HDMI ARC Vs eARC For Soundbars; Which Is Better?

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HDMI ARC Vs eARC Four Soundbars; Which is better?

HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) and eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel) are two technologies that allow you to send audio from your TV to an external device, such as a soundbar or an amplifier, and vice versa. They are used to stream audio from your TV to your soundbar or amplifier and also to send sound from your soundbar or amplifier back to your TV. 

The difference between the two is that eARC is the newest and most advanced version, offering higher quality audio and more features than HDMI ARC.

What is ARC?

ARC (Audio Return Channel) is a sound format that is used to send audio from your TV to an external device, such as a soundbar or an amplifier. It uses compressed 5.1 surround sound formats, such as standard Dolby Digital and DTS. It is the older of the two technologies and is still widely used.

What is eARC?

eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel) is an advanced version of ARC. It is used to send higher-quality audio from your TV to an external device, such as a soundbar or an amplifier. eARC supports uncompressed 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound formats, such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, as well as immersive audio formats, such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

Cable UsedHDMIHDMI With Ethernet
Stereo SupportYesYes
Compressed 5.1YesYes
Uncompressed 5.1NoYes
Uncompressed 7.1NoYes
High Bitrate & object based up to 192kHz, 24bit (eg DTS:X, Dolby Atmos)NoYes
Maximum Audio Bandwidth1 Mbits/Second37Mbits/Second
DiscoveryCECeARC Data Channel
eARC Capability (Audio EDID, etc)CECeARC Data Channel
Lip Sync Correction(Optional)Mandatory
TV Mutes & Control VolumeYes (CEC)Yes (CEC)
Powering TV Powers On Audio DeviceYes (CEC)Yes (CEC)
ARC FallbackN/AYes

Advantages of eARC Over HDMI ARC

– The biggest advantage of eARC over HDMI ARC is the higher quality audio that it can deliver. eARC supports uncompressed 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound formats, such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, as well as immersive audio formats, such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. This means that you can get the most out of your home entertainment system, with crystal clear sound and a more immersive experience.

– It supports higher bitrates, which means that you can get better quality sound and a more immersive experience. It also supports the most up-to-date audio formats, so you can enjoy the latest movies and TV shows in the highest quality audio. This also offers more reliable HDMI “handshakes” between devices, which means that you can enjoy smooth streaming with no dropped connections or buffering. 

– eARC mandatory Lip Sync Correction protocol ensures that audio and video are perfectly in sync. This means that you can enjoy movies and TV shows without any of the lip sync issues that can be caused by different timings between audio and video signals.

What HDMI cable should I use?

To experience the best of eARC, it is recommended to use high-speed HDMI cables with Ethernet. These cables must be certified with ‘HDMI’ on the packaging, as well as the outer cable jacket itself. To verify the cable has been tested and certified in compliance with the HDMI 2.1a Specification, use the HDMI Cable Certification app available on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store and other Android app stores.

HDMI certified cable

Making video source connections to the receiver or sound bar

When you want to wall mount your TV, connecting all your video sources to your sound bar or receiver simplifies the installation process. That’s because you only need one HDMI connection to the TV!

Most modern smart TVs have four or fewer HDMI inputs. If you have more than four sources, it’s best to connect them all to the receiver. Connecting some to the TV and some to the receiver can be confusing.

So, if you’re planning to hang your TV on the wall, connecting everything through the receiver is the way to go. That way, you can just run one cable to the TV.

Setting up an ARC connection

Setting up an ARC connection is a simple process that is just the same across most soundbar-to-TV connections. All you need is an HDMI cable. Here’s how to get it done:

Make sure both your TV and soundbar/A/V receiver have ARC-enabled HDMI ports. Connect one end of the HDMI cable to the “ARC” port on your TV. Then, connect the other end to the ARC port on your soundbar or receiver. 

Next, you’ll need to activate the ARC output on your TV. This is usually done through the settings menu under “audio settings”. Some devices automatically switch to ARC mode when the connection is made, but you may need to do it manually for some. 

And that’s it! Setting up an ARC connection is easy, and you’ll be able to enjoy the best sound experience possible.


Is HDMI eARC good for gaming?

Absolutely! If your TV supports the latest HDMI 2.1 standard, then you’ll be able to take advantage of the features that enhance your gaming experience. eARC offers improved audio and video quality, as well as support for faster refresh rates, better latency, resolution and more

Do you need 4K HDMI for eARC?

No, you don’t need to upgrade to a Premium or Ultra High-Speed HDMI cable to enjoy the benefits of eARC. If you already have a standard HDMI cable with Ethernet, or a High-Speed HDMI cable with Ethernet, then they should be enough to support eARC.

Does eARC improve video quality?

Yes, eARC offers significantly improved audio quality over traditional HDMI. With eARC, the digital audio signal can be transmitted at higher bandwidth, meaning it doesn’t have to be compressed. This allows you to enjoy more detailed, rich and vibrant sound with formats such as DTS:X and DOLBY ATMOS, providing a movie-theatre-like surround sound experience.

Is it important to have eARC for Atmos?

No, eARC is not necessary for Dolby Atmos to function. Through the Dolby Digital Plus audio codec, Dolby Atmos can be used with a regular HDMI ARC connection.  However, if you wish to experience Dolby Atmos TrueHD, you will need to use eARC. Additionally, you can bypass ARC entirely by connecting the media device directly to the soundbar or AV receiver.

About the author

Jack Weisman

With a background in audio engineering, Jack has always had an interest in the audio industry and has been writing professionally since he graduated college. He has written for many different publications and websites, focusing on topics such as soundbars, surround sound systems, speaker systems, and audio accessories giving readers an in-depth look at the various products.

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