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What are ARC and eARC?

 

Image 1. Regular setup Source-Audio Device-TV.

 

 

You can send high-quality video and sound thru a single HDMI cable with no quality loss, from your gaming console, Blu-ray, or laptop to the TV.

However, if you wanted to connect an audio device to reproduce the sound, you needed an optical audio cable or audio cable. You end up using at least two types of cables.

To solve this, HDMI developed the HDMI ARC port.

This port allows you to send audio signals to your sound system from your TV, and vice-versa. You won’t need the audio cable, only the HDMI for the video signal and HDMI ARC for the audio signal.

The only downside is that the HDMI ARC cable doesn’t improve the sound.

Recently, HDMI came up with the HDMI eARC port. With enhanced technology, you can send high-quality audio signals to your sound system from your TV and vice-versa.

HDMI ARC

Image 2. With the ARC system, you eliminate the need for an optical or audio cable.

 

Some TVs have an HDMI port labeled ARC or eARC. These TVs became popular in 2018, eliminating the need for an extra optical or audio cable to connect to an audio system.

Then the ARC port aims to reduce the cable quantity between a source of audio and video, such as a gaming console, an audio system like a sound bar, and a TV.

It is convenient as you can find an HDMI cable almost anywhere.

Keep in mind that ARC is not compatible with all TVs with HDMI ports, as the TV must have the ARC label in the HDMI port. It is more a hardware feature, so there is no firmware to update a regular HDMI port, or at least now.

HDMI ARC vs Optical Audio

Both Optical and HDMI ARC send up to 5.1 compressed audio signals. They are equally powerful in sound quality.

There are only two good reasons to use it. The first one is you would get rid of one cable, having a more aesthetic TV setup. Secondly, it is convenient as you can control the audio system with the TV control thanks to the CEC technology.

If you want to get rid of one cable and have a convenient TV setup with CEC, use the HDMI ARC ports of your TV and audio system.

Pros

  • You eliminate the need for multiple types of cables.
  • HDMI ARC can pass higher resolution audio than optical.
  • Better aesthetic for your TV setup.
  • Easy connectivity between your devices.
  • Your TV control can control your audio system as well.

Cons

  • Your TV and audio device must have HDMI ACR ports.
  • With TVs before 2018, there is no difference in sound quality.
  • Audio systems with HDMI ACR tend to be more expensive.
  • HDMI ARC needs a high-speed HDMI cable to work.

HDMI eARC

Image 3. The eARC supports High-bitrate audio formats.

HDMI eARC is the same ARC with bandwidth improvements. This new capability allows uncompressed audio signals transfer, enhancing sound quality with the appropriate setup.

If your TV and audio system have an eARC port, you can reproduce high-bitrate formats up to 192Hz, 24-bit, 5.1, 7.1, and 32-channel uncompressed audio.

But remember, it only works with high-speed HDMI cables with Ethernet.

HDMI eARC vs HDMI ARC vs Optical Audio

The ARC technology is more capable from the high-quality sound perspective, but you need an audio system that supports that high-quality audio.

Some sound bars, home theaters, and TVs might come with an HDMI ARC port, but they don’t support Dolby Atmos or DTS Premium Sound. In these cases, you won’t have an improvement in sound quality.

HDMI ARC is the best option if your audio system supports Hi-Res audio and your TV supports 7.1 audio channels.

If your TV and audio system supports Hi-Res audio and they have an eARC port, you could enhance the surrounding experience with a high-speed HDMI cable with Ethernet.

Pros

  • You eliminate the need for multiple types of cables.
  • HDMI eARC can pass higher resolution audio than ARC and optical.
  • Better aesthetic for your TV setup.
  • Easy connectivity between your devices.
  • Your TV control can control your audio system as well.
  • It supports high-bitrate formats up to 192Hz, 24-bit, 5.1, 7.1, and 32-channel uncompressed audio.

Cons

  • Your TV and audio device must have HDMI ACR ports.
  • With TVs before 2018, there is no difference in sound quality
  • Audio systems with HDMI ACR tend to be more expensive.
  • HDMI eARC needs a high-speed HDMI cable with Ethernet.

FAQ

Can I Use a Regular HDMI Cable for the HDMI ARC/eARC Functionality?

You can’t. There are regular HDMI cables and high-speed HDMI cables. Then you’ll need the high-speed HDMI cable for the ARC /eARC port to work.

Are All HDMI Ports HDMI ARC O HDMI eARC?

They are not. ARC is only an audio channel where the TV doesn’t take its signal for video purposes. Your TV and audio system must have an HDMI port with a legend that states the port is ARC o eARC.

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