I'm sure you've seen the terms HDMI-CEC and Anynet+ being thrown around, but what do they mean, and what are they?
The shorthand for HDMI-CEC and Anynet+ is HDMI control, and it's a feature found in most home theater components.
With older AV systems, connecting audio and visual equipment usually meant having a separate remote control for each device.
You would have one for the television, another for a VCR, another for a cable box or satellite TV hookup, and another for an audio system.
Thankfully, modern technology can do away with all of that via HDMI-CEC.
In this guide, I'll be explaining exactly what HDMI control is and how it works.
HDMI-CEC is a technology that allows you to control multiple devices in your home theater with a single remote.
It's a function built into many televisions, Blu-ray players, soundbars, and AV receivers.
The term CEC is an acronym for consumer electronics control.
HDMI-CEC allows devices connected to your high-definition television via HDMI ports to communicate with each other.
The communication only occurs between the television and the device attached via the HDMI input, such as a DVD or Blu-ray player.
The HDMI CEC function lets you use one remote control to operate two or more HDMI devices connected to your television.
A streaming digital video device, such as a Roku base, can control the Roku device as well as your television, for example.
The more devices you connect via HDMI ports, the more useful the CEC function becomes.
For example, you could use a single remote to power on all your devices - and switch them all off again with one button press.
You can also use consumer electronics control to bypass the remote completely.
If you put a disc in your Blu-ray or DVD player it can automatically switch the TV to the correct input and display the movie.
HDMI-CEC enables you to control the functions of several devices connected to your television via HDMI ports.
For example, you could use the remote for a Blu-ray player to control the television - or use the television remote to control the Blu-ray player.
While the CEC protocol allows for several different commands, not all of them will be used by your devices. It will depend on the brand.
However, the most common CEC commands that most devices will allow are:
Most devices enabled for HDMI-CEC will be able to control these functions with a single remote control.
In some devices, you may be able to disable some of these functions, while keeping others enabled. This allows you to fine tune the way it works in your set up.
This article is helpful if you want a more detailed look on how CEC commands work.
Much like an old-fashioned universal remote, HDMI control makes it possible to reduce the number of necessary remotes to just one and control all devices in use.
That makes it a lot easier for the entire family to use while reducing the possibility of losing one or more remotes.
You will have more space on the table. You will use fewer batteries.
You will spend less time searching around the room for all the missing remotes.
And you will immediately know which remote controls the volume!
While HDMI-CEC is a relatively standardized function, many manufacturers of HDMI devices use different terms to refer to their respective CEC technologies.
Common examples include Anynet+, the trade name that Samsung uses for its function, and SIMPLINK, the LG corporation's trade name.
Other commonly used trade names for famous brands include:
As you can see, you may have been using CEC already without realizing it!
Some devices, like soundbars, may have CEC turned on by default. However, for most you will need to enable it in a menu setting.
Enabling consumer electronics control on most high-definition televisions is simply a matter of going to the TV's respective Settings listing and choosing "System."
The system function will enable you to select "Control other devices," - which is the CEC function.
The actual steps will be different for each brand. But, the general idea is the same.
This article has a useful list of how to enable CEC for different TVs.
When using a brand with its own proprietary HDMI-CEC system, the Settings section is typically where you initiate the communications.
For example, you would press the settings button on the remote with an LG television to open the settings menu.
Once open, you choose Connection on the left menu and then HDMI Device Settings. This may vary depending on the model that you have:
The SIMPLINK menu lets you turn it on and confirm it is working.
Notice that the description provided by LG says it may not work as expected unless you connect to another LG device.
Welcome to the world of HDMI-CEC!
Another example is Anynet+ for a Samsung TV.
The basic idea is the same.
Turn on the Anynet+ option within the settings menu - and then connect the TV to a compliant device via HDMI.
If you are using Anynet+ to control both your Samsung TV and Samsung Blu-ray player, then this should work without problems.
However, if you have a Samsung TV and a Sony Blu-ray player, then you may experience problems with the devices talking to each other.
It should work, but you'll just have to try it to be sure.
It really is as easy as 1-2-3:
You just need to be sure to enable the CEC function in the settings of all devices.
This is another 1-2-3 proposition in which you simply connect the HDMI cable to the soundbar and the other end to the TV's HDMI ARC port.
Then, go to the settings menu of the TV and soundbar to make sure CEC is enabled.
You can then turn both on and control the soundbar with your television's volume control.
With an AV receiver, you may need to enable HDMI ARC to use CEC.
On some AV receivers, there are separate on/off menu items for HDMI ARC and CEC.
So, you can have one enabled while the other is disabled - like in the example below.
You might want this if you wish to use HDMI ARC but don't want to use CEC.
For other models, enabling ARC will also allow HDMI CEC to work. It's all on or all off.
The process for setting everything up with an AV receiver is relatively straight-forward:
Enabling the HDMI CEC feature on all devices will let you control the AV system and Blu-ray with the TV remote.
The quirky world of high-tech electronics and cloud streaming capabilities can cause conflicts among different brands and units.
An LG system with its own proprietary system might not work as well with a device designed to function with a more widely distributed Roku TV, for example.
In this case, you may not be able to rely on HDMI control.
Some people also find it easier to use two or three remotes instead of one.
They do not have to toggle and switch between devices, especially when trying to mute the volume on an AV system.
You can sometimes get a situation where a device will switch on when you don't want it to. Or your TV switches input when you are watching something.
If you are careful with the control of your remotes (see what I did there?), you should be fine. But there are times when things appear to have a mind of their own.
Finally, CEC support isn't mandatory on HDMI devices. So, it may be that your device doesn't allow for this type of control at all.
When it works, HDMI control can be an excellent way to streamline your home theater system.
However, it is a technology that can have problems. Here are a few ideas to try and fix any issues that you might be having:
Hopefully, some of these troubleshooting ideas will help you find the problem.
If it still doesn't work, you may have to accept that your devices are incompatible, and you will need an alternative solution.
The most obvious alternative to using HDMI-CEC would be to use a universal remote, like a Logitech Harmony.
This controls your television and any connected devices with a single remote - much like with CEC.
The advantage of universal remotes is you are not relying on the CEC communication to work as advertised. And, you can program the remote to work precisely how you wish.
Logitech Harmony remotes are the top-dog of the universal remote world. I've had a couple of different models over the years.
They are expensive though. And new ones are hard to find at the moment.
An alternative is to buy a cheap universal remote at Amazon (other retailers available!).
Some AV receivers and TVs also come with universal remotes that can be programmed with codes for commonly used devices.
You also could use Bluetooth or cloud-based streaming to communicate with no cable on many newer devices.
The main thing to remember is that if you aren't going to use HDMI-CEC, then it is best to switch off CEC control in all your devices.
This will keep things simpler and make sure you don't get unpredictable behavior when using the universal remote.
If you don't disable HDMI control, then devices may turn on and off when you don't want them to.
Having said that, some devices link HDMI ARC and HDMI control. So, if you switch off HDMI control, then HDMI ARC may stop working.
Just think about what you need to do before you turn things off.
Here are the answers to some common questions.
HDMI is an acronym for high-definition multimedia interface, while CEC is an acronym for consumer electronics control. The two combined become HDMI-CEC.
No, HDMI CEC does not require a special cable, but the equipment must support the feature. HDMI CEC has been around since the beginning of the HDMI specification. CEC wiring is mandatory. So, it will work with any HDMI cable that you have - no matter how old or new. However, poorly-made cables might cause issues. So, if you have a problem, try a different cable.
Although defined in the original HDMI 1.0 specification, the HDMI CEC feature was fully-supported by HDMI 1.2a in December 2005, when consumer demand for Blu-ray players and audio receivers created a need to use a single remote to operate multiple devices.
No. HDMI CEC only controls connected HDMI devices. The ARC in HDMI ARC is an acronym for Audio Return Channel and makes it possible for the audio signal to travel both ways using the same cable. However, in some devices, you may need to enable HDMI Control to make HDMI ARC work. Other devices may have separate controls for each.
Most PCs and laptop computers simply do not use remote control units and enable users to control HDMI-connected devices from the keyboard or mouse. Many also simply use cloud streaming to cut the cable without requiring HDMI CEC.
Paul started the Home Cinema Guide to help less-experienced users get the most out of today's audio-visual technology. He has worked as a sound, lighting and audio-visual engineer for around 20 years. At home, he has spent more time than is probably healthy installing, configuring, testing, de-rigging, fixing, tweaking, re-installing again (and sometimes using) various pieces of hi-fi and home cinema equipment.