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Change the audio format on your TV

Samsung TV with surround sound speakers

With different options on your TV, choosing the right audio type can be confusing. But making an informed decision will be easier once you’ve educated yourself on the subject. If you are looking to get the highest sound quality from your entertainment devices, like your game console, Blu-ray player, or headset, we have your guide for your TV’s audio formats right here.

Input vs. Output

You may have several devices ready to hook up to your TV, but before you do, consider the two available format types: Input and Output.

Input will send audio to your TV. Types of input devices you may want to connect to your TV include Blu-ray and DVD players, gaming consoles, and microphones. Output generates sound from a TV. These external devices include surround sound speakers, soundbars, and headphones. Before you set things up, review your devices and their functions, so you can choose the correct format.

Change and choose the best input audio format

When setting up an input device, there’s one more thing you need to take into consideration, and that’s the input audio format.

To set up your TV’s input audio, navigate to Settings and select Sound, and then select Expert Settings. Select HDMI Input Audio Format, and choose between the two available audio formats:

PCM: This stands for “pulse-code modulation.” It’s an uncompressed sound format that requires a wired connection. This format is ideal for common input devices, such as Blu-ray players.

Bitstream: This format is more flexible because it can be used for both wired and wireless devices. It converts audio on the device itself and is suitable for input and output devices.

HDMI Input Audio Format selected with PCM highlighted

In terms of sound quality, both formats are excellent. One advantage of PCM is in secondary audio, such as background noises in a movie, which are sometimes difficult to hear. So, when hooking up your Blu-ray player or another device, choosing PCM may provide a clearer sound. However, Bitstream offers a stronger and deeper bass sound, which you may prefer when listening to music. Bitstream also allows the audio to be decoded if that’s what you’re looking for.

Make sure to check your device’s and TV’s setup before choosing an audio format. For example, Bitstream may require you to connect two separate HDMI cables, so both your TV and external device need to have an open port.

Adjust the output audio format for great sound

Remember, the output format is for devices that send out sound from the TV, such as a soundbar. Always check to see if you picked the right output format type for each device.

Navigate to Settings, and then select Sound. Select Expert Settings, and then select Digital Output Audio Format. Next, choose your desired audio format:

PCM: This stands for “pulse-code modulation.” It’s an uncompressed sound format that requires a wired connection. This format is ideal for common input devices, such as Blu-ray players.

Dolby Digital: This is a compressed audio output that lends a richer sound experience and is often used in movie theaters.

Expert Settings with Digital Output Audio Format highlighted

Since it’s a standard audio format for cinemas, Dolby Digital is the stronger option when deciding your format type, especially when using your soundbar or anything wireless. However, if your devices are wired, choose PCM. It also depends on the device’s features. Not all devices are compatible with Dolby Digital, so make sure to check first. The Dolby Digital option may be grayed out if it’s not available on the connected device.

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