HDMI ARC vs Optical Cable - AVS Forum
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Old 12-18-2012, 08:33 AM - Thread Starter
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My TV has HDMI ARC, but no optical out, so my options for a soundbar are either TV to soundbar via HDMi or Directv box to soundbar via optical. Is one option better than the other? Using HDMI seems simpler, but that limits my choice of soundbar to one which has HDMI and there aren't a ton of those.

My concern with optical from past experience is that I may get voice sync issues and I'm hoping HDMI ARC eliminates that concern. The HDMI ARC also is better if I have multiple sources, but right now I only have the Directv box. Thanks for any input.
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Old 12-18-2012, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by JonCr View Post

My TV has HDMI ARC, but no optical out, so my options for a soundbar are either TV to soundbar via HDMi or Directv box to soundbar via optical. Is one option better than the other? Using HDMI seems simpler, but that limits my choice of soundbar to one which has HDMI and there aren't a ton of those.
My concern with optical from past experience is that I may get voice sync issues and I'm hoping HDMI ARC eliminates that concern. The HDMI ARC also is better if I have multiple sources, but right now I only have the Directv box. Thanks for any input.

Based on the options above, I would connect the DTV receiver to the soundbar via optical. A direct connection is always best, whenever possible. To me, ARC is merely a convenience allowing you to connect multiple devices to your TV and then outputting your TV to the soundbar. That convenience can come at a sound quality cost, though. Either way, you can try both and let your ears decide.

What outputs does your DTV receiver have? There's no HDMI output? I'm not sure what your budget is but there are tons of soundbars that have HDMI inputs. The difficulty is finding soundbars within a budget that have multiple HDMI inputs.

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Old 12-18-2012, 09:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Doctego View Post

What outputs does your DTV receiver have? There's no HDMI output? I'm not sure what your budget is but there are tons of soundbars that have HDMI inputs. The difficulty is finding soundbars within a budget that have multiple HDMI inputs.

You're right - HDMI vs optical in a soundbar does affect the budget I need to consider. It also affects my selection - there are many more without HDMI than with it.

The DTV receiver does have one HDMI, but that goes to the TV. If I didn't use ARC, I'd need to utilize the DTV box's optical output. I did that once in the past and ended up with lip sync issues, which I'm trying to avoid. I guess I could always try it and return it if there are problems.
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:53 AM
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What TV make/model do you have? Although not unheard of, it's unusual that a TV has ARC but doesn't have a digital audio out also.
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Old 12-18-2012, 10:05 AM
 
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There is nothing simple about HDMI:eek: Optical from the Direct TV box is typically best for sound quality and reliability for many reasons.

1. Many TVs only output 2 channel via ARC because the TV when handshaking with the source in this case Direct TV reports it can only accept a stereo signals. So the Direct TV then only sends stereo and then that gets passed via ARC. ARC is good for internal TV sources like if you have an antenna or network functions from the TV. Even then I would run optical from the TV is available.

2. For ARC to work most systems need to have CEC on which can wreak havoc with universal remotes.

3. Another item in the HDMI chain means more possible compications. HDMI seams simple with only one connection needed but there is a lot going on with the HDMI interface.

Many soundbars or receivers often have settings for lip sync. Which bar do have? I'm surprised it doesn't have it.
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Old 12-18-2012, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by JonCr View Post

You're right - HDMI vs optical in a soundbar does affect the budget I need to consider. It also affects my selection - there are many more without HDMI than with it.
The DTV receiver does have one HDMI, but that goes to the TV. If I didn't use ARC, I'd need to utilize the DTV box's optical output. I did that once in the past and ended up with lip sync issues, which I'm trying to avoid. I guess I could always try it and return it if there are problems.

In that case, you could output the DTV receiver directly to the soundbar via HDMI (assuming that you got 1 with at least 1 HDMI input) and then output the soundbar to the TV via HDMI. That way, you still get the HD video on your TV but you also get a direct audio connection from the DTV receiver to the soundbar. Another option would be to connect the DTV receiver to the TV via HDMI and the DTV receiver to the soundbar via optical. The sound quality should be the same but you would have 2 connections going. I would opt for option #1, if possible.

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Old 12-18-2012, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by BobL View Post

There is nothing simple about HDMI:eek: Optical from the Direct TV box is typically best for sound quality and reliability for many reasons.
1. Many TVs only output 2 channel via ARC because the TV when handshaking with the source in this case Direct TV reports it can only accept a stereo signals. So the Direct TV then only sends stereo and then that gets passed via ARC. ARC is good for internal TV sources like if you have an antenna or network functions from the TV. Even then I would run optical from the TV is available.
2. For ARC to work most systems need to have CEC on which can wreak havoc with universal remotes.
3. Another item in the HDMI chain means more possible compications. HDMI seams simple with only one connection needed but there is a lot going on with the HDMI interface.
Many soundbars or receivers often have settings for lip sync. Which bar do have? I'm surprised it doesn't have it.

You didn't say this specifically but are you saying that connecting the DTV receiver directly to the soundbar via HDMI OR optical would result in better sound quality with the optical connection? If so, I haven't found that to be the case. I understand the sound limitations with ARC but I wanted clarification of this for the OP.

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Old 12-18-2012, 10:56 AM
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Adding some clarification to BobL's post.
On point #1 whatever audio the TV is outputting, it is the SAME regardless of whether the output is via HDMI or digital audio.
On point #2 ARC is an extension of CEC features, so you can't have ARC if the TV or external system doesn't support CEC.
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Old 12-18-2012, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Possumgirl View Post

What TV make/model do you have? Although not unheard of, it's unusual that a TV has ARC but doesn't have a digital audio out also.

I have a Sharp LC42LE540U. It has a digital audio out, but it isn't optical. It looks like a RCA type connecter - it isn't something I'm familiar with.
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Old 12-18-2012, 11:24 AM
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I have a Sharp LC42LE540U. It has a digital audio out, but it isn't optical. It looks like a RCA type connecter - it isn't something I'm familiar with.

That's digital coax. There are converters like this one that go from coax to optical, so you're not limited in what type of soundbars you can consider.
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Old 12-18-2012, 11:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BobL View Post

Many soundbars or receivers often have settings for lip sync. Which bar do have? I'm surprised it doesn't have it.

I don't have a soundbar yet - I'm trying to determine my preferred connection type before I purchase one as that will affects choices.

I know that some (or many) have delays to help with lip sync. I was looking at the Yamaha YAS101 and it had it. I had an older TV and a different sound system where the delay needed varied by channel, so the sync was never perfect. That experience has made me wary of lip sync issues.
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Old 12-18-2012, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Possumgirl View Post

That's digital coax. There are converters like this one that go from coax to optical, so you're not limited in what type of soundbars you can consider.

Thanks for the info. Another concern is the TV manual has some vague small print that says if you hook up to the TV via HDMI in, that digital out may not work. I'm not sure exactly what that issue is about. That is one reason I was leaning toward ARC. But it does sound like I have some options and experimentation is in order to figure out the best route.
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Old 12-19-2012, 05:32 AM
 
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The best solution for HDMI when possible is to route all the HDMI sources through the sound bar (or receiver) and then run one HDMI cable from the sound bar to the TV. However, to do this you tend to be going with a more expensive sound bar. If you can extend the budget to something like a Yamaha 2200 which can be found for under $500 it would really be the best solution.

In the lower priced ranges we use optical or digital coax to avoid problems with ARC. Lip sync isn't the issue it used to be. If you have lip sync due to the timing in the devices processing than a lip sync adjustment should fix it. If the lip sync issue is in the channel there is not much you can do to fix it without adjusting for it per channel. That used to be a problem in our area and an HDMI connection didn't help. There was one channel which had very bad bad lip sync especially on local programs like the news but their problems have been corrected for some time. I haven't run into lip sync problems for several years now but they used to be prevalent when everyone was going digital and HD.
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Old 12-19-2012, 05:44 AM
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Originally Posted by BobL View Post

The best solution for HDMI when possible is to route all the HDMI sources through the sound bar (or receiver) and then run one HDMI cable from the sound bar to the TV. However, to do this you tend to be going with a more expensive sound bar. If you can extend the budget to something like a Yamaha 2200 which can be found for under $500 it would really be the best solution.

Agreed about the best connection, whenever possible. As long as you have 1 HDMI input on the soundbar, you can also get 1 of these:

http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=101&cp_id=10110&cs_id=1011002&p_id=8463&seq=1&format=2

My soundbar only has 1 HDMI input. This switch has allowed me to connect my HD DVR, BD player, and XBox 360 Kinect via HDMI with room for 2 more devices.

This switch allowed me to look at some cheaper soundbars that had all of the features that I wanted except for multiple HDMI ports.

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Old 10-03-2013, 05:41 PM
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Jumping on an older thread here,

Im using a Samsung F551 soundbar, running via ARC.

On some channels im getting lip sync issues, Am i better to run optical and not use anynet or stay with HDMI ARC and adjust on the remote?

Is this something caused by the soundbar eg, should i maybe push samsung for another one? or its ok?

Thanks for advice
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Old 12-03-2013, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by dzrbenson View Post

Jumping on an older thread here,

Im using a Samsung F551 soundbar, running via ARC.

On some channels im getting lip sync issues, Am i better to run optical and not use anynet or stay with HDMI ARC and adjust on the remote?

Is this something caused by the soundbar eg, should i maybe push samsung for another one? or its ok?

Thanks for advice



Hi, I'm wondering if you tried the optical cable and noticed any difference over ARC? Thanks.
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