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Diving into ARC vs eARC

Updated: Mar 21, 2020

- Geek Talk

As we’ve been diving deeper ourselves into adding ARC into our SoundWedge retail display system, we’ve been getting a-lot of requests for ARC or eARC compatibility for retail displays. The quick answer is, yes our SoundWedge supports ARC HDMI connectivity. eARC is next.


So we thought we’d write an article about the differences.


Another great reason for going ARC or eARC, is your TV remote now can directly control the sound pushed directly to your soundbar. This saves on switching between multiple remotes to control your TV and AV receiver/speakers. One device does it all. With the likes of Netflix and other apps built directly into your TV, having one remote do it all makes more sense when switching between your gaming console, set-top box, and TV, and controlling sound with the same remote. Your television now is the central hub for your home entertainment setup.


Short background… HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) has been the industry “go-to” since 2004 in connecting televisions, projectors and other AV devices. HDMI ARC (another fun acronym for Audio-Return-Channel) is basically a smart protocol that resides in the HDMI world to help connect multiple devices in an easier way. Simply put, helps your devices talk to each smoothly and can reduce the number of cables used. This becomes more relevant today with smart TVs, inbuilt apps and the latest soundbars. HDMI has matured over the years to support new devices featuring 4K, 8K, 3D, HDR and others to name a few. ARC and eARC are the new kids in HDMI’s arsenal of connectivity.


So how does it work? Let's imagine you have a smart television, PS4, and soundbar all plugged into the TV via a series of cables. Previously its usually a mix of HDMI’s of stuff going in, and optical or RCA cables going out to your speakers, AV receiver or soundbar. Sure it works but there’s some positives for switching to HDMI ARC or eARC, which you may not realise is already in your TV.


HDMI ARC or eARC essentially allows you to send audio ‘downstream’ from the HDMI ARC socket on your TV to the HDMI ARC socket on your soundbar. With soundbars becoming more available in the marketplace, they’re a great affordable option for easy to setup home theatres. Making everything HDMI makes sense in your setup as smart TV makers are offering less outputs in their new TV sets, so using HDMI may be the only choice. Especially as HDMI 2.1 is coming and looks to be the new standard to handle all that amazing high video resolutions being pushed by TV makers.


Another great reason for going ARC or eARC, is your TV remote now can directly control the sound pushed directly to your soundbar. This saves on switching between multiple remotes to control your TV and AV receiver/speakers. One device does it all. With the likes of Netflix and other apps built directly into your TV, having one remote do it all makes more sense when switching between your gaming console, set-top box, and TV, and controlling sound with the same remote. Your television now is the central hub for your home entertainment setup.


The skinny on ARC vs eARC. ARC was a feature for HDMI 2.0b that lets audio move back and forth over an HDMI cable between your TV and a soundbar or AV receiver. Unfortunately the limited bandwidth of HDMI 2.0b means the audio sound is often compressed and despite those amazing graphics you are seeing, the audio just got reduced to stereo. Ouch. With eARC you can now get uncompressed, full resolution audio over HDMI 2.1 connections. Especially suitable for Dolby Atmos contents, that taps into using the super high performing Dolby True HD high resolution audio signal.



This dramatically simplifies your home setup as you can connect everything to your TV and then a run a single HDMI cable to your soundbar or AV receiver without losing sound integrity. Back to my earlier point, less cables, less mess.


In a retail display setup, where clean cabling is a must and audio optimisation is paramount, by using our SoundWedge with ARC chip, you can seamlessly demonstrate a TV to soundbar setup outputting full 7.1 surround sound. Perfect for a retail setup demonstrating the surround effects of a soundbar.


#audiovideo #retaildisplay #retailtechnology #soundwedge #dolbyatmos #dolby

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