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Compare HDMI ARC Cable and Optical Fiber

May. 07, 2022

When sending audio from your TV to an external speaker system, you'll often find yourself choosing between HDMI ARC or using the digital optical output. A comparison of these two connection methods boils down to what works best for you. AIKE Electronics teaches you to consider the following.

If you are using an AV receiver, HDMI ARC will allow you to use one cable instead of two. HDMI ARC is only valid if the devices you are connecting support this format. If they do not, then you will need to use a digital optical cable anyway.


Compare HDMI ARC Cable and Optical Fiber


HDMI ARC supports more digital formats, including Dolby Digital Plus. you can also use HDMI eARC if you want to connect to a 7.1 surround sound system. digital optical leaves you with fewer options than digital optical.
Using HDMI ARC means that you need to enable HDMI CEC (we'll look at HDMI CEC in more detail below). In short, HDMI CEC allows your devices to communicate with each other. This sounds great in theory, but in practice it is difficult for different brands to communicate with each other. Unless all your hardware comes from the same manufacturer, digital optics may be less of a headache for you!

If you can, we recommend using HDMI ARC. if nothing else, it will make it easier to keep your cables neat and organized. However, if your hardware requires you to use digital optical cables, you won't suffer a diminished home theater experience as a result.


HDMI Cable Categories

When shopping around for a new HDMI cable, it pays to know what you're looking for. While some brands do their best to sell you their cables and promise a variety of speeds, there are only three official HDMI cable categories.
The higher the category, the more data they can handle. You will be able to find Category 1 and Category 2 HDMI cables with or without Ethernet. In contrast, all Category 3 HDMI cables include Ethernet capability as standard.
Below is a summary of each category of HDMI cables.


Compare HDMI ARC Cable and Optical Fiber


Category 1 HDMI Cables

Category 1 HDMI cables are referred to as "standard speed" cables. They can transfer up to 2.2GB of data per second.
If you plan to watch 720p or 1080i (standard HD), then you only need a Category 1 HDMI cable.

Category 2 HDMI Cables

Category 2 HDMI cables are called "high speed" cables. These cables can transfer up to 10.2GB of data per second.
These cables are suitable for viewing 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second or processing 4K resolution, 3D pictures and any video with enhanced color depth at 60 frames per second.
While there are also "Premium High Speed Cables" that offer slightly higher specifications than regular Category 2 cables, your Category 2 cable will still be able to handle.

Category 3 HDMI Cables

Category 3 HDMI cables are known as "SuperSpeed" cables, with data transfer rates of up to 48GB per second.
Category 3 was introduced in 2017 to meet the requirements of the HDMI 2.1 specification. If you want to watch 8K or 4K video at 120 frames per second, you'll need a Category 3 cable.

Compare HDMI ARC Cable and Optical Fiber


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