How does HDMI audio return channel work?

Convenience is central to the rise of HDMI cables across offices and living rooms alike, and audio return channel technology plays an integral role in taking this to another level. Very simply, audio return channel allows users to send audio from a television or similar device downstream to surround sound controllers or similar audio systems. Let's take a closer look.
Audio signal distribution from televisions
Users that want to connect a dedicated audio system to their television had to, in the past, use a dedicated S/PDIF cable to work with dedicated audio systems. This would mean that an HDMI cable would be needed to connect the content source to the display device, and an S/PDIF wire would be used to connect the display to the audio systems. Audio return channel technology simplifies this by removing the need for an S/PDIF cable.
Audio return channel technology allows audio signal to travel both upstream and downstream over an HDMI cable based on user preference, making it much easier to leverage dedicated audio solutions alongside televisions and similar displays.
It is also worth noting that audio return channel features specialized processing functionality in the HDMI setup to ensure that audio and video signal match one another regardless of the direction that data is traveling through the cable.
Establishing an audio return channel setup
Like many specialized HDMI functions, audio return channel is backward compatible. This means that if the devices you are working with are equipped with HDMI ports that support audio return channel, any HDMI cable will be able to offer the functionality. As such, you can take advantage of the advanced wiring feature without having to worry about upgrading all of your HDMI cables. Identifying audio return channel ports should be easy as the standards body behind HDMI has recommended labeling such ports with an ARC, but this is not a mandatory practice.














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