Are all HDMI Cables ARC: How It Differs From Standard cables


Are all HDMI cables ARC? You may ask this question after looking at the back of your TV and seeing a different “HDMI ARC” label. In truth, TVs or projectors with HDMI ARC mean they have the ARC function.

So, can you use regular HDMI cables in place of arc cables? Let’s find out! This article will explore HDMI ARC and why it differs from standard versions.

Are you ready? Let’s go.

Table of Contents

What is HDMI ARC?

A man holding an HDMI cable 

A man holding an HDMI cable 

The HDMI ARC is an integrated audio feature for the HDMI connection system. ARC translates to Audio Return Channel. Further, you can find this technology in most AV receivers, soundbars, and other home theater systems.

Similar to regular variants, the HDMI ARC allows you to transfer audio from and to a display device on the same cable. Also, HDMI ARC can redirect audio signals to your speakers without any extra connections.

How Does HDMI ARC Work?

A man plugging an HDMI card into a laptop

HDMI connectors are widespread for their ability to transmit high-quality digital signals. Also, they’re very convenient. Why? Because you can transfer sound and video signals on the same cable.

Unfortunately, this convenience starts to dwindle if you have a soundbar or AV receiver connected to your TV. These audio devices are like media hubs—they serve as intermediaries between display devices and source devices.

Furthermore, soundbars and AV receivers collect audio and video signals from a source. Then, they transmit the video to a display and generate high-quality sound from their connected speakers.

Surprisingly, HDMI can’t separate video and sound signals. So, using HDMI to connect your display source and media hub automatically transfers all the signals to the display device. 

However, you can fix this by connecting a different 3.5 mm auxiliary audio cable, allowing you to receive audio from your external speaker. 

In addition, activating the HDMI ARC function would send audio back to your preferred output device. And you can enjoy this benefit even when using a media hub.

Do All HDMI Cables Support ARC?

HDMI cable 

HDMI cable 

We have different HDMI cable classes available on the market today. But the only difference between them is their bandwidth and transmission speed.

However, regarding HDMI ARC functions, you can use an HDMI cable. Nevertheless, we recommend sticking to high-speed cables for flawless HD content transmission. Also, these variants send you into a world of enhanced viewing quality and ethernet support functions.

What you should worry about is whether your devices have the ARC feature. In other words, the soundbar and display device must have ARC, or you’ll need an aux cord. 

What Are the Benefits of HDMI ARC?

Red and blue HDMI cable

Red and blue HDMI cable

Let’s explore the benefits of using HDMI ARC for your connections.

Simplified AV Connections

HDMI ARC connections transmit audio and video signals over the same cable. As a result, you’d need fewer cables to set up a home theater.

Enhanced Audio Quality

Since HDMI ARC transfers and receives audio signals over the same connection, you can rest assured that you’ll get the best sound quality. Further, this feature enhances latency, helping to generate better sound than what you’d get from aux audio cables.

Activates CEC Functions

With Consumer Electronics Control (CEC), you can control all your connected devices via one remote. However, only HDMI ARC and eARC support these features, allowing you to control the power and volume of your soundbar with your TV remote.

Does Your TV have An ARC Connection?

Here are three easy ways to know if your TV has an HDMI ARC option.

Examine your Manufacturer’s Manual

This method is a surefire way to know if you have an HDMI ARC-enabled TV. In truth, manufacturers often provide the HDMI version and functions with the TV’s specifications.

But what if you don’t have the manual? Keep scrolling to find other alternatives.

Note: You can download a digital version of the manual or search online for your TV specs. 

Check The Label On the HDMI Port

Many manufacturers label the ARC function on their products if it’s compatible. Also, you can find it on the back or side of the TV. Follow these steps to learn how to check correctly:

  • Gently unmount your TV or lift it from its stand. It’ll allow you to see behind the product easily.
  • Check the side or back of your TV for the HDMI port. 
  • See if it has the term “ARC” or  “HDMI ARC.”

Your TV supports HDMI if you find any of the above words.

Test for ARC Functions

Unfortunately, some manufacturers don’t label their HDMI ports. It’s not an uncommon problem, so we recommend taking a compatibility test if you’re in such a situation. 

First, you can connect your ARC-enabled soundbar to your TV’s HDMI port. Then, activate the volume on both devices and wait.

Your TV has HDMI ARC functions if the audio returns to the soundbar. 

How to Connect Your TV to a Soundbar with HDMI ARC

Is your TV HDMI-enabled? Then, let’s look at how to enjoy its benefits. One way to maximize your ARC connection is via soundbars.

However, not connecting your device properly may fail to activate the HDMI ARC feature, and everything will transmit through regular HDMI.

Here’s how to connect your TV and soundbar properly.

  • Some products come with multiple HDMI ports. Start by locating the one with the HDMI-ARC feature. 
  • Then, connect a quality HDMI cable to the TV and turn it on.
  • Next, plug the other end of the HDMI cable into your soundbar’s ARC port and switch it on.
  • Navigate to your TV’s audio settings and switch it from HDMI to external speakers.
  • Finally, go to your settings and enable HDMI CEC.

After following these steps, the audio should come through the soundbar.

Rounding Up

It’s tough to spot the difference between HDMI ARC and regular HDMI ports. But you can know the difference by checking the label or performing tests.

HDMI ARC is one of the most convenient ways to enjoy high-quality audio from your speakers. And you’ll need only one cable to achieve this if your media hub has ARC ports.

Do you have more questions? Feel free to reach us, and we’ll be happy to help.