AppleTV audio: Do i really need to connect optical audio cables?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by MBX, Oct 13, 2010.

  1. MBX
    macrumors 65816

    Hey there

    I just got the new AppleTV:

    And i'm curious, with the HDMI cable connected to the TV and audio cables going out from TV to speakers/ audio-system do i really need to connect optical audio cable from AppleTV to the TV?

    I thought the audio information is being transmitted through the HDMI cable and optical audio cable is only necessary when going out from AppleTV.

    Any ideas?
  2. macrumors 6502a


    you are correct. The HDMI cable carries the audio signal too.
  3. MBX
    macrumors 65816

    So i dont understand then why is there no audio with audio-cables from my TV connected to the audio-system.

    It's all so straight forward i couldn't make much wrong the cables are all in there, all is on.
  4. macrumors 68020

    Surf Monkey

    Can your TV pass audio through to an external source? If so, it should work.

    One thing to note, however: HDMI is capable of sending uncompressed audio to the source. Toslink is not. It's preferable to use HDMI from source to amp whenever possible. Apple provides a toslink jack for people who need to rout video to a TV via HDMI and audio to an receiver separately.
  5. MBX
    macrumors 65816

    It should definitely be able to pass audio through external source.

    The old AppleTV had those 3 audio cables plugged in the back, now that is replaced by the optical audio in the new AppleTV.

    However i thought HDMI cable passes audio to my TV and from there i can have audio-cables go into my audio-system and yet it's not working.

    Does that mean i have to connect an optical audio cable from my new AppleTV to the audio system?

    And one thing is strange. I can't control audio from AppleTV via remotes on any movies, it works when playing itunes music or radio streams.

    Any idea?
  6. macrumors 68000

    That's not strange, it's as designed. The audio volume control only works for music and music videos.
  7. Moderator


    Staff Member

    Edit: I misread the original post. The information below is not accurate.

    Check that your receiver actually supports HDMI. My parents' one does not; the port is exclusively for pass-through and it won't actually play any sound received over HDMI.
  8. MBX
    macrumors 65816

    why would the tv have hdmi port if it doesn't fully support it?

    could tv's older than 1-2 years not fully support hdmi (audio)?

    the philips one i have seems like maybe 2 years old or 3 at most.

    I don't get it. WHY???
  9. macrumors 6502

    The nice thing about having a separate optical audio out to a receiver is that you can play music or internet radio from AppleTV and turn the TV itself off, the audio will keep going. (At least on my AppleTV 1.0).
  10. macrumors 65832


    its just the way it is. grass grows and that's the way steve intended for you to u use ur apple tv. I think there might be handshake issues between your TV and the apple TV or the TV and your receiver. Chances are, the TV is not able to output the DRMed audio due to a lack of HDCP. Your solution here, go out and buy a 5 dollar optical cable from monoprice. Save yourself some headaches.
  11. Moderator


    Staff Member

    Sorry, I misread your original post. The TV should handle it.
  12. macrumors 65816


    I needed the optical port in order to get audio to my home theater speakers rather than just my tv speakers. Like many people, I have a slew of components and had to be creative to get everything to go through my tv AND my 5.1 system. My XBox, DVR, DVD player and now my Apple TV all can be 5.1 (or seem like it). Because I was already using the optical port on my receiver for the dvr I had to buy an optical/component video switch. So, now I have six friggin' remotes but, oh well, it works great!

    edit: How embarrassing! I went back and checked my cabling based on what some of you said and sure enough, I don't need the switcher. I just run the optical out from the tv to the home theater and it all works great. Could have sworn I had tried all possibilities when I first set things up but this I missed. Thanks for making me look again. Hopefully, I can get most of my $47 back from Amazon!

    Now if I can figure out how to get all of the sounds (tv speakers plus 5.1) to not sound like an echo chamber, I'll be good.
  13. MBX
    macrumors 65816

    Strange that just because of DRM you can't control volume on movies/ videos.

    Anyway, i guess i'll pick up the optical audio cable as indeed i like to be able to play music without the TV on, so that's even better.

    Thanks all!
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Most (if not all) TVs will only output 5.1 audio for over the air channels. if you input 5.1 via HDMI, then run optical out to your receiver, you will most likely only get 2.0 sound. If surround is important, you probably need to connect the AppleTV optical out to your receiver (or HDMI to receiver, if it's capable).
  15. macrumors 68000

    It has to work that way because the Apple IR remote uses the +/- keys to control the special features that are available for movies and TV shows. However, those special features don't exists for music and music videos and thus you can optionally enable the +/- keys to control the volume on that type of content.

    Besides that, volume output control on a device is usually considered to be a BAD thing since it can cause distortion or unusually low sound if the output level is set incorrectly. That's why video/stereo devices usually have a fixed audio output level (it's called a line level output, and that's what your receiver expects as an input). For example, does your DVD player allow you to directly control the audio level that it outputs? The volume control on THAT remote most likely controls your receiver, not the DVD player itself.
  16. macrumors regular

    I just had this problem, and the issue is definitely the DRM (HDCP) part of the HDMI connection. Basically, my surround sound is old and only has analogue inputs, which i have connected to the TV. However, with the ATV connected by HDMI to the TV, it won't output the audio via the analogue connection.

    I've got it working for now just by turning the TV's internal speakers back on. Currently looking at a new surround sound system :(

  17. macrumors member

    Audio/video out

    My Panasonic also has audio/video out (red, white, yellow). I hooked that up to my DVD recorder, since it had those inputs along with component video. I thought maybe I could stream a movie on :apple:TV and record ones I liked. Didn't work. So I hooked it up to an old VCR and it didn't work either. I don't know why my TV has those as "Out" when they don't seem to produce any signal out.

    Your best bet, and what most of use, is to run a Toslink optical cable directly to the surround sound system and HDMI into the TV. On documentaries from Netflix I just use the TV speakers; on a movie I mute the TV volume and use my surround sound speakers via Toslink.

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