PCM vs Passthrough Soundbar: Which One Should You Choose?

Soundbars are a great addition to any home entertainment system. They can improve your TV’s sound quality, provide a better listening experience, and even save space. However, when it comes to choosing a soundbar, you may be faced with the decision between PCM and passthrough. But what do these terms mean, and which one is right for you? In this article, we will explain the difference between PCM and passthrough soundbars and help you decide which one to choose.

We may earn an affiliate commission for purchases using our links at no added cost to you.

PCM Soundbars

PCM stands for Pulse Code Modulation, and it is a digital audio format that converts analog audio signals into a digital format. A PCM soundbar decodes the audio signal, converts it to digital, and then sends it to the soundbar’s speakers. This means that the soundbar is responsible for processing the audio signal and producing the sound.

One of the benefits of a PCM soundbar is that it can handle multiple audio formats, including Dolby Digital, DTS, and PCM itself. It also allows for precise volume control and provides a high-quality sound. Additionally, PCM soundbars are compatible with most TVs and devices, so you can easily connect them to your home entertainment system.

Passthrough Soundbars

Passthrough soundbars, on the other hand, do not decode the audio signal. Instead, they simply pass the audio signal through to the TV or device, which then processes the audio and sends it to the soundbar. This means that the TV or device is responsible for decoding the audio and producing the sound, not the soundbar.

Passthrough soundbars are often cheaper than PCM soundbars, and they are ideal for those who want a simple and affordable solution. They also offer a wide range of compatibility, as they can work with any device that has an HDMI port, including Blu-ray players, game consoles, and streaming devices.

Which One Should You Choose?

So, which one is right for you? The answer depends on your needs and preferences.

If you want the best possible sound quality and precise volume control, a PCM soundbar is the way to go. PCM soundbars are also great for those who want to connect multiple devices to their soundbar, as they can handle a variety of audio formats.

However, if you are on a budget and want a simple and affordable solution, a passthrough soundbar is a good choice. Passthrough soundbars are also ideal for those who want to connect multiple devices to their TV, as they offer a wide range of compatibility.

Another factor to consider is the type of content you will be watching. If you frequently watch movies and TV shows with Dolby Digital or DTS soundtracks, a PCM soundbar may be the better choice. These soundbars are capable of decoding these formats and providing a high-quality listening experience.

On the other hand, if you mainly watch content that uses stereo sound, such as music videos or YouTube videos, a passthrough soundbar may be sufficient. These soundbars can handle stereo sound and provide a decent listening experience at an affordable price.


In summary, the choice between a PCM and a passthrough soundbar comes down to your needs and preferences. PCM soundbars provide the best sound quality and compatibility with a variety of audio formats, while passthrough soundbars are affordable and easy to use.

Consider your budget, the type of content you will be watching, and the devices you will be connecting to your soundbar before making a decision. With the right soundbar, you can enhance your home entertainment experience and enjoy high-quality sound from the comfort of your own home.

Best Selling Soundbars On The Market Today

Last update on 2023-11-11

Frequently Asked Questions About Soundbars

Here are some frequently asked questions about soundbars that can help you make an informed decision when purchasing one.

What is the difference between a soundbar and a surround sound system?

A soundbar is a single speaker that is designed to improve the audio quality of your TV. It is typically placed in front of or below the TV, and it can provide a better audio experience than the TV’s built-in speakers. A surround sound system, on the other hand, uses multiple speakers to create a 3D audio experience. It typically includes a subwoofer, center channel speaker, and two or more satellite speakers. Surround sound systems are more complex and expensive than soundbars, but they can provide a more immersive audio experience.

How do I connect a soundbar to my TV?

Connecting a soundbar to your TV is usually a simple process. Most soundbars can be connected to your TV using an HDMI cable or an optical cable. If your TV supports HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel), you can connect the soundbar to the TV using an HDMI cable and control the volume of the soundbar with your TV remote. If your TV does not support HDMI ARC, you can connect the soundbar to the TV using an optical cable and control the volume of the soundbar with the soundbar remote.

Can a soundbar be used for music playback?

Yes, most soundbars can be used for music playback. Many soundbars support Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity, which allows you to stream music from your phone, tablet, or computer to the soundbar. Some soundbars also have built-in music streaming services, such as Spotify or Pandora. Keep in mind that the sound quality of a soundbar may not be as good as a dedicated stereo system, but it can still provide a decent listening experience.

What is a subwoofer, and do I need one?

A subwoofer is a speaker that is designed to produce low-frequency sounds, such as bass and drums. It can enhance the audio experience by providing a more powerful and detailed sound. Some soundbars come with a built-in subwoofer, while others require a separate subwoofer to be purchased. Whether or not you need a subwoofer depends on your personal preferences and the type of content you will be watching. If you frequently watch action movies or listen to music with heavy bass, a subwoofer may be a good investment.

Can I use a soundbar with my gaming console?

Yes, you can use a soundbar with your gaming console. Most soundbars have an HDMI input that can be used to connect to a gaming console. This allows you to enjoy a more immersive audio experience while playing your favorite games. Some soundbars also have gaming-specific features, such as a “game mode” that reduces audio latency for a more responsive gaming experience.

Similar Posts