PS4 and PS5 Audio Format Tips (Best settings checked out)

Sound is very important when gaming since it allows you to receive game notifications through audio rather than text, and you can also hear other gamers perfectly. In addition to a good pair of headsets or speakers, you need to choose the best audio option for your PS4. Therefore, when choosing audio settings for your PS4, you might be wondering which is the best audio format.

So, what audio format is best for PS4? The best audio format for PS4 is PCM; even Sony made it the default audio format for their console. When choosing an audio format for PS4, you have two options to choose from, PCM and Bitstream (DTS). Some gamers alternate between the two formats depending on how they use their PS4.

PCM is perfect for gaming, while Bitstream (DTS) is good for watching movies or listening to music. However, the difference in audio quality is not that big when you use PCM for watching movies rather than Bitstream. Therefore, you can use PCM for every activity on your PS4.

Gamers use different audio devices to receive audio from their consoles, such as speakers, wireless or wired headsets, or television. Therefore, irrespective of your output, if you want to receive high-quality audio, you need to select the best audio format for your gaming console.

When you purchase a PS5 console, you might ask yourself which audio format will support your audio setup. The PS5 can use three different audio formats: PCM, Bitstream (DTS), or Dolby Digital. You want your PS5 console to perform at an optimum level, and you are wondering if these audio formats will help achieve that goal.

When choosing the best audio format for PS5, you first need to consider which audio format will perform well in all tasks. The best audio format that can perform well in gaming and media is the PCM. PCM audio format also reduces sound lag during gaming. You can also change the audio setting depending on your audio setup because some gamers prefer to use headsets while others use speakers. You should also ensure that your audio setup is compatible with the audio format you want to use.

PCM is the best audio format for your PS5 console because the audio is uncompressed and does not require additional processing. Audio from formats such as Dolby Digital and DTS are compressed and require further processing; for example, if you want to use DTS as your default audio format, you need to have TOSLINK. PCM gets sounds directly from your console; therefore, there is little to no sound distortion compared to other audio formats.

When you set up your PS5 console to use PCM as its audio format, your PS5 will internally decode all the files. The PS5 will send the decoded files and the uncompressed audio signal to your receiver, then to your speakers for the output.

Your PS5 console does all the work relieving your receiver from the burden of converting audio files. With other audio formats such as DTS, your receiver can decode all the audio files, and that can affect sound quality, especially when playing a very demanding game.

Sound lag when gaming is caused by several issues, and one of them is selecting an incompatible audio format. When your receiver is doing all the decoding of files, you might experience an audio delay because the receiver is taking its time to send the audio to your speakers. PCM audio format allows your PS5 console to decode all the files; therefore, it will send the video and audio files to your receiver when the process is finished.

Different gamers have different audio setups for their gaming systems. Some gamers prefer to use wireless headsets, while others choose to use speakers connected to their console or television. PCM is the best audio format because you can use it on different audio setups and get the same results.

PCM also works great if you want to use your PS5 to watch movies and you have a surround sound system. Most surround sound systems have 5.1 and 7.1 signals supported by the PCM audio format. Other audio formats work well if you watch a movie or TV show using a surround sound system, but the audio quality will dip slightly if you change to gaming.

It is also very important to ensure that your audio setup is compatible with the audio format you select on your PS5 console. Most audio players support PCM audio format. However, not every audio player can decode Bitstream files. If you want to use DTS or Digital Dolby, you have to check if your television or surround sound system is compatible. However, when you choose PCM as your main audio format, you need not worry about your audio player being incompatible.

If you want to change the audio settings on your PS5 console, go to the home screen and select “settings,” select “Sound.” You can change several things: output device, HDMI device, automatic switch of the device, and audio format. If you want to change the audio format, select “Audio Format (Priority)” and select “Linear PCM,” which is the default setting.

Between PCM and Bitstream: Which One Is the Best?

Console developers have embraced PCM and Bitstream as the two main standards of sending audio files from the consoles to receivers or speakers. Most consoles support PCM and Bitstream; therefore, it is important for you to know their functions and which one is the best for gaming.

PCM and Bitstream have their specific pros and cons to help you decide which format to use while gaming or when streaming media content. Advantages of using the PCM audio format include compatibility with almost every audio player. The console will decode the audio files before sending them to the receiver or speaker, putting less work on the receiver. PCM is also very quick and eliminates sound lags. However, PCM strains your console player by letting it determine the audio quality, letting it put more work into your processor.

The pros of using Bitstream include the possibility of higher audio quality using 5.1 signal over digital optical or coaxial, and the receiver decodes the audio files. However, Bitstream’s supplemental audio is scaled down, giving low audio quality, puts a lot of strain on the receiver, and requires a high-end receiver to perform well.

PCM stands for Pulse Code Modulation and has been an audio format in audio players for more than one hundred years. PCM refers to an algorithm that devices use to decode audio files. When using PCM audio format on your console, the console will decode the audio files and send them to the receiver. Your console has the task of processing all the audio files before sending them to the receiver. You get high-quality audio, especially when playing exclusive titles meant for your console.

Your console also sends uncompressed files to receivers connected to your speakers. The receiver has to decode the audio files, and your audio system has only one task: audio output. However, this feature puts a lot of strain on your console’s processor, especially if it does not have a sound card. In addition to reading game files, your console will also have to read audio files that can impact the audio quality. The quality of your console will also determine if you will get good or bad audio quality.

Lag or delay is almost inevitable in gaming, but specific hardware and software help reduce lag or exacerbate it. Sometimes, you can experience sound lag when gaming, meaning that you might receive audio a few seconds after the action has already appeared on display. PCM helps reduce audio delay because both audio and video files are decoded on the same device. Therefore, your console will only send the files to the display and receiver after processing the files.

On the other hand, Bitstream is an audio format where a device uses a binary sequence to decode audio files into digital bits. When you set your console to use the Bitstream audio format, the console will send compressed audio files to the receiver. The most common sound codecs that use Bitstream are Digital Dolby and DTS. The receiver will decode the data for uncompressed audio files, which are sent to the audio output. Bitstream audio format is more common in gamers who use surround sound systems as their audio outputs.

One advantage of using Bitstream is that you can use encoded 5.1 signals via digital optical or coaxial. In contrast, support for digital optical or coaxial is limited when using PCM. You also do not have to worry about the connection between your console and the receiver. Bitstreams will perform well whether you choose wired or wireless bitstream transmission. Bitstream also puts decoding audio files to the receiver meaning that your console will not spend any processing power decoding audio files.

However, Bitstream also has several problems that can affect the audio quality, such as its overreliance on secondary audio settings. For example, suppose the game you are playing uses secondary audio formats like DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD. In that case, the receiver downgrades the audio files to DTS or Dolby Digital because the receiver is trying to make both audio formats fit into the same bandwidth. Therefore, there is no point in setting your console to Bitstream audio format if all your games use high-resolution secondary audio.

Another disadvantage of using Bitstream is that the audio quality depends on the quality of the receiver. If you have a television or speakers with low-quality receivers, the audio quality will be poor during gaming even if you decide to use Bitstream audio format. Since the receivers are decoding the audio files, they have to be high quality to decode audio files perfectly. The decoding task also puts a lot of strain on the receiver, resulting in audio delay.

You can use the PCM audio format if you want a way to unlock high-quality secondary audio. You can also use PCM audio format when you want to relieve your receiver of the task of decoding audio files. You can use Bitstream if you have a sound system that relies on the receiver to decode audio files and have a receiver that can decode audio files and produce high-quality sound.

PCM and Bitstream are two different audio formats, but they share a few characteristics. One of them is that they provide great sound quality, and if you have a good audio system, you might not even notice the difference. You can also use both PCM and Bitstream on certain devices; therefore, you can choose which audio suits your activities. Both audio formats have to convert signals into analog form before they can send them through the speakers.

Looking at the advantages and disadvantages of PCM and Bitstream, it is hard to pick the overall best audio format. However, the best audio format for gaming is PCM because the task of decoding audio files is completed by your console. New generation consoles and gaming PCs have sound cards that will decode audio files from your games. Your console or gaming PC processor will not be overworked, and you will have the best gaming experience.

Bitstream is the best audio choice when you are watching movies or listening to music. If you invest in the best audio system, for example, a surround sound home theatre, you will enjoy watching movies using Bitstream. However, you have to ensure that your audio system is compatible with the Bitstream audio format.

There are gaming consoles that can support both audio formats, for example, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. If you know how to change audio settings on your PS5 or Xbox Series X, you can switch between audio formats depending on how you plan to use your console.

Wrap Up

Your PlayStation 5 console has Linear PCM and Bitstream audio format, and it is your choice to pick the audio format that is compatible with your audio device. You also have the option of using 5.1 or 7.1 signals if you select Linear PCM as your PS5 console’s audio output. If you are going to use your PS5 for watching movies or TV shows, you can also change the audio format to Bitstream as long as you have a high-quality audio system.

It is difficult to find a clear winner between PCM and Bitstream because they have the same audio quality. The difference in audio quality can be seen when you wrongly configure audio settings or use low-quality receivers. However, if you want an audio set that can play high-resolution secondary sound, then you should choose PCM. If you want to build a high-quality sound system for your recreational room, you should use Bitstream.

Bal Kang

Bal Kang is a technology expert based in the UK, with experience across a number of technology areas from phones, tablets, computers to gaming.

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