HDMI ARC Cable vs HDMI Cable

So you’re looking at the back of your TV and wondering why one of your HDMI ports has the label “HDMI ARC” instead of the usual label. Not sure what that means?

What is the HDMI ARC?

HDMI ARC is a technology found on most modern home-theatre systems. It stands for Audio Return Channel. The technology was introduced in HDMI 1.4 versions, and it has become the standard for most HDMI cables today.

What HDMI ARC does is allow audio signals to transfer to and from devices. Essentially, it eliminates the need to use audio cables – everything is done through the HDMI cable.

In other words, regardless of what device you’re using as a source, the audio will be redirected to the right speakers. You can also control the audio of your audio device through your TV’s remote.

For example, if you’re using a TV that’s connected to a soundbar through HDMI ARC, every type of media you watch, whether TV channels, DVD-Players, Streaming Dongles, Netflix, and whatnot, will have sound sent to the soundbar.

In one sentence; no need to worry about audio in or audio out, the HDMI cable takes care of it.

Do You Need a Specific HDMI Cable for HDMI ARC?

No, you do not need a separate HDMI cable. Any old cable will work. While the technology was introduced in the HDMI version 1.4, most HDMI cables meet the standard. As a matter of fact, you might already be using ARC without even knowing it.

On the other hand, if you want to stream particularly high definition media with 5.1 surround sound or better, it’s recommended to get a high bandwidth HDMI cable. But those cables are only necessary for advanced audio systems.

Is HDMI and HDMI ARC the Same?

HDMI and HDMI ARC are, for the most part, the same. The difference occurs on the receiver side. The attached device has to be ARC compatible, otherwise, it won’t work.

Make sure to check the labels on both your TV and your audio device. Most soundbars have a port labelled HDMI ARC, similar to the one on your TV.

Can the HDMI ARC Output on My TV be Used as Normal HDMI?

Yes. HDMI cables are an all-in-one solution. If you plug a regular HDMI cable into the ARC port, it will act as a regular HDMI.

Which one is Better HDMI ARC or Optical?

HDMI ARC is much better than optical because it has a much higher bandwidth thus being able to transfer higher-resolution video and audio. The optical cable and technology are quite limited. Optical also does not support video.

What Can I Do if HDMI ARC is Not Working?

In most cases, the HDMI ARC port will work without any problems. If it does not, then you will have to enter the TV’s settings and look for the option to enable HDMI ARC audio. It might not have the standard name, look for CEC or other labels.

The power on both devices needs to be on too. The steps vary depending on your TV’s model, so make sure to check your TV’s manual.

About S. Santos

Tech columnist and tech blogger, audiovisual aficionado trying to keep up with the ever-evolving world of gadgets, home entertainment, and personal technology. If not fiddling with AV cables at home or in front of the computer, he can be found playing tennis or padel.

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