Which Macs Have Optical Audio Out?

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Mac computers are widely used by a large number of individuals. However, the majority of recent MacBooks do not have optical audio out, since Apple has opted to remove this function from the latest models of the laptop. So, which Macs have optical audio out?

As a general guide, Macs with optical audio out are, MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2013) through MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015), MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013) through MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015), iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2014) through iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2014).

All new Macbooks that came out from 2016 to date do not have optical audio out. They have USB-C audio. If you have one, you can buy a USB-C to optical audio adapter so that it’ll work with the DAC. Just make sure your Macbook has at least 10W of power output if not more for the DAC to work properly.

MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2013) through MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015)

The Apple MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Chip is compatible with DAC.

Unlike other MacBook Pros, those that came out between late 2013 (Retina, 15-inch to MacBook Pros that came out Mid 2015) have optical audio out.

If you are using SPDIF Digital Out, be sure to set the output selector on the computer to “iPod/iPhone.” This will allow for SPDIF passthrough.

Under System Preferences, choose Sound and select the Output tab (far left). If there is no Output tab visible but only an Input tab, you need to click on the ‘Show output devices’ button in order for the Output tab to show up.

Now that you have your main sound set to “iPod/iPhone,” it’s time to switch your input to SPDIF Digital Out. Now connect the DAC using a Toslink cable. The Mac will automatically sense this and will do the rest for you. You will now be enjoying the music!

MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch Mid 2016) to MacBook Pros that came out Late 2020.

These machines have USB-C audio. In order to use a DAC, all you need is a USB-C to the optical adapter from Apple or another company that supports optical passthrough.

The Macs that feature optical audio out are the older version. The optical audio out in MacBook’s was added in 2006. This makes use of fiber optic cables and features a Toslink connection, which is a proprietary connector. A 3.5mm audio jack may be used in conjunction with either the Toslink connection or the min Toslink connector.


Transmission of high-quality digital audio was made possible thanks to the use of these optical audio connections. The resultant standard, on the other hand, supports both 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound codecs, depending on the source device that was used to produce the audio.


As a digital transmission, optical signals are capable of transporting vast volumes of information. When connecting a surround sound system, a TOSlink cable, for instance, may convey 5.1 or 7.1 audio, but a conventional Minijack cable is only capable of carrying two analog streams.


Examples of the Macs that have optical audio out are the 012 and 2015 versions of the MacBooks. On the other hand, 2016 and 2017 versions are missing the optical audio out. 


Therefore, even if you will find a headphone port in the 2016 Mac, 2017 Mac, and other recent macs, these do not have optical audio support. For such, you will require a USB-based device in order to restore the optical audio output functionalities. 


Are There Any Other Audio Ports on the Macbook?

The MacBook is equipped with one or more audio ports. In addition to attaching headphones and self-powered speakers, these ports may also be utilized to connect a sound system to the computer.


Other ports may also be used to send audio signals. You can connect certain audio devices to your machine through the USB, Thunderbolt, or Ethernet connector on the back of your machine. Visual ports are capable of transmitting both sound and visual signals.


For example, MacBooks are equipped with a headphone jack. This port, when used in conjunction with the line-out port, allows you to connect headphones and other audio equipment that has a 3.5mm metal connection to your computer.

Furthermore, other Macbooks, which make use of the same headphone connector, are also capable of supporting optical audio output. As a result, you may use this port to connect your fiber optic cable or Toslink as well as other devices.

Other connections include an optical audio input that allows you to connect stereo equipment to the MacBook with the use of a tiny plug to RCA cable converter, as well as a USB port.

In addition, there is analog audio out. You may use this connector to connect self-powered loudspeakers as well as other sound equipment by connecting them with a normal audio cable that has a 3.5 mm metal connector on the end.

When was optical audio out removed?

Optical audio out connections are no longer available on the 2016 MacBook Pro, however, it is the first Apple product to remove them.

In between the 3rd and 4th versions of the Apple TV video player, the TOSlink connection was abolished and replaced with a USB-C port, which allows for unit servicing and screen recording capabilities when the gadget is connected to the system.


What is the best way to tell whether my Mac has optical audio out?


Almost all Macs manufactured after 2006 have optical audio out, and glancing at the manufacturer’s website for every model will provide the specifics. Toslink is supported, which means that optical audio out is supported. The current and recent models of the MacBook, on the other hand, do not feature optical audio out.


When it comes to digital communication systems, an optical audio system is essential. High-quality digital sounds are made possible via the use of optical audio. Optical audio, on the other hand, is not included in the latest generations of MacBooks.

Rather, they are provided with optical audio capability via the headphone connector on their devices. MacBook models that offer optical audio, on the other hand, include the 2012 and 2016 models, among others. 

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