What Is HDMI ARC & Can I Use It For My Ceiling Speaker System?

If you’ve been looking for a new television lately you may have come across the term “HDMI ARC” and you’re wondering what it is and why you need it.


What Is HDMI ARC?

Audio Return Channel, or commonly referred to as “ARC” is a simple way of connecting your television to a compatible TV or amplifier with a single high speed HDMI cable.

Most modern TV’s will now feature an ARC compatible HDMI port.

 

This HDMI ARC port will allow you to;

  1. Send audio from the television to an amplifier / soundbar
  2. Watch video and audio sources sent from the audio system to the TV (i.e AV Receiver)

 

You’ll also usually be able to control the volume from your standard remote control using a technology called HDMI CEC. We won’t go into that on this blog, but it means you can do most basic functions such as volume up, volume down and mute from your standard TV remote control.

Setting up is easy, just plug a compatible TV into a compatible amplifier using a high speed ethernet cable. Ensure you’re in the ARC input which will be clearly marked on the TV itself.

Connecting HDMI ARC TV To Amplifier
Image Credit: SONY

 

Finally you’ll need to go into your TV’s settings and look for the audio settings where you can change the TV’s sound output to the HDMI device and you’re set to go.

HDMI ARC Compatible Ceiling Speaker Systems

Most ceiling speaker amplifiers on the market at present do not feature a HDMI ARC port so most commonly you’ll be using the analog audio output, or converting the digital optical output to analog.

However if you are keen to use HDMI ARC then your current options are to go for a Sonos AMP or use a larger AV Receiver.

Both of these systems feature a HDMI ARC port, with the Sonos in particular you can seamlessly connect and control your television on your Sonos system along with streaming it across other Sonos zones.

Conclusion

HDMI ARC is a great feature and it’s an ideal way to connect your television to an amplifier or sound bar where possible.

But don’t worry too much if your amplifier doesn’t have HDMI ARC functionality. 

You can still connect via the digital optical audio output with no quality loss using a Digital To Analogue Converter (DAC). You may need to revert your volume control to the amplifier though so do bear that in mind.

Another popular option is to connect to the analog audio output either a 3.5mm headphone jack if your TV has one (usually allows the remote to control the volume) or the RCA line output which can feed into your amplifier using a TV connection cable. In this instance volume control is usually reverted to the amplifier, not from the TV.

You can also find a comprehensive guide to connecting a TV to your amplifier by clicking here.

 

Cover Image Credit: Samsung