Tuesday, 25 July 2017 08:55

How to replace the missing optical-digital audio output on newer Macs

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Jeff K. has a bone to pick with Apple:

I have a great set of speakers that I connected to my old iMac with a optical audio/mini-plug cable through the headphone jack. They had terrific sound. Imagine my surprise then when I connected the cable to the headphone jack on my new iMac and it wasn’t recognized. I called Apple, and it turns out someone decided to change that part of the audio electronics. No more digital optical. My speakers already have a DAC [digital-to-analog converter] built in, so it’s not a matter of adding one.

Starting in 2006, Apple incorporated support for S/PDIF, an optical digital connection standard that uses a fiber-optic cable with a Toslink connector or through Mini Toslink, which is compatible with standard 3.5mm audio jacks. This allowed higher-quality digital audio output, and this standard allows for 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound encoding, depending on the source device.

However, this support has disappeared in recent years, plausibly because it wasn’t being used by enough people to warrant its inclusion? We don’t know, and Apple doesn’t tell. The fourth-generation Apple TV was the first to lose it, and people were rather unhappy in 2015 when it happened. We published this guide to help folks work around the disappearance.

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How to replace the missing optical-digital audio output on newer Macs published on
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SPEEDEE spends his day searching the internet for the information you need to better use your Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch and all else Apple.

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