HDMI ARC VS Optical | Which One Should You Use?

hdmi arc vs optical

If you are using a PC or an external audio device with your laptop or TV, you might have noticed you need a cable to connect the two if it is not wireless. You will require an HDMI arc cable or an optical audio cable to make the connection.  Let’s find out which among HDMI Arc Vs Optical is the best?

HDMI Arc stands for the High definition multimedia interface and the arc stands for Audio return channel. This cable can transmit audio and video between the tv and the external speaker. The optical audio cable on the other hand was used by Sony and Philips for sending data or audio signals without converting them into analog signals.

In this post, we will discuss more on HDMI Arc Vs Optical. Which one should you use and what are the applications of both. We will make a comparison between the two so that you can decide which one fits better for you. So, without wasting time, let’s start.

HDMI ARC VS Optical

HDMI ARC was introduced with HDMI 1.4 in 2009. With HDMI ARC you no longer required another cable for transferring audio between the TV and AV receiver. The cable will tackle the care of upstream and downstream data. You can use these cables in the modern TVs with built-in apps like Netflix, Disney plus, and prime video to connect the tv with the music system.

An optical audio cable was developed for transmitting the compressed sound or uncompressed PCM only. The optical cable is based on optic fiber TOSLINK which simply transmits optical audio. Before the introduction of HDMI ARC, these cables were widely used. Currently, these cables are used by DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby TrueHD, etc.

Related: Does Balanced Sound Better Than Unbalanced Audio Cable?

HDMI ARC VS Optical: Comparison Table

FeaturesHDMI ARCOptical Audio
Cable typeTOSLINKHDMI 1.4 or more
Stereo 2.0YesYes
Audio Brandwidth384 Kbits/s1 Mbits/s
5.1 Surround Sound (Compressed)YesYes
5.1 Surround Sound (uncompressed)NoNo
7.1 Surround Sound (Compressed)NoYes
7.1 Surround Sound (Uncompressed)NoNo
Dolby Digital (Lossy)YesYes
DTS Digital Surround (Lossy)YesYes
Dolby Digital (Lossy)NoYes
DTS-HD Master Audio (Lossless)NoNo
Dolby TrueHD (Lossless)NoNo
DTS:X (Lossless)NoNo
DiscoveryNoHDMI CEC
Audio Sync CorrectionNoOptional
TV Controls (Mute and Volume)NoYes

HDMI ARC VS Optical: Differences

Let’s find out some major differences between the two cables which will help you to find the best cable as per your usage.

Audio Quality:

If we talk about the audio quality, the optical cable can transmit high bandwidth in comparison to HDMI ARC. The optical cable supports Dolby Digital, DTS Digital Surround Sound up to 5.1. HDMI ARC on the other hand can support Digital Plus up to 7.1 channels.

Video Quality

There is no comparison here. The optical cable cannot transmit video. It is only used to transmit audio signals. But the HDMI ARC cables are capable of transmitting both audio and video signals.

Cable Length

When it comes to cable length, we usually prefer long cables, but it is not correct. The shorter the cable the better the sound quality. Shorter cables produce less interference. Optical cables come in various sizes. You can have an optical; cable up to 30 meters. The HDMI cables on the other hand come up to 15 meters.

Build Quality:

The build quality of both the cables is different. The build quality of both the cables is good. Optical cables are manufactured from fiber optics material while the HDMI cables are manufactured from copper. HDMI cables are more flexible than optical cables. Optical cables are also more expensive than HDMI cables. However, the interference of HDMI cables is more than the optical cables.

HDMI ARC VS Optical: Which One To Buy

Now the main question remains which one should you buy. The answer to this question lies in the application of the cable. If you have to connect your TV with an external speaker or a music system, then an optical cable is best for you. However, if you have more applications like you need to stream the services as well, then HDMI ARC is the best choice for you. Today you will see another HDMI cable on the market HDMI eARC. This is the upgraded version of the HDMI ARC, we recommend purchasing this cable.

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Wrapping Up

Here we conclude our post on HDMI Arc Vs Optical. Both these cables are a perfect fit for transmitting audio from one device to another. However, if you have the video application as well, you can use the HDMI ARC and if you only need an audio transmission, then optical is perfect for you. Moreover, optical is more expensive than the HDMI ARC.

Keep exploring our website to know more about the latest tech.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is HDMI ARC Better Than Optical?

Both these cables are a perfect fit for transmitting audio from one device to another. If you have to connect your TV with an external speaker or a music system, then an optical cable is best for you. However, if you have more applications like you need to stream the services as well, then HDMI ARC is the best choice for you. Today you will see another HDMI cable on the market HDMI eARC. This is the upgraded version of the HDMI ARC, we recommend purchasing this cable.

Q2. Is It Better To Use Optical Or HDMI For The Soundbar?

 If you have to connect your TV with an external speaker, soundbar, or music system, then an optical cable is best for you.

Q3. When Should I Use HDMI ARC?

 if you have more applications like you need to stream the services as well, then HDMI ARC is the best choice for you. Today you will see another HDMI cable on the market HDMI eARC. This is the upgraded version of the HDMI ARC, we recommend purchasing this cable.

Q4. Does HDMI ARC Support Dolby Atmos?

Yes, HDMI ARC supports Digital Plus up to 7.1 channels and Dolby Atmos.

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