Toslink Optical Audio Gone in 2018?

SocialCapital

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 14, 2014
7
1
In looking at the specs of the 2018 mini, I notice the absence of optical audio. I use optical to connect my current mini to the stereo and would hate to lose it. Yes, i could use HDMI, but my TV panel doesn't have ARC, so I can't drive it as a monitor AND have audio at the same time. :(

https://www.apple.com/mac-mini/specs/
 

jnachbar

macrumors member
Nov 30, 2010
69
37
I asked Apple sales support over chat about this yesterday. They told me that the 2018 mini does still support digital audio out through the 3.5 "headphone" jack with the use of a minitoslink adapter. I'm assuming that is what you are using now. I'm also using one currently with my 2011 mac mini and would hate to lose it. Often you have to take chat answers with a grain of salt, so I'm wait for a more solid confirmation before purchasing.

Monoprice has a couple on inexpensive options if you don't already have one or need another.
https://www.monoprice.com/search/index?keyword=minitoslink

Otherwise, it will take some type of USB audio interface to get the digital signal to by-pass the internal DAC so you can send a digital signal it to an external DAC.
 

SocialCapital

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 14, 2014
7
1
I asked Apple sales support over chat about this yesterday. They told me that the 2018 mini does still support digital audio out through the 3.5 "headphone" jack with the use of a minitoslink adapter. I'm assuming that is what you are using now. I'm also using one currently with my 2011 mac mini and would hate to lose it. Often you have to take chat answers with a grain of salt, so I'm wait for a more solid confirmation before purchasing.
Thanks for this info! I'm hopeful but equally skeptical. I'll wait for the hands-on reviews that should be forthcoming soon. For some reason, the Airs have been sent out early to many, but I have yet to see a Mini unboxing. Thanks again.
 

jameschho

macrumors newbie
Nov 3, 2003
28
21
Pasadena, CA
Apple has been dumping optical from its audio out ports for a few years. Now that the Mini is finally(!) being updated, its audio out is next. They make USB to SPDIF-Toslink adaptors, and it sounds like this could solve your problem. I do not have experience with them, but perhaps others here have.
The problem with this is that going through the USB interface causes issues with timing, and reclocking of digital audio signals. This introduces jitter in the bitstream which becomes audible as aliasing and sibilance. USB audio can be made to work well with independent clock crystals on the converter but proper converters usually start at about $150. For high quality audio applications it would have been far more convenient to use the onboard optical that has low BOM cost impact then having to add a $150 dongle.
 

strawbale

macrumors 6502
Mar 25, 2011
357
172
French Pyrenees
The problem with this is that going through the USB interface causes issues with timing, and reclocking of digital audio signals. This introduces jitter in the bitstream which becomes audible as aliasing https://www.soundmaximum.com/best-usb-dac-under-100/ sibilance. USB audio can be made to work well with independent clock crystals on the converter but proper converters usually start at about $150. For high quality audio applications it would have been far more convenient to use the onboard optical that has low BOM cost impact then having to add a $150 dongle.
https://www.soundmaximum.com/best-usb-dac-under-100/
[doublepost=1541176310][/doublepost]USB-C is a disaster, they say here:
https://www.extremetech.com/mobile/...-the-headphone-jack-usb-c-audio-is-a-disaster
 
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D.T.

macrumors G4
Sep 15, 2011
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jnachbar

macrumors member
Nov 30, 2010
69
37
Anybody have any thoughts on the behringer uca202 as an inexpensive option
http://www.musictribe.com/Categories/Behringer/Computer-Audio/Interfaces/UCA202/p/P0484

I know it is primarily designed for getting analog music into your computer, but I've read it also works the other way to convert usb to toslink as well. I think they're only about $30 and probably not to be confused with high quality audio, but it does seem one inexpensive way to get a digital signal (optical) out of the new mini if optical out is not supported over the 3.5 jack.

You wouldn't use any of the RCA Jacks (for this purpose) on the UCA202, just hook usb to computer, optical cable from the UCA202 to your DAC and adjust the necessary settings in the apple audio MIDI setting utility.

I'm still hoping that toslink mini is supported in the 3.5 jack, but will have to wait and see....
 

Taschenrechner

macrumors newbie
Nov 3, 2018
4
8
Apple removed the optical out in the new Macbook Pros, the iMacs, and now in the Mac Mini too. Completely stupid and unnecessary decision, in my opinion. A lot of companies still include digital out, for example DELL or INTEL in their Intel NUC, a direct competitor to the Mac Mini. Digital out is not outdated and still widely used. I for example use/need it to connect my MBP to my stereo amplifier via Toslink. A simple and elegant solution. Why did Apple remove this useful feature? To save a few cent? No, they deliberately gimp the headphone jack in order to prepare for its outright removal. If a port loses more and more of its functionality you may as well remove it completely, that appears to be Apples reasoning.
 
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Stephen.R

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2018
2,555
3,004
Thailand
I didn't notice this at the time (or Ive forgotten reading it) but this happened on MacBook Pros 2 years ago: https://www.macrumors.com/2016/11/04/new-macbook-pro-models-lack-optical-audio-out/

The stated reason is lack of use by customers. I did make use of this feature in the past (on a 2009 MacMini i think?) but haven't for many years.

Comparing to e.g. an Intel NUC can go either way, depending on your priorities.

None of the NUC's support 64GB of RAM, only a couple support TB3, none support 10GB Ethernet that I can see.

Everything is a trade off. For everything included by default, you increase the price, components that may fail (due to being more complex), remove space available for air flow/cooling.
 

SocialCapital

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 14, 2014
7
1
Anybody have any thoughts on the behringer uca202 as an inexpensive option
http://www.musictribe.com/Categories/Behringer/Computer-Audio/Interfaces/UCA202/p/P0484

I know it is primarily designed for getting analog music into your computer, but I've read it also works the other way to convert usb to toslink as well. I think they're only about $30 and probably not to be confused with high quality audio, but it does seem one inexpensive way to get a digital signal (optical) out of the new mini if optical out is not supported over the 3.5 jack.
Yes, that looks possible... my concern would be lag. I have a new Yamaha receiver with AirPlay capability, and it sounds pretty good over the WiFi... however, there is significant lag behind the video.
 

keith57

macrumors newbie
May 9, 2008
18
16
North Wales
Apple removed the optical out in the new Macbook Pros, the iMacs, and now in the Mac Mini too. Completely stupid and unnecessary decision, in my opinion. A lot of companies still include digital out, for example DELL or INTEL in their Intel NUC, a direct competitor to the Mac Mini. Digital out is not outdated and still widely used. I for example use/need it to connect my MBP to my stereo amplifier via Toslink. A simple and elegant solution. Why did Apple remove this useful feature? To save a few cent? No, they deliberately gimp the headphone jack in order to prepare for its outright removal. If a port loses more and more of its functionality you may as well remove it completely, that appears to be Apples reasoning.
I spoke with Apple sales here in the UK 2 days ago and they confirmed that the Optical Audio out was still there. So I ordered one. I have a transcript of the on-line chat so I can send it back if it doesn’t.

Where did you get your information from that it has been removed from the Mac Mini?
 

D.T.

macrumors G4
Sep 15, 2011
10,739
10,924
Vilano Beach, FL
I spoke with Apple sales here in the UK 2 days ago and they confirmed that the Optical Audio out was still there. So I ordered one. I have a transcript of the on-line chat so I can send it back if it doesn’t.

Where did you get your information from that it has been removed from the Mac Mini?
Newbie, one post, no external references for the info ... I'd say your actual communication along with @jnachbar matching discussion probably trumps his driveby post :D
 

Taschenrechner

macrumors newbie
Nov 3, 2018
4
8
I spoke with Apple sales here in the UK 2 days ago and they confirmed that the Optical Audio out was still there. So I ordered one. I have a transcript of the on-line chat so I can send it back if it doesn’t.

Where did you get your information from that it has been removed from the Mac Mini?
I am fairly certain that Apple removed the digital out from the headphone jack because they have already removed that feature from the iMac and the Macbook Pro line and they (mostly) strive to be consistent.
If you look at the spec sheet for the Mac Mini on Apples website (--> https://www.apple.com/mac-mini/specs/ ) you can read the following under "audio":
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • HDMI 2.0 port supports multichannel audio output.
Nothing more. In the past, the digital out was directly mentioned. It is no longer mentioned here, so it probably is no longer there. The Apple support was wrong in the past regarding this topic by the way, they would tell people that the iMac still has digital out, when in fact thats no longer the case. There was one such incident here in the forum.
 
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D.T.

macrumors G4
Sep 15, 2011
10,739
10,924
Vilano Beach, FL
I am fairly certain that Apple removed the digital out because they have already removed it from the iMac and the Macbook Pro line and they (mostly) strive to be consistent.
If you look at the spec sheet on Apples website --> https://www.apple.com/mac-mini/specs/
you can read the following under "audio":
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • HDMI 2.0 port supports multichannel audio output.
Nothing more. In the past, the digital out was directly mentioned. It is no longer mentioned here, so it probably is no longer there. The Apple support was wrong in the past regarding this topic by the way, they would tell people that the iMac still has digital out, when in fact thats no longer the case. There was one such incident here in the forum.
Well, that's a reasonably well supported case for it possibly being removed, I guess we'll have to see how it pans out once there are more thorough reviews.
 

cube

Suspended
May 10, 2004
16,983
4,969
My receiver does not have ARC. I use the TV's optical out.

If the TV does not have the latter, an ARC extractor could be used.

In the OP's case, he can use an HDMI audio extractor.
 
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