Whether you just got a new UHD TV or are on the hunt for one, you must have come across the term “HDMI eARC” at some point.
To summarize, HDMI eARC is an upgraded version of the HDMI ARC. It produces better sound quality and faster processing speed than the older ARC version.
Now, you might be wondering:
“How do I know if my TV has HDMI eARC?”
Well, most TVs will have HDMI ports labeled according to their functions. If your TV supports eARC, you’ll see a label on your TV HDMI ports signifying so.
In today’s post, we’ll be answering some of the most common user FAQs about HDMI eARC. Keep reading to learn more.
What is HDMI eARC?
Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) is the newest version of the ARC protocol in HDMI. It allows users to enjoy a higher sound quality; it has a larger bandwidth and faster processing speeds.
Similar to ARC, the new eARC version will enable users to control multiple digital content devices with a single remote. You can lower or raise the volume using your TV remote instead of a separate remote if you have an external sound output, like a soundbar or speakers.
HDMI eARC vs. HDMI ARC: Which is better?
While both technologies technically do the same thing, several factors set them apart.
For more context, below is a summary chart comparing eARC’s and ARC’s functions and features:
|Function/Feature||HDMI eARC||HDMI ARC|
|Maximum Audio Bandwidth||~1 Mbits/second||~37 Mbits/second|
|Lip Sync Correction||Optional||Mandatory|
|Volume Controls||Yes (CEC)||Yes (CEC)|
|Simultaneous Power On/Off||Yes (CEC)||Yes (CEC)|
|High Bitrate (192kHz, 24 bit)||No||Yes|
|Cable Used||HDMI||HDMI w/ Ethernet|
The main difference between HDMI ARC and eARC is that the prior compresses audio signals before sending it through the HDMI connection. The compression lowers the audio resolution and, in turn, sound quality.
Meanwhile, eARC doesn’t do any of that. Instead, it sends the audio signal through the HDMI connection in its original format so that you can enjoy higher sound qualities on your devices.
So, which protocol is better: ARC or eARC?
Well, it’s easy to assume it’s the latter. After all, who doesn’t want a faster and stronger HDMI connection?
However, that again depends on your needs as a user.
If you don’t consume a lot of content in 4K UHD or HD formats, using eARC would be a complete waste of resources. HDMI ARC can read and process simpler digital audio/video formats.
On the other hand, if you require powerful enough technology to handle 4K, then eARC would be a better choice.
How Do I Know if My TV Has HDMI eARC?
The easiest way to check if your TV has HDMI eARC is by checking the labels written on the back. Manufacturers label HDMI ports according to certain specifications. An eARC-compatible port would be labeled “HDMI 1 (eARC)” or simply “eARC.”
Of course, this will vary between TV manufacturers.
If your TV model doesn’t have the labels, you can check its user manual to see what HDMI versions it carries. Or better yet, you can call the manufacturer’s customer support line to ask for help from an expert.
Another way to check if your TV has HDMI eARC is to check under Input Settings. We’ll talk about this later in the article.
Can I Connect Any Cable with HDMI eARC?
Unlike HDMI ARC, the most recent eARC requires specific cables for users to establish a connection between the source and output devices. Some cables simply don’t have the bandwidth to support the signals coming from HDMI eARC protocols.
To use HDMI eARC, you’ll need a high-speed HDMI cable with Ethernet support (e.g., HEAC or HEC). This ultra-high-speed HDMI cable from Oome is an excellent example of an eARC-compatible HDMI cable.
Is eARC Backward Compatible?
While many devices today feature HDMI eARC in their systems, some are still exclusively ARC. So, what happens if you’re using an ARC-capable soundbar with an eARC TV?
Since eARC is not backward compatible with ARC, you’ll likely get a lower sound quality than using both eARC-capable devices.
Luckily, several audio and video devices that already house HDMI 2.1 chipsets can be upgraded to HDMI eARC. However, you’ll have to verify your eligibility with your product’s manufacturer.
Some devices may have over-complicated systems that make it impossible to alter anything. It’s best to always confirm with an expert, to avoid damaging any of your equipment.
How Do I Activate HDMI eARC Settings?
Most TVs have HDMI eARC off by default. Others may have both HDMI eARC and ARC installed. So, you’ll have to switch between both features through the TV settings manually.
Let’s use the Sony X85J 65-inch TV in this example.
To activate HDMI eARC or ARC on the Sony X85J 65-inch TV, perform the following steps:
- Take your HDMI cable and make sure that each end is connected to an HDMI eARC-compatible port.
- Go to “Settings” on your receiver (audio output) and set the HDMI settings to “ON.”
- Press “Enter” to save the changes.
Once you’re done programming your receiver, check if your TV has the same settings on.
To do that:
- Press “Home” or “Menu” on the TV remote.
- Go to “Settings,” then select “HDMI.”
- Select “Control for HDMI,” and on the next page, toggle the options until you see the words “ON” come up on the screen.
The eARC features on your TV should now be activated!
HDMI eARC is truly an incredible innovation from the original ARC. It supports a broader array of audio formats. Plus, it produces a much higher sound quality than other versions of the protocol.
It does have its drawbacks, such as not being backward compatible with HDMI ARC. Thus, we suggest you consider whether you really need the eARC feature. Otherwise, you’d be wasting great resources for nothing.