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Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Wicked1, Sep 21, 2010.
I see the port on ATV's but I am not sure exactly what this is for and what is the benefit?
optical audio connects to equipment like home receivers to transport the audio is a pure digital form. It also is THE best way to pump 5.1 surround to a receiver.
You would use it if you have an audio receiver that doesn't have an Hdmi input, so you would route the optical to the receiver, and then the Hdmi from the apple tv to your tv for picture.
Ah now I get it, thanks all who responded.
Is there a benefit over using hdmi, aside from not being capable of sending hd audio to a receiver? (even though the apple tv wouldn't play hd audio anyway)
No it isn't.
You are transmitting data, not audio. HDMI and optical will send the same information to your receiver.
If you have a receiver with HDMI inputs, then it is easier to use that. Less cable clutter. If you are like me and have a 5.1 receiver with no HDMI, then optical audio to the receiver and HDMI to the television is the way to go.
Actually, thats not quite true. HDMI has the ability send 8 channels of uncompressed bit-streamed audio to a receiver or other device. Optical audio only has the capacity for 2 channels of uncompressed audio... now, wait wait, what about Dolby Digital 5.1? Well thats a compressed audio package, and optical has been updated to accommodate it, but HDMI has the capacity to carry higher resolution audio signals. In regards to the ATV, to my knowledge, DD 5.1 is the highest resolution surround format supported, but I could be wrong. However, lets be clear that while the ATV will send the same data over HDMI and optical, with its current software, the HDMI port has the capability to pass much higher resolution audio - which could come in the form of a software update sometime in the future...
Make sure your HDMI equipped receiver will split off the audio from the input instead of simply passing it through to the TV.
Cheaper receivers actually require you to take the audio from the TV, as follows: Blu-ray-HDMI-Receiver-HDMI-TV-Optical or RCA-receiver. This really defeats the simplicity of the HDMI cabling system. With gaming, this wiring scheme can create sufficient delay to throw off some fast paced games.
This is the true answer. The inclusion of optical is just a backwards compatibility thing for people without an HDMI capable receiver. I don't see Apple taking on more than DD 5.1 anytime soon though, it took them long enough just to add support for that. But anyone who says optical is better than HDMI for audio is dead wrong (even though in the case of the Apple TV they are equal in capability at the moment).
I went and bought a new receiver because I was getting more and more items to plug in, got it home only to find the HDMI inputs on the back are pass through only meaning that it doesn't leave the sound with the receiver and send the picture to the TV. I run optic for my appleTV, my PS3 and My Foxtel and then run HDMI direct to the TV for all three items.