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What is eARC?

eARC stands for Enhance Audio Return Channel, and is a method of transmitting audio between for HDMI-connected devices such as a TV and soundbar.

eARC allows for transmission of higher quality soundtracks such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and requires a compatible HDMI port to achieve this. eARC works over both HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 2.1, and though it’s made to handle newer lossless standards, it is backwards compatible with older audio formats.

How does eARC work?

eARC allows for the transmission of uncompressed stereo audio over a single HDMI connection. The audio data is split into two channels and sent over the same HDMI cable, while the other channel is sent over a separate cable as a type of “data channel” that carries the audio signal.

The receiving device extracts the audio from the data channel and reassembles it into an uncompressed signal. The data channel can be as simple as two wires carrying a signal or as complex as a compressed waveform with metadata such as metadata about the audio signal’s sampling rate, bit depth and duration.

Most eARC-compatible devices do not require a separate analogue audio signal; the device can transfer the information for the audio signal over the data channel. In this case, the receiving device “decodes” the audio signal from the data channel and reconstitutes the audio into an uncompressed signal.

Latency and compatibility issues with eARC

Latency refers to an issue where audio is delayed compared to the picture you see on screen, causing the two to be out of sync. Like with the ARC standard, there can be compatibility issues among different device types and platforms, the best method is to see if your TV (or the app for your if it supports one) offers a means of synchronisation/delay between the picture and sound to help to two get back on solid footing.

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