HDMI ARC and eARC difference

The major difference between the HDMI ARC and HDMI eARC- how the system works?

Author at TechGenyz Contributor

HDMI is considered as the best and most favored method of connecting consumer audio and video devices. HDMI method is used across the world for many years. It looks like an ordinary cable. But it’s not right because it is one of the few universal interfaces that are specifically manufactured to carry everything from audio, video, and additional digital signals at the same time. You can also look for compare AV receivers at Chooserator. However, it comes in two forms that are HDMI ARC and HDMI eARC.   

What is ARC?

HDMI has a built-in Audio Return Channel (ARC), and this e system can be used to output TV audio. However, it is essential to know that several limitations have forced the manufacturers to make receivers part of the video chain. An enhanced version that is called as eARC (enhanced ARC) promises to fix everything. We explain the differences.

There was a time when TVs were capable of outputting audio with the help of analog phono ports. Circular red and white connectors for right and left stereo were used, respectively. However, modern TVs no longer offer analog audio outputs.

With the introduction of the HDMI 1.4 standard in 2009, ARC arrived. As the name indicates, it can transfer audio over an HDMI cable from the TV’s HDMI ARC port. It can also transfer the sound to a soundbar or receiver. It’s practical when you want to output TV audio to an external device. However, it became even more relevant when streaming apps found their way into TVs.

When would you use HDMI ARC?

It is essential to picture a scene that you have a set-top box, and games console are plugged into your TV via HDMI.

On the other hand, your smart TV is using a built-in video app.

You don’t want to use your TV’s speakers for audio, and you had rather hear everything played through a soundbar or home cinema instead of an amplifier.

First, of all, you have to connect an optical cable by the back of your TV then compare it to the audio device.

But it seems a messy solution. HDMI ARC is here to solve this problem.

HDMI ARC can easily remove the need for an optical cable. It allows you to send audio ‘downstream’ from a compatible HDMI socket. This downstream will be posted on your TV to a compatible HDMI ARC socket on a soundbar or AV receiver.

What is HDMI eARC?

Enhanced Audio Return Channel that is also known as eARC, is considered as the next generation of ARC. It’s a feature that is implemented in the most recent HDMI 2.1 specification.

However, eARC was introduced as part of the HDMI 2.1 standard. However, it was reported by Flatpanels HD in 2018. It is crucial to know that eARC is one feature of HDMI 2.1 that can potentially be added to HDMI 2.0 based devices through a firmware update.

Although it is not entirely clear, the bandwidth will be increased from approx. 1-3 Mb/s in standard ARC. The main advantage of eARC is a significant boost in bandwidth and speed.  It will allow you to send higher-quality audio from your TV to a soundbar or AV receiver. 

With the help of eARC, the HDMI Forum has also made ‘Lip Sync Correction’ mandatory. It means that pictures and audio will remain perfect sync throughout the video/audio chain. Another significant change is that eARC no longer relies on HDMI CEC for discovery and pairing that’s fascinating to know 

It is essential to understand that each has a dedicated data channel. This data channel allows connected devices to exchange information regarding the supportive audio formative and nonsupportive audio formats.  

What is the new eARC?

The new eARC allows you to give three substantial improvements that are following. 

  • Increased bandwidth: it which allows the TV to pass advanced and uncompressed surround sound formats with the receiver or soundbar. 
  • More reliable HDMI “handshakes”: these constant handshakes between the faithful are more manageable, more dependable operation. You can also get away with using fewer remote controls.
  • The mandatory Lip Sync Correction protocol: it ensures that the picture and sound always match up.

eARC doesn’t depend on HDMI 2.1

It is fascinating to know that vendors can easily pick and choose which parts of the new HDMI standard they want to implement. They can add eARC without adding support for 8K video resolution. However, eARC will play nice with older equipment, falling back to the older ARC standard. 

Furthermore, it is essential to keep in mind that there is a need for eARC support at both ends of the cable. It will allow you to get maximum benefits from the new standard while there are not a lot of audio products that are supporting eARC. However, some devices might be upgraded through firmware.  

What do I need to use HDMI eARC?

It is essential to know that there is a need for two devices supporting the new HDMI 2.1 standard that also comprises the eARC protocol. It will involve a TV and AV receiver supporting the new HDMI 2.1 specification for an average consumer.

 Furthermore, Ultra-High-Speed HDMI cables are also essential to support all features of the new eARC protocol. It is fascinating to know that HDMI cables will help you a lot if you also intend to use the highest resolution video modes supported in the new HDMI 2.1 specification. In this way, the existing High-Speed HDMI cables will also support all eARC features. 

It is essential to know that eARC is considered a big step forward in technological terms, but it may also solve the dilemma. A soundbar will no longer have to be the control center. It will no longer have to handle video signals.

Of course, it still can if you want it, but eARC changes the dynamics and allows you to get an alternative. However, in the future, the same audio quality and formats can be sent via HDMI and can be sent upstream via HDMI eARC.

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