HDMI ARC Vs Optical – Ultimate Guide to Audio Quality

HDMI ARC Vs Optical
Written by prodigitalweb

Want to connect your shiny new soundbar or AV receiver? Then, the only options left to your are selection is HDMI Arc vs Optical digital audio. It is always better for you to go with HDMI.


HDMI-ARC is an Audio Return Channel. In case you are willing to send audio files by using a single hdmi cable, then you can use this cable. By using it, you can connect the Blu-ray players, set-top box, different gaming consoles to the TV. This cable can support all kind of sound formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio. The main job of the HDMI ARC cable is to transfer the audio signal from one line to the TV.  

What is the Optical cable? 

We usually use the optical cable to send digital audio signals between two separate devices. You can use the cord on uncompressed PCM stereo audio, and 5.1/7.1 Dolby Digital and DTS multi-channel audio. If you want to transmit top-quality audio between two devices, then picking optical cables will be a smart move.

What is HDMI ARC 

ARC, known as Audio Return Channel, takes the help of HDMI cable to transfer audio from a TV back to a receiver. It implies that you need to use only one line for audio and video. You can control the Arc by using a single remote only.

 HDMI ARC vs Optical— which is better?

Usually, these two can pass digital audio from one device to another. Compared to the analogue, these are far better. Each of these can pass multi-channel audio such as Dolby Digital. But the factor that creates a difference between these two is the passing ability of higher-resolution audio. HDMI can pass these types of audio including the formats that can be found on Blu-ray: Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio. But optical is unable to transmit such formats.

Besides, material construction is one of the factors that also differentiate these two. For the cables of high definition multimedia interference, copper is used. These materials are not expensive. But the disadvantage is that this cable is susceptible to electromagnetic interference.

On the other hand, Optical cables are made of fibre optic strands. And these strands are made of glass. The manufacturing cost of this cable is more expensive compared to the previous one. Instead of using an electrical current, these cables transmit the signal through light.

Audio Quality 

We can see the use of optical cable mostly for home entertainment systems. These wires are compatible with the surround sound and can support up to 5.1 channels. Are you willing to use a 7.1-channel surround sound system? In this case, the optical cables are not the perfect one for you. These don’t support TrueHD, DTS HD, or Dolby Digital Plus also.

The main issue is these cables are virtually immune to interference. And these have a limited capacity. That’s why if you want to use the full stereo system correctly, you must need an HDMI ARC connection. It is compatible with virtually any sound format. It can support Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus, TrueHD, and DTS HD. By using these cables, you can get the ultimate benefits from Blu-Ray discs or a modern game console.

High definition multimedia interference cables can’t support the 7.1-channel surround sound. You need to update the Arc in this case. The new updated version termed as HDMI eARC. It termed High Definition multimedia interference Enhanced Audio Return Channel.

Hence, “e” stands for “enhanced”. The enhanced audio return channel can easily support the 7.1-channel surround sound. Moreover, you will get a higher bandwidth with the help of this enhanced audio return channel. The main benefit of the HDMI-eARC is that it has got a massive improvement in bandwidth and speed. Using the enhanced audio return channel, you can send high-quality audio from the TV to a soundbar. Besides it allows you to send it to the AV receiver. Now, you will be able to enjoy the uncompressed audio without any jury-rigging or latency.

Video Quality 

When it comes to video quality, the HDMI cable is the name that comes first in our mind. But still, it is not recommended by all the users. It is because not all HDMI cables come with the same quality. A High Definition multimedia interference 2.0 line is ideal for a 4K video. But in that case, you can’t use 60 frames per second. In the case of a 2.1 line, you can view 120 frames per second in 4K.

Moreover, it allows you to watch an 8K video at 60 frames per second. These are vital for most VR systems. For those who want to use only a single wire between two devices, then High Definition multimedia interference cable is the one that you should select.

Cable Length

HDMI ARC cables use very low voltage to transmit the audio signal. Therefore, if you  increase the cable length the signal quality will be poor due to the specific resistance of the copper wire used.  Where as, Optical Cables sends audio signals in the form of light waves through the fiber optic cables, so the loss of signals is very limited. Because of the reason HDMI ARC cables are of Maximum 15 meters length and Optical Cables my be beyond that length ( 30 meters)


In this article we discussed about HDMI arc vs Optical. And both of them used for different purposes. If you want to get the best audio quality, then undoubtedly High Definition multimedia Interference Audio Return Channel is the best option. These cables are compatible with all the latest audio formats. Hence, you don’t need to use other remotes to control various devices. Besides, the wires can assist you in discarding the tangled cables and clutter.

On the other hand, the optical cables are immune to interference and exact for very long runs.

Optical Vs HDMI ARC- Frequently asked Questions:

  • Is HDMI ARC better than optical?

Optical cables do not have interference during transmission. And  they do not support Dolby Digital Plus, TrueHD, Blue Ray and DTS HD. Where as the HDMI ARC support all sound formats. Therefore, the HDMI ARC is better suits your audio appliances.

  • Which is better optical audio or hdmi arc?

HDMI ARC, transmit both audio and video signals , With Optical cable Video signals can not be send.  In addition, HDMI ARC support all audio formats and the Optical  Cable have some limitations, even though they can transfer audio signals without any loss.

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