5.1 sound passthrough via usb?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by wedge1, Aug 29, 2011.

  1. wedge1 macrumors newbie

    Feb 27, 2011

    I'm thinking about buying a new macbook air. But since my receiver doesn't have hdmi I have to use something like this usb sound card with optical digital out to passthrough 5.1 sound. Is anyone using this already with Lion? Is it working ok for you? Are there any other options?

  2. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    It looks like the 5.1 output doesn't work on a Mac.

    However, if you go with any other Apple computer, they all have a combination analog/optical digital audio out port, so you could hook up to the receiver via optical. The Air lacks the digital output--it is analog only.

    Let me ask, though, what is it you are trying to accomplish. As far as I know, the only basic program that puts true 5.1 out is DVD Player. I suppose there are workarounds, but honestly, any decent receiver should be able to provide a good 5.1 mix via Dolby Pro Logic II.

    If it's just music, a good 3.5mm to RCA audio cable will work fine. Or, if you've got the cash, maybe invest in an Airport Express so you can stream music wirelessly.
  3. Kafka macrumors 6502

    Mar 10, 2011
  4. Brandon0448, Aug 29, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2011

    Brandon0448 macrumors 6502


    Aug 2, 2011
    Anchorage, Alaska
    I would recommend looking into the Apple TV, with it you can stream 5.1 from iTunes to your surround sound system over your Wi-Fi network. Its not too expensive and great for Netflix also if you have a subscription.
  5. wedge1 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 27, 2011
    Sorry, apple tv is not an option (since I live in Sweden). And I need 5.1 for applications like Plex. I will try the usb option and see if that works, but maybe an hdmi reciever is the only option after all :(
  6. macrabbit macrumors member

    Sep 3, 2008
    I assume your wanting your receiver to process the 5.1 signal? If so, any USB DAC with an optical output will pass through the signal to the optical input on your receiver. There are tons of options out there.

    Personally I would find it HIGHLY annoying to have to hook up a MBA directly to the receiver via physical cable, as typically they reside in different locations.

    I suggest you purchase the Apple TV or the Airport Express, and stream your content wirelessly. I recommond the Apple TV, and if you cannot find it locally simply order it online, or have the local Apple store order one for you. I cannot believe an Apple store in Sweden could not order one.

  7. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    Actually, the USB DAC is a good recommendation, though some might get very expensive, and it wouldn't be hard to find ones that cost more than a new receiver with HDMI.

    Unfortunately for the OP, the Express only takes audio from iTunes and if you used something like Airfoil, you're just going to introduce a delay in watching movies. Not cool. And without hacking, the ATV doesn't support Plex. So that seems like it would be out too.

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