If you buy a new TV or soundbar, you might have come across the new label about “ARC” while setting up the HDMI adapters. That indicates one of the best features which saves your money, reduces cable web and makes your set up more simplified.
What is ARC?
Ever since the HDMI 1.4 was introduced in the market, ARC is available on TVs, soundbars, and other gadgets. It is a protocol which offers two-way communication between devices over a single HDMI connection. This port lets you use HDMI as both an input and an audio output.
It came in 2009 and became a common standard. Majorly you would find it with all types of TVs, soundbars, and receivers. All the devices which support HDMI 1.4 would support ARC.
Things you can do with ARC:
It provides a two-way flow of sound means that you can use it for things which require extra cables.
- First and foremost, you will be able to connect your audio system with a single HDMI cable. For that, connect your soundbar to the TV with the ARC-capable port. After that, you can use it for every device that connects with TV. It includes Blu-ray players, game consoles, and other devices. Plus, it does all of these through the TV itself. You do not require a separate audio receiver.
- You can run the connections mentioned above through the soundbar itself. It allows you to shift the multiple HDMI connections from the TV to the soundbar without any additional setup. In some cases when your TV is wall mounted and you can’t access all of the HDMI ports or simply want a clean look which includes fewer cables, the arc capable ports are perfect. It requires lesser cable installations.
- ARC system also comes handy when you connect the TV with a soundbar or speaker system. You can also use the ARC connection to deliver audio from the TV to your speakers. Without the HDMI Arc, you will need to go into the TV settings to activate the “Receivers” or “External Speakers”. But with the ARC, it automatically sends the TV’s audio to whatever external device is connected with it.
- With ARC supported system you can deliver sound to your soundbar without any other connector with a dedicated audio cable.
- With HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) like Blu-ray players or satellite boxes, you can use ARC to reduce both the number of cables used and the number of controls needed for your system.
How to Setup:
To set up ARC completely with the system, you can follow the steps given in the guidelines below. Depending on the model and manufacturer, it might take some time to activate it.
- Determine the ARC port on your system. Most TV manufacturers offer ARC output over HDMI port instead of all three or four port on the set. Mostly they try to indicate it with labels. If HDMI adapters ports don’t have proper labeling, check the TV manual. It will help you navigate to the HDMI ARC that you can use.
- Activate the ARC output on the TV to start leveraging it. You can find this feature in the settings menu under audio. In many TVs, this feature auto-detect devices with ARC capacity. While in others you need to turn on the feature manually.
- One thing to keep in mind while plugging in your stuff is that ARC-enabled port should be there with your external audio device.
Even our brand-new iPhone model would have some drawbacks. Just like that, the simplicity of ARC and audio over HDMI is viable, but it has some disadvantages as well. The main aim behind designing this stuff was to replace S/PDIF digital audio outputs. Thus, it supports each and every audio format that wouldn’t normally pass through S/PDIF. For instance, Dolby Digital, DTS and PCM audio. It can handle TV’s regular two-channel audio and 5.1 surround sound without any troubles.
Even though it replaces the S/PDIF standard, it can’t send HD or high-bit-rate audio with high standards like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. It can be little overwhelming as the downstream audio over HDMI can carry the signal without any obstacles. This is ARC related disadvantage only which is one of the major limitations of the ARC specifications.
Some TVs actually downgrade the audio output over ARC by converting everything to two-channel sound even if it originates as 5.1 audio. Depending on your TV model you might wind up with the lower sound quality even after using ARC. In this case, if you want, you can connect an extra audio cable or two which may cause more trouble for you but will be worth it.
The Power of HDMI ARC
In the present scenario, many TVs dumb down and compress audio signals before passing them down to HDMI cables while others do support more channels. Dolby Atmos albeit uses a compressed codec like Dolby digital plus instead of Dolby True HD. Now that requires much bandwidth. But with ARC, you can send the original, full-resolution audio signal via HDMI cables. Which produces the best sound without any compromises.