Sony has introduced eARC support (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) for a select number of its soundbars and AV receivers.
The announcement of eARC support sees Sony join Onkyo and Pioneer in throwing its weight behind the next-generation HDMI feature.
eARC, if you’re unaware, is part of the upcoming HDMI 2.1 specification that supports higher video resolutions, faster refresh rates, dynamic HDR and higher audio bitrates.
The increase in bandwidth and speed is most important here, as that feature finally enables object-based audio surround formats such as DTS:X and Dolby Atmos to be transmitted from your TV to your home cinema devices.
Read more: HDMI ARC – What is it and why do I need it?
The firmware update will affect Sony’s HT-ST5000, HT-ZF9 and HT-XF9000 soundbars, along with the company’s STR-DN1080 and DH790 AV receivers, “ensuring full compatibility with eARC audio devices and eARC TVs”, such as Sony’s AF9 and zF9 TV ranges.
Few devices currently support the HDMI 2.1 specification, but the expectation is we’ll see manufacturers ramp up their support in the run-up to CES 2019 in Las Vegas.
The eARC update is already available and if your device is connected to the internet it will update automatically. If not, then you will have to go Sony’s support website to download the latest firmware and update the device via USB.
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On top of that, Sony has also revealed that the HT-ZF9 soundbar will get Amazon’s Alexa Voice Assistant functionality in this update too. All you need to do is say ‘Alexa’ and you’ll be able to adjust the volume, play your favourite songs and more.
Voice control is currently limited to only English, French and German, with Italian and Spanish languages coming soon.
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