If you are wondering what the difference between different HDMI specifications are this quick guide will take you through the main points you need to know to understand what HDMI ARC and HDMI eARC are there differences and whether they suit your specific situation. HDMI or High Definition Multimedia Interface was first developed by a group of electronics manufacturers including Hitachi, Panasonic, Philips, Silicon Image, Sony, and Toshiba. This group of manufacturers is known as the HDMI Forum.
The Audio Return Channel (ARC) feature was introduced in the HDMI 1.4 specification, which was released in 2009. It allowed for the reduction of cables from your TV and audio receiver. Later, the enhanced Audio Return Channel, or eARC, was introduced with the HDMI 2.1 specification in 2017, providing increased bandwidth for higher-quality audio formats and improved synchronization between audio and video signals.
What is HDMI ARC?
HDMI ARC stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface Audio Return Channel. It’s a feature that simplifies the process of connecting your television to an external speaker system, such as a soundbar, a receiver, or a home theater system.
Typically, if you’re using an external audio system, you would need to use an HDMI cable to send the video signal to the TV, and then a separate cable (like an optical audio cable) to send the sound from the TV back to the audio system. This is necessary when you’re using your TV’s built-in apps or a device connected directly to your TV (like a game console or a streaming box), and you want the sound to come out of your external speakers instead of the TV’s built-in speakers.
With HDMI ARC, you can do both with a single HDMI cable. The video signal still goes from your device to your TV, and then the sound is sent “back” along the same cable from your TV to your audio system. This can simplify your setup and reduce the number of cables you need.
Note that not all HDMI ports on all devices support the ARC feature. On many TVs, for example, only one HDMI port (often labeled “HDMI ARC”) has this feature. Also, to use HDMI ARC, both your TV and your audio system need to support it.
In addition, HDMI ARC has certain limitations when it comes to supporting the highest-quality audio formats. This has been improved with the newer version called HDMI eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel), which provides better support for high-quality audio formats and has better synchronization between video and audio.
What is HDMI eARC?
HDMI eARC stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface Enhanced Audio Return Channel. It’s an updated version of HDMI ARC, introduced with the HDMI 2.1 specification in 2017. eARC offers several improvements over the original ARC such as the already mentioned increased bandwidth. eARC can handle much higher data rates than ARC, which allows it to support the highest-quality audio formats, including Dolby TrueHD, DTS:X, and uncompressed 7.1 and 5.1 surround sound. ARC was limited to compressed 5.1 surround sound and couldn’t support the highest-quality formats.
Other features of eARC includes automatic lip-sync correction to ensure that the audio and video are perfectly synchronized. Together with a more simplified user experience, eARC, devices can automatically detect and configure the best audio formats that both the TV and the sound system can support.
As well as providing advanced device control to users thanks to eARC supporting CEC (Consumer Electronics Control), which allows you to control multiple devices from a single remote. Just like with ARC, to use eARC, both your TV and your audio system need to support it.
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