Most everyone hates all the wires and loops and multiple remotes when adding a smart TV to blueray players, cable boxes, audio equipment and gaming consoles.
We’ve all gone through the HDMI cable connections too, but here is a simplified way to not only reduce the cables and wire messes, but also give you one remote for most of your needs.
You will need to check your own particular owner’s guide for your components.
From DigitalTrends comes this pretty darn good way to accomplish what most of us have yet to do.
If you’re the owner of a newer HDTV, A/V receiver, sound bar, or home theater in a box, you may have noticed (and then promptly forgotten) a little symbol on one of the device’s HDMI inputs that says “ARC” or “HDMI ARC.” What does this mean?
ARC stands for Audio Return Channel, which is a little-understood protocol that started showing up on HDMI-equipped devices a few years back. Today, it is increasingly common. The technology is especially useful and has the potential to significantly simplify home entertainment systems. Unfortunately, few know it even exists, much less what it can do. Here, we’ll go over the basics of ARC so you can put its powers to work for you.
ARC can simplify your home theater system in two important ways. The first, and perhaps most useful feature HDMI ARC brings to the table is the ability to use one remote for all of your connected devices’ most common functions.
HDMI, which stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface, was created as a faster, more efficient way to deliver high quality digital video and audio to and from consumer electronic devices
The most common example is for users who have added a soundbar, home theater in a box (HTIB), or other secondary audio device to their TV. As long as both devices are equipped with ARC, simply connecting the HDMI cable to both devices’ ARC HDMI port will often allow for control of power, volume, and other features from your TV remote. In some cases, it will also simply transfer your TV audio to the unit automatically without having to deactivate the TV’s on-board speakers.
This feature is extremely useful for those who connect gaming consoles, Blu-ray players, set-top boxes, and other devices directly to the TV rather than an audio receiver. It allows for significantly better audio performance for all of your content than what you’ll get from a TV alone, but without having to think about the audio device.
Alternatively, ARC is also handy for other outboard components like streaming devices. Plugging a Google Chromecast into your TV’s ARC port, for instance, may allow you to automatically switch sources or even turn on your TV when you click the cast icon on your phone or tablet. You may find similar results with other components as well, including Blu-ray players.
For those who use an Audio/Video receiver (or a soundbar with multiple HDMI inputs) as a hub instead of their TV, ARC can still simplify cable connections a little. While audio and video from various sources is going directly to an A/V receiver in this kind of setup, any audio coming from the TV still needs to get to the receiver somehow. For instance, let’s say that the television is the preferred smart device in the bunch. Any audio from Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc., will only play out of the TV if it is sent to the receiver somehow. In the past, this would have required another cable, usually an optical digital cable. But with HDMI ARC, audio can be sent back down to the receiver through the same cable that already connects the two devices. For those with wall-mounted TVs, that’s one less cable to snake through the wall!
Another important point to consider is that the above method of connection is preferable for those who want to utilize the full sound capabilities of DTS and Dolby surround sound from Blu-ray, DVD, and gaming content. In many cases, connecting a component to the TV directly will reduce the signal to two-channel audio, and it may also reduce the sound resolution. Routing the audio signal through the receiver instead will preserve the original, high-definition audio signal, ensuring you get the best possible experience.
Let’s say you don’t have an A/V receiver, though. Some high-end soundbars also include multiple HDMI inputs to allow a direct connection from a Blu-ray player or other source, allowing you to preserve the audio quality. Again, you can connect the bar to the TV via the ARC HDMI connection to pass the video signal to the TV, and also to receive audio back from TV programming, or any other components connected to the TV. If preserving the full-scale audio signal is important to you, you’ll want to do some due diligence about the available audio connections before you decide on a soundbar or other supplemental audio device.
All you need for ARC to work its magic is to make sure any connected components are equipped with ARC, and then simply connect them with a recently-made HDMI cable (2009 or later) . If your current HDMI cables are ancient it won’t cost you more than a few dollars to upgrade. In some rare cases you will also need to go into your components’ settings to activate ARC, but the vast majority of devices have it enabled by default, making it a plug and play affair.