Arcam and JBL AV receivers are set to jump to HDMI 2.1 later this year. Harman Luxury Audio Group, which owns both brands, has announced that some models will be upgradeable to the standard sometime between October and the end of December.
All current Arcam models will be upgradeable – that's the Arcam AVR10, AVR20, AVR30 (pictured) and AV40. These will be joined by the JBL Synthesis SDR-35 and SDP-55.
Upgrading isn't quite as simple as downloading new firmware, though. Instead, you will need an HDMI 2.1 video board retrofitted by an Arcam/JBL Synthesis service centre. Once that's done, you'll have HDMI 2.1 capability on all inputs and outputs.
HDMI 2.1 increases bandwidth capability to 48Gbps – that's up from 18Gbps with HDMI 2.0. It also supports video resolutions up to 10K (so 8K should pose no problem) and frame rates up to 120fps. You will need Ultra High-Speed HDMI cables to take advantage of these new features, and a TV with at least one HDMI 2.1 input.
Harman says the upgrade will futureproof all compatible devices.
"By announcing this forthcoming HDMI upgrade, we are giving our customers the confidence that their AVR will remain at the leading edge of audio and video capability and will support the future wave of 8K video products," said Jim Garrett, Senior Director, Product Strategy and Planning at Harman Luxury Audio.
"We will be working with our global dealer and distributor partners to ensure that the upgrade process is as quick and painless as possible and that performance and reliability are first-rate."
Pricing and further details of the HDMI 2.1 video board will be announced nearer the time.
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Given Arcam's recent track record of selling half-finished kit requiring multiple firmware updates over a year after launch, I'm not holding out much hope. This just smacks of a desperate company trying to offload existing stock on what may prove to be an unfulfilled promise to gullible customers. I feel sorry for their dealers who take the flak.