HDMI CEC vs ARC: In Depth Comparative Analysis and Facts

This article shows an overall comparison between HDMI CEC vs ARC. CEC is the “Consumer Electronics Control,” a feature of HDMI that uses a single remote controller to control the HDMI cable connected devices.

We have learned already that HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) is also a particular function of HDMI. It is a port in the systems that allow high quality audio transmission. Both HDMI Arc and HDMI CEC use a single cable but for different purposes. Just like the name, HDMI CEC caters to the control of electronic devices.


What is CEC in HDMI?

As mentioned above, HDMI CEC is the abbreviation of Consumer Electronics Control. HDMI controlling devices are commonly known as CEC. A wide range of professional and consumer AV devices support this function.

Different electronic brands have given various names to CEC. For the brand Sony, it is “BraviaSync,”; for Philips, it is “Easylink,” for Samsung, “Anynet+, LG-“Simplink,” etc. All of these components work similarly, but one is not compatible with the other. HDMI CEC allows HDMI AV devices to communicate with each other.

What is the utility of CEC?

When we have to deal with multiple HDMI AV systems and manage them with an individual remote control, we can use the CEC feature. Besides passing video or audio, CEC helps all the devices to interconnect.

HDMI CEC establishes a back and forth connection between the TV and its HDMI joined peripherals. While the TV can control those devices, the devices also get some control over the TV. For example, we can control a gaming console through the TV remote. Similarly, the other systems can also change any TV input. 

Explain the differences between HDMI ARC and HDMI CEC.

Following are the major differences between HDMI CEC and HDMI Arc-

PurposeWe use HDMI Arc or Audio Return Channel for better audio experience.HDMI CEC eases the mutual control procedure between a device and its HDMI connected systems.
Method of usageHDMI Arc is a special port in the primary device. We can connect the soundbar or speaker with it so that the main device sends the audio back to the soundbar or speaker and provides good quality sound.If HDMI CEC is enabled in a component, it can control the devices connected to its HDMI port and vice-versa. Different brands have different methods to enable their CEC function.

Read more on…HDMI Vs HDMI Arc: Exhaustive Comparison and Detailed Facts and FAQs


Is HDMI ARC the same as HDMI CEC?

HDMI Arc and HDMI CEC are two separate entities. Arc is an enhanced function of HDMI technology. On the other hand, CEC or consumer electronics control is a single remote control for operating all HDMI systems. 

HDMI Arc ( Audio Return Channel ) is a specific port in HDMI TVs or other equipment that feeds the digital audio stream back to the soundbar. Thus we can play audio through an external sound system. CEC is a channel that controls input, power on and off, volume, play, pause, etc., in HDMI devices combined.

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Image credits : nakamichi-usa.com

Does eARC need CEC?

HDMI eArc or enhanced Arc is an even better version of Arc technology. The latest 2.1 standard HDMI has the eArc function implemented in it. HDMI eArc provides greater speed and bandwidth for the best audio.

HDMI eArc relies on CEC to automate remote control commands. The HDMI eARC only supports the discovery and set-up of eArc link, lip-sync, etc., operations. HDMI eArc was made to skip volume control commands which CEC performs for better usability. So, to use an eArc device, we must enable CEC as it is part of Arc discovery. 

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HDMI eARC specifications; Image Credit : hdmi.org

How can I set up HDMI Arc and CEC?

All the TV instruction manuals come with the setup process of CEC. We can use the TV remote and browse through the options to enable the CEC mode. Some TVs are by default set in CEC until we manually change them.

Every brand has a specific way to set the CEC function up. So we can not generalize the method. We can take the example of Samsung ( Anynet+) CEC here. Go to the Home screen through the remote, then to settings and select the “Anynet+” to turn it on. Finally, connect and turn on an HDMI device through a cable.  

How to enable Anynet+ in Series 6 4K UHD TV(KU6470)? | Samsung India
Samsung CEC( Anynet+) : Image source: samsung.com

Do all HDMI TVs need CEC?

CEC is a prevalent feature of TVs and other peripheral equipment. It allows two-way communication between the TV and the other devices connected to the TV’s HDMI port without the need for universal control.

CEC wiring is a must in modern TV sets , but optionally we can skip using it. There are many functions like one-touch play, one-touch record, routing control, deck control, system audio control etc. that can be done through CEC in TV. Though CEC can ease the usage, it is usually disabled by default. 

Does HDMI cable matter for CEC?

Consumer Electronics Control or CEC in HDMI equipment facilitates one stop control for all HDMI connected devices. It is just a special command that is independent of the HDMI cable.

CEC feature was first introduced in HDMI 1.0 and later updated in 1.3 standards. The CEC feature in HDMI is just used for the controlling purpose. It is implemented with TV remote settings. It has nothing to do with the cable. Any general HDMI cable works fine for CEC.