Sony has released a firmware update for its HT-ST5000 soundbar that adds eARC support. The enhanced protocol supports lossless audio formats via a TV.
Update 19.10.18: Sony confirms that the HT-Z9F (HT-ZF9) and HT-X9000F (HT-XF9000) soundbars as well as the STR-DN1080 and STR-DH790 AV receivers have also received the eARC update.
First soundbar with eARC
You may be familiar with HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel). eARC – or enhanced ARC – is the successor that supports full-quality audio, including lossless audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA.
Sony’s new A9F and Z9F flagship models will be the first TVs to feature eARC, and the company has now brought eARC capabilities to its flagship HT-ST5000 Dolby Atmos soundbar through a firmware update.
- ”eARC is a new HDMI 2.1 standardized function which adds support for the latest audio formats, in addition to audio formats supported by the existing Audio Return Channel (ARC) function,” Sony said. ”The eARC feature allows you to enjoy lossless object-based audio content such as Dolby Atmos with Dolby TrueHD, DTS:X, or multi-channel LPCM content that cannot be transmitted with the ARC function.”
Sony has previously confirmed to FlatpanelsHD that its other two HT-XF9000 (X9000F in the US) and HT-ZF9 (Z9F in the US) Atmos/DTS:X soundbars will also gain eARC capabilities.
With eARC in both TV and soundbar, the TV will be able to pass-through the highest quality audio formats (i.e. Dolby Atmos in Dolby TrueHD) from a Blu-ray player on to the soundbar. External devices will no longer have to be HDMI looped through the soundbar. It will also allow an app in the TV to output lossless audio, if the app offers support.
Sony has previously added support for DTS:X to HT-ST5000 via a firmware update.
With the update (version M40.R.0444), Sony’s flagship soundbar has become the first to support eARC. Several other eARC-compatible soundbars, including from Bose, Bluesound, and Sennheiser have been announced and will be available soon.