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What you need to know about HDMI ARC and eARC

How to connect your TV to your receiver or sound bar

Want to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime Video through a new smart TV? Maybe some over-the-air TV broadcasts, too?

Planning to connect your TV to an A/V receiver or an HDMI-equipped sound bar?

Then you need to know about ARC and eARC. These special HDMI connections can simplify system operation and improve your TV sound.

What is ARC?

ARC (Audio Return Channel) was introduced in 2009. It enables a single HDMI cable to carry picture and sound from a receiver to a TV and an audio signal from the TV back to the receiver or sound bar. If both devices have ARC, you don’t need a separate audio cable to hear the TV sound through your receiver or sound bar.

Audio return channel via optical digital cable

Without ARC, you need both HDMI and optical digital audio connections between your TV and your sound bar.

Audio return via ARC on HDMI

With ARC, all you need is an HDMI connection between your TV and your sound bar.

One less cable might not sound like such a big deal, but it does solve a problem for people who want to wall-mount their TV and hide the cables behind the wall.

Type of cable needed HDMI HDMI with Ethernet
Surround sound formats Compressed 5.1 (standard Dolby Digital & DTS) Uncompressed 5.1 and 7.1 (Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD Master Audio), and immersive audio (Dolby Atmos & DTS:X)

What is eARC?

The new eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) promises three substantial improvements.

  • Increased bandwidth, which allows the TV to pass advanced, uncompressed surround sound formats (including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X) along to the receiver or sound bar.
  • More reliable HDMI “handshakes” between devices, which means easier, more dependable operation. You may be able to get away with using fewer remote controls.
  • The mandatory Lip Sync Correction protocol ensures that the picture and sound always match up.

Is eARC is a game-changer for system configuration?

With eARC, a TV can deliver uncompromised audio signals to an eARC-equipped receiver. That begs the question: Should I connect my cable box (and other video sources) to the TV or the receiver/sound bar?

Making video source connections to the TV

Using the TV as the A/V Switcher

Connecting your video sources to the TV can make system operation easier.

If you only have a few sources, it makes more sense to connect through your smart TV. The advantage here is being able to use a television as your central hub, which simplifies the operation of your system. You’ll select sources using the TV’s remote, which should make your life easier.

And since eARC is capable of passing uncompressed surround sound, you won’t lose audio quality for choosing this route.

Making video source connections to the receiver or sound bar

Using a sound bar speaker as the A/V switcher

When you connect your video sources to your sound bar or receiver, you only need one HDMI connection to the TV. That simplifies a wall mount TV installation.

Most of today’s smart TVs have no more than four HDMI inputs. If you have more than four video sources, connect them all through the receiver. Connecting some to the TV and some to the receiver is a recipe for confusion.

If you plan to hang your TV on the wall, you’ll probably want to connect through the receiver, so you’ll only have to run one cable to the TV.

Complex systems that include multi-zone video typically use the receiver as the hub for all the connections.

Setting up an ARC connection

Setting up an ARC connection is simple, and only requires an HDMI cable. Follow the following steps to ensure a proper ARC connection.

  1. Make sure both your television and A/V receiver or sound bar have ARC-enabled HDMI ports.
  2. Connect one end of the HDMI cable to the “ARC” labeled port on your television.
  3. Connect the other end to your ARC port on your sound bar or receiver.
  4. Activate ARC output on your TV. This is most likely in the settings menu under “audio”.

ARC TV sound menu

Some devices automatically switch to ARC mode when the connection is made, but you may have to do it manually in your TV settings.

Do I need a new HDMI cable?

Chances are you do not need a new HDMI cable. As long as yours is 4K and HDR compatible with Ethernet, it shouldn’t have any trouble transferring the data.

Questions about HDMI ARC and eARC

Need help choosing the right A/V equipment? Our advisors know the gear we carry inside and out. They can recommend products you based on your needs.

Purchased components you’re having trouble with? We provide free lifetime tech support with every order.

Contact us today.

  • John from ARLINGTON

    Posted on 1/19/2023

    Have Panasonic 420 player, Charter Spectrum Cable box, and BenQ V7050i Ultra Short Throw Projector. The V has Arc but.....only has 2 HDMI inputs. Can I simply send the 420 audio to a soundbar via the Audio out, and the video to the BenqQ via HDMI, then can hook the cable box to the BenQ via HDMI, and send the audio to the soundbar via optical? I want to take full advantage of the 420 audio options (Atmos n/a). I have no issue with having pcm from the cable box. From reading both the 420 manual and BenQ manual, I think this can be done. Am I missing something?

    Commenter image

    Colin M. from Crutchfield

    on 1/25/2023

    Hi John, sounds like you've got a few moving pieces in your system. Every purchase with us comes with Lifetime Technical support, which includes set up and installation help. Working with one of our Techs would be the best bet to make sure you've got everything in order.
  • Fred J from La Quinta, CA 92253

    Posted on 1/17/2023

    I have a circa 2015 Sony 75" flatscreen connected to a denon avr-x3700h. By enabling a feature on the TV, it IR blasts the IR signals it receives over the HDMI cable (using earc?) which seems to pass through to the HDMI cables connected to the receiver to devices. It's great that I can utilize the IR on the TV to communicate with my devices which are closeted. [only the earc hdmi cable is connected to the TV, everything else connected to the AVR]. I have a buddy who inherited my old Marantz sr6010 receiver and he has a 2021 Samsung flat screen. Can the Samsung/Marantz do for him what my Sony does for me, i.e., IR blast all the IR signals it receives to the HDMI ...

    Commenter image

    Colin M. from Crutchfield

    on 1/25/2023

    Hi Fred, there will be a few moving pieces there. I would recommend your friend give our Advisors a call to work out the specifics and make sure he has everything he needs. That way we can provide the best recommendation. :)
  • Andrew

    Posted on 11/4/2022

    I have a Sony A80J 55" tv, Klipsch Reference Cinema Dolby Atmos 5.1.4 Speakers, and a PS5. I am looking for a receiver for my setup. If I connect PS5 directly to the TV and then run the tv through the ARC on a receiver, do I lose any benefits? Should I buy a receiver with eARC or is ARC okay? Recommendations?

    Commenter image

    Colin M. from Crutchfield

    on 12/8/2022

    Hi Andrew, it all depends on what you're looking to pass. HDMI eARC has a higher bandwidth than ARC, so it can pass more information. For example, this extra bandwidth lets pass multichannel sound formats like Dolby Atmos. If you want to get the most of your PS5, you're probably better off with eARC that can support HDMI 2.1 if possible (and a 2.1 cable to go with it). I hope this helps!
  • David Haikin from Silverdale

    Posted on 8/22/2022

    I have ordered a Samsung QN75QN95B, which I will be using with an NAD t758 v3i receiver. The NAD supports ARC but not eARC. I assume I should use the NAD as the hub for the three input devices (cable, streaming device, and Blu-Ray player) to get more advanced audio. Does that mean I won't be able to hear the TV with the NAD turned off? I'd rather use the TV speakers to listen to non-surround programming.

  • Barry Nirenberg from Shrewsbury

    Posted on 8/18/2022

    Still not answered. If TV is ARC and new Samsung HW-Q910B has eARC, what will I be sacrificing specifically? Atmos?

    Commenter image

    Emily S. from Crutchfield

    on 8/19/2022

    Hi Barry! ARC doesn't have as much bandwidth as eARC, so if both devices don't support eARC, you won't be able to reap the benefits of uncompressed audio formats. But that doesn't necessarily mean you can't enjoy Atmos. Atmos can actually be passed via the Dolby Digital Plus codec. If your TV is capable of sending Dolby Digital Plus, you should be set. I hope that helps. If you have any more questions, feel free to give us a call.
  • Tom from Cudahy

    Posted on 5/3/2022

    My tv and sound bar both feature eARC. I have a terrible problem with lip sync. The amount out of sync varies at different times watching cable. I have adjusted the audio delay,but it still is inconsistent. Source is from a cable box. Now the mystery. I switch to arc and audio seems to be in sync. Audio from streaming is in sync with eARc. Cables are all up to date. 2 different cable boxes have been tried. Tv is Samsung/sound bar is Vizio.

    Commenter image

    Emily S. from Crutchfield

    on 5/13/2022

    That sounds frustrating, Tom. It's hard to troubleshoot over comment replies. Fortunately, every Crutchfield purchase comes with lifetime tech support. If you are still having trouble, please get in touch.

  • Chris from Silver Spring

    Posted on 12/6/2021

    If I hook up my Xbox series X to a tv with eArc but my receiver only has Arc will get the full lossless 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos or will it be something less? Do both tv and receiver need to be eArc for that to work?

    Commenter image

    Emily S. from Crutchfield

    on 12/8/2021

    Hi Chris! I'm afraid every link in the chain needs to have eARC in order to deliver an uncompressed signal.
  • Jan Selvig from Webster, MN

    Posted on 11/15/2021

    When setting up a new TV and receiver, both with eARC, how should they now be cabled? My old system has a Yamaha receiver using 4 HDMI input devices (Dish Network, Blue Ray, Roku, PC) with a single HDMI cable going from the receiver to the TV. Now eARC comes along. It appears to me that eARC (and its predecessor ARC) are features added to allow content streamed directly to the TV (with no Roku involvement) to be sent from the TV to the eARC-capable receiver to play higher quality audio. Since the receiver only has one HDMI output, and it's eARC capable, what keeps the receiver from getting confused between sound input from the TV and all those HDMI devices that are still connected to the receiver? Is eARC smart enough to know when to direct TV audio to the receiver and when not to?

    Commenter image

    Emily S. from Crutchfield

    on 11/17/2021

    That's a great question, Jan! The short answer is: yes, it's smart enough. Here's the long version. You've got all your sources connected to the HDMI inputs on your receiver. You select the input there depending on what you watch (Blu-ray, Dish, etc.). The ARC/eARC port on the receiver acts as an output to send all that video information to your TV using its ARC/eARC port. In turn, when you are using your TV's built-in apps, that same connection goes the other way. The receiver's ARC/eARC is then acting as an input for the audio information from the TV. Your receiver will not be confused as long as the correct source is selected (TV, in this case). I hope that helped! Thanks for the question, Jan.
  • Deanna Nelsen from Macon,GA

    Posted on 10/31/2021

    I am considering buying a new Samsung TV with eARC. I currently run all my audio video through aDenon AVR-1902 with ARC. Can I use the eARC connection to get audio directly from TV to receiver while watching streaming content? I would still keep cable box and DVR connected through the receiver but can use the smart TV to stream Netflix and Amazon Prime.

    Commenter image

    Emily S. from Crutchfield

    on 11/4/2021

    You sure can, Deanna! The only notable thing is that the bandwidth capabilities would be limited to ARC (so it can't carry lossless audio formats like an eARC-to-eARC connection could).
  • Chris from Welch, MN

    Posted on 10/7/2021

    If my soundbar is "eARC" capable, but display is only "ARC", would the system behave as if BOTH components simply had "ARC" HDMI input/output?

    Commenter image

    Emily S. from Crutchfield

    on 10/11/2021

    Hi Chris! Yes, you are exactly right. Your system will be limited by the lower bandwidth ARC connection.
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