Is HDMI eARC Backwards Compatible With HDMI ARC?

The HDMI cable is plug to the HDMI out eARC port behind the LG soundbar

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What To Know

  • HDMI eARC is not backward compatible with HDMI ARC, meaning you won’t get the full high bitrate audio benefits of eARC when using it with ARC-only devices.
  • To utilize HDMI eARC, devices must support HDMI 2.1 or higher, and you’ll need an ultra-high-speed HDMI cable.
  • Verify eARC support by checking device specifications for HDMI 2.1 compatibility or confirm with manufacturers regarding firmware updates of eARC functionality.

Wondering about connecting eARC and ARC devices together? Will they be compatible?

Our article dives into the nitty-gritty of whether your existing ARC setup can handle the advanced audio of eARC, alleviating the need to sift through the confusing technical jargon.

Is HDMI eARC Backward Compatible with HDMI ARC?

The short answer here is no. HDMI eARC is not backward compatible with HDMI ARC. While you will still be able to get some audio if you use your HDMI eARC in an ARC-only HDMI socket, you won’t experience the high bitrate audio that eARC intends to provide. 

You can, however, upgrade your soundbar or AV receiver to support HDMI eARC. But this will heavily depend on their manufacturer and the hardware used to make them.

“But eARC has ARC fallback. Doesn’t that make it backward compatible?”

No, it does not. When you connect an HDMI eARC cord to an eARC-compatible device and connect the other end of your cord to an ARC-only device, these will fall back to broadcasting an HDMI ARC signal instead of an eARC signal. 

What Equipment Will I Need to Use eARC?

If you plan to use an HDMI eARC to connect your TV to your AV/soundbar, you must ensure that these devices have HDMI 2.1 hardware or higher. 

You will also need an ultra-high-speed HDMI 2.1 (or higher) cable to connect your devices.

Don’t worry; ultra-high-speed HDMI 2.1 cables have been on the market for a while. So you won’t have a hard time finding them online or in your local electronics shop. 

How Do I Know if My TV Supports HDMI eARC?

Finding out if your TV supports HDMI eARC supports can be tricky. HDMI eARC is not as commonly used as HDMI ARC because it’s the newest edition in the market, only introduced in mid-2019.

But don’t sweat it; most companies have started to catch up. Like with many technological advancements, most electronics will be able to support eARC in no time. 

To know whether your TV or AV/soundbar supports HDMI eARC, simply check your device if it supports HDMI 2.1. If it does, then it can most likely handle eARC.

HDMI ARC - eARC Port on a Samsung TV

Some devices can support some of eARC’s functionality despite only having the earlier HDMI standards (HDMI ARC). However, this will only be possible if the manufacturers release firmware that can support eARC.

So make sure to ask your manufacturer if your TV has added support. 

Do All HDMI Cables Support HDMI eARC?

No, unfortunately, not all HDMI cables have the bandwidth needed to carry eARC’s extra audio channels.

But you’re in luck! Many “ultra high-speed” cables can handle the demons of eARC.

Another sign that an HDMI cable is eARC-compatible is if it can carry at least 48Gbps. 

a hand holding an hdmi cable

These cables don’t have to cost an arm or a leg. There are many great deals on Amazon that you can check out!

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