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All That You Wanted To Know About HDMI ARC for Customizing Home Theater Audio Output

HDMI cables are the all-important hardware for connecting the audiovisual components or devices to the displays like televisions, computer monitors, and projectors. The HDMI cable consolidates and transmits audio and video through a single wire to provide the best visuals and sound quality. It is an essential accessory for any modern equipment. The HDMI cables have evolved to keep pace with the newest technologies and hardware. The cables have different numbers assigned to them like HDMI 2.0, HDMI 2.1, etc. that indicate its compatibility with different types of hardware like OLED TVs, soundbars, A/V receivers, etc. HDMI arc or audio return channel is the latest protocol that sits on the HDMI standard that helps to reduce the number of cables used for a complicated audiovisual setup. Most of the latest HDMI devices would require the support of an HDMI arc cable.

What is an HDMI ARC?

HDMI arc is a technical protocol incorporated in all of the best TVs, receivers, and soundbars that helps improve the features of the equipment to produce a superior picture and sound quality. The ARC protocol offers a great way of augmenting your home theater setup most simply and allows you to send photo and sound data from a source to an output device. The ARC protocol allows two-way communication between multiple devices using a single HDMI cable, ensuring a neat and clutter-free setup. The single HDMI cable handles the input and output for audio when connected to an ARC port.

The ARC has become a standard since 2009, and you will find it all TVs, soundbars, and receivers available today use the protocol. A standard HDMI 1.4 cable can support devices that have an ARC interface.

Simplified setup with ARC

Think about a typical AV setup at home consisting of a set-top box, BluRay player, and a game console connected to the TV by an HDMI cable. Alternatively, the TV might have a built-in video app compatible with streaming services like Amazon Prime Video or Netflix. Now, you want to bypass the TV speakers for audio and instead hear the sound through a home theater amplifier or soundbars.

The ARC protocol does away with the need to attach an optical cable from the TV to an input of the audio device. Instead, it helps to send audio downstream from the TV’s HDMI socket to a compatible ARC compatible socket by using an HDMI arc cable for the soundbar.

How to start using ARC?

As told earlier, the devices you want to connect like TVs, BluRay players, or soundbars must-have ARC-marked HDMI port clearly labeled. Do not assume any HDMI port would be ARC compatible unless there is a clear marking of the port or socket. Although labeling is not compulsory, you can consider that devices manufactured after 2009 will be ARC compliant. Using a Sonos arc HDMI cable lets you connect the TV to the soundbar and enjoy high-quality sound by bypassing the television speakers. It is a great way to create your home theater in the way you want.

The ARC functionality in some TVs should work automatically, but if it does not, then you have to do the setup manually. You must alter the TV settings to mute the TV’s built-in speakers and enable the TV to send audio signals to an external amplifier or speaker.

You do not need any special HDMI cable to use the ARC feature of the equipment, and any ordinary HDMI cable will do. To make proper use of the ARC feature, you need to enable the HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) that should help control the soundbar or amplifier volume by using the TV’s remote when the TV is running. However, turning on the HDMI (CEC) might impact the audio quality, and it is better to experiment first to ascertain that the audio quality is of the desired quality.

Equipment manufacturers are at liberty to use HDMI arc by choosing some specific elements from the array of features offered by the protocol. It means that your TV might support only a few audio codecs and not the entire range. Make sure that you get what you want.

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