DMI ARC vs HDMI — How Do They Differ From Each Other?

hdmi arc vs hdmi

So you recently bought a TV, and during connection, you notice that it has two separate ports – HDMI and HDMI ARC. As a user, it’s normal to get confused on seeing these two HDMI labels, and you may likely ask what their functions are. Are they even the same? In this guide, our technical experts will explain what these labels are and their importance. 

What is HDMI ARC?

In simple terms, HDMI ARC is a version of HDMI cable designed to provide audio transmission. ARC or Audio Return Channel is a technology that’s becoming conventional in modern home theater systems. When a TV is connected to a soundbar or other devices, this ARC allows the transfer of audio signals from the TV to the device and vice versa.

hdmi arc port

HDMI ARC provides an audio return to the TV speaker and the home theater system. You can configure it with soundbars and other audio devices. For example, if your TV is connected to a soundbar through the ARC, any media you watch, whether Netflix TV channel, DVD, etc., will have a sound played in the soundbar. It eliminates the worry of having multiple audios in or out cables. 

Unlike a typical HDMI cable that works one way, HDMI ARC can be utilized as a two-way cable. This means you can use it as an audio receiver and for transmitting video signals. Because of its dual functionality and ease of setup, ARC has become highly valuable.

Is it Different from HDMI?

The HDMI vs. HDMI ARC debate has been going on amongst TV consumers, and not everyone fully understands the differences between the two. There’s a reason manufacturers labeled the two ports clearly. As our technical team pointed out, HDMI is designed to enhance video transmission and is not built to transmit audio back to the source of origin. 

connecting HDMI cable to HDMI arc port

HDMI ARC allows you to listen to any media connected to the TV. It isn’t possible with the regular HDMI, as its job is to exchange decoded video data between the display source and the TV. So, it’s different from HDMI ARC. 

How Does HDMI ARC Work?

With an HDMI ARC, you only need an HDMI connection between your TV and the soundbar. You only need to plug the HDMI cable into the ARC port from the TV to the soundbar, and you’ll be able to listen to audio from all connected devices. But, without it, you’ll need an HDMI and optical digital audio cables. 

How to Know if Your TV and Devices are HDMI ARC Compatible

According to our engineers, the easiest way to know if your TV and devices are HDMI ARC compatible is to look for the label at the TV’s back and that of the device. It is labeled as ‘ARC’ or ‘HDMI 1’.

How to Connect an HDMI ARC Cable

Connecting an HDMI ARC cable is as simple as plugging a high-speed HDMI cable from the TV’s ARC port to the one on the device. You must switch both the TV and the audio device on before the connection. 

CEC setting on tv

Once connected, disable ‘TV Speakers’ in the TV’s Settings and enable ARC or HDMI CEC. Test the connection to see if the sound will come through the speakers. 

Can you use any HDMI Output for an HDMI ARC Cable?

No, you can’t use any HDMI output for an HDMI ARC cable. HDMI ports are different from ARC or HDMI-CEC as it’s labeled on some Sony TVs. 

Can you use any HDMI cable for ARC?

You can use an HDMI cable for ARC. Most HDMI cables meet the requirement, so any HDMI wire, whether old or new, will work. 

However, if you want to stream HD media with 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound, our technical team recommends getting a high bandwidth HDMI cable [1]

When are HDMI ARC and HDMI Cables Best to Use?

HDMI ARC cables are best to use if you have a setup that comprises external speakers, such as soundbars. If you don’t have any external speakers, you should use HDMI cables instead. 


HDMI eARC is another type of HDMI. It’s the same as a typical HDMI ARC but with better bandwidth and features. eARC delivers a better audio quality than ARC, but the receiving device must support eARC.


Is HDMI ARC better than HDMI?

HDMI ARC is better than HDMI in all aspects. It’s a two-way cable that provides video and audio transmission.

Should I use HDMI ARC for gaming?

Yes, you can use HDMI ARC for gaming. It is best for external devices connected to the TV, such as soundbars and consoles. 


HDMI ARC is an excellent addition to TVs, as shown in this HDMI ARC and HDMI post. It eliminates the need to use multiple audio cables. With ARC, you don’t necessarily need the regular HDMI port because it’s multipurpose. If your TV is ARC compatible and you have external speakers, our experts recommend using this option for better audio quality. 

More pages: 

HDMI audio extractor


Willie Greer
Willie Greer
Willie Greer is the founder of The Product Analyst. A cinephile, he has made it a personal quest to achieve the awesomest home theater possible. He now shares what he has learned through the years on the site, and has enlisted the help of tech-savvy colleagues in providing more insight about today’s most sought-after gadgets.