What is the difference between HDMI ARC and eARC?

With the advent of the HDMI standard, the transmission of high-definition signals in the home environment became possible. Over time, this standard has been improved with new versions. Today, it’s possible to transmit up to 10K quality signals with uncompressed sound. One of the most interesting features of the HDMI connection is its ability to transmit high quality audio, but this requires the ARC or eARC protocol. But what is the difference between HDMI ARC and eARC? In this article, we will give you all the information you need.

Table of contents – What is the difference between HDMI ARC and eARC?

HDMI ARC

Audio Return Channel, or ARC, is a feature first introduced in the 1.4 specification of the HDMI standard. Its main purpose is to eliminate the need for additional cables to transmit audio from a TV to other compatible devices such as soundbars or AV receivers.

The ARC channel allows both video and audio from other connected devices to be sent to the TV without the need for separate cables. This greatly simplifies installation and reduces clutter behind the equipment.

Limitations of HDMI ARC

  • Supports advanced surround sound formats such as Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, but with compression.
  • It has limitations in terms of bandwidth and quality when dealing with 4K UHD HDR sources.
  • There may be restrictions on the maximum number of channels available to transmit over the ARC connection.

HDMI eARC

The Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) is the latest version of this technology and is included in the HDMI 2.1 standard. It is designed to address the limitations of the original ARC and provide a more advanced audio experience.

eARC offers much higher bandwidth than its predecessor, allowing it to carry uncompressed surround sound formats such as Dolby Atmos using the Dolby True HD codec. This results in improved sound quality and a more immersive experience for viewers.

Most current televisions already include an eARC HDMI port to take advantage of this connection. Always check the label next to each jack to determine the compatible port.

HDMI eARC connection on TV sets
HDMI eARC connection on TV sets

Additional benefits of HDMI eARC

  • Full support for 4K UHD HDR resolution and high frame rates. Especially useful for next-generation consoles like PS5 and Xbox Series X.
  • Enhanced capability for transmission of multiple channels of lossless, uncompressed audio.
  • An additional option called “Auto Mode” that allows the connected devices to communicate with each other to automatically optimize the optimal settings for both the TV and the sound system.

Conclusions HDMI ARC vs eARC

HDMI ARC and eARC are useful for connecting devices in your home entertainment system. But if you want a better sound experience or to take full advantage of your 4K UHD HDR TV, HDMI eARC is the better choice.

If you are happy with the basic connection between your TV and other key devices, then using HDMI ARC may be sufficient. In short, your own needs and preferences will determine which of these technologies is best for you.

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