5.1 Sound from a MBP?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by pearce, Dec 24, 2010.

  1. pearce macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2010
    I figure I should set out by explaining the hardware,
    2010 model MBP (13") bought August 2010
    Potential Speakers : Logitech X-540 (Amazon UK link)

    What I'd like to do is set this up so I can have high quality, bassy sound from the speakers, from my MacBook - from iTunes mainly but then also FrontRow / film player (if anyone has any recommendations on those that can output 5.1 I'd appreciate).

    The speakers have a 3-pin stereo RCA input and I understand that my MBP has something called a mini-toslink (which doesn't mean a huge amount to me). I realise one is digital and one analogue so a direct port isn't about to happen, but is there anything I can (cheaply - i'm a student) do to hook these up? I've not purchased the speakers yet; so if there's something better for the job I'm all open.

    Also worth noting - if it's not possible to get full SS from these, but I can still enjoy good, high quality music, I'm up for that too.

    Thankyou :-D
  2. mfram macrumors 65816

    Jan 23, 2010
    San Diego, CA USA
    Quality speakers are expensive. There's just no way around it. Given the pictures of the X-540 system, I'd say the quality will be OK. But it certainly won't be awesome. Nor will it give you full true surround sound from your Mac playing movies. The X540 system in the picture does not contain a digital decoder that can take an optical input.

    We need to understand your priorities. Because playing DTS or Digital Dolby streams directly from a DVD over the mini-Toslink optical out requires you have an *external* digital decoder. This is where the expense comes in. For example, the Logitech Z-5500 is a system with a digital decoder that will decode the digital stream with great sound. From games or other sources like iTunes, you will get non-surround 2.1 sound. The external box on the speakers will emulate surround sound if you want it to. I have plugged a MBP into a Logitech system similar to the Z-5500 and it does work to get full digital surround from DVDs.

    If you don't want that system, you will have to find some other external digital decoder/amplifier that can decode an optical digital signal into analog outputs that can be sent to speakers.

    Another system that I think has great sound is the Bose Companion 5 system. That plugs into your MBP using a USB cable. That system will emulate full surround sound on all sources and I think sounds great. But it isn't true external digital decoding.

    Other than that, you are left with all of the other speaker systems out there. The Mac will only output 2 analog channels. So if you choose a speaker system that uses analog inputs, there's no reason to buy anything other than a 2.1 system for your laptop.
  3. aeboi macrumors 65816


    Sep 20, 2009
    Bay Area
    Not sure what you're referring to about the toslink cable but my friend has these and there's no optical out or anything like that, just the 3.5. The bass won't blow you away like the ones found on the z2300 or the z5500 but they're fully compatible with the macbook since it's just a 3.5mm green jack that connects to the mac. You'll get a 5.1 experience but for better audio you could always get an external sound card otherwise, the stock one is fine.
  4. theusualsuspect macrumors member

    Jun 9, 2010

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