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Can an HDMI Cable Cause Audio Lag?


Audio lag issues can be particularly frustrating, especially when you’re all set to test your new soundbar with your TV. This problem isn’t easy to catch since there can be an audio delay of a few nanoseconds. Consequently, this makes for an annoying viewing experience when you’re immersed in a cinematic masterpiece. 

But the question is: what’s causing this problem? More importantly, can HDMI cause video lag? Read on as we answer this question. 

Can an HDMI Cable Cause Audio Lag?

Technically, no.

All audio and video synchronization problems are sourced from a single spot. Even though sound systems and TVs have evolved greatly, these problems have seemed to stand the test of time. The audio and video we watch are produced by the source we select from the TV settings (HDMI 1, HDMI2, USB, or Screencasting). 

hand holding HDMI cables and different ports on TV

Regardless of the type of content you consume, everything has two parts: audio and video. Be it a video game on a mobile phone or a movie you’re watching on Netflix, both of these parts should arrive at the same time. So whenever the TV displays a picture, the soundbar has to play the corresponding audio for that picture at that exact moment. When this happens in sync, there is no audio lag. 

However, when audio lags do happen, it can be because there are too many interconnected devices. For instance, let’s suppose you’ve connected your TV to a laptop via an HDMI cable to watch a movie, and your soundbar is connected through an HDMI as well. In this case, the video display data only has to travel from the laptop to the TV. 

But the data for the audio will travel from the laptop to the TV and then to the audio output. Since it has to travel a longer distance, there can be a delay. Moreover, video processing speed also plays a crucial role. Advanced video formats like UHD or 4K take a longer time to be processed compared to audio formats. In this case, the video will lag, not the audio. 

All in all, the problem at hand is more about processing speeds and the number of connected devices rather than an HDMI cable. 

How Do I Fix HDMI Audio Delay?

If you’re noticing an audio lag, try changing channels. If you face this problem on every channel, then there’s a problem with your setup. However, if it’s only happening on a single channel, it may have broadcasting issues. Here are some ways you can get rid of an audio lag. 

1. Changing How the Source Is Connected

One of the most effective solutions, in this case, is to change how you’ve connected the soundbar and your media player to the TV. Try this: connect your media player to your soundbar, and then pass the video through your audio output to the TV via HDMI. 

This way of connecting the secondary devices around your TV will eliminate all lags due to audio processing. This is because your audio system will only send the video to you once it is done processing the audio. However, this can also create video lag, but you can easily get rid of this by using the lip-sync option on your soundbar (you’ll find it in the settings).

The one big downside to this solution is that it’s difficult to find a soundbar with many input options. An affordable one is only going to have one HDMI port. So if you have a gaming console, a media player, and a Blu-ray player, you won’t be able to plug all of these devices into the soundbar.

Bonus tip: Consider getting a soundbar that allows lip sync in both directions.

2. Update Your TV’s Firmware

update firmware word on wood blocks

There’s a slim chance that your TV’s software is causing the problem. This can be because your TV is running on outdated software, and it’s not syncing well with your audio settings. To get rid of this problem, go to the manufacturer’s website through the built-in browser on your TV and download the latest operating system for your TV. 

3. Your AV Should Not Receive Audio

Sony STR-DH790 7.2-ch Surround Sound Home Theater AV Receiver
Click image for more info

An audio lag can also pop up if you use a home theatre system with an AV receiver. One of the reasons why this happens is because the receiver processes the video on its own. This is a common occurrence because only one component of your setup should be processing audio. In this setup, however, the TV and the receiver both do. 

To stop this from happening, open your receiver’s settings. You’re going to see an option that lets you “Turn off video processing.” If a picture’s settings are set on auto, turn them off or to “manual.” Moreover, some high-quality receivers in the market also have a delay feature that can combat this issue. That said, different sources can have varying delays. 

Conclusion

Things can be complicated easily when you’re using multiple devices with your TV. An audio lag can be particularly stressful since it doesn’t make itself apparent easily until the viewer decides to dig deep into the problem. 

In all cases, the audio delay does not happen because of your HDMI cable. It’s usually secondary issues like the ones we’ve listed. Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of fixing audio delays on your TV. However, if the issues persist, consider calling a technician and getting your TV checked. There may be a bigger problem causing synchronization issues. 

FAQ

Does HDMI ARC cause an audio delay?

No. 

While there can be an audio delay in this case too, it’s not HDMI ARC causing the problem. You’re facing this problem because your TV is simply taking longer to process the audio. To fix the problem, you can try out the different solutions we’ve listed above. However, if none of these issues works, consider contacting the TV’s manufacturer and explaining in detail the issue you’re facing.


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