HDMI has dramatically reduced the number of cables required to set up a home theater system. And ARC and eARC are just one way to do this. HDMI ARC or Audio Return Channel and HDMI eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel). This allows audio signals to be transmitted in both directions, reducing the number of cables required to set up an AV receiver.
This technology will allow you to use one remote control to control the audio volume of your home theater system. It will also allow you to reduce the number of cables you have to use. This way, setting up becomes an easy task if you know what you are doing.
What is HDMI eARC?
This is a new technology released in 2017 with version 2.1. (How to Upgrade HDMI 2.0 ports to HDMI 2.1.) It works the same as ARC. Except that, as the Enhanced Audio Return Channel name suggests, the technology is vastly improved.
Like HDMI ARC, eARC works with two pins, but unlike ARC, it also uses a third pin ground signal. It is also used to reduce the number of cables between display devices and A / V receivers or soundbars.
The setup is much the same as for HDMI ARC, but you will need newer cables. One clear benefit is that HDMI and Ethernet combining to enable HDMI eARC skips the step of configuring devices to enable HDMI eARC. It’s plug and play!
Unfortunately, due to the fact that the technology is so new. It is not yet widely available in a new home theater system. LG was one of the earliest TV manufacturers, and Onkyo, Pioneer, and Sony have released its firmware updates for select A / V receivers and soundbars. More and more devices equipped with HDMI eARC are gradually entering the market.
What makes HDMI eARC different from others?
HDMI eARC differs from HDMI ARC or its predecessors in a number of functions. As mentioned, it improves setup. It also improves the sound quality.
- 37 Mbps (megabits per second)
- Uncompressed surround sound
- Plug and play
It provides a maximum bandwidth of 37 Mbps, which allows for higher quality audio processing. Since it is 37 times faster than HDMI ARC, it can handle both uncompressed 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound as well as object audio formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS: X.
With this, devices are automatically detected. This means that you do not have to scroll through the settings to configure the display device to manually detect your sound system. Simply plug in the ports with an UltraSpeed HDMI 2.1 cable and you’re good to go.
What hardware do you need
HDMI eARC requires HDMI 2.1 or higher hardware. This may be rare since device manufacturers still use the HDMI 2.1 protocol. However, this is expected to accelerate over time.
Second, you need an Ultra High-Speed HDMI 2.1 or higher cable to connect your devices. HDMI 2.1 has been on the market for two years. So you’re unlikely to find an HDMI cable that isn’t Ultra High-Speed HDMI 2.1 but checks the packaging to be sure.
As with HDMI ARC, you can use a display device, AV receiver, or soundbar as a central hub for all of your HDMI eARC devices. As long as your display device and sound system are connected via ports.
Is HDMI eARC loopback compatible with HDMI ARC?
It depends on what you mean by backward compatibility. HDMI eARC has a fallback ARC, which means that if you connect one device with HDMI eARC to another device that does not support it. The devices will instead revert to broadcasting the HDMI ARC signal.
This means that your audio device will not be detected automatically. And you will have to manually initiate the digital handshake. This also means that broadcasts will be at a maximum bandwidth of 1 Mbps, not 37 Mbps. Which means no lossless surround sound.
However, if you connect two HDMI eARC devices with an HDMI 2.0 or lower cable. You might not get it to work. The results are unclear and may vary depending on the devices themselves. Although it is unlikely that you will damage your equipment using the wrong HDMI cable as the pin configuration and plug shape are the same.
Your best bet, as always, is to make an inexpensive upgrade to Ultra High Speed HDMI 2.1 or higher.
Customize your system
As you can see, using HDMI ARC and eARC is pretty simple and will reduce the number of cables and remotes you need to use.
HDMI eARC enhances HDMI ARC by supporting lossless surround sound formats and automatically detecting devices. HDMI eARC is not yet saturating the market, but it is expected to happen soon.
Until then, we hope this guide will help you navigate HDMI ARC until you decide to upgrade.