Audio Connection Type

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Tools > Options > Video > Audio for Video, DVD, & Television > Connection Type

See also: Video Playback Options


Videos sometimes contain audio that is encoded. The encoded audio must be decoded at playback time.

For example, a DVD normally contains surround sound 5.1 audio encoded as a Dolby Digital (AC3) stream.

Some of these encoded formats can be optionally sent as-is to an external decoder. In this case, the external decoder (normally a receiver) does the decoding. This is called "bitstreaming".


It is recommended that the computer be used to do all audio decoding. By allowing the computer to decode, you gain the ability to use the full range of audio processing offered by Media Center. This includes VideoClock, Room Correction, parametric equalization, normalization, and much more.

This mode is called "PCM" (because PCM is the name of decoded audio data).


Media Center can optionally bitstream the following formats:

  • Dolby Digital (AC3)
  • Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC3)
  • Dolby TrueHD
  • DTS
  • DTS-HD
  • DSD

Only consider bitstreaming if ALL of the following are true:

  1. You have more than two speakers connected
  2. You are using an HDMI or S/PDIF connection
  3. You have a receiver (or outboard decoder) capable of decoding formats like Dolby Digital and DTS (and preferably the latest formats like Dolby TrueHD, etc.)
  4. You have properly configured the receiver levels, speakers, distances, etc.
  5. You do not want to use VideoClock, Room Correction, or any other audio features offered by Media Center

Select 'Bitstreaming' as the connection type to use an external decoder when possible.