What Does HDMI ARC Mean?

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Updated September 30, 2022

If you’re looking for a premium speaker, you may wonder what ARC does on a TV. Learning about HDMI-ARC connections ensures you get the best sound quality from an advanced soundbar or HDMI TV. The HDMI-ARC port simplifies your entertainment center by eliminating your setup’s composite audio or optical cables. So, if you want to know what HDMI ARC means, read this guide.


  • HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) allows users to send audio from the TV to the sound system with a single HDMI connection.
  • Users can control their TV and ARC-supporting soundbars or AV equipment with a single remote control.
  • HDMI 2.1 introduced eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) so users can enjoy uncompressed audio sources like Dolby Atmos thanks to the higher bitrate.

Learning how to make your sound louder often involves changing your AV receiver and revising your cable management. Using an ARC-capable HDMI input is an integral part of how to make all speakers work on surround sound. Additionally, you can learn how to control a soundbar with a TV remote control once your AV equipment utilizes an ARC HDMI connection.

Insider Tip

You shouldn’t invest in a new ultra-high-speed HDMI cable for ARC or eARC ports if your current HDMI cable is newer than four years old.

Consider investigating HDMI vs. Bluetooth for a soundbar if you want access to high-quality audio formats like Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos. Unless you use HDMI 2.1, the results might surprise you.

What Does HDMI-ARC Do?

Introduced alongside the HDMI 1.4 standard, ARC (Audio Returned Channel) allows for two-way communication between your connected sound system and TV with a single HDMI cable. An ARC-compatible audio system only needs an HDMI cable, and you no longer need additional audio connections like components, composite, or optical audio cables.

In addition to simplifying your cable management, you can control your entire entertainment setup with a single remote control.

HDMI-ARC vs. eARC Connection

As the HDMI 2.1 standard hit the market in 2018, an enhanced audio return channel (eARC) launched alongside it.


If your audio device predates HDMI 1.4, it likely will not work with ARC or eARC devices.

Enhanced audio return channel (eARC) launched alongside HDMI 2.1, an upgrade from the HDMI 1.4 standard. HDMI 2.1 supports higher bitrates than HDMI 1.4 for higher resolutions, framerates, and automatic modes for video game consoles.

ARC’s lower-quality audio capabilities prevent users from accessing modern audio technology like Dolby Atmos and other uncompressed audio signals. Thanks to eARC, users can enjoy full-resolution channels of audio from current Blu-ray players and game consoles.

STAT: A 2019 Pew Research Center survey showed that 19% of 65+ Americans use a smart speaker at home. (source)

What Does HDMI ARC Mean FAQs

Is ARC-delivered sound better than an optical connection?

You should notice better audio quality with HDMI-ARC over optical audio cables. Additionally, users enjoy HDMI-ARC over optical audio because they can control their TV and dedicated receiver or soundbar with a single remote control.

Who needs HDMI ARC?

Experts recommend an HDMI-ARC connection for users wanting a simplified media setup. That said, if you do not use an external soundbar, you can use any HDMI port on your television.

Is HDMI ARC better than regular HDMI?

Unless you're concerned about surround sound systems or connected soundbars, it doesn't matter which of your HDMI ports you use. HDMI-ARC connections can accept a video signal and transmit audio simultaneously.
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