Project: Spectrum | What's your eARC Use Case?

sarcb

Hey community,

We are looking for more information about your use cases to help us evaluate if we should implement Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) on Spectrum, and how to ensure you get the most out of it if we do. eARC allows an audio/video receiver (AVR) or a soundbar receive audio directly from an HDMI 2.1 cable. From your previous discussions, we learned that the most popular use case of this feature on an HDMI 2.1 monitor is to get the optimal sound out of Xbox Series X, S, and PS5 without the need for an HDMI audio extractor or hurting Spectrum’s refresh rate. Because it’s rare for monitors to support this feature, we need your help to develop a test standard representing your use case.

What we want to know from you

How important eARC support is when you buy a new monitor?

  • eARC support is a must-have for any monitor I buy
  • eARC is nice-to-have for any monitor I buy
  • I don’t intend to use eARC
  • I don’t know enough about eARC to answer this question

0 voters

Why you choose eARC over other ways of getting the sound out of your source device?

What is the name of the devices involved in your eARC setup?

How your eARC setup is connected together?

Device arrangement, the cables used… The more detailed, the better!

We are looking forward to hearing you in the comments!

nlbanner

12 Likes

Why you choose eARC over other ways of getting the sound out of your source device?

Although my use-case is probably not how eARC is intended to be used. I would most likely use eARC to output the audio to a digital output for use with my headset. It uses a dongle that connects to a digital/optical port. Here is a few pictures of how it used to connect with the PS4:

The PS5 unfortunately as no optical output:


Because of this I am unable to connect the headset like I would like to. For more information about my headset read here.

After some research; I found a temporary solution. Where I could extract the audio from the HDMI to connect to a optical output (headset wireless dongle). I use an Amazon basics audio extractor. This does not have HDMI 2.1 which is why I previously said temporary.
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Front/back

Front/back

As mentioned in my previous post this setup is pretty messy! Although if I had smaller hdmi cables this could tidy things up slightly. In the following pictures I have split the setup into pictures to showcase:
Back/front of extractor connected#1


Back/front of extractor connected#2 (I forgot to take this picture while taking “setup” pictures.)

Back of PS5.

Because of the ethernet cable, and the usb for the extracter plugged in. There is no way to plug the dongle into the back of the Playstation, because of the design of the dongle; the cable plugs into the side of the dongle which is obstructed by the other cables connected.
(Apologies for the lighting in the 1st picture.) Off topic edit: Wow that’s dusty :joy:

Edit: Incase unclear this is the design of the dongle. Taken from the guide:

Front of Playstation


Because of the issues with the port spacing on the Ps5, the dongle is connected to the front of the console, and connects to the audio extractor located to the rear.

Rear of Playstation excluding power cable


As you can see the mess is starting to show.

Front of setup including monitor

I chose to connect my headset, and controller to the desk dock. To show the usual amount of cables.

Rear of Monitor


Typical amount of wires behind a monitor.

Rear/side of Playstation


This is with everything connected. Although this setup is very untidy, it allows me to use the headset how it’s intended.

As previously mentioned the extractor device does not have HDMI 2.1, because of this I would not be able to get optimal performance out of the Spectrum, but if the Spectrum had eARC I believe a similar setup would be possible; without affecting performance.

I think a few smaller HDMI cables would tidy things up a bit, but this would still be a very untidy setup. Luckily from the front, my headset holder hides most of mess.

Devices/cables used in this setup:

  • PS5
  • Amazon basics HDMI audio extractor
  • Turtle Beach Stealth 700
  • Turtle Beach Stealth 700 wireless dongle
  • 1x Digital Optical Audio cable.
  • Viewsonic VX2457-MHD (Budget monitor)
  • 2x HDMI 2.1 cables.
  • HP Elite X3 Deskdock
  • 1x USB A to Type C cable. (Charges controller/phone)
  • 1x USB to Micro USB (Charges headset)

Edit: I’ve just remembered the Spectrum doesn’t have speakers; so I will be using my old lame sound bar. When gaming without the headset. At some point I will be upgrading this to a sound system, or just a better sound bar. Having access to eARC would give me more options.

20 Likes

I think the addition of eARC to the Spectrum should come down the the extra complexity and cost. If it is a minor or no cost increase with no additional complexity (already on the HDMI 2.1 chipset) then I would say why not. While I personally have no need for it, it does not mean that others may not and who knows? Maybe in the future there will be a common use case for it and all the monitors will have it. It will give the Spectrum another feature to stand out from the competition which is starting to bring out HDMI 2.1 monitors.

I know several users have been pushing for it so they can split the audio out and if it can be provided for them without delaying the ship date it seems like a good idea. Maybe if the hardware supports it, but the firmware does not it can be added with a firmware update after the launch.

8 Likes

I could be wrong, but I think to enable eARC on the Spectrum it would “only” need a firmware update.

2 Likes

Is eARC baked into the HDMI 2.1 standard? If so then any HDMI 2.1 scaler should support it in theory, at least on the hardware level.

4 Likes

@darkguy2
I’m not an expert, but I believe it’s a standard feature for HDMI 2.1. I think it would just need the software to enable the use of the feature. Again I’m not an expert so I very well could be wrong.

5 Likes

it is.

https://www.hdmi.org/spec/hdmi2_1

https://www.hdmi.org/spec21sub/enhancedaudioreturnchannel


In fairness, I haven’t voted yet. Here’s why.

  1. I’ll be using these monitors with my PC, which has S/PDIF optical out.

  2. I use the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless headset with my system, as detailed in my post here. My current config uses the S/PDIF Optical out from my mobo into the DAC (labeled by SS as PS4 mode lol) and using the headset via Wireless (WiFi) as a DTS enabled headset. So, I technically don’t need it.

  3. Because of that, and the fact that I bought one of these last week when eVGA had a flash sale for ELITE members at $109 (which combined with some eVGA Bucks, allowed me to get it for ~$105), I really don’t have a need for eARC.

That being said, though, I’m going to vote that I think it is a must-have - simply because it will be a great addition to an already impressive monitor, and one more reason for me to show it off to friends, and expand my use cases.

5 Likes

For me, eARC would be very nice to have, as I am currently running optical S/PDIF TOSLINK to a Pioneer receiver and out from there to 5.1 surround speakers.

My current setup is lossy though and my newest gaming PC doesn’t have S/PDIF RCA or optical audio out so it would be much better if I could use the higher quality compressed bitstream or uncompressed PCM digital audio from one of the HDMI ports on the spectrum running in eARC mode(*), and send that back to my receiver.

(*) I am assuming eARC could be enabled/disabled for one of the HDMI ports via the OSD menu.

6 Likes

For me it’s not a must have since I’m not going to use this feature immediately, but I am sure that if it gets implemented I will use this feature in the future, even just to try it.
Definitely nice to have if it is something that doesn’t complicates things too much on your side.

4 Likes

My reason for liking it is simple, It would allow me to connect multiple devices (Gaming PC. PS5, Xbox series x etc) to my sound bar using hdmi then I’d use eARC to the monitor. Simple but effective.

3 Likes

It is important to remember that only 2 HDMI ports are on the Spectrum. That means you can only have one incoming connection and one eARC connection to a sound bar unlike a TV which may have 4 or more HDMI ports with one or two having eARC.

4 Likes

In my case I would most likely only use both HDMI ports if eARC was available.

3 Likes

I think what the Spectrum needs is audio output on an optical digital terminal rather than eARC.
The only audio products that can be connected via HDMI are AV amplifiers and some soundbars, which are not commonly used with PCs or game consoles, and the devices are expensive.
An optical digital connector can be used to connect to USB DACs and speakers, and the sound quality is better than line output, so it is easier to use.
I know it’s impossible to add this feature now, but I think it was an essential feature in this day and age when audio output terminals have been eliminated from home game consoles.

5 Likes

If it had an optical port. Then In my scenario I would not need to use the HDMI splitter etc. I have tested this with my TV, and works as intended.

The problem with optical is it’s an old technology, and will soon be obsolete. It is being replaced with HDMI 2.1, because you will get better sound quality as apposed to using optical.

But not everyone wants to update their “old” hardware, because they still are good quality, and have a few years of life left in them.

eARC is the future as apposed to optical, and aux.

Edit: also to implement optical the whole Spectrum unit would need a redesign etc.

Edit #2: For example HDMI eARC is capable of 7.1-channel surround sound. Where as optical is only capable of 5.1.

Also HDMI 2.1 eARC supports audio codecs that digital optical can not support.

The e stands for enhanced.

3 Likes

So long as eARC is implemented together with automatic audio sync, and passtrough (It has been an optinal feature since HDMI 1.3 I think) it would greatly improve the future proofing of the device. Plus increase the numbers of use cases.

My personal experience with ARC implementations in the past have been a hit or miss, some devices not being compatible with others, etc… So not a real fan. But if eARC does become mainstream not having it would shorten the lifespan of Spectrum.

The question here is to know if the underlaying hardware can support it, and is only a firmware update away.

If Spectrum squashes all other pending features and there is time to spare sure. Even if it comes at a later time by means of a firmware update, once the USB upgrading process has been fully implemented, it would be a no brainer.

If it implies a hardware change, this late in the game… that is a Hard NO. No mather how cool it might sound (pun intended :stuck_out_tongue: ) There is always time for a Spectrum 2.

6 Likes

Here is a good breakdown between TOSLINK vs ARC vs eARC. It seems that audio sync is no longer optional.

6 Likes

Wow look at that bandwidth difference!

4 Likes

Yes it seems to be superior to TOSLINK and ARC in every way. While ARC was around 3X better in bandwidth then TOSLINK it was still limited to compressed 5.1 audio. eARK on the other hand is ~90X better! With the ability to send uncompressed 7.1 audio along with Atmos and other 3D audio support it blows the others out of the water. You do not even need a HDMI 2.1 cable to use it, you can use a HDMI 1.4 cable. I have to imagine that in the near future there will be new products coming out that can take advantage of eARC.

4 Likes

I don’t have much space in the apartment, so the monitor doubles as a TV. With eARC I could connect it to a proper sound bar for better audio configuration.

7 Likes

I’m in a very similar boat with my PS5. I wanted to be able to use Discord on my Mac to chat with non-Playstation friends while gaming, so I started using a Steelseries GameDAC with my PS4 Pro, which worked great thanks to the optical port. Now with the PS5 and its lack of an optical port I have to use an HDMI 2.0b audio splitter, but as you’ve said the lack of HDMI 2.1 support here is what makes this temporary. I was thinking that my only option once I received the Spectrum would be to use the audio passthrough 3.5mm port to the aux jack on the GameDac, which would screw up my ability to mix audio and kill some of the functionality on the GameDAC. Having ARC on the Spectrum would allow me to continue using that HDMI splitter downstream of the Spectrum to get audio to the GameDAC without relegating me to a 2.0 signal.

I think if it’s relatively straightforward to add ARC support to the Spectrum, then please do it.

8 Likes