Do you have too many remote controls? What if you could use just one to control all your devices? With HDMI-CEC, you can! Find out how to use HDMI control.
You’ve probably come across the terms HDMI-CEC and Anynet+, but what do they mean, and what are they?
The general term for HDMI-CEC and Anynet+ is HDMI control, 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.
This guide will explain in detail what HDMI control is and how it works.
- What is HDMI-CEC?
- When Would You Use HDMI-CEC?
- What Can You Do with HDMI Control?
- What Are the Advantages of Using HDMI-CEC?
- What Are Anynet+ and SIMPLINK?
- How to Turn HDMI-CEC On and Off?
- How to Connect Your System to Use HDMI Control
- When Would You Not Want to Use HDMI-CEC?
- How to Fix a Problem with HDMI Control
- What Is the Alternative for Using HDMI-CEC?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is HDMI-CEC?
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.
The communication only occurs between the television and the device attached via the HDMI input, such as a Blu-ray or DVD player.
When Would You Use HDMI-CEC?
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 and 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 altogether.
Putting a disc in your Blu-ray or DVD player can automatically switch the TV to the correct input and display the movie.
What Can You Do with HDMI Control?
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:
- Controlling the volume of the TV or AV receiver
- Power on/off all connected devices
- Select the correct input on your display device
- One-touch record
- Pause, play and rewind
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 setup.
This article is helpful if you want a more detailed look at how CEC commands work.
What Are the Advantages of Using HDMI-CEC?
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, use fewer batteries and spend less time searching the room for all the missing remotes.
And you will immediately know which remote controls the volume!
What Are Anynet+ and SIMPLINK?
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:
- Sharp: Aquos Link
- Sony: BRAVIA Sync
- Onkyo: RIHD
- Toshiba: CE-Link
- Philips: EasyLink
- Panasonic: EZ-Sync
- Pioneer: Kuro Link
As you can see, you may have been using CEC already without realizing it!
How to Turn HDMI-CEC On and Off?
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 helpful list of how to enable CEC for different TVs.
When using a brand with its own HDMI-CEC system, the settings section is where you would typically 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 your Samsung TV and Blu-ray player, this should work without problems.
However, if you have a Samsung TV and a Sony Blu-ray player, 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.
How to Connect Your System to Use HDMI Control
It really is as easy as 1-2-3:
- Connect an HDMI cable to the external device
- Connect the cable to the HDMI port on your TV
- Turning on the connected device so that it can communicate with your television
You just need to be sure to enable the CEC function in the settings of all devices.
How to Connect a TV and Soundbar to Use HDMI-CEC
This is another 1-2-3 proposition; 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 ensure CEC is enabled.
You can then turn both on simultaneously and control the soundbar with your television’s volume control.
How to Connect an AV Receiver, Blu-ray Player and TV to Use HDMI-CEC
You may need to enable HDMI ARC to use CEC with an AV receiver.
Some AV receivers have separate on/off menu items for HDMI ARC and CEC – meaning 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 straightforward:
- Enable the HDMI control function in the AV receiver
- Power on all HDMI-connected devices
- Enable HDMI control in all connected devices
- Switch the TV to the correct input for the AV receiver output signal
- Select the correct input on the receiver to make sure a signal is appearing on the TV
- Use the TV remote to power off the TV
- Check that all the other devices go into standby
Enabling the HDMI CEC feature on all devices will let you control the AV system and Blu-ray with the TV remote.
When Would You Not Want to Use HDMI-CEC?
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 using two or three remotes easier than 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 already watching something else.
If you are careful when using your remotes, 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.
How to Fix a Problem with HDMI Control
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:
- Make sure that CEC is enabled on all your devices.
- Try using a different HDMI cable. Ideally, change all the cables in the chain.
- Try and get it working with the most straightforward setup you can. Disconnect all devices apart from the ones you are having issues with. Then, add other devices back into the chain.
- If you are using an AV receiver, try connecting the external device directly to the TV, and see if this works. If it does, the problem might be with the AV receiver in the middle of the chain.
- Make sure your remote control is actually working! Put in new batteries?
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.
What Is the Alternative for Using HDMI-CEC?
The most obvious alternative to using HDMI-CEC would be 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 currently hard to find.
An alternative is to buy a cheap universal remote at Amazon (other retailers are 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 using HDMI-CEC, it is best to switch off the CEC control in all your devices.
This will keep things more straightforward and ensure you don’t get unpredictable behavior when using the universal remote.
If you don’t disable HDMI control, 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some common questions.
What Does HDMI-CEC Stand For?
HDMI is an acronym for high-definition multimedia interface, while CEC is an acronym for consumer electronics control. The two combined become HDMI-CEC.
Does HDMI-CEC Require a Special Cable?
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 and is mandatory. So, it will work with any HDMI cable 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.
When Was HDMI-CEC Introduced?
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.
Is HDMI-CEC the Same as HDMI ARC?
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.
Why Don’t PCs Support HDMI-CEC?
Most PCs and laptop computers do not use remote control units, and users simply control HDMI-connected devices from the keyboard or mouse.
About The Author
Paul started the Home Cinema Guide to help less-experienced users get the most out of today's audio-visual technology. He has been 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. You can find out more here.