SPDIF vs PCM vs Dolby Digital 5.1

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Tony DL, Nov 28, 2002.

  1. Tony DL

    Tony DL Auditioning

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    Recently my cable company has offered digital cable to my area. After about 6 months I finally received a box with S-Video and Digital audio outputs. The cable box has two options. 1) optical output and 2) SPDIF coax output. My digital receiver has two options, 1) optical input (which I have my DVD player hooked up) and 2) PCM inputs. Can I hook the SPDIF output from my cable box to the PCM input on my receiver. If so what is the difference between SPDIF/PCM/Dolby Digital 5.1. I have read in the forum about the technical formats etc. but have not been able to find a comparison between the three. Example, Will SPDIF and PCM produce a 5.1 channel surround sound if it has a digital feed from the source? Which has the best sound, etc.? Is there any other option since my receiver is limited to the one opticial input (which is hooked up to my DVD)and two PCM inputs? Can anyone help with this problem?


    Thanks,
    Tony
     
  2. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Hi Tony. Welcome to HTF!

    A little background: there are 2 types of encodings, and 2 types of connections. PCM is what a CD player puts out, Dolby Digital is what a DVD player with a DVD movie puts out.

    There are 2 types of digital connections: optical (called "Toslink") and coaxial-digital. Both types of connections can carry PCM and DD signals.

    SPDIF (Sony Phillips Digital Interface) is the specificiations around which the digital connections are built.

    Short Answer: use a Video cable to connect the coaxial output on your cable box to the coaxial input on your receiver. It should work, but my guess is the cable box will only put out PCM.

    But here is a problem: on many CATV box's, you only get digital sound from the upper channels (like the ones numbered above 100). This means you should also connect up L/R audio cables.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Tony DL

    Tony DL Auditioning

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    Bob,

    Thanks for the help. I still have questions about what type of sound quality I will be receiving from the PCM connection. Will this be a 5.1 channel output? Will it be the eqivilant to the 5.1 Dolby Digital as far as sound quality?


    Thanks,
    Tony
     
  4. Hugo

    Hugo Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Tony,
    PCM is not digital 5.1 channel output, it only outputs 2 channel stereo sound. Therefore you won't get the same sound quality as 5.1

    Hugo
     
  5. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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  6. Tony DL

    Tony DL Auditioning

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    Bob and Hugo,

    Yes, this answers my question. Thanks for the response.

    Tony
     

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