Which Mac desktops allow for 5.1 surround sound output?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by applefan289, Feb 23, 2011.

  1. applefan289 macrumors 68000

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    #1
    My HP computer from 2006 has a lot of speaker output ports, but I notice the Macs only have limited "audio out" features. Is it possible to hook up a Mac to a surround sound system without the need for extra adapters?
     
  2. acedickson, Feb 23, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2011

    acedickson macrumors 6502a

    acedickson

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    #2
    Most receivers from the last several years should have an optical audio input. You can get a very inexpensive mini toslink to toslink cable from monoprice.com depending on the length you need. I know the MacBook and MacBook Pro's have this optical out included in the headphone jack.

    EDIT: Meant to include the current Mac Pro, iMacs, and mac mini in that list too as per your question. The Mac Pro has a dedicated toslink jack, I believe.
     
  3. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    #3
    As said, so long as your surround system has an optical audio input, any Mac with an Intel processor has included an optical audio output that should support surround sound (actually, even the G5-era iMacs and PowerMacs also include optical audio out; not sure about G4-era PowerBooks). I use one with my home theater, and it works well.

    Alternately, if you've got a fairly new Mac, the Mini DisplayPort connector supports digital audio over HDMI as well, which saves you a cable; you just need a MDP to HDMI dongle, which aren't expensive. The current-generation Mac Mini also has a built-in HDMI output, no dongle required. I don't think the first generation of Macs with MDP outputs on them included audio, but I'm pretty sure the current models all do.
     
  4. applefan289 thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #4
    Cool, I was asking because my current PC has all of these ports for "audio out" that are different colors, yet the Macs seem to have less "out" ports, I was just wondering if they could support 5.1 surround sound. Thanks!
     
  5. robfern macrumors newbie

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    Jan 14, 2011
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    I move a lot. Sorry.
    #5
    What kind of speaker systems work with the 5.1 surround sound? Bose? Which ones. I was not aware my iMac and MBP can do this :eek:

    I am ready to trash my old altec lansing speakers from my old Gateway tower :eek::eek::eek:

    Thanks.
     
  6. acedickson macrumors 6502a

    acedickson

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    #6
    Just check to see if the receiver you have, or are going to buy, has an optical audio in as a port.
     
  7. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    #7
    That mess of ports are intended for a sound system that has an individual input jack for each channel or pair of channels. Such sets of outputs seem to be common on a lot of PC sound cards and motherboards, but frankly, I've never personally seen a sound system that has inputs like that--EVERY home theater system I've ever owned, looked at in the store, or helped a friend set up has optical, coax, and HDMI ports, or some combination thereof, for the surround input. Maybe cheapie computer 5.1 systems have them or something, but I've always considered outputs like that useless, and the cords would be a mess on top of it.

    Like acedickson says, anything that has an optical input port should work. Technically, if you want full 5.1 sound, the receiver will also need to support whatever form of sound encoding the particular DVD uses (or PCM for audio generated by something other than a DVD), but any surround receiver built in the last decade should be able to handle Dolby, DTS, and PCM audio streams, so if you're buying new it's not an issue.

    And actually, if you somehow end up with a deck that only has a digital coax input, but no optical one, you can buy a little optical to coax converter box online rather cheaply. I used one to convert the other direction once, and it seemed to work fine.
     

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