Pioneer and Onkyo roll out eARC and MQA updates

Enhanced Audio Return Channel (or eARC), which you can read all about here, is a next-gen ARC feature being implemented in the upcoming HDMI 2.1 specification, and is essentially a way for high bitrate formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X to be transmitted between your TV and soundbar or AV receiver.

Like the HDMI 2.1 standard it is part of, eARC is a newfangled specification, and only now are we beginning to see the first wave of hardware support for it.

To that end, Pioneer has just announced that eARC capability has been granted to its 7.2-channel SC-LX502 and 9.2-channel VSX-LX503 AV receivers, while Onkyo’s update rollout will initially activate eARC on the 9.2-channel Onkyo TX-RZ830 and Integra DRX-5.2 network AV receivers. More models will no doubt follow.

Meanwhile, support for MQA continues to arrive on more kit. ‘Later this month’ a firmware update will gift MQA compatibility to Pioneer’s N-70AE and N-50AE music streamers, as well as its NC-50/NC-50DAB networked CD players.

A note on the latter: while they won’t be able to properly decode MQA from an actual MQA-encoded CD, they will be able to decode the files ripped from one.

Naturally, all four players will be capable of playing back MQA music bought from sites such as Onkyo Music and Highresaudio.

Pioneer says it hopes to have MQA playback support on more home audio products via firmware upgrades, and plans to announce further availability in the coming months. 

Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10+ years in the hi-fi industry, she has reviewed all manner of audio gear, from budget amplifiers to high-end speakers, and particularly specialises in headphones and head-fi devices. In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.