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PS3 Audio Settings Question: Uncompressed PCM 5.1 or Dolby 5.1?

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Old 12-17-2007, 06:11 PM   #1  
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Default PS3 Audio Settings Question: Uncompressed PCM 5.1 or Dolby 5.1?

Ok - I had to hook up the PS3 and give it a run before Xmas. Please don't tell the kids. I didn't play any games but did watch one of my 10-free BD movies from the Walmart Secret Sale a few weeks ago.

I watched Apacolypto and was completely blown away. Incredible movie, incredible PQ, incredible sound. I love my XA-2 but I have to admit, the PS3 kicked some serious butt with this movie. Can't wait to try out some more BD movies.

My question is re: PS3 Audio setup. I did not make any adjustments to my PS3 setup (Video or Audio). My connection is via HDMI (thanks PC5!) from the PS3 to my Yamaha AVR, then HDMI out of the AVR to the Mitsu.

I went with the PCM 5.1 (uncompressed) default setting - and thought it was pretty awesome. I just want to understand what is the very best audio option to select?

E.g. would it be possible for someone who really knows this stuff to breakdown in order of preference what would be the best audio setting to go with (assuming you have an AVR that supports everything)?

Just as an example, would it be:

1) PCM 5.1 Uncompressed,
2) TrueHD
3) Dolby Digital 5.1
4) etc...etc...

I just want to understand what would be the best setting - since all of this stuff is not automagic yet.

Also - any recommendations for preconfiguring the PS3 settings(video & audio) based on my setup profile below is greatly appreciated!

Thanks for all of the great insight HD-Forum!
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Old 12-17-2007, 06:34 PM   #2  
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It is the movie itself and not the format that makes a difference which has been proven. The pictures look exactly the same on Blu-ray and HD DVD given the material is the same.
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Old 12-18-2007, 05:45 AM   #3  
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dolby true hd and dts-ma are just new codecs that use less disc space but are still basicly the same thing as uncommpressed pcm.
I would just go to the ps3 BD/DVD settings- GO TO BD/DVD audio output format(hdmi) and switch it to linear pcm. Now everything you watch will be in pcm, meaning dolby true hd will be decoded by the ps3 and sent out to your reciever via hdmi. And someday the ps3 will also decode dts-master audio into pcm.
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Old 12-18-2007, 06:36 AM   #4  
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Oh dear GOD why did you do this to us!!!! Just wait for Chris and PFC5 get ahold of this thread, it will end up at like 76 pages of back and forth!
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Old 12-18-2007, 10:02 AM   #5  
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uncompressed is better than trueHD in my opinion, on PS3 and other BDplayer uncompressed sound lot better than trueHD on my HD DVD player, TueHD on HD DVD players lowers sound so much i have to crank up volume, even DD+ sound more full on HD DVD player. most of BD movies have uncompressed audio.
Some movies have very good DD+ sound on HD DVDs, Transformers, Bourne Ultimatum have really good DD+ sound you will hardly miss uncompressed Audio or TrueHd on these movies.
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Old 12-18-2007, 07:37 PM   #6  
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Thanks for the feedback. It is valuable even if others have differing opinions.

It's hard to figure out which setting to go with unless you really understand it or personally test it. The documentation is still in the box (hidden for Xmas) but I assume it really does not provide any definitive recommendation on optimized settings.

Appreciate additional thoughts / recommendations on this topic or even other good sources of information.

Thanks.
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Old 12-19-2007, 02:02 AM   #7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iserum View Post
uncompressed is better than trueHD in my opinion, on PS3 and other BDplayer uncompressed sound lot better than trueHD on my HD DVD player, TueHD on HD DVD players lowers sound so much i have to crank up volume, even DD+ sound more full on HD DVD player. most of BD movies have uncompressed audio.
Some movies have very good DD+ sound on HD DVDs, Transformers, Bourne Ultimatum have really good DD+ sound you will hardly miss uncompressed Audio or TrueHd on these movies.
First dolby true hd is still uncommpressed audio but the bad thing that has diologue normalization here is a article from highdefdigest about it.

Dialogue Normalization – Benefit or Menace?

So let's say we pick a single movie with its soundtrack available at the same bit depth resolution in both uncompressed and lossless formats, like the 'Troy: Director's Cut'. Now we should finally have a case where playing the Blu-ray's PCM track and the HD DVD's TrueHD track back-to-back should sound instantly identical, right? Well, almost.

Now there's a new wrinkle to consider. Many Dolby audio tracks are encoded with a function called Dialnorm, which is short for Dialogue Normalization, a feature Dolby offers to set the default playback levels. The idea is to avoid having some discs start very loudly and others start very quietly when a receiver is set for the exact same volume. To do this, Dialnorm sets a default center of the soundtrack at a common average, using dialogue as a baseline. Therefore, the relative loudness of movie dialogue should be the same from one Dialnorm-encoded disc to another without a viewer needing to change the receiver volume from normal preferences.

There's been a certain level of hysteria about Dialnorm from members of the audiophile community, who misunderstand its purpose and functioning, and believe that it fundamentally alters the soundtracks encoded with it. In actuality, Dialnorm does not affect a movie soundtrack any more than raising or lowering the Volume setting on your receiver does. Contrary to common misconception, Dialnorm does not "boost" the dialogue relative to the rest of the sound mix, or in any way alter the track's dynamic range. A Dialnorm-encoded soundtrack has the exact same peaks and valleys as a soundtrack without Dialnorm; it's just that the Dialnorm track will contain an extra flag in the metadata telling the receiver to either increase or decrease its entire volume scale globally before playback, so that all movies start on the same scale. And it only does this once at the start of the movie; it does not cause fluctuations after the movie begins.

At any given volume setting on your receiver, a movie like 'Gosford Park' will deliver dialogue crisply and clearly, but the soundtrack won't get much louder, because that film is practically all dialogue. Switching to 'Jurassic Park' at the same setting, dialogue will come through just the same as it did for the last picture, until the dinosaur roars shake your house to pieces, because that movie has a lot of sound effects that are much louder relative to the dialogue. Dialnorm will not make 'Gosford Park' a house-shaking experience, or make 'Jurassic Park' any less of an auditory powerhouse. It just sets them both so that their dialogue is at the same loudness as one another.

This is relevant to our discussion because a Dolby TrueHD track encoded with Dialnorm may begin at a higher or lower starting volume than a PCM track without this feature, even though it's the same movie's soundtrack and the receiver is left at the same setting. There's a well-known principle in auditory research that has shown that listeners typically perceive a recording played back at a louder volume as better in quality than the same recording at a lower volume. That's because the louder the playback, the more pressure generated by its sound waves. At a difference of just a few decibels, the listener may not necessarily be able to tell that one track is being played louder than the other, but subtle sounds in the recording will suddenly start to vibrate their eardrums more forcefully. The result will be that the louder track seems to have more clarity, breadth, and "impact," when in fact the only real difference is that it's being played a little louder.

In order to properly compare the same soundtrack on two different audio formats, they must first be matched to the exact same volume, and this will require a sound level meter to measure precisely. Once that's been accomplished, the audible differences between an uncompressed encoding and a lossless one vanish. Being set for different starting volumes doesn't make one track better or worse in actual quality than another; they just need different volume settings on your receiver.

Does the Hardware Affect the Results?

One last factor to take into consideration: A lossless audio track is really only bit-for-bit identical to its source if it's been decoded and processed correctly. In my review of the Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD player, I noted a bug in its audio section that causes bass management for the multi-channel analog outputs to be applied inaccurately when the "Digital Out SPDIF" control is set for Bitstream rather than PCM. That player also seems to apply Dynamic Range Compression whether you want it or not unless all speakers are set to a Small size. Without the required workaround settings (SPDIF at "PCM" and all speakers Small) all movie soundtracks seem to be lacking bass over those audio connections.

If a viewer weren't aware of this problem, a first inclination might be to assume that the Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD audio formats used on HD DVD were poor quality. However, this is actually just a defect in one specific player, and not at all indicative of the audio formats themselves.

Similarly, although Fox Home Entertainment prefers to use DTS-HD Master Audio on its Blu-ray releases, at the present time there isn't much hardware that can decode the full lossless extension to the codec. Most currently-available Blu-ray disc players and A/V receivers instead extract the lossy DTS "core," so the majority of listeners aren't hearing the format to its fullest potential. That's not a knock against Master Audio, but rather a limitation imposed by the playback hardware.

What It Boils Down To

The number of new audio formats on Blu-ray and HD DVD have caused a great deal of consumer confusion, especially with three separate formats (PCM, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio) all designed to accomplish the exact same goal -- a perfect replication of the movie's audio master. Apprehensions about lossless compression being inferior to an uncompressed version of the same soundtrack are not borne out by the facts. One methodology may have technical advantages over the other in terms of space savings, but the end result is the same whether the disc you buy has an uncompressed soundtrack or a lossless one. They're both equally good, so sit back and enjoy.
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Old 02-03-2009, 10:28 PM   #8  
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I have read the all the above but I am wondering what i should set the PS3 to for running an optical cable. I am using a Yamaha RX-V396 as my receiver so no HDMI input. I am using a sony bravia v series LCD. I am just trying to get the best sound output for movies.

I get 5.1 during game play but it seems when I put in a BLU-Ray I seem to get Pro Logic or DTS. I never see the Dolby Digital icon come on the receiver screen
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Old 02-03-2009, 11:12 PM   #9  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcan View Post
I have read the all the above but I am wondering what i should set the PS3 to for running an optical cable. I am using a Yamaha RX-V396 as my receiver so no HDMI input. I am using a sony bravia v series LCD. I am just trying to get the best sound output for movies.

I get 5.1 during game play but it seems when I put in a BLU-Ray I seem to get Pro Logic or DTS. I never see the Dolby Digital icon come on the receiver screen
I run optical to my Pioneer SX-316. I have the PS3 set to bitstream.
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Old 02-04-2009, 03:21 PM   #10  
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Bitstream is the correct setting for the optical output connection.
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Old 02-04-2009, 05:34 PM   #11  
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Thank you very much for the info. It works perfect now, again thank you
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:13 AM   #12  
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This question may seem like a repeat of my previous one. I was watching Saw V the other night after I read your answers and I had sound during the previews and start up but when it came time for the movie I lost sound for the main soundtrack. If I switched between sound tracks I could hear the commentary etc. So I had to set my sound output to Linear PCM top get the movie soundtrack. So I through in Dark Knight and I was able to get 5.1 on Bitstream as mentioned. Is this just a Disc to Disc issue? due to it being Blu-Ray?
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