A few thoughts on eARC - feels like a game changer

Dorian

Active Member
I've had a couple of (relatively) expensive Arcam AVR's in the past (and a Pioneer), but now have a Sony STR-DN1080. Every time I upgraded, it was due to needing newer video connectivity. To be honest, I got fed up with spending decent money on AVR's and them being made obsolete so quickly. As a projector user though, it was crucial to have video switching via the AVR so only one HDMI cable to the projector was needed.

Fast forward to today, and I've recently got an Xbox Series X and replaced the projector with an LG 65CX. Not wanting to miss out on the Xbox 120hz and VRR, I decided to connect the xbox directly to the TV, and then try eARC. I've been really impressed by how it all works e.g.

  • Devices still connected to the AVR appear (with names) under a tree on the TV input selector, and can be selected directly
  • TV picture settings are preserved per input, even on items connected via AVR
  • No need to use the AVR remote - TV remote controls volume and CEC turns AVR on and off automatically
  • Full video capabilities of Xbox working on TV, with uncompressed sound sent to the amp.

It seems faultless in operation, and (for TV users at least), the approach of putting the TV in charge of video and pushing audio to the amp would seem much more future-proof.

While I'm mostly happy with my 1080, it's always been weak on stereo compared to my previous AVRs. I am now starting to think about buying a higher end AVR, even without HDMI 2.1, because eARC works so well and removes the potential bottleneck of routing all video through the AVR.

What do people think?
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
I think you make some excellent points, and you are correct in your summary.

Things to watch out for are that some implementations of eARC have been a bit buggy, so it might be worth checking in the owners forum before purchase. Although if the hardware is there, future firmware updates should potentially fix the issue.

Does your TV have enough HDMI ports to support all of your potential future devices?

Plus, to buy an AVR now with eARC that is of the same sound quality as your previous Arcam will require a healthy budget.

There are still one or two units of the Arcam FMJ range being sold off heavily discounted as end of line, but no eARC. The new Arcam HDA range are out, they have eARC, were initially very buggy but seem to be working better now after several firmware updates. They are at full RRP.

An alternative to Arcam is Nad which is said to offer the Arcam sound for a bit less money, but that is also not perfect, with a few characteristics to be aware of. The Nad T778 owners thread should offer you more details on those.

If your old Arcam was pre the FMJ range then you didn't have Dirac, so that will be potentially adding something new for you to try.
 

AndyC_772

Active Member
TV picture settings are preserved per input, even on items connected via AVR

Does that mean the TV is capable of storing as many different picture settings as there are inputs on the AVR?

Having everything connected via the AVR with just a single cable to the TV normally means the TV settings end up being exactly the same for every input. With my previous TV I worked around this to some extent by running two cables from my AVR to the TV (it supports dual outputs), and using one for Blu-ray and the other for everything else.

Presumably you can still connect all video sources to the AVR and switch them to the projector in the usual way?
 
I've had a couple of (relatively) expensive Arcam AVR's in the past (and a Pioneer), but now have a Sony STR-DN1080. Every time I upgraded, it was due to needing newer video connectivity. To be honest, I got fed up with spending decent money on AVR's and them being made obsolete so quickly. As a projector user though, it was crucial to have video switching via the AVR so only one HDMI cable to the projector was needed.

Fast forward to today, and I've recently got an Xbox Series X and replaced the projector with an LG 65CX. Not wanting to miss out on the Xbox 120hz and VRR, I decided to connect the xbox directly to the TV, and then try eARC. I've been really impressed by how it all works e.g.

  • Devices still connected to the AVR appear (with names) under a tree on the TV input selector, and can be selected directly
  • TV picture settings are preserved per input, even on items connected via AVR
  • No need to use the AVR remote - TV remote controls volume and CEC turns AVR on and off automatically
  • Full video capabilities of Xbox working on TV, with uncompressed sound sent to the amp.

It seems faultless in operation, and (for TV users at least), the approach of putting the TV in charge of video and pushing audio to the amp would seem much more future-proof.

While I'm mostly happy with my 1080, it's always been weak on stereo compared to my previous AVRs. I am now starting to think about buying a higher end AVR, even without HDMI 2.1, because eARC works so well and removes the potential bottleneck of routing all video through the AVR.

What do people think?
I think you have been fortunate that all your kit plays nicely. While eARC is definitely an upgrade on ARC, the fact that you still need to use HDMI CEC with it (for most kit) means that what works and what doesn't is in the lap of the gods.

For operating multiple devices, I have found a Harmony remote to be a much better solution than HDMI CEC which has a mind of it's own.
 

Dorian

Active Member
Does that mean the TV is capable of storing as many different picture settings as there are inputs on the AVR?

Having everything connected via the AVR with just a single cable to the TV normally means the TV settings end up being exactly the same for every input. With my previous TV I worked around this to some extent by running two cables from my AVR to the TV (it supports dual outputs), and using one for Blu-ray and the other for everything else.

Presumably you can still connect all video sources to the AVR and switch them to the projector in the usual way?
It seems to be the way - I think so anyway. Maybe I'm wrong because the two sources connected to the amp (UHD BluRay) and Nvidia Shield, I use essentially the same settings anyway. But the TV does definitely see the two items connected to the amp as separate devices, even with devices names on them.

I'll have a look for you properly later. Can't at the moment, as I have electricians in wall-mounting the TV, and they just hit a gas-pipe. Yay. Not really their fault, gas pipe in a very strange location.
 

Dorian

Active Member
I think you make some excellent points, and you are correct in your summary.

Things to watch out for are that some implementations of eARC have been a bit buggy, so it might be worth checking in the owners forum before purchase. Although if the hardware is there, future firmware updates should potentially fix the issue.

Does your TV have enough HDMI ports to support all of your potential future devices?

Plus, to buy an AVR now with eARC that is of the same sound quality as your previous Arcam will require a healthy budget.

There are still one or two units of the Arcam FMJ range being sold off heavily discounted as end of line, but no eARC. The new Arcam HDA range are out, they have eARC, were initially very buggy but seem to be working better now after several firmware updates. They are at full RRP.

An alternative to Arcam is Nad which is said to offer the Arcam sound for a bit less money, but that is also not perfect, with a few characteristics to be aware of. The Nad T778 owners thread should offer you more details on those.

If your old Arcam was pre the FMJ range then you didn't have Dirac, so that will be potentially adding something new for you to try.
Thanks Rambles and some good points to think about there. Sounds like I've got lucky on eARC with the combo of the 1080 and the LG TV. Will definitely bear in mind that other AVR's may not be quite as effective.

I have mixed feelings about Arcam these days, enjoyed what I owned although did have a fault with one device and there's a few stories out there, but also reports of things improving from 2012 onwards.

Was actually very impressed with the sound of my Pioneer SC-2023 so wondered about a Pioneer from higher up the model range but their AVR range seem to be disappearing from retailers. I've tried a ~£300 Yamaha in the past and didn't really like it, but maybe a higher end Yammy might be worth considering.
 

AndyC_772

Active Member
For what it's worth, I have an AVR550 (ARC support only - no eARC).

I had a problem when I first set up my LG CX. I connected my PS4 Pro to the AVR, selected the 'GAME' input, and started playing. After a while - maybe 1/2 hr or so - the screen momentarily blacked out, as though it was doing an HDMI resync. It happened repeatedly, then eventually the AVR actually switched inputs on its own (to 'Display', IIRC).

I never really got to the bottom of why, but since connecting the TV to the secondary video output (with no ARC support) it's not happened again. I think, maybe, the TV was trying to assert itself as the audio source via ARC.

It's a shame, because I had planned to use ARC for sound from the TV tuner, but instead I just ran a Toslink cable between TV and AVR. It's effectively wasting an input on the AVR, but better that than have the picture drop out every time I reach a boss fight on the PS4, which is what seemed to happen...!
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
For what it's worth, I have an AVR550 (ARC support only - no eARC).

I had a problem when I first set up my LG CX. I connected my PS4 Pro to the AVR, selected the 'GAME' input, and started playing. After a while - maybe 1/2 hr or so - the screen momentarily blacked out, as though it was doing an HDMI resync. It happened repeatedly, then eventually the AVR actually switched inputs on its own (to 'Display', IIRC).

I never really got to the bottom of why, but since connecting the TV to the secondary video output (with no ARC support) it's not happened again. I think, maybe, the TV was trying to assert itself as the audio source via ARC.

It's a shame, because I had planned to use ARC for sound from the TV tuner, but instead I just ran a Toslink cable between TV and AVR. It's effectively wasting an input on the AVR, but better that than have the picture drop out every time I reach a boss fight on the PS4, which is what seemed to happen...!


The issue you had may have been caused by another device connected to the AV receiver and that device's HDMI Control?CEC? I'd suggest you ensure HDMI CEC or an implementation of it is disabled on all but the TV and the AV receiver.
 
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abr1

Active Member
I have found a way of getting the benefits of EARC with an old non-EARC receiver. Aside from a TV with EARC you will need one, maybe two things:
1) (Essential) shArc - this will take the EARC signal from your TV and convert it to standard HDMI audio; you connect to your AVR as an HDMI input (not using ARC)
2) (may be required) HDMI switcher (I used this one); with the LG CX TV, I found having the shArc and video out from the AVR connected to the TV created some sort of CEC handshake issue and this switcher fixed it

If you have enough HDMI ports, connect all video inputs to the TV then use the shArc to output audio to the AVR. If not, either use your AVR for some of the inputs (based on the limitations of your AVR - generally non HDMI 2.1 devices, or if it's an even older AVR then non-4K as well) and just use the TV for the newer video formats. If necessary (as it was for me), connect the older devices to the HDMI switcher instead of the AVR. I now have no video being processed by the AVR - the switcher I got is fine for HDMI 2.0 i.e. 4k 60Hz, and presumably in time you will be able to get HDMI 2.1 switchers.

The shArc is about £130 plus duty I think (ships from US), and the HDMI switcher was under £40. Pair these with a good quality amp and you have a fairly future-proofed solution. If you have no need for Atmos, you could get a really high quality second hand 5.1 amp and this would be a nice solution, still with the latest video tech.
 

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