The vast majority of audiovisual devices have an HDMI connector. It is a standard connection for image and sound that is used in consoles, players, cameras, computers, televisions, etc. The usual thing is to have an HDMI cable among our technological accessories, since it is compatible with many electronic products. Now, there are different types of HDMI and it is possible that you are using them correctly.
Sound devices and projectors also use this standard. If you want to enjoy a better sound experience, it is best to use an HDMI cable to route the sound from your Smart TV to the sound device. In these cases it is best to use ARC (Audio Return Channel), a special function that certified high-speed HDMI cables have and that are capable of sending the sound back to the transmitter.
What is HDMI ARC?
Many people hesitate when connecting the cables of a console or an audio equipment to their television, can we plug an HDMI device into any port or is there one more suitable than another? The answer is clear and is that not all HDMI connectors are the same. Although they all have the function of transmitting audio and video, in our Smart TV we will find one different from the others. It is usually labeled so that we can differentiate it from the rest. It is the HDMI ARC connector that has quite interesting characteristics and that is normally found in all modern televisions such as Smart TVs.
HDMI ARC is designed to reduce the number of cables between our television and a home theater system or sound bar. Through an HDMI ARC connector, the audio signal is able to travel in both directions (to and from the speakers), which means an improvement in sound quality and signal latency. That is, you don’t need a second optical audio cable connected to an HDMI ARC-compliant speaker.
Keep in mind that the HDMI ARC functionality is only available through a specific port on our Smart TV and the external speakers that we want to use must be compatible. Another important point to improve sound quality is that the HDMI cable that we use has to be an HDMI 1.4 cable or higher. In recent years, televisions with HDMI eARC ports have also started to go on sale, an improved version that allows you to enjoy a movie in Dolby Atmos on the player of our Smart TV or on a platform like Netflix together with HDMI 2.1.
Supported audio formats
The ARC function comes from English (Audio Return Chanel). Until its launch, if we wanted to connect a sound equipment such as an audio bar, an amplifier or a 5.1 set to watch Blue ray movies on our TV, we needed an HDMI cable to send the video signal to the TV and then one more cable. Typically a TOSLINK digital audio cable from the TV to the stereo to hear everything through the speakers. With HDMI ARC we no longer have this need and we can connect the soundbar, console or 5.1 receiver to the TV directly. Of course, you have to take into account the compatible audio formats.
The formats supported by HDMI ARC are as follows:
- PCM (2 channels)
- Dolby Digital (up to 5.1ch)
- DTS Digital Surround (up to 5.1ch)
Connecting an HDMI cable to the TV is a fairly straightforward task. Simply connect the HDMI IN (ARC) cable to the TV, connect the HDMI OUT (TV-ARC) port to the external speaker that we want to connect and turn on the speakers that are connected to the TV. Following these steps the sound of the TV will be reproduced through the external speakers. If it doesn’t work, you may have to activate ARC technology on your Smart TV by going into the TV’s audio options.