ARC Workaround When Only One Device is Compatible

Maybe you’ve got a TV with ARC (Audio Return Channel) but your receiver doesn’t support it. Maybe it is the other way around. But the fact remains, you can’t use ARC in your setup. You’d rather not have to buy another piece of gear just for this feature. What can you do? What’s the workaround when only one of your devices is ARC compatible? Let’s discuss!

The Solution

There are, of course, multiple workarounds when only one of your devices is ARC compatible. We list all the different solutions here. You may find, after reading that article, that you do want to upgrade your gear. eARC is definitely better than ARC. If one of your devices supports eARC (and is not just ARC compatible), then rather than using our workaround, you might consider the upgrade. It could be worth the expense.

TOSLink optical SPDIF cables
Digital optical cable (also called TOSLink)

The best workaround for ARC is to use a digital optical cable. The sound quality and capabilities of digital optical are exactly the same as ARC. Sonically, there will be no difference in the signal sent via ARC and digital optical.

The Downsides

Of course, there are always downsides. The biggest one is that there is no automatic lip sync function with digital optical. ARC doesn’t always support auto lip sync, but it can. Digital optical can’t. The other is that you will be forced to run a second cable. HDMI ARC is designed to be a single cable solution. Fortunately, optical cables are very thin and the ends are very small.

Lastly, you will need a receiver that can accept an optical connection. If you have a TV with ARC, it almost certainly has a digital optical output. But if your AV receiver is exceptionally old, you might not have an optical input. In that case, you’ll really want to read our other article. It will walk you through all the other options.

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