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Why Isn’t my HDMI ARC Working?


Emerging technologies have made the TV set more and more complex than its predecessors. One of the technologies incorporated into TV in recent years is the Audio Return Channel (ARC).

Audio Return Channel technology allows you to connect your TV and the audio system using one high speed cable. This allows you to minimize the number of wires needed for your TV set up. ARC works by allowing audio signals to travel to and from the speakers at once.

The HDMI ARC technology as it stands now is superior to other technologies like digital optical audio. This is because it can transmit various audio formats, including compressed and uncompressed audio. 

However, if the ARC technology is as good as it is then why does it not work on your TV? In this article we will be looking at what causes the ARC not to work and also show you how to fix the problem.

Why isn’t my HDMI ARC working?

There are many  reasons why you might be experiencing problems with your HDMI ARC. Some of them are due to your TV’s firmware, while some are major software tweaks that are needed. Let us look at some of the reasons your HDMI ARC is not working.

HDMI ARC Cable plugging into TV
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Incompatibility – The HDMI ARC technology was released in 2009. This means that TVs produced in 2008 and older models do not support HDMI ARC. If your TV ARC is not working it is maybe because your TV model was made before 2009. HDMI ARC uses 5.1 audio while older model TVs support 2.0 audio.

Disabled Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) – If your CEC settings are turned off then your ARC will not be working. This is because the CEC controls the ARC aspect that allows for remote control of the devices.

Disruptions by third-party devices – Third-party apps may cause the HDMI of the TV and the audio system to stop working. This will cause you to have problems with HDMI ARC connection.

Disabled control for HDMI ARC – When HDMI controls are turned off from either device, this can hinder you from getting the full audio return channel control. This can be the main reason why your TV arc is not working.

Disabled audio input mode – ARC technology is all about sound control. If your audio input mode is turned off, your TV cannot give you the desired ARC sound properties. It is also impossible for your TV to support ARC if you have turned off the audio input mode.

Outdated TV software – TVs nowadays release software updates to support the latest technologies. If your TV is supposed to support HDMI ARC according to the latest software update by the manufacturer, that might be the reason why your TV does not support HDMI ARC. Most TVs also ship with old software versions that should be updated by the consumers for them to have a better experience.

Problem with Pulse-Code Modulation (PCM) or Bitstream settings – PCM and Bitstream settings might lead to a lack of audio if they are not set right. Lack of proper audio setting might make you not receive sound through your HDMI ARC.

High Speed HDMI 2.0 Cable HDMI Cord-Audio Return(ARC)
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Loose cable connections or worn out HDMI cord – If your ARC audio suddenly stops working there might be a problem with your connection. Your connection might become loose over time or your HDMI cord might be worn out and that might contribute towards your ARC audio system not working.

Dysfunctional HDMI ARC port – HDMI ports are prone to wear and tear and after sometime your HDMI port wiring might come off the motherboard. Some TVs might also come with broken HDMI ports from the dealer due to logistic technicalities. If the HDMI ARC port is broken it is a no brainer that you will not get to use the HDMI ARC properties.

How do I get my HDMI ARC to work?

In this section we will show you how you can have your HDMI ARC to work once more.

The following are some of the ways in which you can get your HDMI ARC to work once again.

Troubleshooting

connect HDMI cable to HDMI port on TV

Troubleshooting is used for general software malfunctioning. It is also useful whenever you are having problems with the HDMI ARC. These are the steps you should take while troubleshooting your TV.

  1. Totally disconnect and then reconnect the HDMI cable to the TV and the audio system.
  2. On the TV, go to the speaker settings and set it to the audio system. This is not a guarantee that you will automatically get sound in your audio device.
  3. On your audio system remote control switch the input to TV.
  4. Now switch off both the TV and the audio system.
  5. Wait for some time and then turn on the TV first. After that, turn on the audio system.
  6. If there is no sound coming from the sound system, go to the settings and switch the Digital Audio Output to PCM.

Note that different TV brands have different ways of troubleshooting. You can look at ways to troubleshoot your TV from the brand’s website.

Turn HDMI Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) On

8K High Speed HDMI Cable
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The CEC setting is complicated because it has different names across every brand. These are how its name appears across brands, Panasonic – VIERA Link or EZ-Sync, Sony – Bravia Sync, Samsung – Anynet+, LG – Simplink, and Sky Q – HDMI control.

To find it go to the settings and look for HDMI options. You can also look at your manufacturer’s website to see how to access it.

If it is disabled, enable it to get access to HDMI ARC.

Set the Audio Output to PCM

  1. Open your TV’s Settings then go to Sound or Display & Sound in some brands.
  2. Select Audio out and then Digital Audio Out. In the Digital Audio Out, set it to PCM.

Wire Connection and Repair

hand holding HDMI cables and different ports on TV

If any problem arises with the HDMI ARC, the first thing you should look at is checking the cable connection. Check if the cable is loose both from the TV and the audio system. If the cables are loose, reconnect them firmly to fix this issue.

In case the HDMI port is broken or it has any problems you can take your TV to the repair shop or use your warranty card to take it back to the manufacturer for repair.

Clear Cache and Rest your TV

To clear your TV’s cache and reset your TV follow the following steps.

  1. Open your TV settings and go to apps.
  2. In the apps open see all apps and then show system apps. This is for TVs with Android 9.
  3. In the system apps choose clear cache and clear data then click ok.
  4. Now restart your TV.

How do I know if my HDMI ARC is working?

8K HDMI Cable 2.1
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Knowing whether your TV supports HDMI ARC is very important since it will determine the accessories you will be buying. It will also influence your audio choices. There are two major ways of knowing if your HDMI ARC is working and they are listed below.

  1. Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) is the best way to know if your HDMI ARC works. It will give you the ability to control your audio system using your TV’s remote. This will be achieved if CEC is enabled. 
  2. Check your HDMI port label. If the HDMI is labeled ARC and your audio device is functioning, then your HDMI ARC is working. This can also be done by looking at the manufacturer’s manual to see if your TV supports HDMI ARC.

Does HDMI ARC always work?

Since the ARC technology is relatively new, manufacturers have implemented it differently over the past years. For this reason the HDMI ARC does not always work as expected.

People watching football match on TV connected to a laptop by 4K HDMI Cable
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Manufacturers can choose which devices and sound formats to support over the HDMI ARC port. Some manufacturers may only choose to implement simple stereo sounds to use the ARC. This will mean if you are using higher sound formats like Dolby Atmos, you will not have HDMI ARC support.

To get the best of your HDMI ARC you should always look at the device ARC specifications. However, you should always note that the manual does not always carry all the ARC specifications. This leaves consumers still gambling with HDMI ARC support.

Conclusion

HDMI ARC is one of the best audio technologies brought to smart TV. For now, there are a lot of uncertainties about the technology. Since it is still a young technology we hope that it grows to a state where it supports a range of sound formats.

There are manufacturers that have also made good use of this technology. For example, Sony makes it seamless controlling its sound devices and consoles using the HDMI ARC.


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