-menu for setting the audio output format (with sub-menus for each HDMI and Optical outputs).

Also from the XMB Settings menu there is a drop down menu for "Sound Settings" and it is here that you select to have the audio output via either HDMI or Optical (one or the other, not both, can be selected for PS3 firmware versions prior to 3.00) with sub-menus under each for selecting the specific audio formats to be supported for that type of output. Starting with PS3 firmware version 3.00 multiple audio outputs can be active simultaneously. For this new feature, a new menu item has been added under the "Sound Settings" menu for "Audio Multi-Output". With this option set to "ON" the PS3 audio will be simutaneously output on multiple outputs (e.g., HDMI and optical).[/list]In most cases you should set your PS3 to output Bitstream if you are using an optical digital connection (i.e., Toslink) from the PS3 to your Audio/Video Receiver (AVR), and you should set it to LPCM if you using a HDMI connection to an AVR (see below if you have the newer "PS3 Slim" model). These are the default settings.

Unless you have the newer "PS3 Slim" model, the PS3 will not bitstream advanced audio formats to your AVR (i.e., it can only bitstream basic Dolby Digital and DTS surround audio formats). All models of the PS3 can decode all of the Blu-ray Disc standard and optional audio formats and convert them to multichannel LPCM and pass that to your AVR via HDMI. Note however that the optical audio output from the PS3 (or any other Blu-ray Disc player), can never support the new high resolution (i.e., lossless) surround sound audio formats. Thus, to get the full advantage from the superior performance from the high resolution audio formats offered on BD, as compared to DVD, you must connect your PS3 to an AVR that has HDMI inputs. If you are using one of the orginal models of the PS3 (i.e., not the PS3 Slim) then the AVR must accept multichannel LPCM via a HDMI input (most AVRs that have HDMI inputs can do this except for a very few low-end models). If you are using the newer PS3 Slim model then it can be configured to either output the lossless audio in bitstream mode or to perform the decoding and output the lossless audio in LPCM mode via the HDMI output on the PS3. In order to use the bitstream mode on the PS3 Slim your AVR will need to both have an available HDMI input and be able to decode the lossless audio formats, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD-Master Audio.

The PS3 console has three types of audio outputs. The advanced high resolution Dolby, DTS and multi-channel PCM surround audio formats are only fully supported when using the HDMI output. However, if you are willing to live with just a 2-channel output in PCM (rather than the full surround sound formats) the improved fidelity offered by the advanced high resolution audio formats can be provided via the optical digital audio and even the analog audio outputs. Also Standard Dolby and DTS surround formats (as used on DVDs) can be output via the optical (Toslink) digital audio connection in bitstream format. The following table shows what audio format is output for each type of connection for the different audio formats that may be found on BDs, DVD, and SACD (Super Audio CDs).



Notes:
(1) lossless audio output is provided in multichannel Linear PCM (LPCM) format via HDMI for all channels recorded on Blu-ray Disc

(2) lossless audio is provided in only 2-channel PCM via optical (Toslink) output

(3) the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, if present on the disc, will be used for the bitstream output (this is typically the case for most BD titles)

(4) there may be certain allowed, but rarely used, 6.1 & 7.1 channel DTS HD-MA and HD-HR formats that the PS3 will decode and output in 5.1 format

(5) the current PS3 models do not support SACD playback (for more information see below)

(6) the output will be either DTS 5.1 or DTS ES 6.1. It will depend on the format of the the Core DTS audio track that is recorded on the disc.

(7) the newer “PS3 Slim” model can be configured to bitstream output, via HDMI, all of the allowed audio Formats found on Blu-ray Discs as shown the the left column of the above table (SACD disc formats shown in the table are not applicable)


For those still a bit confused by all the audio stuff here are two links that should help (Originally Posted by chris0).

This one explains the difference between decoding in the player (sending it PCM) or in the receiver (HBR bitstreaming, which the PS3 can't do for the advanced high resolution audio formats.)
http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/show/853
The relevant part is about halfway down under "New HD Lossless Audio Formats."

This one explains all the different codecs. It's a long read but a good one.
http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/show/1064
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post #5 of 14 Old 03-10-2011, 12:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XBR11 View Post

Silly wording for PS3 settings.

Yes, silly wording. So ignore it. Instruction manuals are notoriously bad when it comes to explaining technical concepts. Words such as "original" and "converted" are loaded and misused. And the BD audio that may not be played when bitstreaming is secondary audio such as menu sound effects and PIP commentaries, not any audio from the soundtrack itself.

What receiver do you have and what model of PS3? (EDIT: I see you mentioned having a Sony STR-DG720 in a post in a different thread. If that's the receiver you have, then setting the PS3 to PCM would provide the best audio with either type of PS3.)
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post #6 of 14 Old 03-10-2011, 01:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bushy81 View Post

I disagree.

Disagree with what? That the wording in the PS3 manual is silly? Or something else?

Quote:


If you have a receiver that can decode the DTS HD and DolbyTrueHD soundtracks then set your ps3 to output Bitstream over HDMI, If your receiver cant handle these HD soundtracks then definitely use LPCM in the PS3.

The initial post says the receiver can decode DD and DTS, not lossless. And, of course, bitstreaming lossless is only possible with a PS3 Slim. It will be helpful when XBR11 posts his equipment.
Quote:


My opinion is that decoding in the receiver (if possible) gives you so many more listening options than decoding within the ps3.

What options might those be? I believe the opposite is likely the case. Some receivers cannot decode lossless and do room correction or apply DSPs at the same time. So, with those receivers, a PCM input is better. Plus, PCM provides secondary audio without needing to change any settings. But, depending on the OP's equipment, those considerations probably don't matter here.
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post #7 of 14 Old 03-10-2011, 06:17 AM - Thread Starter
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I will take the time later this week to read carefully all the links you have provided. Thank you! The more I learn, the more I don't know.

Yes, I have a Sony STRDG720. I have a PS3 fat. I probably will be buying a new blu-ray player in a month or two. Maybe something like a Panasonic DMP-BDT210, or DMP-BD75. Or a Sony BDP-S580. (I don't need 3D, but I want the wifi).

As to whether or not my receiver can do DTS-MA or DolbyTrueHD decoding or not, I can not find any documentation that would prove or disprove this. I just read off the symbols on the front of the receiver. What symbols would it have it could do DTS-MA or DolbyTrueHD decoding?

As it is now, I am using LPCM via HDMI. And I have a 7.1 setup.

As to lossless or lossy, unless the improvement in audio quality (such that I need to get a new receiver than than receive bitstream and decode DTS-MA or DolbyTrueHD) is like the bright sunshine after a moonless night, then I doubt I will go that path.
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post #8 of 14 Old 03-10-2011, 08:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XBR11 View Post

As to whether or not my receiver can do DTS-MA or DolbyTrueHD decoding or not, I can not find any documentation that would prove or disprove this. I just read off the symbols on the front of the receiver. What symbols would it have it could do DTS-MA or DolbyTrueHD decoding?

The logos on the side are a good indicator. The specs on the Sony site list the decoders and TrueHD and dts-MA are not among them.

Quote:


As it is now, I am using LPCM via HDMI. And I have a 7.1 setup.

As to lossless or lossy, unless the improvement in audio quality (such that I need to get a new receiver than than receive bitstream and decode DTS-MA or DolbyTrueHD) is like the bright sunshine after a moonless night, then I doubt I will go that path.

You are already getting lossless from your PS3! A lossless track can be decoded in a player or in a receiver. It doesn't matter where. You get the same PCM either way. When set to PCM instead of bitstream, the PS3 will decode whatever track you play, including lossless TrueHD and dts-MA.
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post #9 of 14 Old 03-10-2011, 08:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for answering my questions, especially considering that these sort of questions has probably been asked out the wazoo. I appreciate your patience and you sharing your knowledge.
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post #10 of 14 Old 03-10-2011, 08:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bushy81 View Post

This one explains the difference between decoding in the player (sending it PCM) or in the receiver (HBR bitstreaming, which the PS3 can't do for the advanced high resolution audio formats.)
http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/show/853

That article is from 2007. I think that since then the PS3 has been updated to handle advanced high resolution audio formats.

If that is the case, then perhaps that thread should be modified to remove that link.
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post #11 of 14 Old 03-10-2011, 08:44 AM
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The fat PS3 had firmware updates to provide dts-MA decoding. But, it still cannot bitstream dts-MA or TrueHD to a receiver. Lossless bitstreams can only be done with the newer slim models.
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post #12 of 14 Old 03-14-2011, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIslander View Post

The fat PS3 had firmware updates to provide dts-MA decoding. But, it still cannot bitstream dts-MA or TrueHD to a receiver. Lossless bitstreams can only be done with the newer slim models.

Really it doesn't matter. Just put the PS3 in LPCM mode and let it decode to the receiver. It is a lossless decode too. The only thing missing, is that pretty light on your receiver that lights up "DTS-MA or TrueHD". Your receiver will say MultiChannel or LPCM instead.
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post #13 of 14 Old 03-14-2011, 11:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dathon View Post

Really it doesn't matter. Just put the PS3 in LPCM mode and let it decode to the receiver. It is a lossless decode too. The only thing missing, is that pretty light on your receiver that lights up "DTS-MA or TrueHD". Your receiver will say MultiChannel or LPCM instead.

Yes. My post was merely addressing the incorrect suggestion that firmware updates had enabled lossless bitstreams for non-slim PS3s.
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post #14 of 14 Old 03-21-2012, 05:12 PM
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just to add....the past few days i have looked at the whole fat PS3 LPCM deal. One thing to note, and something that drove me a bit crazy trying figure out, is Dolby TrueHD 7.1. From what im seeing, it will decode TrueHD 7.1 and if your viewing 2D video, it will send it as the PCM 7.1. However, If you are viewing 3D video content, it will still decode, but send the PCM as if it was 5.1. can be a little confusing when your not getting the "pretty lights" on the display. If this looks incorrect to someone, please let me know !
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