JBL Soundbar: How to Fix an HDMI ARC That’s Not Working
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JBL Soundbar: How to Fix an HDMI ARC That’s Not Working

We're all aware of the pivotal role an HDMI ARC plays in facilitating a seamless connection for our audio-visual devices. It may thus be puzzling when your audio fades off quickly, or the speaker remains silent after you’ve connected your sound bar to the TV. Rather than assuming the worst and fearing a damaged HDMI ARC, it's crucial to note that an audio issue can arise from diverse reasons, from streaming channel glitches to overlooked audio output settings. To ensure you find the right solution to your conundrum, running a systematic troubleshoot is recommended. If you’re unsure where to begin, it may be helpful to first understand what an HDMI ARC entails.

What is a HDMI ARC?

HDMI ARC stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) Audio Return Channel (ARC). Its brilliance lies in its ability to declutter and streamline your audio system — meaning that rather than dealing with multiple cables for video, audio, and more, it allows you to connect your TV to external apparatus such as sound bars with just one single high-speed cable. Besides ensuring a neater setup, it also enhances your audio experience. This is because the audio signals can efficiently flow to and from the speakers simultaneously, boosting both the quality and latency of audio output. Furthermore, with how it adeptly transmits a wide array of audio formats, the HDMI ARC makes a superior choice over other options like digital optical audio. At this point, you may wonder: how do I know if a damaged HDMI ARC or other factors are why my JBL Soundbar is not working, and how do I fix the problem?

How to Fix a JBL Soundbar HDMI ARC That’s Seemingly Not Working

When diving into the technical realm of audio systems, here are some reasons why you might be facing difficulties with your audio output and solutions to each problem:

1. Power Cycling

First things first! Before delving into more complex troubleshooting methods, always begin with the basics. A simple reboot, or power cycling, is a straightforward process that can often rectify many technology-related glitches if they aren't related to specific settings. Here's how to execute it:

  1. Shut down both your TV and JBL Soundbar.
  2. Unplug your TV and Soundbar’s power adapters, followed by the HDMI ARC cable.
  3. Wait for approximately five minutes.
  4. Reconnect the power adapters for your devices and then the HDMI ARC.
  5. Turn both devices on and test.

If a quick restart of your JBL Soundbar doesn't resolve the issue, it's time to dive deeper.

2. Correcting the HDMI ARC Input Connection

Misconnections are often also a culprit for audio issues. For HDMI ARCs to function correctly, both ends of the cable must be connected to appropriate ARC-labelled inputs. Otherwise, the audio will be disabled. As such, do check that you're using the correct input.

3. Turning On TV Audio Settings

Modern TVs offer a variety of audio settings, and occasionally, your current sound system may not be able to process the audio from the original media. In this case, adjusting the TV's settings to align with the audio format might be the solution. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do so:


  1. Navigate to your TV's main settings menu.
  2. Go to the audio settings and select ‘output device’.
  3. Find and select your JBL Soundbar from the list.
  4. Test the audio.
  5. Depending on your TV model, you may also require a restart for the settings to take effect.

There’s another audio setting called ‘Digital Sound Out’ that you should check before testing the setup again.

  1. Navigate to your TV's settings.
  2. Go to the audio settings and select “additional settings”.
  3. Search for Digital Sound Out.
  4. In the options, see if the Digital Audio Out is set to ‘Auto’ or ‘Pass Through’, and try switching between these two options to fix the issue.

Besides this, another way to verify your audio settings is by adjusting your audio output to "PCM" (Pulse Code Modulation). While this may limit you to stereo sound that lacks the depth of multichannel audio, it better enables you to determine if the root cause lies in the audio format's compatibility.

4. Fixing a Problematic Cable or Port

Just like any other piece of hardware, regular wear and tear or accidental tugs can result in connection problems affecting ARC audio performance. If the internal wiring of the HDMI port gets detached from the motherboard, this will compromise the HDMI ARC’s functionality. Additionally, you should also check if your HDMI ARC is damaged or loose. If any component is damaged, consider seeking assistance from a repair shop or leveraging your warranty to address the issue. 

5. Enabling Consumer Electronic Control

The Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) setting is a linchpin for HDMI ARC functionality. Your ARC will not function correctly if CEC is turned off, since the CEC manages the ARC feature and enables the remote control of devices. Depending on your TV’s brand, your CEC setting might appear under a different name; here’s what you can do for some of the major brands:

  1. Samsung: Access Settings > General > External Device Manager > search for ‘Anynet+ (HDMI-CEC)’.
  2. LG: Access Settings > General > Simplink and click ‘Activate the Simplink’ to turn on HDMI-CEC for your LG TV and turn on ‘Auto Power Sync’.
  3. Sony: 
    • Smart TV: Go to Home > select ‘External Inputs’ > HDMI Setup > select ‘Control for HDMI’ and activate the toggle switch. 
    • Non-smart TV: Access Settings > select ‘System Settings’ > click on ‘Setup’ > head to Bravia Sync Settings > pick ‘HDMI Device Selection’ to activate it.
  4. Panasonic: Go to Menu > Setup > HDMI Control > select ‘CEC’, and activate the toggle switch.
  5. Vizio: Go to Menu > System > navigate to ‘CEC’, and then set it to ‘Enable’.
  6. Philips: Go to Home > select ‘Setup’> access ‘TV Settings’ > navigate to ‘Installation’ > choose ‘Preferences’ > click on ‘EasyLink’ > enable toggles for ‘Master EasyLink’, ‘Auto TV’, and ‘RC Key Forwarding’.
  7. Sharp: Go to Menu > System Options > choose ‘Aquos Link Setup’ and activate ‘Aquos Link Control’.
  8. Roku: Go to Home > Settings > System > Control other devices (CEC) > select ‘System Audio Control’ and check its box. Likewise, choose ‘1-touch play’ and activate it.
  9. Toshiba: Go to Menu > Options > navigate to HDMI CEC Control Setup and activate HDMI CEC Control > enable the ‘TV Auto Power’, ‘Auto Standby’, and ‘Amplifier Control’ settings.

If you don't find the CEC feature immediately, you might want to:

  1. Select ‘General’ > system preferences > additional audio configuration.
  2. Once found, activate the CEC feature.
  3. Restart your TV and test to see if the issue is resolved.

6. Addressing Outdated Software

Sometimes, the problem might originate from the Soundbar itself, be it a hardware malfunction, software glitch, or outdated software. Resetting your JBL Soundbar based on the following steps can clear out potential glitches:

  • Turn on your JBL Soundbar and press the Volume + and Virtual Surround buttons simultaneously.
  • Hold for about five seconds.
  • Allow the Soundbar to reboot.

Be careful not to unplug the Soundbar during the reset to prevent potential software complications. If a reboot does not rectify the problem, you can also consider performing a factory reset on each connected device separately to remedy the problem.

7. Resolving Device or Platform-Related Issues

If the HDMI ARC malfunction isn't due to the HDMI, the cable, or even the configurations, it might stem from the device you're employing, such as your TV, the streaming service, or even your JBL Soundbar. To pinpoint the issue, consider toggling between different streaming services or devices to determine whether the root cause lies with the HDMI connection, device, or streaming platform-related reasons. 


Find Your Perfect Soundscape with JBL

Fixing technical issues can be a test of patience, but most problems can be resolved with the right approach. If you have identified that your JBL Soundbar is faulty, JBL NZ offers a one-year local warranty across our illustrious range. From TV Soundbars to noise-cancelling headphones and beyond, you can easily get your devices fixed at your nearest JBL service centre.

For the discerning audiophile seeking an elevation in their sonic experience, or those desiring to upgrade their audio setup, JBL's vast and sophisticated suite of products awaits. Whether your heart is set on an impeccable Soundbar for that theatre-like experience or other audio products,