Soundcore earbuds with excellent noise cancellation, using ARC and eARC HDMI connections (Week 31, 2023)

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 31, 2023

Q. I am looking for true wireless earbuds with very effective noise cancellation. Is there anything comparable to the super-quiet Soundcore Space noise-cancelling headphones you recommended?

-B.R., Chicago, IL

A. You are correct that the Soundcore Space headphones have extremely effective noise cancellation. I have recommended them to several frequent flyers, and they were shocked by how quiet they are. It is spooky, almost like being in space, as the name suggests.

Given that Soundcore has been hitting home runs in this category, I recommend sticking with them and trying the Soundcore Liberty 4 NC earbuds, which offer 98.5% noise reduction and are only $99.99 per pair.

Q. My Hisense H9G TV has an eARC HDMI port. I am not currently using it and have my Apple TV streaming box connected to my Denon A/V receiver, which is then connected to one of the TV’s non-eARC HDMI ports. Should I keep it that way or use eARC? I’ve always been under the impression that going through the receiver is the way to go, but with eARC I don’t know.

-R.M., Homer City, PA

A. Most TV HDMI ports are only inputs. An ARC or eARC HDMI port can can also send audio out from the television over the HDMI cable to an external device. ARC stands for audio return channel and eARC is enhanced audio return channel, which has more speed than the regular ARC. This allows it to support additional audio formats, such as Dolby Atmos.

Here is an example of how an ARC and eARC HDMI connection works in two directions. In a system there is an HDMI cable connected from the eARC port on the receiver to the eARC port on the television. A cable box is connected to an input on the receiver. You select the cable box and the receiver plays the audio and sends the video signal to the television. If you enable CEC on both the television and the receiver you will find that the television remote control now controls the volume on the receiver as well.

After viewing some cable television you decide to watch Hulu streamed from your Smart TV. When you select the Hulu app on the television it will display the Hulu content and send the audio signal to the receiver for playback. Many sound bars take advantage of this by incorporating a single ARC port. If you connect a Blu-ray player or cable box to HDMI inputs on the television and the TV to the sound bar by ARC, whenever you change the input on the TV it will send the sound from the television to the sound bar. It’s a way for manufacturers to make affordable soundbars with a single HDMI port, rather than multiple ports and switching.

The only way for you to use to use your AppleTV with eARC is to connect it to the television directly and then use eARC to send the sound back to the receiver. In your case I believe you have the simplest and most elegant solution connecting the Apple TV directly to the receiver. You may want to connect the receiver and TV by their eARC ports in case you ever want to use the streaming service on the TV itself rather than the Apple box. It will work the same as it does now with Apple TV, and you may find channels available on the Hisense Android TV that are not available from Apple.

Next week I will publish a detailed follow-up with my personal findings using ARC and eARC and direct connections between my sound bars, televisions and receivers.