Is HDMI or HDMI ARC better for soundbar?

Answered by Frank Schwing

When it comes to deciding between HDMI and HDMI ARC for a soundbar, it’s important to consider your specific needs and setup. Both options have their advantages and limitations, so let’s take a closer look at each to help you make an informed decision.

HDMI, short for High-Definition Multimedia Interface, is a widely used connection standard for transmitting high-quality video and audio signals. It offers excellent audio and video quality, making it a popular choice for connecting devices like Blu-ray players, gaming consoles, and streaming devices to TVs or displays.

On the other hand, HDMI ARC, or Audio Return Channel, is a feature that is available on some HDMI ports and devices. Its main purpose is to simplify the connection between your TV and audio devices, such as a receiver or soundbar. With ARC, you can transmit audio signals from your TV back to the audio device, eliminating the need for a separate audio cable.

One of the main advantages of HDMI ARC is its convenience. By using a single HDMI cable, you can both send video from your source device to the TV and receive audio from the TV to the soundbar or receiver. This simplifies the setup process and reduces cable clutter.

Another benefit of HDMI ARC is its compatibility with various audio formats. It supports popular audio formats like Dolby Digital and DTS, allowing you to enjoy surround sound from your soundbar or receiver. This is particularly useful if you’re watching movies or playing games that have immersive sound effects.

However, HDMI ARC does have some limitations. Firstly, not all HDMI ports on a TV support ARC. So, you need to check if your TV has an ARC-enabled HDMI port before considering this option. Additionally, even if your TV has an ARC port, it may not support the latest HDMI version, which could limit the audio formats and features available.

Furthermore, HDMI ARC may not be able to transmit high-quality audio formats like Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio, which are commonly found on Blu-ray discs. In such cases, you may need to use a regular HDMI connection or consider alternative audio connections like optical or coaxial cables.

In terms of audio performance, there isn’t a significant difference between HDMI and HDMI ARC. Both options can deliver high-quality audio, provided that the source device and soundbar or receiver support the same audio formats. The overall audio quality will also depend on the capabilities of your soundbar or receiver.

To summarize, the choice between HDMI and HDMI ARC for a soundbar depends on your specific needs and setup. HDMI ARC offers convenience and simplifies the connection process, allowing you to transmit both video and audio signals through a single cable. However, it may have limitations in terms of compatibility and audio formats. If your TV and soundbar support HDMI ARC and fulfill your audio requirements, it can be a practical choice. Otherwise, a regular HDMI connection or alternative audio connections may be more suitable.