Question What is possible with HDMI in home multimedia? HDCP ARC...


Oct 31, 2015
Hi everyone,

Despite being a network engineer at Cisco, I am a complete noob within the space of multimedia. I know the basic differences between HDMI and DP and the different versions within HDMI, I also know the basics in 4K Video and Audio. But I lack some basic knowledge to understand how HDMI can be used at this point and what impact HDCP and ARC have on this. Although a lot of info can be found online, the real answers to my questions seem to be hidden away, let's hope I can get them here.

Let's imagine the following scenario's:
1: media player connected to receiver connected to tv
2: receiver connected to media player with dual hdmi connected to tv
3: media player connected to tv connected to receiver
4: home network as media source connected to tv connected to receiver
5: home network as media source connected to receiver connected to tv

Let's discuss the following aspects:
1: Where is the audio and video put together in a container and stripped from eachother?
2: Where is the audio and or video encrypted and decrypted (HDCP --> each hop/beginning and ending/different versions?
3: In what way do ARC and eARC improve this situation?

Basically I would like to know what HDMI can do in these situation and where it lacks certain capabilities (or what it is designed for and what not). I would like someone to explain me this based on what happens with the data flow from source to destination, forgive me for being so network oriented in the way I try to understand this. :)
Standard hookup is: Sources -----(assume HDMI)-----> AVR ------(HDMI again)-------> TV.

This is the "network" view:

HDMI (pretty standard these days) carries video + audio. As it goes through the AVR, AVR copies the audio and send it to speakers and whatever audio processing it needs, then forward everything actually (video+audio) to TV, but on the TV people who use AVR ignore (disable) the TV built-in speakers, otherwise u may get an echo.

Related terms and what they do:

HDMI 1.4 handles 1080 video (so last decade)
HDMI 2.0 handles 4K video.
HDMI in general enables highest quality, uncompressed audio, Optical can only handle compressed audio.
HDCP has to do with Digital Right Management. Anti-pirating.
ARC is just a facility to redirect audio from TV back to Receiver. There are several instances where this is useful, like when you are playing broadcast (antenna) TV, in this case the SOURCE is the TV, how do you get the TV's tuner audio to the AVR's attached speakers? ARC or a secondary Optical hookup. Sometimes for a variety of reasons people can't hookup sources to AVR but they plug them directly into TV, again, how do you get that audio back to the receiver? ARC.
eARC is the next generation ARC allowing more bandwidth still, to accommodate gazillion channels Dolby ATMOS.

So enough about theories. What do you have? what do u want to do?
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