What is HDMI ARC

HDMI ARC in televisions — is a connector with hdmi capabilities and plus the ARC function to send audio in both directions.

ARC stands for Audio Return Channel, the audio return channel. It’s just an option to use one cable to transmit video+audio from the receiver to the TV and audio from the TV to the receiver, soundbar, home theater system.

Basics About the HDMI Connector

HDMI itself serves to transmit video and audio in digital form. Such an interface operates with high bandwidth and is used to transmit high-definition video, which in digital form occupies a large volume.

In addition to transmitting video and audio on a single channel, HDMI was also designed to transmit what the industry calls a “handshake” from one device to another. They were originally designed to:

  • copy protection and piracy prevention data;
  • messages about what types of components have been connected;
  • what are the capabilities of the connected components.

But the HDMI transmission system was also designed to communicate more complex messages as part of Consumer Electronics Control (CEC).

CEC allows a single remote control to control the functions of 15 hdmi connected devices. There are almost as many names for CEC as there are brands of electronics: Samsung called it “Anynet +”, LG “SimpLink” and Sony “Bravia Sync”. Unfortunately, the system has never lived up to its potential, and is often mistranslated or simply lost between components from different manufacturers. The port of ARC can help.

HDMI ARC Technology in a TV

Part of the HDMI specifications, the ARC channel became part of version 1.4 in 2009, it makes it easy to connect your TV to your audio system.

It doesn’t matter if the audio signal is coming from the built-in TV tuner or an external source.

This can be very useful if your sound bar has only one input and you want to connect multiple sources.

With ARC technology, you can connect everything to the TV, and the TV will send the sound back to the soundbar or other external speakers.

On TVs, this port is referred to as “HDMI ARC”.

обозначение HDMI ARC на телевизорах

In addition, it also allows you to control most connected devices with just the TV remote.

ARC technology, along with CEC, can simplify your home theater system in two important ways. The first and most useful feature of HDMI ARC is the ability to use one remote for all the most common functions of your audio devices.

To do this, you may need to go into your TV’s settings and activate CEC, usually found in the general settings. Depending on what brand of TV you have, the CEC menu item may use brand-specific names (Anynet +, Bravia Sync, etc.).

When you watch a show on the TV from an over-the-air, cable, satellite tuner, the sound is sent to an external speaker via the hdmi arc connectors. And the same cable and connectors are used when transmitting video from the home receiver to the TV.

So we do not need to connect a separate cable to transmit audio from the TV to the speaker, the signal goes through the ARC. For a separate audio connection, we take an optical audio cable S/PDIF or digital audio RCA.

Connection without ARC
What is HDMI ARC and how does it connects
Connecting with ARC

It is worth saying that the quality of signal transmission via HDMI is very high and it is recommended for all connections. And if there is an opportunity to transmit audio cable HDMI, you should take advantage of this.

But, many users do not need ARC. If you listen to sound mainly through the TV speakers and you don’t have a receiver or soundbar, then this feature is unnecessary. The point of ARC is to send the audio generated by or passing through the TV to an external audio device, namely a soundbar or receiver.

Video of the soundbar connection via the ARC channel to the Samsung TV:

The sound quality of the stand-alone speaker is better compared to the built-in TV. Therefore, it is advisable to purchase a soundbar and use the HDMI ARC channel for connection.

Example, if you connect many devices to the soundbar and the soundbar has only one HDMI input. You can connect all of your devices to the TV, and the sound will be sent to the soundbar through the TV. There is no need for additional audio cables.

You can find the connector on your TV by its appearance, it will be labeled “HDMI ARC” above it. The other, pluggable device should have a connector with the same designation. Only when two devices support this technology, then you can use the ARC function.

HDMI connectors on TVs can be labeled as STB, DVI, ARC, MHL. All of them are the same in functionality, except for MHL. But also ARC connector is used to return the sound, if there is such a need, but otherwise it works as usual HDMI. And here hdmi mhl combines the functionality of the HDMI interface and connector MicroUSB, is used to connect smartphones to TVs. MHL may not work for a regular hdmi interface.

What is eARC

An interface labeled eARC stands for Enhanced Audio Reverse Channel, with more bandwidth. This feature works with HDMI 2.1.

The “e” in eARC stands for “enhanced” audio return channel and is a new standard HDMI 2.1 feature that aims to provide the best possible audio quality on TV.

The new configuration requires eARC support from both your TV and your audio device, which means that both devices must support HDMI 2.1 – older versions of HDMI do not support eARC. You’ll also need an HDMI cable with Ethernet support, or newer ultra-high-speed HDMI cables that include Ethernet support.

earc port
eARC port

ARC and eARC HDMI Cables

Any cable for HDMI 1.4 and above will work with ARC. For eARC operation, you will need a high speed cable. This can be a standard HDMI to Ethernet cable or an Ultra High-Speed HDMI to Ethernet cable.

HDMI with Ethernet cables labeled Ultra High Speed support all HDMI 2.1 features, and definitely support eARC.

Differences Between ARC and eARC

Different equipment manufacturers are free to connect different protocols when transmitting audio over the ARC channel. Therefore, different equipment transmits different quality audio, with different audio codecs. It may be that the TV only supports stereo or Dolby Digital, but DTS or 5.1 Dolby Digital may not. There are no mandatory codec sets for transport.

But for transporting modern codec audio DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos or DTS: X channel ARC is not suitable, here you need eARC.

With eARC, you can connect HDMI devices directly to your TV, and the TV will send uncompressed, high-quality sound to your soundbar, receiver, or amplifier directly through the eARC port.

You can output up to 32 audio channels using eARC. The eARC channel also supports 8-channel 24-bit/192 kHz uncompressed audio data delivered at a maximum rate of 38 Mbps.

Since the HDMI 2.1 specification offers faster data transfers with more bandwidth, it means that audio and video signals can be synchronized automatically. Were there any problems with video and audio sync when there were mismatches between the audio track and video? These problems have been eliminated with eARC.

Table comparing ARC and eARC channel capabilities:

ARC

eARC

Cable

HDMI

HDMI Ethernet

Stereo

yes

yes

Compressed audio 5.1

yes

yes

5.1 uncompressed

no

yes

7.1 uncompressed

no

yes

High bitrate & objects based on 192 kHz, 24 bit

no

yes

Audio bandwidth

1 Mbit/sec

37 Mbps

Video and audio synchronization

optionally

must

Volume control, HDMI power on

yes (CEC)

yes (CEC)

The eARC protocol will replace the CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) control option, which allowed you to control multiple devices simultaneously. CEC technology has always been supported in HDMI. A separate eARC channel now performs device detection and control.

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