HDMI ARC vs Optical? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 41 Old 02-26-2016, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
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HDMI ARC vs Optical?

HDMI Arc will give me the ability to change settings on screen with a lot of systems. But is optical better audio quality than HDMI?
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post #2 of 41 Old 02-26-2016, 02:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ButterflyStar View Post
HDMI Arc will give me the ability to change settings on screen with a lot of systems. But is optical better audio quality than HDMI?
Since they are technically the same signal/format, the short answer is "no". However, how they are implemented in your setup can be quite different (ARC can be problematic).

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post #3 of 41 Old 02-26-2016, 02:14 PM
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The ability to control other devices is hdmi control, not arc. Arc is only the return audio part.
Hdmi control must be on for arc to work, but not the reverse.
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post #4 of 41 Old 02-26-2016, 02:16 PM
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Usually they are the same signal (typically 5.1 compressed Dolby Digital from many sources), but if you want to bitstream multichannel audio, or if you want to use high-quality formats like Dolby TrueHD, Atmos, or DTS:HD, you would need to use an HDMI connection and not the optical cable.

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post #5 of 41 Old 02-26-2016, 02:39 PM
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In my experience, ARC can be finicky whereas optical seems to ALWAYS work. Since they have the exact capabilities as far as I know, I typically stick with optical. That said, I love the idea of the simplicity of ARC. It's just been hit and miss for me as sometimes the CEC HDMI Control (which you have to have turned on for ARC to work) can get in the way of your system working the way you want it to. Now when CEC is playing perfectly nice with all of the equipment? Then ARC can be pretty cool. That's been the exception and not the rule for me, though.
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post #6 of 41 Old 02-26-2016, 03:05 PM - Thread Starter
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The one thing I find with optical is, depending on the system, you dont get an onscreen display.

Take the cheap sony soundbars for instance, sounds great with optical, but you have concept of where levels are at as there is no display.

Can you run HDMI for display and use optical for sound at the same time?
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post #7 of 41 Old 02-26-2016, 03:08 PM
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HDMI ARC vs Optical?

Nm

Last edited by rick98761; 02-26-2016 at 03:51 PM.
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post #8 of 41 Old 02-26-2016, 08:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cswiger View Post
Usually they are the same signal (typically 5.1 compressed Dolby Digital from many sources), but if you want to bitstream multichannel audio, or if you want to use high-quality formats like Dolby TrueHD, Atmos, or DTS:HD, you would need to use an HDMI connection and not the optical cable.
ARC is not capable of Dolby True HD, Atmos or DTS HD. ARC and optical out of the TV are the same,
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post #9 of 41 Old 02-26-2016, 08:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Montucky View Post
In my experience, ARC can be finicky whereas optical seems to ALWAYS work. Since they have the exact capabilities as far as I know, I typically stick with optical. That said, I love the idea of the simplicity of ARC. It's just been hit and miss for me as sometimes the CEC HDMI Control (which you have to have turned on for ARC to work) can get in the way of your system working the way you want it to. Now when CEC is playing perfectly nice with all of the equipment? Then ARC can be pretty cool. That's been the exception and not the rule for me, though.
I don't think we should throw in the towel on ARC, but go after it, and hold the manufacturers hands to the fire if issues appear. We all compromise, but I don't think we should avoid a nice feature.

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post #10 of 41 Old 02-26-2016, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Ellebob View Post
ARC is not capable of Dolby True HD, Atmos or DTS HD. ARC and optical out of the TV are the same,
Yes. ARC uses two pins on the HMDI connector and can only handle the older compressed formats.

However, the HMDI cable can do more; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDMI#Audio.2Fvideo

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For digital audio, if an HDMI device has audio, it is required to implement the baseline format: stereo (uncompressed) PCM. Other formats are optional, with HDMI allowing up to 8 channels of uncompressed audio at sample sizes of 16-bit, 20-bit and 24-bit, with sample rates of 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176.4 kHz and 192 kHz. HDMI also carries any IEC 61937-compliant compressed audio stream, such as Dolby Digital and DTS, and up to 8 channels of one-bit DSD audio (used on Super Audio CDs) at rates up to four times that of Super Audio CD. With version 1.3, HDMI allows lossless compressed audio streams Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
HDMI 2.0 goes up to 32 channels....

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post #11 of 41 Old 02-26-2016, 09:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by cswiger View Post
Yes. ARC uses two pins on the HMDI connector and can only handle the older compressed formats.

However, the HMDI cable can do more; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDMI#Audio.2Fvideo

HDMI 2.0 goes up to 32 channels....
Of course the hdmi cable can do more.....just not with ARC. I know I was disappointed in that aspect (should be footnoted everytime they say hdmi and arc together, plus they should have to disclose just what the tv will pass in the way of audio with ARC) ......then there's all the funky stuff HDMI-CEC wants to do which was even worse....
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post #12 of 41 Old 02-27-2016, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Espo77 View Post
I don't think we should throw in the towel on ARC, but go after it, and hold the manufacturers hands to the fire if issues appear. We all compromise, but I don't think we should avoid a nice feature.
Oh, I agree completely. I do love the idea of ARC. Now if only manufacturers could make it operate totally independently from CEC (another good idea although poorly implemented). They could easily do this with the inherent capabilities of the HDMI cable and its plethora of pins. I bet if somebody put in some effort, they'd even be able to pass lossless formats with as many channels as we'd want.

ARC and CEC are both great ideas, but I think the biggest problem we're seeing is a lack of standardization throughout the industry. Sadly, getting everybody on the same page seems to be a fruitless battle that we've witnessed for many, many years.
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post #13 of 41 Old 02-29-2016, 09:57 AM
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ARC can easily do DDPlus (192kHz transport with 7.1 and Atmos vs. 48 kHz for Dolby Digital with just 5.1), but most TV manufacturers share the audio signal with the optical / RCA SPDIF output, and therefore limit it to 48 kHz. Some TVs separate the audio, and do DD on SPDIF and DD+ on ARC. This is even mandated, by Dolby, for Dolby Vision TVs.
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post #14 of 41 Old 03-25-2016, 06:54 AM
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ARC worked great on my receiver for awhile, then all of a sudden quit (well what happens is now, when I use my Harmony remote, when it switches to the HDMI in from my DirecTV box, it then automatically switches to the TV/CD input (which is the ARC return). So now I'm toying with going back to toslink, but it does lose some DD setups on the smart TV.

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post #15 of 41 Old 03-25-2016, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by steveknj View Post
ARC worked great on my receiver for awhile, then all of a sudden quit (well what happens is now, when I use my Harmony remote, when it switches to the HDMI in from my DirecTV box, it then automatically switches to the TV/CD input (which is the ARC return). So now I'm toying with going back to toslink, but it does lose some DD setups on the smart TV.
The current 2015 D+M models have a new "TV Audio Switching" setting which when set to OFF prevents the AVR from switching to the "TV Audio" source when first powered on and when HDMI(ARC) is enabled.
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post #16 of 41 Old 03-25-2016, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by jdsmoothie View Post
The current 2015 D+M models have a new "TV Audio Switching" setting which when set to OFF prevents the AVR from switching to the "TV Audio" source when first powered on and when HDMI(ARC) is enabled.
Forgive me for my ignorance, What is a D+M model? Denon and Marantz? I have an Onkyo so I don't think that would apply to me. It does seem weird how it would work and then stop working. No firmware updates to either TV (LG Model) or Receiver (firmware updated AFTER issue started happening).

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post #17 of 41 Old 03-25-2016, 11:08 AM
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ARC will always suck as long as it is with HDMI control. I prefer optical because it doesn't carry the buzzy noise like HDMI. Although optical thru the TV will still give a higher noise floor, HDMI is worse with buzzing noise. If you don't listen to your material at or near 0db or use external amps then it's not an issue for you.

I am extremely picky and don't even use USB for my DAC because I can hear buzzing noise.

To the poster above yes D&M is Denon and Marantz
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post #18 of 41 Old 04-23-2017, 02:50 PM
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General question about ARC:

I understand it returns the audio via the same cable, but does ARC pass through the audio too? For example, if my apple TV is directly connected to my TV on a regular HDMI input and the A/V receiver is connected to my TV on HDMI with ARC, does my TV send Apple TV's audio to my receiver?

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post #19 of 41 Old 04-23-2017, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by sshamim View Post
General question about ARC:



I understand it returns the audio via the same cable, but does ARC pass through the audio too? For example, if my apple TV is directly connected to my TV on a regular HDMI input and the A/V receiver is connected to my TV on HDMI with ARC, does my TV send Apple TV's audio to my receiver?
I believe it should, but the audio will be downgraded from what the ATV can provide via HDMI. Why not plug it directly into your AVR?
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post #20 of 41 Old 04-24-2017, 08:14 AM
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The audio will not be downgraded unless the Apple TV App is using the lossless formats. I don't think any of the Apple TV apps use lossless. If your TV does not handle 5.1 Dolby Digital or DTS then it would be stereo, but that depends on the model of the TV. I know all the Sony TVs handle 5.1 and that is what is sent via ARC.
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post #21 of 41 Old 04-24-2017, 12:26 PM
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I hope this isn't stealing the thread, but I have a question about ARC and 12 Volt triggering my external amp.

I currently have a Pioneer Elite- SC-81 connected to a Halo A23 power amp. I connected the two using a 12 Volt trigger cable (and an adapter since the Halo is a 2.5 mm hole vs the 3.5 mm hole of my Pioneer). I flipped the switch so the Halo will turn on when the receiver turns on. This works when I have the input set to my PS4, which is connected to my receiver and then onto the tv's HDMI 1 input. This works flawlessly.

When I switch the input to "TV", which gets the sound from ARC, the amp turns off, leaving me with just the center and subwoofer functioning.

What the hell, man? I'm going to try to connect my optical wire tonight and see if it prevents the amp from turning off. Anyone have any insight into this? Is this just another drawback of ARC?
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post #22 of 41 Old 04-24-2017, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by megametaman View Post
I hope this isn't stealing the thread, but I have a question about ARC and 12 Volt triggering my external amp.

I currently have a Pioneer Elite- SC-81 connected to a Halo A23 power amp. I connected the two using a 12 Volt trigger cable (and an adapter since the Halo is a 2.5 mm hole vs the 3.5 mm hole of my Pioneer). I flipped the switch so the Halo will turn on when the receiver turns on. This works when I have the input set to my PS4, which is connected to my receiver and then onto the tv's HDMI 1 input. This works flawlessly.

When I switch the input to "TV", which gets the sound from ARC, the amp turns off, leaving me with just the center and subwoofer functioning.

What the hell, man? I'm going to try to connect my optical wire tonight and see if it prevents the amp from turning off. Anyone have any insight into this? Is this just another drawback of ARC?
Better served posting this in the SC-81 Owner's thread ....

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/90-rec...rs-thread.html
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post #23 of 41 Old 04-25-2017, 08:56 AM
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I haven't heard of ARC messing with voltage triggers. Some receivers you can set the trigger by input. I would check that in your Pioneer. If you manually switch from the PS4 to TV does the amp shut off? If so then it is not an ARC problem.
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post #24 of 41 Old 07-16-2017, 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by jdsmoothie View Post
The current 2015 D+M models have a new "TV Audio Switching" setting which when set to OFF prevents the AVR from switching to the "TV Audio" source when first powered on and when HDMI(ARC) is enabled.
Hi JD - with the Denon x5200 and ARC enabled, if you set this option to "off," that only affects your tv from switching to TV Audio when first turned on, correct? In other words, ARC will work fine once you go to a TV apps source or OTA. I believe I need to change this setting to off as my tv always gives me a notification that it's switching to external speakers upon booting up with my cable source.

Also, do both optical and ARC do DD+, which can handle Dolby Atmos from streaming sources? Any difference in compression or sound quality between ARC and optical on the x5200?

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post #25 of 41 Old 07-16-2017, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Ricoflashback View Post
Hi JD - with the Denon x5200 and ARC enabled, if you set this option to "off," that only affects your tv from switching to TV Audio when first turned on, correct? In other words, ARC will work fine once you go to a TV apps source or OTA. I believe I need to change this setting to off as my tv always gives me a notification that it's switching to external speakers upon booting up with my cable source.

Also, do both optical and ARC do DD+, which can handle Dolby Atmos from streaming sources? Any difference in compression or sound quality between ARC and optical on the x5200?
1. Correct. With the "TV Audio Switching" = OFF, you would need to manually select the "TV Audio" source on the remote in order for the AVR to receive the ARC audio from the TV.
2. No, rather DD+ requires HDMI. If ARC and optical are passing the same audio stream (eg. stereo 2.0 or DD 5.1), then should be no difference in audio quality.
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post #26 of 41 Old 07-17-2017, 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by jdsmoothie View Post
1. Correct. With the "TV Audio Switching" = OFF, you would need to manually select the "TV Audio" source on the remote in order for the AVR to receive the ARC audio from the TV.
2. No, rather DD+ requires HDMI. If ARC and optical are passing the same audio stream (eg. stereo 2.0 or DD 5.1), then should be no difference in audio quality.
Thanks, JD. I tried turning "TV Audio Switching" to "OFF" on my Denon x5200 and it didn't work that great with my Sony 75X900E. I just left it "ON." The TV boots to Cable/Sat and that usually works fine. When I toggle to "Apps" or "Channels-OTA" - - it switches fine. Sometimes, you have to reset the "Input" to ensure you get audio back on HDMI2 & HDMI3. I'll live with that as my TV was confused over the "OFF" setting for whatever reason.

So DD+ requires HDMI or ARC? I had thought optical could handle DD+ but apparently only 2.0 or 5.1. The reason I bring this up was a comment a poster made in another forum (Roku Premier+) that optical sounded better to him than ARC and it was less compressed. I know DD+ can provide Dolby Atmos soundtracks from the few streaming sources that provide it. The question remains whether there is any difference in sound quality between ARC and optical with the same 2.0 or 5.1 source signal. My guess is no difference - - at least to my ears.
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post #27 of 41 Old 07-17-2017, 05:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Ricoflashback View Post
Thanks, JD. I tried turning "TV Audio Switching" to "OFF" on my Denon x5200 and it didn't work that great with my Sony 75X900E. I just left it "ON." The TV boots to Cable/Sat and that usually works fine. When I toggle to "Apps" or "Channels-OTA" - - it switches fine. Sometimes, you have to reset the "Input" to ensure you get audio back on HDMI2 & HDMI3. I'll live with that as my TV was confused over the "OFF" setting for whatever reason.

So DD+ requires HDMI or ARC? I had thought optical could handle DD+ but apparently only 2.0 or 5.1. The reason I bring this up was a comment a poster made in another forum (Roku Premier+) that optical sounded better to him than ARC and it was less compressed. I know DD+ can provide Dolby Atmos soundtracks from the few streaming sources that provide it. The question remains whether there is any difference in sound quality between ARC and optical with the same 2.0 or 5.1 source signal. My guess is no difference - - at least to my ears.
Nope.
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post #28 of 41 Old 11-26-2017, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by scarabaeus View Post
ARC can easily do DDPlus (192kHz transport with 7.1 and Atmos vs. 48 kHz for Dolby Digital with just 5.1), but most TV manufacturers share the audio signal with the optical / RCA SPDIF output, and therefore limit it to 48 kHz. Some TVs separate the audio, and do DD on SPDIF and DD+ on ARC. This is even mandated, by Dolby, for Dolby Vision TVs.
Thank you, this is great to know, as I have been telling people that ARC is limited to DD and not capable of DD+ and Atmos.

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Originally Posted by jdsmoothie View Post
The current 2015 D+M models have a new "TV Audio Switching" setting which when set to OFF prevents the AVR from switching to the "TV Audio" source when first powered on and when HDMI(ARC) is enabled.
You sir are a lifesaver, Just went to a Harmony remote and lost the TV audio switching and the audio to my Marantz 7702MKII when watching OTA via arc on my tv.

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ARC and CEC are both great ideas, but I think the biggest problem we're seeing is a lack of standardization throughout the industry. Sadly, getting everybody on the same page seems to be a fruitless battle that we've witnessed for many, many years.
The TV and electronics industry are like the wild west, everybody does what they want with no regard for the consumer and implement these new technologies that are either not fully tested or implemented correctly in the hardware. I have lost any hope for any working "standard" ARC is 75% of the way there and CEC is 50% IMO.
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post #29 of 41 Old 12-17-2017, 09:37 AM
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So, my ? is
My cable box currently plugs into my LG ARC port.
if I plug my LG ARC port into my soundbar and connect the HDMI out from the sound bar to my cable box will the sound from all the other devices, plugged into the TV, still come out the soundbar?
Does the TV always put sound out the ARC channel regardless of which HDMI input is active?
Tnx


LG OLED65B7P
Vizio SB4551-D5 soundbar
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post #30 of 41 Old 12-17-2017, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by process View Post
So, my ? is
My cable box currently plugs into my LG ARC port.
if I plug my LG ARC port into my soundbar and connect the HDMI out from the sound bar to my cable box will the sound from all the other devices, plugged into the TV, still come out the soundbar?
Does the TV always put sound out the ARC channel regardless of which HDMI input is active?
Tnx


LG OLED65B7P
Vizio SB4551-D5 soundbar
Nope. The LG ARC port is an "input" not an output so would be connected to the "output" of the sound bar (if it has one as most connect the optical cable from the TV).

The cable box would be connected to an HDMI "input" on the sound bar.
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