Yes, it does. DisplayPort is a popular alternative to HDMI cables where additional bandwidth is required, but it wouldn't be much of an option if it couldn't at least meet the same basic features. Audio transmission, as well as video transmission, is a major component of DisplayPort, making it a versatile and capable solution to transmit media from a source device, like a laptop or desktop PC, to a monitor.
Does DisplayPort carry audio? It can do that and more. DisplayPort can carry a video source, audio, and some forms of data too. It can do it simultaneously, though it's not mandatory, and each form of data can be transmitted without the others if a user calls for it.
DisplayPort Audio Transmission Improvements
Like its overall bandwidth, data rate, resolution support, and features, DisplayPort audio transmission has improved over time. The DisplayPort 1.0 and 1.1 standards had a maximum sample rate of 192 kHz, a maximum sample size of 24 bits, and a maximum of eight audio channels.
In version 1.2 and 1.2a, the number of channels and sample size remained the same, but the maximum sample rate increased to 768 kHz. Version 1.3 made no alterations to DisplayPort audio specifications, but DisplayPort 1.4 took great strides, increasing the maximum sample rate to 1,536 kHz and the maximum number of supported audio channels to 32.
DisplayPort vs. HDMI Audio
DisplayPort and HDMI are the two most common video and audio transmission connectors for game consoles, PCs, Blu-ray players, and other devices that output media to external displays. As with overall bandwidth and support for higher resolutions and refresh rates, DisplayPort has tended to offer greater support for audio sample rates, but HDMI 2.1 changed that.
HDMI 2.1 is set to be taken advantage of by both next-generation game consoles and graphics cards. It supports the same sample rate, sample size, and a number of audio channels as DisplayPort 1.4. DisplayPort 2.0 may leapfrog HDMI 2.1's capabilities in audio as it is set to do in the video, but that remains to be seen.
One advantage HDMI does have over DisplayPort with regards to audio is with its ARC and eARC technology. This allows an HDMI cable to pass audio from the TV or monitor to an external audio device. It offers much greater bandwidth than more traditional Toslink optical cabling, making it a great solution for transmitting audio in this fashion. ARC is useful when you have a sound system but the TV itself is generating the content; streaming Netflix from your smart TV, for example. ARC is supported on HDMI 1.4 connections and supports stereo and compressed 5.1 channel audio, as well as lip-sync correction on some devices.
Enhanced ARC, or eARC, was introduced with HDMI 2.1, adding support for uncompressed 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound, as well as higher bitrate and object-based audio technologies, like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. If you are interested in HDMI 2.1 instead, Cable Matters carries several cables that support these standards.
Cable Matters 48Gbps Ultra 8K HDMI® Cable
How to Use DisplayPort Audio
Although the DisplayPort specification does allow for audio transmission over a DisplayPort cable and connection, it isn't always implemented by device manufacturers. Dedicated graphics cards offer full support for audio-out over their often numerous DisplayPort outputs, but some laptop video outputs (for a second, or more, screens) may not allow it, so check with your device's specifications if you're unsure.
If you have a device that does support audio output, then you need a compatible DisplayPort cable (DisplayPort cables are backward compatible) and a supported display with built-in speakers or a headphone output that you'll connect to separately.
Alternatively, you can use a passive or active DisplayPort to HDMI adapter to connect your DisplayPort output to a compatible HDMI device. Mini DisplayPort connectors can also be converted to full-size DisplayPort connectors, and DisplayPort audio transmission can even be leveraged over Thunderbolt 3, which incorporates the DisplayPort protocol into its technology. Cable Matters sells DisplayPort cables for every connection.
Cable Matters DisplayPort 1.4 Cable
Cable Matters Mini DisplayPort 1.4 to DisplayPort 1.4 Cable
Cable Matters USB-C to DisplayPort 1.4 Adapter
If there are other audio devices connected to the system, such as dedicated speakers, or a virtual reality headset, you may find that the audio still doesn't come through your DisplayPort configuration. To correct that problem on Windows, search for Sound Settings in the Windows search box, then use the drop-down menu under Output devices to select the device you've connected over DisplayPort.
If you still find you can't hear anything over your DisplayPort audio, and you’re starting to wonder, does DisplayPort carry audio, then it's also worth checking to see whether a driver update for your graphics card or chip, as well as your system's chipset, might fix the issue.
If you want to learn more about DisplayPort technology, Cable Matters has a number of articles that dig into what refresh rates it supports, the main differences between DisplayPort versions, and more.