What is the function of HDMI ARC

What HDMI can do: ARC and CEC briefly explained

The High definition multimedia interface - better known under the abbreviation HDMI - has become an indispensable part of the home cinema world. The introduction in 2003 was not only great for movie buffs. Because HDMI makes the domestic cabling of the playback devices easier and offers better picture and sound quality. In addition, HDMI has some additional functions that are hidden behind the names HDMI ARC and HDMI CEC.

HDMI ARC - one less cable

Behind the abbreviation ARC is the Audio return channel, the "audio return channel". ARC has been supported by almost every television since HDMI version 1.4. It makes connecting a home theater system to the television even easier. Thanks to HDMI ARC, a device can both receive audio signals from a player and send them back via the same cable.

With HDMI ARC, the receiver can be controlled, to which the sound system and a Blu-ray player can be connected. As the following graphic shows, the television receives picture and sound via antenna or cable and transmits the signals via HDMI to the AV receiver or amplifier. It sends the audio signals to the loudspeakers. Thanks to HDMI ARC, the signal transmission also works from the Blu-Ray player via the receiver to the speakers and the television.

Another advantage: The signal is now completely free of interference - in contrast to the susceptibility of video or audio signals in analog transmission.

Note: Depending on the length of the cable, the signal quality may be limited. As a rule of thumb, it remains unaffected with a cable length of up to 5 meters and you only have to accept small compromises with up to 20 meters. But from a length of around 20 meters, the transmission via HDMI weakens, sometimes even considerably - the picture and sound can be reproduced significantly worse or the transmission can fail completely. A remedy for lengths of up to 35 meters is an HDMI amplifier, also known as a repeater, which you simply plug between two HDMI cables.

eARC - So that you can enjoy Dolby Atmos and Co.

Since the jump to HDMI 2.1, ARC has been further developed to eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) with extended options. That makes one thing clear higher bandwidth and speed possible when transferring data. Audio and image quality also benefit from eARC, since almost nothing needs to be compressed. This is interesting, among other things, if you Dolby Atmos or DTS: X uses and the high quality sound should really reach the speakers.

Important to know: You can use the functions of HDMI-ARC with any HDMI cable. However, modern cables are required for HDMI eARC. High-speed or ultra-high-speed HDMI cables are usually eARC-capable. In addition, the devices you are connecting must both support eARC or HDMI 2.1. Sometimes HDMI 2.0 is sufficient if the manufacturer of your television, for example, has made the device ready for eARC via a firmware update.

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HDMI CEC - Farewell to remote control chaos

So the advertising slogan of any electronics manufacturer could be on the subject HDMI CEC ring. Because at CEC - advertised Consumer Electronics Control - it is about the cross-device control of all entertainment electronics that one encounters in a modern living room. Ideally, you can use all devices, e.g. B. connect televisions, TV receivers, AV receivers, Blu-ray players, game consoles and of course the sound system via HDMI and then control them in a network using CEC. Whether CEC works does not always depend on the HDMI cable, but on the device itself. The CEC standard has existed since the introduction of HDMI, but was by no means built into all devices straight away.

Many names, one system

Manufacturers have not only been hesitant to implement CEC, but have confused consumers with different names - although CEC was originally intended as a cross-manufacturer connection. If you search for “CEC” in the product description, you will often not find the name. For example, at Philips the standard is called EasyLink, Simplelink at LG, Anynet + at Samsung and BRAVIA Sync at Sony. At Teufel, this function is simply called CEC or ARC / CEC. Ultimately, however, it is the same system.

This is how CEC works

In a nutshell, cross-device remote control works as follows: Provided that all devices in the home theater support CEC, when a single device is started, all connected devices switch on at the same time and automatically find the matching channel. So if you switch on the Blu-ray player, the television also switches on and searches for the right channel for the player itself. Ideally is only one remote control required.

What sounds great in theory doesn't always work perfectly in practice. Unfortunately, the use of CEC can cause problems because although it is a manufacturer-independent interface, companies do not always comply with the specifications 100%. In the end, home cinema fans should try out a CEC connection on their own system and then decide which configuration makes sense. In any case, you can deactivate CEC if you prefer to control all devices individually.

Connect everything via HDMI: our AV receivers

  • Marantz NR1510: The space-saving Marantz NR1510 receiver not only impresses with its small size, but also with its inner values: 85 watts output power per channel, Dolby Vision, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2 and of course support for HDMI eARC. The receiver is available in the Teufel webshop in the Consono 35 AVR “5.1-Set”.
  • Denon AVR-X1600H DAB: With 145 watts per channel, this full-blown receiver offers plenty of power even for large home theater systems such as the Ultima 40 Surround AVR for Dolby Atmos "5.1.2-Set". In addition to film enjoyment, it also allows you to conveniently stream music and much more.

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Conclusion: HDMI ARC and HDMI CEC for more entertainment

  • ARC and CEC are the most important additional functions of an HDMI connection.
  • ARC has become the standard on modern televisions and usually works fine.
  • The CEC connection, on the other hand, is only partially recommended, as everything does not always work smoothly.
  • Trying is better than studying: if all connected devices support CEC, just test it and form your own judgment.