What is HDMI-ARC and is it for you?

What’s the best way to get the sound on your home theatre working? That used to be a pretty easy question to answer, back when the humble RCA cable was the height of modern technology. Now, the HDMI cable is the king of the hill, it gets a little more complicated.

If you use an AV receiver or soundbar, it may have one or two HDMI inputs, which may not be enough for you. That’s where HDMI-ARC comes in.

ARC stands for Audio Return Channel. The idea is that while your devices feed into your TV, your TV can send audio back down to an AV receiver or soundbar. It’s just a regular HDMI signal, just audio-only and instead of going TO the TV, it comes FROM the TV.

Not all TVs have the ability to use HDMI-ARC and on the other hand, some folks are lucky enough to have receivers with seven or eight inputs. However, that AV receiver probably won’t have an input for your TV’s antenna input unless you use something like HDMI-ARC. HDMI-ARC isn’t for everyone, but it’s one tool that may be available to use.

There’s an excellent tutorial at HD Guru that goes into a little more detail and gives a partial list of TV’s that are available now with HDMI-ARC built in.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.