Astro A40's with Macbook Pro. How to utilise 7.1 surround sound?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jameswilby5, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. jameswilby5 macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2011
    Hi there,

    I currently have a late 2011 17inch MacBook Pro with SSD and 16gb Ram running Bootcamp to allow me to use Windows 7 for gaming. I have decided that I would like to purchase a gaming headset. I would really like to get the Astro A40s with Mixamp but am struggling to figure out how I would set it up.

    It is important to me that if I am spending this much money on a headset I am able to make full use of the 7.1 surround sound capability. However I have read to different contradicting statements online.

    The first is that the MacBook Pro sound card does not support 7.1 at all and that I would need a USB sound card.
    The second is that the MacBook Pro only supports 7.1 when using optical out using a Mini-toslink to toslink optical digital cable.

    Could anyone please confirm which of the statements is true?

    If the second is true this would be ideal since I wouldn't have to buy a sound card. Also if the second statement is true what is the sound quality like of this card? Am I still better off getting a USB one? If I am better off getting an external one or definitely need one could anyone recomend a good 7.1 dolgby digital USB sound card.

    So far the only good USB sound card I have found is the Creative SoundBlaster Reacon3D but this only supports 5.1. If there are no good 7.1 USB sound cards am I better off getting the Reacon3D and then a 5.1 headset instead of the A40s as the A40s would be limited?

    Many thanks,
  2. jameswilby5 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2011
  3. Ploki macrumors 68020

    Jan 21, 2008
    Second is true, for 5.1 at least, not sure for 7.1.

    You'd have to try whether Astro A40 does actually support 7.1 surround over toslink. (Same goes for MBP actually)

    There aren't many headsets with optical in i believe.
  4. jameswilby5 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2011
    Thanks for the reply! So a mini-toslink to toslink cable would at least give me the option of using surround sound whether its 5.1 or 7.1. Can anyone confirm if it is capable of 7.1?

    As far as I am aware the toslink cable can then be plugged directly into the Astro mixamp which would then connect to the headset. So whilst the headset is not capable of optical the mixamp is so I would have thought it would work fine.

    But would using the built in sound card use much of the system resources? I'm trying to maximise performance so would it be worth buying an external sound card? Part of the appeal of the Reacon3D was the fact it had a quad core processing unit on board so that barely any of the computers processing power was used.

    Thanks for the link. That is the best 7.1 USB sound card I have seen so far but there are still issues with sound dropping out and some interference. Surely there must be a more expensive and better option available. Or is there just a big gap in the market for a decent one? :) If I'm spending all this money on an expensive headset I don't want it to be limited by the sound card

    Many thanks,


    Additional note the link is not available in the UK so not even that would work :( Only ones I have seen are very cheap USB dongle ones which wont be any good.
  5. jameswilby5 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2011
  6. krravi macrumors 65816

    Nov 30, 2010
    From what I have seen so far it will output 5.1 but not 7.1. Your best bet is to use a USB audio interface.

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