If you’re running cable to carry video signals in your residence, you’re almost certainly using HDMI cable. The HDMI cable has become ubiquitous in residential applications, connecting nearly every video device in your entertainment system.

Did you know that there are actually many different types of HDMI cable with differing capabilities? Most consumers don’t. That’s because most of the time, the cables work perfectly, and users don’t need to think about the technical specifications.

If your system involves any audio more complicated than the speakers inside the TV, you may have come across the terms HDMI ARC or HDMI eARC. What’s the difference, and what do they do?

HDMI ARC and HDMI eARC: What They Do

The ARC in both terms stands for Audio Return Channel. All HDMI cables carry both video and audio signals. That’s why you can watch a Blu-ray (with sound) over just a single cable. But often this isn’t quite enough. If you’re using an A/V receiver to distribute audio to a speaker system, you also need to send an audio signal from the TV back to the receiver.

Before ARC, you’d need a separate cable to do this. But HDMI cables with either ARC or eARC can send audio both directions—in other words, they have an audio return channel.

What’s the Difference between HDMI ARC and HDMI eARC?

ARC can handle stereo and 5.1 surround signals. eARC is newer and can do more, including technologies like Dolby TrueHD and Atmos. HDMI cables with the 2.1 specification or higher include eARC, while those following the 1.4 specification have ARC. Older cables have neither.

The Takeaway

So, what’s the point? Well, if you’re buying new cables, get those with the HDMI 2.1 specification so you’ll be prepared for any future expansions. And if your fancy new audio gear isn’t working, make sure your HDMI cables are following the needed specification.

Of course, if you don’t want to worry about any of this yourself: give us a call. We’ll happily take care of it for you!