Your Gen 2 Apple TV 4K is a Soundbar Now?

In a strange turn of events, Apple has added eARC support for their new Apple TV 4k (Gen 2). This means that your Gen 2 Apple TV 4k can now operate as a sort of pseudo-Soundbar if you have the right components. This is not a feature that many people will use, but if you are really pressed for space, you could use your new Apple TV 4k as a control hub for your system. How?

What You Need

Obviously, you need a Gen 2 Apple TV 4k. You’ll also need a display with eARC (or at least ARC). With that, you’ll need a couple of HomePod speakers. Now, Apple recently announced that they are discontinuing the HomePod speakers. As of this writing, the grey HomePod speakers are completely sold out but the white ones are still available. The HomePod mini speakers are not supported as of this writing. Other than an HDMI cable, you are all set.

How It Works

Any devices with ARC or eARC can both send and receive audio. With the addition of the eARC port on the Gen 2 Apple TV 4k you can set it up as a pseudo-Soundbar by connecting two HomePod speakers. The HomePod speakers have the ability to connect to the Apple TV 4k wirelessly to produce sound. Before, that meant you could only hear what was coming from the Apple TV 4k. Not so now.

So, you connect the Gen 2 Apple TV 4k to your display and the speakers wirelessly to the Apple TV 4k. With the addition of the eARC port, the Apple TV 4k can now pull down any audio that is available to the TV. That means its internal tuner, any apps, and, most importantly, any OTHER devices that are connected to the TV. You’ll need to enable HDMI CEC (there are a bunch of different names for this feature depending on the manufacturer of your display) and probably play with some settings, but it should work.

While this doesn’t create a Soundbar per se, it gets you better sound with very few wires. The connection between the Apple TV 4k and the HomePod speakers is wireless so you’ll just need to provide them power. No speaker wire. You already had to connect the Apple TV 4k to your display, so no extra wires there. Plus, we’ll take two dedicated speakers over a Soundbar any day.

Going Forward

What if you don’t have (or can’t find) HomePod speakers? They weren’t cheap ($300 a pop) and they are hard to find. The lack of support for the (more affordable) popular HomePod mini speakers is a little baffling. But we can’t imagine that Apple included an eARC port just to make it impossible to use. We expect that Apple will either enable HomePod mini support or release another way to enable this audio solution. Again, we don’t expect this to be a hugely adopted feature, but it might be the perfect solution for those looking to simplify their setups.

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