I want my MacBook Pro to output 5.1 surround sound - please help

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by bollweevil, Jul 27, 2012.

  1. bollweevil macrumors 6502

    Feb 1, 2008
    I have an Early 2011 model MacBook Pro, and a 5.1 surround sound stereo system. The heart of the stereo is a Pioneer receiver (amplifier), the amplifier supports Dolby Digital and DTS, the two main formats for 5.1 surround on DVDs.

    My plan is to buy a mini-Toslink to Toslink cable. Plug the mini-Toslink end into the headphone jack on the MacBook Pro, plug the Toslink end into the Pioneer receiver.

    Now the big questions:

    1. How do I make my MacBook Pro output 5.1 surround (either Dolby or DTS)? I imagine I might have to tinker with settings.

    2. How do I tell me MacBook Pro "send the sound out the headphone jack, don't send it out the HDMI jack." Because the MacBook Pro has two outputs for surround sound, the other being the Thunderbolt port which can have a Thunderbolt-to-HDMI adapter, and HDMI supports sound.

    3. What kinds of media have 5.1 surround that my MacBook Pro can play? Which of the following would work:

    A. DVD movies.

    B. Video files (e.g. .mkv, .avi) played by VLC.

    C. Netflix watch instant streaming.

    D. Youtube videos.

    E. iTunes Store movie purchases.

    F. What else might have surround sound?

    4. Where can I find a test movie - it would be like 5 minutes, and it would play through the 5 speakers one at a time. If the sound is isolated to one speaker, then you know it is working.

  2. sirsid49 macrumors newbie

    Sep 14, 2015
  3. sirsid49 macrumors newbie

    Sep 14, 2015
    Did you figure this out? Stuck with the exact same problem.
  4. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    Did you go to the link scarred provided?
  5. sirsid49 macrumors newbie

    Sep 14, 2015
  6. sirsid49 macrumors newbie

    Sep 14, 2015
    Yes, unfortunately it involves an HDMI input into the AVR, which my system lacks.
  7. MattZani macrumors 68030


    Apr 20, 2008
    It will output 5.1 over the Mini Toslink, just no uncompressed like HDMI/Displayport can.

    Netflix should give you 5.1, any files with it encoded, DVDs played etc, just need to see if it has 5.1

    OS X should auto switch as soon as it senses the Mini Toslink is plugged in, if not just go in to SysPrefs and select it.
  8. Nikki29a macrumors newbie


    Feb 5, 2016
    Ok I think I can shed some light on this and I pretty sure this across the board with toslink setup

    My setup is (audio only)

    Mac Pro mid 2012 / MacBook Pro early 08 (mbp was the primary til 6 months ago when I got the mp12)

    Yamaha Htr-5850 6.1 receiver

    Hooked up with toslink

    Media player vlc

    When it comes to anything above 2.0 sound is all based on the encoding on the movie/file. I just tested this with my mp12 (and iirc same applied to my mbp but I'm not going to mess up my setup tonight to test it) I played a movie I have on my Mac that I downloaded which only played in 2.0 according to my stereo then I put in the end of Evangelion DVD in which is encoded with 6.1 (which threw me off cuz the movie came out in 97 iirc) and when I play the movie all 6 speakers light up on my display (thou the PS3 will only do 5.1 with toslink but the ps2 will do 6).

    So in short you will only get any channels above 2 is if the file has it encoded also this is also assuming you use vlc as your media player and cans test video streaming like Netflix cuz I don't have them anymore cuz if you use apples built in DVD player your only going to get 2.0

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