Will 5.1 speakers work on an iMac correctly?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Mizzou02RS, Dec 22, 2005.

  1. Mizzou02RS macrumors member

    Sep 13, 2005
    I have a question...I will be purchasing a 20" G5 iMac soon and with it some new accessories...I know 2.1 speakers will work on an iMac, but will 5.1 systems work as they should or will I need special equipment to make theem put out true 5.1 sound?

    Thank you.
  2. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    May 7, 2004
    Sod off
    You need a PCI 5.1 sound card like this in order to actually use all 5 speakers....otherwise it (I think) will use an SRS mode like with a 2.1 system, or just plain stereo.

    Since the iMac has no PCI slots I'm afraid true 5.1 is a no-go.
  3. madtodaimax macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2004
    usb external 5.1 soundcard could make it possible if its mac compatible. my roommate uses a creative one for his laptop and his logitech 5.1 system.
  4. danny_w macrumors 601

    Mar 8, 2005
    Austin, TX
    I think there are also firewire soundcards made specifically for Macs.
  5. unfaded macrumors 6502

    Dec 12, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Everyone here is not quite right.

    On the iMac Tech Specs page, you will note:
    headphone/optical digital audio output

    Which will support 5.1 surround straight out of the iMac, should you have a receiver that has an optical in port.
  6. Anonymous Freak macrumors 603

    Anonymous Freak

    Dec 12, 2002
    unfaded is correct.

    5.1 works just fine on the iMac. As long as the speakers have an optical digital in port. The iMac does *NOT* support analog 5.1, which is what almost all 'cheap' 5.1 speaker systems use. (Go to an Apple Store, or the online Apple Store, they ONLY sell digital 5.1 speakers, since the only Macs that support 5.1 use digital.)
  7. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    May 7, 2004
    Sod off
    I stand corrected. 5.1 support is something I wanted in a Mac for some time.
  8. brett_x macrumors member


    Apr 25, 2005
    Why 5.1 speakers?

    We should be asking why you want 5.1 speakers here...
    Don't expect to have full 5.1 surround sound when playing games. Certain applications (like DVD Player) do use the 6 channels very well, but others are still "working on it". OpenAL is better supported these days, but it is still a ways off.
    iTunes seems to play through all 6 channels, but it is not "coded" for 5.1, so it is just "more sound" than 2.1 speakers.
    I have the Revolution 5.1 card in my G5 and I love it, but I expected more out of it than I am getting. Here's to hoping the future brings OpenAL support to more games.
    There is also one other things to consider: Hardware Decoding of the signal (Dolby DTS etc). I really haven't gotten a firm grip on that knowlege, so I won't comment on it fully, but only high-end speaker systems (Like the Logitech Z-5500) will do the decoding for you.
    I hope this helps.
  9. weeag macrumors regular

    Dec 27, 2005
    So, along those lines...

    (keep in mind I'm an audio newbie) I've got a set of Altec Lansings with 4 speakers and a sub (see image below).


    It has two digital inputs on the sub and all the outs for the speakers. Will I need an adapter to go from the iMac's single digital out to go to the two on bass?

  10. mrichmon macrumors 6502a

    Jun 17, 2003
    That image looks like the digital inputs are wire inputs rather than optical inputs. If this is the case then you would need something to transfer the digital sound coming out of the iMac on a fibre-optic cable over to a digital signal being carried on a metal wire to be input into the Lansing equipment.
  11. weeag macrumors regular

    Dec 27, 2005
    Yes, the digital inputs are wires, not optical.

    Thanks for the help. Any idea where I might find one of those (or at least what terms to use to search for it?)

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