ARC or No ARC? What do you prefer and why? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 29 Old 03-13-2013, 05:59 PM - Thread Starter
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I am curious. Do you like the ARC/CEC feature of the new t.v.s and AVRs or not like it? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

I just upgraded to a new Onkyo NR-414 and a new Vizio Smart TV. For now, I have the ARC and CEC features "on" with one single HDMI running from the AVR to the Vizio. It works as advertised. My biggest complaint is that when I turn on the t.v., the AVR also turns on and the t.v. audio goes off with all audio from the AVR only. According to Onkyo, it is a package deal when using the ARC/CEC features. Sometimes I just want to keep the sound levels down and have just the t.v. on and no AVR. In that case, I have to then turn off the AVR. I was thinking of running an Optical cable from t.v. to AVR. Many people chose that route.

So, all you out there, what do you like to do and why? Do you use the ARC/CEC with single HDMI? Or do you keep things separate with an Optical cable?

Luke
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post #2 of 29 Old 03-13-2013, 09:02 PM
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Do not use it. I have a Vizio with the CEC and had to turn it off to get the HDMI pass through to work with an NR 515. At the time I was setting up, just a month ago the Vizio stats stated that ACR was a future firmware update. I emailed Vizio customer support and they said that at this time no Vizio TV has audio return channel. I have a hunch that what is happening it the CEC is controlling the on/off of your AVR. and not sending any audio back on the HDMI cable. Try turning CEC off and see what happens and I also use an optical cable for the audio but only for off air streaming. I am also assuming you have a satellite or cable box using an HDMI cable to the AVR. and that should give you audio surround only when you want it and tv audio for the times you don't.
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post #3 of 29 Old 03-13-2013, 10:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LukeHo View Post

I am curious. Do you like the ARC/CEC feature of the new t.v.s and AVRs or not like it? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

I just upgraded to a new Onkyo NR-414 and a new Vizio Smart TV. For now, I have the ARC and CEC features "on" with one single HDMI running from the AVR to the Vizio. It works as advertised. My biggest complaint is that when I turn on the t.v., the AVR also turns on and the t.v. audio goes off with all audio from the AVR only. According to Onkyo, it is a package deal when using the ARC/CEC features. Sometimes I just want to keep the sound levels down and have just the t.v. on and no AVR. In that case, I have to then turn off the AVR. I was thinking of running an Optical cable from t.v. to AVR. Many people chose that route.

So, all you out there, what do you like to do and why? Do you use the ARC/CEC with single HDMI? Or do you keep things separate with an Optical cable?
Did you change the setup in the Vizio's menu? Go to
tv settings, Audio, tv speakers (ON)
Advanced Audio, Analog Audio Out (Variable)
and if you want to control the volume of the avr with the Vizio remote Audio Control set to External. Hope this helps
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post #4 of 29 Old 03-14-2013, 09:25 AM
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I have disabled ARC (because my LG 55LM7600 and my Yamaha RX-V473 don't play nicely together). I use an optical cable instead.

I've also disabled all HDMI-CEC features because they're one-sided. By that I mean that the devices will turn each other on, but won't turn each other off when finished. Maybe it's because I'm mixing brands.

At any rate, I prefer to turn everything on/off and switch inputs manually. For example, I don't want my Blu-ray to automatically change the input on my receiver--some players take a few moments to start up and I might not want to switch to it immediately just because I turned it on. That sort of thing.

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post #5 of 29 Old 03-14-2013, 09:27 AM
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I would use it if I had to, but all my A/V sources go through the receiver without HDMI synch issues so I don't have any reason to mess with it.

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post #6 of 29 Old 03-14-2013, 11:25 AM
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From what you described your experience of ARC with your TV and AVR, it seems different for different TV/AVR setup.

My setup is between a Samsung 7100 series and a Marantz AVR, and my experience is different, which I don't have a problem, excepts for some minor "quirks" with HDMI-CEC controls (more on that later).

I used the latest spec HDMI 1.4a cable (at least the cable advertized this feature, compliant to 1.4a), to connect the TV and AVR, both in their respective port. Samgsung TV HDMI 2 (ARC) and AVR HDMI Out (ARC). Then both TV and AVR have their HDMI CEC control set to ON.

When I turn the TV on, only the TV is on, AVR still off: no problem there. If I use the TV remote to check for Anynet+ devices, I'll find the AVR shown in off status. Scrolling to the AVR button, I can turn the AVR on with the TV remote.

When I turn the TV on, then turn the AVR on, the default setting is "TV Audio", the AVR now plays TV audio in surround sound, or which ever mode previously set. Turning the AVR off will revert the audio to TV audio itself, no complaint here.

I now have OTA HDTV set up with a CM 4228, which provides 14 solid channels for me. I suppose I am lucky where the house is situated. The benefit with ARC is TV Audio from the antenna, HDTV with Dolby Digital, can be decoded by the AVR for what ever mode offered by the AVR, pure direct, direct, stereo, Dolby Digital ...etc.

Turning the TV off while AVR and BD are on will turn all of them off. I suppose this is another benefit of HDMI CEC control.

Now, about some quirks of HDMI CEC control, one of them is BD device, if previously on, will turn on with TV on, assuming I wanted to play a BD DVD. I have to use the BD remote to turn it off, then the TV assumes audio from its own source. Note that the BD is connected to the AVR HDMI input, if you need that info. FWIW, the BD is also a Samsung, not sure if this give the Samsung BD an automatic turn on, if it was turned on and off in the previous session.

Secondly, I used to connect the STB to the AVR HDMI CBL/SAT input, but it complicates HDMI CEC control. Then I connected the STB to the AVR as a non-HDMI device, i.e. CBL/SAT input is assigned to have component video COMP1 and audio OPT1 (optical cable). To watch SAT TV (still have subcription) I turn on TV, AVR, then hit CBL/SAT button to select this source. It works just fine (no need to select the source for the TV from its remote).

That's about it, may be a bit more than you expect to read, but I prefer to present a complete picture.
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post #7 of 29 Old 03-14-2013, 04:04 PM - Thread Starter
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I tried the different settings you all suggested. I do not have an optical cable. My set up is simple. OTA antenna for HDTV. A single HDMI from AVR to Vizio (ARC input). The only way I can get the audio to pass through to the AVR with this current set up is with the CEC feature of the Vizio set to "on" and the Onkyo ARC feature set to "on". My Vizio and my Onkyo have no problems talking or shaking hands together.

I am happy with this set up. My picture is stunning and the audio wonderful. I was just wondering if I were missing something or if what the advantages/disadvantage were of using an optical cable for my audio vs using the HDMI.

Thanks to all for your inputs.

Luke
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post #8 of 29 Old 03-14-2013, 04:17 PM
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In some cases, optical can provide DD 5.1 when ARC cannot. That's the only difference. If ARC is working fine for you, I'd stick with it.
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post #9 of 29 Old 03-14-2013, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIslander View Post

In some cases, optical can provide DD 5.1 when ARC cannot. That's the only difference. If ARC is working fine for you, I'd stick with it.

I am not sure if optical cable -even in some cases, can provide DD 5.1 when ARC cannot, as DD 5.1 or DD II for that matter, can only decode what the source materials were encoded at the first place.

E.g. I noticed tonight, just to prove this point, when watching CBC (Canada) reported from Rome (Peter Mansbridge) and comparing to other OTA channels. While the CBOT 4-1 tells me it is of Dolby Digital, it is not, as there was no center channel dialogue. Switching to the rest of OTA channels, e.g. 6-1 (Global), 13-1 (CJOH -Ottawa), 43-1 (CHRO Ottawa) they were really broadcast in DD, as the receiver, the same setup with ARC reproduced DD 5.1 very well. Perhaps this (OTA CBC) creates this perception that in some cases, optical works "better"?

After all, what's the point of ARC when HDMI claims to have both audio and video in one cable?
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post #10 of 29 Old 03-14-2013, 10:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dta721 View Post

I am not sure if optical cable -even in some cases, can provide DD 5.1 when ARC cannot, as DD 5.1 or DD II for that matter, can only decode what the source materials were encoded at the first place.

E.g. I noticed tonight, just to prove this point, when watching CBC (Canada) reported from Rome (Peter Mansbridge) and comparing to other OTA channels. While the CBOT 4-1 tells me it is of Dolby Digital, it is not, as there was no center channel dialogue. Switching to the rest of OTA channels, e.g. 6-1 (Global), 13-1 (CJOH -Ottawa), 43-1 (CHRO Ottawa) they were really broadcast in DD, as the receiver, the same setup with ARC reproduced DD 5.1 very well. Perhaps this (OTA CBC) creates this perception that in some cases, optical works "better"?

After all, what's the point of ARC when HDMI claims to have both audio and video in one cable?

A few things to unpack here. My guess is that there are situations when HDCP prevents ARC from sending multichannel audio, but optical doesn't have that limitation?

With respect to a channel claiming to be DD 5.1, check the TV or receiver's display--that should tell you for sure. And remember that it could be broadcasting in DD 5.1 but sending only two channels because the source program is only two-channel.

Finally, the point of ARC is to send audio the other way--i.e., to the receiver for play over the speakers.

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post #11 of 29 Old 03-14-2013, 11:16 PM
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It was always my understanding that the optical/coax outputs and ARC were identical. Then, recently, I read a manual for a TV where the optical output supported DD 5.1 while ARC was limited to stereo PCM. So, while I think it is true that the two types of outputs are the same almost all of the time, there's at least one set where they are different. Hence, my post.

dta721 - Sorry, but I am confused about your comments on decoding DD 5.1. My post was in response to a question about whether there are differences in the two types of digital outputs on a TV. I don't see where decoding enters the picture re: that question. Similarly, I don't see the relevance of whether TV stations actually send sound on all six channels in a DD 5.1 encode. It is not uncommon for a stereo source to get wrapped in DD 5.1 envelope where the only audio is in the L/R channels while the center and the surrounds are silent. But, when that happens, you'll get the same bad output from a TV over both optical and ARC.
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post #12 of 29 Old 03-15-2013, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIslander View Post

It was always my understanding that the optical/coax outputs and ARC were identical. Then, recently, I read a manual for a TV where the optical output supported DD 5.1 while ARC was limited to stereo PCM. So, while I think it is true that the two types of outputs are the same almost all of the time, there's at least one set where they are different. Hence, my post.

Thanks for clarifying your point!
Quote:
dta721 - Sorry, but I am confused about your comments on decoding DD 5.1. My post was in response to a question about whether there are differences in the two types of digital outputs on a TV.

Mine also intended to do the same: there are no differences between HDMI ARC and non-HDMI optical work around. Please note this is not a personal "attack" if perceived that way, just addressing the issue.
Quote:
I don't see where decoding enters the picture re: that question. Similarly, I don't see the relevance of whether TV stations actually send sound on all six channels in a DD 5.1 encode. It is not uncommon for a stereo source to get wrapped in DD 5.1 envelope where the only audio is in the L/R channels while the center and the surrounds are silent. But, when that happens, you'll get the same bad output from a TV over both optical and ARC.

You are right: DD may not be part of the picture, other than the side benefit when one watch and listen to DD 5.1. Perhaps it was my assumption that this is the difference between ARC and optical cable setup that makes the difference in listening? However, you did clarify this point that it may not (just one TV manual that makes this claim).

That said, I attempted to explain "it is all in the encoded source; only if the broadcast materials is encoded with DD, then the playback will faithfully decodes what was there. I was surprised to find out with one particular program of that CBC channel that they were broadcast in stereo, as far as I heard on the same setup, and not in DD as shown when pressed Info on the remote.

But I can misunderstand DD broadcasting,too; and here is the DD info that you can verify if interested:

Dolby® Digital, also referred to as AC-3, is an audio encoding/decoding technology that delivers up to 5.1 discrete channels of surround sound.

Provides compatibility with millions of existing playback units
Delivers mono to 5.1 audio
Employs Dolby metadata that can be easily transcoded into Dolby Digital Plus

How It Works
Applied to the final broadcast transmission signal just prior to multiplexing with the digital video, Dolby Digital is used extensively in digital satellite (DBS and DVB), cable, and terrestrial high-definition TV (ATSC).
.

Source: http://www.dolby.com/us/en/professional/technology/broadcast/dolby-digital.html

I rest my case smile.gif
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post #13 of 29 Old 03-15-2013, 09:21 AM
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Sorry, but what case is that? I must admit I do not understand the point you are trying to make. frown.gif

The fact that something is encoded using DD 5.1 does not mean there has to be any sound at all. You can take six silent tracks, encode them using DD 5.1, and the decoded output will still be six silent channels. News programming is not mixed in 5.1. It originates in stereo. Most TV stations employ processors downstream from the mixing board that use techniques similar to ProLogic to create the added channels, including a center channel for dialog. That's what gets encoded as DD 5,1 for the HD television transmission. But, sometimes the process isn't done correctly and you end up with the stereo signal trapped inside the DD 5.1 package - no center channel and the only sound in the L/R channels. That's almost certainly what you observed with the CBC broadcast from Rome. This used to happen a lot. It's more rare these days as stations have perfected their processing systems. But, it still happens.

Regardless, this still has nothing to do with ARC vs.optical. If CBC is sending a stereo signal in a DD 5.1 package, it will be output exactly the same way using either ARC or optical.
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post #14 of 29 Old 03-15-2013, 12:23 PM
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The idea of ARC is a nice concept, reducing the need for an additional optical cable from TV to receiver. However in practice, in my setup at least as a Harmony remote user it causes issues and it's just better running the extra cable. I run an Onkyo receiver and a Samsung plasma.
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post #15 of 29 Old 03-15-2013, 06:58 PM - Thread Starter
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nismo, what problems are you having? I just bought a harmony 650. So far, I don't have any problems, but all of this is new to me. I can add an optical cable if it will make things run smoother. Just curious what set up you have with using the Harmony.

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post #16 of 29 Old 03-15-2013, 11:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LukeHo View Post

nismo, what problems are you having? I just bought a harmony 650. So far, I don't have any problems, but all of this is new to me. I can add an optical cable if it will make things run smoother. Just curious what set up you have with using the Harmony.
I've setup macros for a few activities on Harmony, watch TV, watch blu-ray etc. The thing is if I enable ARC, it will always change the input to TV/CD(ARC input) no matter what activity I press. So lets say I press the watch BD button, my TV, BD player and receiver all turn on just fine. The receiver at first is set to the proper input BD/DVD, but then the ARC changes the input to TV/CD, so then I have to manually change the input back to BD/DVD. It has something to do with the HDMI-CEC that has to be turned on to enable ARC in my Onkyo receiver, apparently HDMI-CEC and Harmony remotes don't play well with one another.
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post #17 of 29 Old 03-16-2013, 06:11 AM
 
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I'll chime in and give our company's experience with ARC and CEC. In a nutshell do not use either. On a lot of equipment CEC has to be on for ARC to work. CEC is terrible and just doesn't work like people think it should. Turn off CEC on all your devices and get a good universal remote. Your system will just work better.

ARC is also strange, it should be able to pass Dolby Digital but often doesn't especially when using the TV for switching your HDMI devices and using ARC to the receiver. With all the communication going on between devices with HDMI you would think this would work but it doesn't. Here is why. With HDMI the source is the master, so the piece of junk cable box or that $79 Blu-ray you bought controls your systems HDMI. Well it doesn't hav to cheap components, some expensive components mess this up too. But cable boxes are big offenders. The source has to know everything that is in the HDMI chain and it determines what happens. A common problem with ARC is the TV and the source talk to each other. The TV reports it is a stereo device so the source sends a stereo signal. However the ARC portion of it somehow got messed up and the source either screwed up and didn't realize the receiver connected to the TV via ARC can accept 5.1 or the TV just reported stereo and didn't tell the source about the receiver. Obviously, I am simplifying the process but either way, avoid ARC.

If your TV has a built in source like OTA or Apps run an optical cable, it just works. Here is what I recommend.

1. Turn off CEC/ARC

2. Optical for TV sources

3. If using a receiver let it do the HDMI switching

4. Use a decent universal remote if trying to simplify your system


This is the most reliable method currently. It is HDMI. YMMV:eek:
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post #18 of 29 Old 03-16-2013, 08:17 AM
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The issue of TVs not passing DD 5.1 from external devices is not unique to ARC. It also happens with optical.
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post #19 of 29 Old 03-16-2013, 09:12 AM
 
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If your sources are connected directly to the TV via HDMI and the TV is reporting to the sources it is a stereo device. The sources will only send a stereo signal and the TV can only pass along that stereo signal to either ARC or optical. If you are using a receiver or sound bar that only has optical or digital coax inputs you are much better running separate optical or digital coax directly to that device instead of trying to use HDMI to the TV and then connect the optical from the TV.
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post #20 of 29 Old 03-16-2013, 09:18 AM
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Yes, it is almost always better to run audio through a receiver rather than trying to use a TV as the switching hub. But, that is true regardless of whether you are using ARC or optical as the output to the receiver. The question being asked in this thread is whether people like ARC or optical to feed audio from the TV to the receiver. The issue you raise is valid, but it applies to both approaches and is not a point of distinction between them.
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post #21 of 29 Old 03-16-2013, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIslander View Post

Yes, it is almost always better to run audio through a receiver rather than trying to use a TV as the switching hub. But, that is true regardless of whether you are using ARC or optical as the output to the receiver. The question being asked in this thread is whether people like ARC or optical to feed audio from the TV to the receiver. The issue you raise is valid, but it applies to both approaches and is not a point of distinction between them.
+1
Absolutely correct better to have the receiver as the hub, I only wanted to use ARC for the Smart TV apps but in the end I found using an optical cable better.
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post #22 of 29 Old 03-16-2013, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by BobL View Post

. . . On a lot of equipment CEC has to be on for ARC to work. . .

Leafing through some PDFs on the net, I saw references that suggest "the CEC bus Capability Discovery and Control (CDC) commands control the HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC) and Audio Return Channel (ARC) circuits".

So it looks to me like CEC must always be enabled (together with a lot of 'implied' device interactions and standby-mode energy costs) in order for either HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC) or Audio Return Channel (ARC) to work.
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post #23 of 29 Old 03-16-2013, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by BIslander View Post

The issue of TVs not passing DD 5.1 from external devices is not unique to ARC. It also happens with optical.

Yes. ARC was clearly intended to have capabilities identical to those provided by an SPDIF connection between a DTV and AVR. Given a "simple DTV" (as in this Silicon Image block diagram) it's hard (but not impossible) to imagine how the two pathways could exhibit differing codec selection|transport functionality--it's somewhat easier to believe that a DTV User Manual might be edited incorrectly so as to detail differences which are not present...?


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post #24 of 29 Old 03-16-2013, 12:01 PM
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While it is true that ARC and optical function identically in nearly all TVs, I have seen one set where optical will output DD 5.1 in some circumstances where ARC only does stereo. That was a bit surprising. But, there are few absolutes when it comes to AV equipment. So, I guess the fact that one set treats the two outputs differently should not be that surprising. (No, I don't recall the set. But, the manual clearly spelled out the difference and it did not appear to be an editing mistake.)
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post #25 of 29 Old 03-16-2013, 12:31 PM
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I'm using ARC between a Denon AVR-3313CI and a Panasonic TC-P60GT50 and it works flawlessly for me. I get full DD 5.1 from the TV to the AVR.
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post #26 of 29 Old 03-16-2013, 12:41 PM
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Both ARC and optical support DD 5.1. It all depends on how the TV manufacturer elects to implement such support. If memory serves, Panasonics output DD 5.1 from sources acquired by the TV (its own tuners and apps) but not from externally attached devices. That is true of both ARC and optical. It sounds like your TV and AVR work well together with HDMI CEC. That is not the case with all TVs and receivers.
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post #27 of 29 Old 03-16-2013, 12:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIslander View Post

While it is true that ARC and optical function identically in nearly all TVs, I have seen one set where optical will output DD 5.1 in some circumstances where ARC only does stereo. That was a bit surprising. But, there are few absolutes when it comes to AV equipment. So, I guess the fact that one set treats the two outputs differently should not be that surprising. (No, I don't recall the set. But, the manual clearly spelled out the difference and it did not appear to be an editing mistake.)

Unfortunately, this probably tells us more than we really wanted to know about the 'quality management' of that TV company's firmware maintenance process when CEC changes--including ARC--were implemented for HDMI 1.4. eek.gifcool.gifbiggrin.gif
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post #28 of 29 Old 03-17-2013, 11:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Great discussion! I have an optical cable. I think I will hook it up and see how I like it vs the ARC/CEC setup. Might not be a bad idea to have 2 different ways to run my audio anyway.

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post #29 of 29 Old 06-08-2013, 06:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by highwire View Post

I'm using ARC between a Denon AVR-3313CI and a Panasonic TC-P60GT50 and it works flawlessly for me. I get full DD 5.1 from the TV to the AVR.

Highwire I know this thread is old but if you are still around I have a question. I have a Denon AVR-3312CI and the same Panasonic HDTV you have. I was wondering if smart apps like Netflix play in 5.1 only through ARC? Can you also get 5.1 with optical? If you can use either why do you prefer ARC? Thanks
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