Will Using an eARC HDMI Connection from the TV to My AVR Improve the Sound?

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Q I own a Vizio M65-J01 4K TV, a Roku Streaming Stick+ 4K device, and a Pioneer VSX-820 AV receiver. I’ve set things up with the streaming stick plugged directly in to the TV, and an optical cable from the TV to the receiver, as the Pioneer won’t pass 4K images to the TV. My question is, can I get better audio by connecting the TV’s eARC HDMI to the receiver? I don’t believe the Pioneer supports eARC technology, but I’d like to get the best audio possible. Also, if making the connecting in this manner, what should the settings on the AVR be? Thank you for your input (see what I did there?). —Chris Murphy

A First off, I did see what you did there; well played. And here’s my output!

Unfortunately, this is a moot point in your case. I looked up the specs and manual for your VSX-820 (now about 13 years old!), and it doesn’t support ARC (Audio Return Channel) at all, let alone the updated and superior eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel), so it looks like optical connection is the best you can do for now.

For an answer that might help others, let’s assume your receiver was ARC-capable. ARC was introduced in 2009 as part of the HDMI 1.4 standard, allowing for two-way flow of audio and video signals over a single HDMI. Since ARC was designed to replace the S/PDIF digital audio outputs of the day, it is limited to handling the same compressed audio formats as S/PDIF — namely Dolby Digital, DTS, and PCM audio up to 5.1-channels. (ARC did increase bandwidth up to 1 Mbits/second versus S/PDIF’s 384 Kbits/second.)

But, in my experience the ARC connection between components was always quite buggy so my company almost always uses the TV’s Toslink optical connection versus ARC as it is just way more reliable.

In 2018, HDMI 2.1 was introduced, which brought with it eARC. Compared to its predecessor, eARC offers a higher maximum audio bandwidth of 37 Mbits/second and supports next-gen audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X at resolutions up to 192/24. This makes eARC far superior to the optical connection. And nearly as important, the eARC communication between devices is also way more reliable, which is why it is our preferred connection today (though, to be honest, my company still generally runs an optical cable as well).

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IbtesamAbdullah's picture

I really don’t know about it, but I will definitely connect my HDMI to my TV then I will share my experience with all of you until you can visit my Dubai CV Writers Online website.

trynberg's picture

My advice would be to just buy a 4K HDR capable receiver...they've been out for several years and can be found used cheaply. As a bonus, you may get functional room correction.

Homer Teatro's picture

eARC can be buggy-ish. One of the main bugs (the people who wrote the code probably call it a "feature") is having to enable CEC on 1 or more devices in your system in order for eARC to start working to deliver close to full-bandwidth multi-channel sound. What is CEC? This is what they decided to call the feature that allows you to aim your remote at the TV and be able to control your disc player or AVR/processor even if you cannot reach the IR sensor on the device. The TV (in this example) would intercept the IR signal and convert it to a wired signal sent over HDMI that accomplishes the desired action on a second or third-in-chain device. With CEC turned off, some eARC systems are completely disabled for the entire system. You only get sound via eARC with CEC turned-on. But there are exceptions to that rule where eARC will work without enabling CEC on everything. One of the worst problems is that there are probably 10 different names for CEC, maybe more. For some reason, lots of manufacturers give CEC their own name... like Denon's HEOS; and they never mention CEC anywhere even though HEOS incorporates CEC features.

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