HDMI ARC, What Is HDMI ARC And How It Works


HDMI ARC is the recent talk of the town at the moment in the audio industry, and if you haven’t heard anything about HDMI ARC technology and how it works, you probably ain’t enthusiastic that much about audiophiles in the past few years. So, What is HDMI ARC, and how does  it work?

Audio Return Channel also known as HDMI ARC is a technology that allows your devices to send multichannel audio signals by-directional using a single cable to improve the sound quality and latency of the audio and video signal throughput. HDMI ARC allows your device to send signals as well as to receive signals simultaneously with zero latency. The main advantage of using HDMI ARC is how it ensures that you do not have to use multiple cables to transfer audio and video files. 

The HDMI ARC is different from the standard HDMI connection in such a way that where your device uses an HDMI ARC, it is also able to send and receive signals simultaneously.

 It’s very helpful especially when you are using an AV receiver or your soundbar as you can receive audio from your display device and also send audio or video signals to the output device through one cable. 

It is also used in many cases where you have applications such as netflix, amazon prime video and so on. On most devices such as soundbars, you will see that they have HDMI ARC features. Therefore, such devices can be able to send and receive signals. 

HDM ARC is also capable of supporting a lot of audio formats. Therefore, you will be able to hear stereo PCM, 5.1 Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and DTS. 

HDMI ARC cables are used to transmit multichannel audio between devices. HDMI ARC is different from other cables like optical and coaxial cables because they do not transmit audio signals only. 

Instead, they transmit both video and audio signals. Therefore, they are a very good option when you want to transmit both video and audio. They give you a high-quality resolution for both signals. 

HDMI ARC audio ports are also different from optical audio ports because of the way they handle streams. And that’s because of the way HDMI ARC cables and OPtical audio cables are made.

The material used to make HDMI cables is copper. This material is also used in most electronic cables. One disadvantage of HDMI ARC cables is that they can be affected by electromagnetic interference. 

To use HDMI ARC, you need to ensure that your devices are very compatible with it. There are some devices such as soundbars that are not able to support HDMI. 

Unless you are willingly intended to buy an HDMI converter or an adapter, ensure that any devices are compatible and will be able to work with what you want to achieve. 

How HDMI ARC works

Usually, you will notice that a lot of HDMI cables are able to work with ARC. In order for it to work, you should connect one end of an HDMI cable to the HDMI ARC input on your TV. 

The other end should be connected to an HDMI ARC output that is on your audio devices such as a soundbar or a receiver. 

There are two ways that you can use in order to connect your system through ARC. For example, you can connect your TV, receiver, Blu-ray player, and a game console. 

1. First connect your blu-ray player as well as your game console to your TV. Next, get an HDMI cable and connect one end to your TV while the other end should be connected to your soundbar or receiver. In this setup, the TV is the central Hub. Here, you can also use the TV remote to change the input to a Blu-ray player or to the game console. This remote can also be used to control the volume. 

2. Here, you should start by connecting your Blu-ray player and your console to your soundbar or receiver. A single cable should also run from the receiver to your TV. If your source does not have enough inputs, you should use the first setup. 

The receiver or the soundbar is the central hub of this system unlike in setup one where the TV was the central hub. You can also use the soundbars remote to switch between the sources. The TV remote will be used to turn on the television or on order to access some applications.

What Is HDMI eARC?

HDMIeARC is the short abbreviation of the “enhanced audio return channel” specifically designed HDMI cables capable of handling media files completely different than a regular HDMI cable would do. It is an improvement of ARC. This supports more features than ARC. It was introduced together with HDMI 2.1. It’s different from HDMI ARC because it sends more data. HDMI eARC also has higher bandwidth of 37 Mbps. Hence, it will transmit audio signals at a resolution that is very high too.


  • Audio Quality

HDMI ARC allows you to get the most out of your system. HDMI ARX also supports a lot of sound formats. With this connection, you will have Dolby Atmos, Dolby digital plus, TrueHD as well as DTS HD. HDMI arc will give you very good quality even when you are using your blu-ray discs or your game consoles. 

However, HDMI ARC does not support 7.1 surround sound. In order to get 7.1 channel surround sound, you need to use HDMI eARC which is an improved version of HDMI ARC. This has a higher bandwidth as compared to HDMI ARC. This also ensures that you get a higher sound quality. 

This HDMI eARC also makes use if Ethernet technology. This ensures that the quality of the output is the same as that of the input. Therefore, with this connection, you are able to listen to uncompressed audio without having any latency. 

  • Video Quality

One thing that you need to know is that the quality that HDMI cables offer is not the same for all cable. Therefore, when choosing a cable, you need to know the kind of quality that you want and if that particular cable is able to give you that. For example, if you are looking for 4K video quality, you should go for an HDMI 2.0 cable. But, this cable will only give you a refresh rate of 69 frames per second. There is also an HDMI 2.1 that offers the same quality but has a higher refresh rate of 120 frames per second. It also allows you to see videos in 8K resolutions but with a refresh rate of 60 frames per second. 

The cable length is usually determined by the requirements that you want in your cable. For example, if the devices that you want to connect are very close to each other, choosing a cable will not be a problem for you. However, if they are not close, you may need to look into it a little more to get the right cable length. 

The cable-type also affects if you will have a signal loss or not. Typically, a cable that is longer will easily be affected by the signal loss. With HDMI cables, video signals are affected more than audio signals. This is because video signals use higher bandwidth and do not have much tolerance for signal losses. 

For separate speakers, make sure that the cable length you use is the same length so that the signal does not become skewed. With HDMI cables, they can reach up to 50 feet on a maximum. HDMI cables have a low voltage and are easily affected by interference. Therefore, at 50 feet, you may start noticing distortion. 

When To Use HDMI ARC

HDMI ARC is a great choice to use if your want to connect your soundbar or your controller. This will give you greater audio quality as compared to most other connections. HDMI ARC also has CEC technology. Therefore, you can easily use one remote for all the devices that you have connected using HDMI ARC. 

HDMI ARC Features

HDMI is a very good technology to use on your devices. It supports a lot of features including support for video as well as high-resolution audio. Most displays, consoles and other devices have HDMI support. The following are some of HDMI ARC features:

  • CEC (Consumer Electronics Control)

This feature is very useful in HDMI ARC. With CEC, you are able to use your TV remote for both your TV and controlling the audio device’s volume. This feature has been there since HDMI 1.4 was introduced, back in 2009. Therefore, with this feature, you do not need to worry about using a lot of cables in order to connect your TV to your audio system.

It also saves you the trouble of having to use different remote controls in order to change the volume of your device since one remote control can be used with CEC. Another advantage is that you can use CEC to turn on your TV as well as your audio device. This makes everything easier. 

  • Lip Sync Correction

This is also another useful feature that HDMI ARC has. This was introduced together with HDMI 1.3. This feature works by adjusting the audio and the video timing. This ensures that there is no delay in the sound or the video. The problem is common in other TVs that take time in order to process the video than the audio. This is also common when you are using external speakers. You may notice that there is a delay between the audio and HDMI ARC. Therefore, HDMI ARC will solve this issue for you. 

  • Supports Video Signals

An HDMI cable can send video signals as well as audio signals. You can use this cable to connect the TV and soundbar. This will send audio from your TV to your soundbar. You can also use the same cable to send video signals for example with your DVD player or your console. Therefore, this can be used to transmit both audio and video signals via one cable. 


HDMI audio return channel helps in ensuring that your devices are able to send audio signals as well as receive signals. It has a lot of advantages and it is a very good technology. We hope this article helped you understand more about HDMI ARC. 

Eddie Mcfarren

Eddie Is no stranger to technical writing after spending years in Networking, IT Infrastructure management, and online content marketing. He is an avid researcher, Software and apps dev tester who spends hours solving problems behind the scenes. Get in touch with him via social media and you can email him via contact@gawkygeek.com

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