The new Apple TV 4K is capable of receiving high-quality audio from a TV that supports ARC or eARC technology and can broadcast the sound through your HomePod speakers.
Apple TV 4K Can Broadcast TV Audio Sources Over Your HomePods
The second-generation Apple TV 4K can route any audio source connected to a compatible TV right to your HomePod, automatically. This means you can, say, finally, use your HomePod for gaming provided your game console is connected to an ARC-compatible TV.
This feature is currently in beta.
It requires a second-generation Apple TV, one or more HomePod speakers, and a TV set that supports HDMI ARC or eARC (there should be an “ARC” label next to the TV’s HDMI port). You might need to manually turn on ARC, eARC, or HDMI-CEC in tvOS Settings.
A support document on Apple’s website says the HomePod mini speakers aren’t supported.
How to configure ARC or eARC on Apple TV
Before configuring HDMI ARC or eARC, be sure to set up home theater audio with your HomePod and Apple TV 4K using Apple’s instructions.
With that done, go to Settings > Video and Audio > Default Audio Output on your Apple TV and verify that your HomePod is selected under Default Audio Output. Next, select Play Television Audio under Audio Return Channel (Beta).
And that’s all there’s to it!
Both the Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K enable you to set your HomePod speaker or stereo pair as the default output for all sound coming from the Apple TV itself (requires tvOS 14.2). This basically turns your HomePods into home theater speakers for your Apple TV.
And thanks to Apple’s computational audio features, your HomePod(s) set up in this way are capable of rendering Dolby Atmos and other surround sound standards when watching movies on your Apple TV, creating a faux surround soundscape.
Tell Me More About ARC and eARC
ERC, or Audio Return Channel, is a technology that enables all audio sources connected to a compatible TV set to be routed to the same place, no matter where they come from. It uses a single HDMI port to handle all audio to and from a given device.
With ERC, you can do things like plug in a soundbar to one HDMI input on your TV and have audio from any devices connected to the TV automatically play through that soundbar.
eARC, or Enhanced Audio Return Channel, is an improved version of the ARC standard that adds a 5.1-channel audio passthrough with support for newer surround sound technologies such as Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and more.
eARC was introduced as part of the HDMI 2.1 specification. In other words, you need HDMI 2.1 support across your devices to make the most of eARC.