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Comparing HDMI-CEC vs HDMI-ARC – Spec Differences

Comparing HDMI-CEC vs HDMI-ARC

HDMI CEC and HDMI Arc are two distinct entities. HDMI ARC is an improved function of HDMI technology. Conversely, CEC (consumer electronics control) is a single remote control used for operating every HDMI system.

Both HDMI-CEC and HDMI-Arc CEC use a single cable but for varied purposes. Let’s go through in-depth details of HDMI-CEC and HDMI-ARC and then look at their comparison:

What is HDMI-ARC?

Image: Samsung

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HDMI Arc (Audio Return Channel) is a specific port found in HDMI TVs and other equipment that supplies the digital audio stream to the soundbar.

Therefore, you can play audio via an external sound system. It is a port in systems that enable high-quality audio transmission.

ARC uses a single HDMI connection to transmit audio to one device’s sound system. Primarily, this is done to prevent old optical cables and circuits. You will find one of the HDMI inputs labeled as ‘ARC’ on your soundbar or TV.

HDMI-ARC is one of the superb features for connecting to the home theatre. It helps you to save money and control cable clutter. ARC is specifically designed to substitute S/PDIF digital audio outputs (TOSLINK) and support audio formats supported by S/PDIF, i.e., DTS, Dolby Digital, and PCM audio. Furthermore, it can deal with standard two-channel and 5.1 surround sound.

ARC is an audio link route utilized when the TV is the equipment that produces or receives the video stream. In the absence of the ARC feature, the audio output emerging from the TV should be transmitted by another cable.

With the help of HDMI ARC, a device can receive audio signals from a source and transmit them back through the same cable. Hence, HDMI ARC can be used to control the receiver to which a Blu-ray player and the sound system can be connected.

Due to the use of HDMI-ARC, signal transmission works even from the Blu-Ray player through the receiver to the loudspeaker and TV.

How does HDMI ARC work?

It works by connecting a single HDMI cable with an HDMI ARC input on your TV. Subsequently, the cable can connect to an audio receiver which is also being connected to an input device like a gaming console or Blu-ray player. In case your TV possesses an HDMI ARC output, it will be labeled beside the HDMI connection.

What is HDMI-CEC?

Source: Nakamichi-USA

Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) is an HDMI feature that controls a maximum of 15 devices connected via an HDMI interface using a remote control.

In other words, it is a single-wire bi-directional serial bus that is based on the CENELEC standard AV.link protocol for accomplishing remote control functions. Moreover, it was specified in the HDMI specification 1.0, and several devices are expected to support it compared to HDMI ARC.

If an audio system supports HDMI-CEC but doesn’t support the audio return function, you will need an HDMI splitter with RCA output.

There are many names of CEC you will notice in the product descriptions. The following list shows the name of the CEC standards used by various brands:

BrandName of HDMI CEC
PhilipsEasyLink
LGSimplelink
SamsungAnynet+
SonyBRAVIA Sync
TeufelCEC or ARC/CEC

What is CEC in HDMI?

As specified above, the HDMI CEC is the acronym for Consumer Electronics Control. Commonly, the HDMI controlling devices are termed CEC. A huge variety of professional and consumer AV devices supports this function.

Implied from the name, HDMI CEC controls connected electronic devices. CEC is a channel that controls input, volume, pause, play, power on and off, etc., in HDMI devices. HDMI CEC enables HDMI AV devices to communicate with one another.

How does HDMI CEC work?

It is essential to know how the cross-device remote control functions. Considering that every device in a home cinema supports CEC, every connected device simultaneously switches on when turning on a single device and automatically finds the matching channel.

Hence, when you turn on the Blu-ray player, your TV searches for the channel that matches the Blu-ray player itself. Only one remote control is needed.

When is HDMI CEC used?

You can use this feature when you need to manage multiple HDMI AV systems and control them through individual remote control. In addition to passing audio or video, CEC assists all the devices to interconnect.

Can all HDMI cables support HDMI-CEC?

CEC is simply a unique mode for the HDMI device or TV. It is independent of the cable being used. Although CEC exists in nearly all HDMI devices, it is not mandatory to install CEC on TVs.

HDMI CEC sets up a backward and forward connection between the TV and its HDMI-connected peripherals. Although the TV can regulate those devices, they can obtain some control over the TV. For instance, you can control a gaming console via a TV remote. Likewise, the other systems could also alter any TV input.

What is HDMI CEC Mode?

HDMI CEC mode provides a broad range of functions: one-touch play, system audio control, remote control pass through, system standby, timer programming, etc.

How can you set up HDMI CEC and HDMI Arc?

All the TV instruction manuals are available with the installation procedure of CEC. You can use the TV remote and then browse the options to activate the CEC mode. By default, certain TVs are activated as in CEC until you manually alter them.

Each band features a unique way of setting up the CEC function. Hence, it is not possible to generalize this method. For example, when using Samsung (Anynet+) CEC, you need to open the Home screen via the remote and then open settings. Now select “Anynet+” to switch it on. Lastly, you have to connect and switch on an HDMI device via a cable.

Does ARC depend on CEC?

HDMI ARC is an enhanced version of Arc technology. The cutting-edge HDMI 2.1 standard HDMI comes implemented with the eArc function. Furthermore, HDMI eArc delivers higher speed and bandwidth for superior audio output.

HDMI ARC depends on CEC to computerize remote control commands. Note that the HDMI ARC only supports the discovery and deployment of lip-syncing, eArc link, etc.

Moreover, HDMI ARC was designed to skip volume control commands that CEC carries out for improved usability. Hence, you should enable CEC to use an HDMI ARC device because it is part of ARC discovery.

HDMI ARC vs HDMI CEC:

HDMI ARC

HDMI CEC

HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) offers a superior audio experience.HDMI CEC streamlines the mutual control process between a device as well as its HDMI-connected systems.
HDMI ARC is a unique port found in the primary device. It can be used to connect the speaker or soundbar with it such that the primary device transmits the audio back to the speaker or soundbar. Ultimately, it offers decent quality sound.Suppose HDMI CEC is activated in a component. It can control the connected devices to its HDMI port and also vice-versa. Various brands have various methods to activate their CEC function.

Concluding Note:

HDMI ARC and CEC are the most significant additional functions of an HDMI connection. HDMI ARC provides a digital audio stream to the soundbar so that you can play audio through an external sound system.

It is well-known for offering high-quality audio transmission. HDMI CEC helps you to control all HDMI systems via a single remote control.

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