So I have an entry level 2.1 soundbar capable of decoding AC-3 and DTS hooked up to my Vero via optical cable. What are the pros and cons of passing through AC-3/DTS to the soundbar versus disabling passthrough at all and letting the Vero transcode all audio to stereo PCM? I know S/PDIF can only handle 2.0 channels of uncompressed PCM, but I really can’t hear a difference between those 2 possibilities.
Likely there will be no significant difference on a lower end stereo (IMO unlikely the “.1” is anything other than marketing) sound bar. Some sound bars can do special processing of the audio if being fed surround sound but your probably just looking at little difference in quality between if you have Kodi downmix vs. the sound bar. You would need to let your own ears decide what you think sounds better. On my one TV with a lower end sound bar it actually depends on the source file. It doesn’t matter most of the time but every once and a while I run across something that the dialog is less clear one way vs the other.
One thing I don’t like when letting the soundbar decode surround tracks (especially AC-3) is that the volume is so much lower compared to feeding the soundbar with a stereo PCM track. But this is clearly a general thing with Dolby tracks, because I always experience this lower volume, no matter if using Kodi or watching something on the TV’s built-in VOD apps.
check the manual for your sound bar for something listed as voice enhance, dialog (something), or similar. If you don’t have that I would say that having Kodi send Stereo PCM is the preferred option for you.
The only audio adjustments that I can do on this soundbar are volume, bass level and choosing between 3 different sound profiles (standard, music, movie). So I guess I will turn passthrough completely off.