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What is an HDMI Audio Return Channel?

Rebecca Spaulding
January 24, 2022
What is an HDMI Audio Return Channel

The Audio Return Channel (ARC) removes the need for an extra composite audio or optical cable by connecting your TV and audio system with a single High Speed HDMI cable.

Features of the ARC

When an ARC-compatible audio system is connected to an ARC-compatible TV, the following features become available:

  • Audio from the TV should be sent to the audio system.
  • View and listen to movies and other content transmitted to the TV from the audio system.
  • Control capabilities such as using a single remote to control many devices.

The acronym ARC stands for "Audio Return Channel," and it's been available on TVs, soundbars, and receivers since the HDMI 1.4 standard was launched. Over a single HDMI connection, this protocol allows two-way communication between devices. The HDMI ARC connector essentially allows you to utilize HDMI as both an input and an audio output.

HDMI is a connector that can send picture and audio from the source to the receiver and is found on practically all new TVs, Blu-ray players, and receivers. There are several HDMI standards and cables, however many HDMI-equipped devices also have an additional feature called HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC).

We're hearing this word more and more, but many people aren't aware that their TV or receiver has it, let alone what it means or how to use it. Not unexpected, given that manufacturers pay little attention to files other than the words "HDMI ARC support." Nonetheless, it's an intriguing feature that provides you additional alternatives with a single wire.

There are two methods to use the Audio Return Channel. To begin with, audio from the TV itself may be supplied to the receiver or home theater set through the built-in (digital) TV tuner, or even audio from applications utilized on a Smart TV platform, and this audio can then be sent over your speakers. Second, the cable may transmit audio from HDMI sources connected to the TV. You may stream audio from your TV to your receiver or home theater set, for example, if you have a digital TV decoder connected to your TV through HDMI. The television functions as a hub for audio transmission in this situation. The latter approach isn't used by all manufacturers, and it's also not well defined. Unfortunately, it's typically a case of trying and failing.

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