HDMI uses the Consumer Electronics Association/Electronic Industries Alliance 861 standards. HDMI 1.0 to HDMI 1.2a uses the EIA/CEA-861-B video standard, HDMI 1.3 uses the CEA-861-D video standard, and HDMI 1.4 uses the CEA-861-E video standard. The CEA-861-E document defines "video formats and waveforms; colorimetry and quantization; transport of compressed and uncompressed, as well as Linear Pulse Code Modulation (LPCM), audio; carriage of auxiliary data; and implementations of the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) Enhanced Extended Display Identification Data Standard (E-EDID)". On July 15, 2013, the CEA announced the publication of CEA-861-F which is a standard that can be used by interfaces such as DVI, HDMI, and LVDS. CEA-861-F adds the ability to transmit several Ultra HD video formats and additional color spaces.
To ensure baseline compatibility between different HDMI sources and displays (as well as backward compatibility with the electrically compatible DVI standard) all HDMI devices must implement the sRGB color space at 8 bits per component. Ability to use the YCbCr color space and higher color depths ("deep color") is optional. HDMI permits sRGB 4:4:4 chroma subsampling (8–16 bits per component), xvYCC 4:4:4 chroma subsampling (8–16 bits per component), YCbCr 4:4:4 chroma subsampling (8–16 bits per component), or YCbCr 4:2:2 chroma subsampling (8–12 bits per component). The color spaces that can be used by HDMI are ITU-R BT.601, ITU-R BT.709-5 and IEC 61966-2-4.
For digital audio, if an HDMI device has audio, it is required to implement the baseline format: stereo (uncompressed) PCM. Other formats are optional, with HDMI allowing up to 8 channels of uncompressed audio at sample sizes of 16-bit, 20-bit and 24-bit, with sample rates of 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176.4 kHz and 192 kHz. HDMI also carries any IEC 61937-compliant compressed audio stream, such as Dolby Digital and DTS, and up to 8 channels of one-bit DSD audio (used on Super Audio CDs) at rates up to four times that of Super Audio CD. With version 1.3, HDMI allows lossless compressed audio streams Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. As with the YCbCr video, audio capability is optional. Audio return channel (ARC) is a feature introduced in the HDMI 1.4 standard. "Return" refers to the case where the audio comes from the TV and can be sent "upstream" to the AV receiver using the HDMI cable connected to the AV receiver. An example given on the HDMI website is that a TV that directly receives a terrestrial/satellite broadcast, or has a video source built in, sends the audio "upstream" to the AV receiver.
The HDMI standard was not designed to pass closed caption data (for example, subtitles) to the television for decoding. As such, any closed caption stream must be decoded and included as an image in the video stream(s) prior to transmission over an HDMI cable to be viewed on the DTV. This limits the caption style (even for digital captions) to only that decoded at the source prior to HDMI transmission. This also prevents closed captions when transmission over HDMI is required for upconversion. For example, a DVD player that sends an upscaled 720p/1080i format via HDMI to an HDTV has no way to pass Closed Captioning data so that the HDTV can decode it, as there is no line 21 VBI in that format.