What Is HDMI ARC & Can I Use It For My Ceiling Speaker System?

What Is HDMI ARC & Can I Use It For My Ceiling Speaker System?

Craig Walker |

If you’ve been looking for a new television lately you may have come across the term “HDMI ARC” and you’re wondering what it is and why you need it.

Connecting your TV to your ceiling speakers via HDMI is the best and easiest method but it is important to understand the ins and outs before you run all the cables.

Read on to learn how & when to use the HDMI ARC port for connecting your television.

What Is HDMI ARC?

HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) is a feature found on some HDMI-equipped audio and video devices.

It allows for the transmission of audio signals from a TV to an external audio device, such as an AV receiver or amplifier, over a single HDMI cable.

This HDMI ARC connection will allow you to;

  1. Send audio from the television to an amplifier or soundbar.
  2. Automatically power on and off the connected amplifier.
  3. Adjust the volume up & down from the standard TV remote control.
  4. If you're connected to an AV receiver then you'll also be able send 4K video from connected sources to the TV.

You’ll also usually be able to control the volume from your standard remote control using a technology called HDMI CEC.

This means that you can do most basic functions such as volume up, volume down and mute from your standard TV remote control.

Setting up is easy, just plug a compatible TV into a compatible amplifier using a high speed ethernet cable.

Ensure you’re in the ARC input which will be clearly marked on the TV itself, hint, it's not always HDMI 1!

Connecting HDMI ARC TV To Amplifier
Image Credit: SONY

 

Finally you’ll need to go into your TV’s settings and look for the audio settings where you can change the TV’s sound output to the HDMI device and you’re set to go.

HDMI ARC Compatible Amplifiers

Now that we understand that HDMI is the best way of connecting a TV to a ceiling speaker system, you'd be pleased to know that every amplifier has an HDMI input right?

Wrong.

Unfortunately it's not quite that straight-forward. As of 2024 there's only a limited amount of integrated amplifiers on the market that support a HDMI ARC input.

 

Before deciding to use HDMI ARC in your ceiling speaker system, consider the following:

  • Check Device Compatibility: Ensure that both your TV and audio equipment support HDMI ARC. Consult the user manuals or technical specifications for your devices.

  • Audio Format Support: Confirm that HDMI ARC supports the audio formats you plan to use in your ceiling speaker system.

  • Configuration: Set up your devices correctly, enabling HDMI ARC in the TV settings and ensuring the AV receiver or audio processor is configured to receive audio through the ARC channel.

Conclusion

HDMI ARC is a great feature and it’s an ideal way to connect your television to an amplifier or sound bar where possible.

But don’t worry too much if your amplifier doesn’t have HDMI ARC functionality. 

You can still connect via the digital optical audio output with no quality loss using a Digital To Analogue Converter (DAC). You may need to revert your volume control to the amplifier though so do bear that in mind.

Another popular option is to connect to the analog audio output either a 3.5mm headphone jack if your TV has one (usually allows the remote to control the volume) or the RCA line output which can feed into your amplifier using a TV connection cable. In this instance volume control is usually reverted to the amplifier, not from the TV.

You can also find a comprehensive guide to connecting a TV to your amplifier by clicking here. 

Cover Image Credit: Samsung