Apple TV Movies Big Bang Theory 001

If you rely on the optical audio jack to enjoy crystal-clear sound on your home stereo system, you’re in for a major disappointment as the new Apple TV no longer features an optical audio port on its back.

As evidenced on Apple’s Tech Specs webpage for the new Apple TV, both audio and video are now sent over the HDMI cable exclusively.

This leaves audiophiles in the market for a fourth-generation Apple TV with two choices.

They can A) connect the device to a Hi-Fi receiver and then route audio to the speakers and video to the TV set, or B) use AirPlay and Apple’s AirPort Express wireless appliance, which has optical audio output, to feed audio to their home theater system.

On the flip side, the fourth-generation set-top box features support for Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 via HDMI 1.4, a notable improvement over Dolby Digital 5.1 on its predecessor.

Here are the ports and interfaces on the back of the new Apple TV.

Apple TV 4 ports and interfaces back 001

And now compare them to the third-generation Apple TV.

Apple TV 3 ports and interfaces back 001

You can clearly see that the optical audio port is missing on the new box.

We’ve discovered a few other tidbits, too.

For example, the new Apple TV has two gigabytes of RAM, the same as the iPad Air 2 and twice as much as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

The maximum size of an Apple TV app limited to 200MB and third-party apps and games must store all data in iCloud, as per Apple. Next, the new Siri Remote will be available in just five languages across eight countries.

And last but not least, the new streamer has been confirmed to rock 4K-capable hardware though 4K video output appears to have been disabled in software.

The new Apple TV starts at $149 and will be available in late October.

Source: Apple

  • chuckisbusy

    I dont quite fully understand B) use AirPlay and Apple’s AirPort Express wireless appliance to feed audio to the receiver system…

    • Ángel Javier Esquivel

      Connect the Apple TV to an Apple’s AirPort Express wireless appliance via WiFi and plug the optical audio out to your home system

      • chuckisbusy

        i looked it up. i get it now, but seems like to many devices. I think it would be better to get a splitter/converter box

      • Ángel Javier Esquivel


  • Nads

    Is there any reason as to why someone would still use optical out cables? HDMI is much better isn’t it. Also now that it supports Dolby Digital Plus, does that mean content is limited to only Dolby? Can we not use audio tracks such as DTS?

    and what about HD audio such as Dolby Digital TrueHD and DTS Master Audio HD?

    • Craig

      If you don’t have a receiver with HDMI. Lots of people have an amp with SPDIF.

      • J M

        This is my situation. I have an old, but perfectly capable receiver with SPDIF, but no HDMI.

    • Adrian

      I use the optical output on my current apple TV as I don’t have any spare HDMI inputs on my AV amplifier.

    • Miguel

      I use the apple tv in my house and the hdmi is connected to a 4 X 4 Matrix switch and the optical out is connected directly to the audio distribution amplifier so for me the solution would be get the new apple tv for video and use the old one just for audio this is almost the same price as getting a good quality splitter.

      • Nads

        Just seems to me a lot of people still have outdated ancient AVR’s and surround sound systems. This is a nice excuse to go out and upgrade them 😀

      • Carl

        I want to be able to run the audio thru an expensive dac to boost sound quality. I think apples choice to ditch spdif is terrible.

    • Himanshu Oberoi

      Because LED TV have not a good speakers!

    • bommai

      AppleTV never supported DTS. Only Dolby Digital. Now it supports Dolby Digital Plus. I guess commerically, Dolby Digital Plus is supported by Netflix and VUDU right now. No commercial streaming provider uses Dolby True HD or DTS-HD-Ma. If they did, then we could push Apple to adopt it for commercial reasons. I think Apple does not want to support it because only ripped content consumers really care about Dolby True HD and DTS-HD-Ma and Apple does not really pay attention to them 🙁

      • Nads

        Oh man thats a huge shame. Thanks for explaining this! Would have been excellent if it did support it, then apps such as infuse would be much more useful.

    • DrinkOnlyScotch

      Some us us think 5.1 and 7.1 setups are tacky in the home (unless you have a dedicated theater room) and prefer old school 2-channel setups, which typically only have optical input. Also, 5.1 and 7.1 are totally overkill for smaller rooms where a smaller TV and bookshelf stereo speakers are the only tasteful option.

  • lemonhead

    What pisses me off more is, that I’ll need an adapter for usb-c to usb just for the apple tv

    • Nolan I.

      You shouldn’t need to use this under normal circumstances. The USB-C is for restoring the software in ITunes, as well as for Apple support.

      However it would be cool if Apple opened up the software to allow adapters such as USB-C to HDMI or a USB flash drive.

      • lemonhead

        Oh man you’ll need one in no time, with xcode 7 and sideloading on the table there will be much use for this adapter trust me !
        Think about PopcornTime, Plex and other streaming apps, which aren’t alowed on the apple tv appstore…

      • Nolan I.

        You are absolutely right friend. I totally forgot about the whole development aspect!

  • Nolan I.

    I wonder if a USB-C adapter of this kind would work, if the system would even recognize it.

  • Pavelbure

    So does this mean iTunes movies will now be 7.1 ?

  • Wow, this is a major bummer. My surround sound system uses optical in.

    • Rick Berger

      Do you have an Optical Output on your TV? I wonder if connecting the apple tv via HDMI to your television and then using the Optical out from the TV to your stereo would work.

      • Cybmax

        Most tv sets does not allow “passthrough” of the 5.1 signal from hdmi to optical/coax out.
        Thats the case with my samsung tv atleast. If i send 5.1 audio from eg. my blueray player to hdmi -> tv, the tv will downmix this to 2 channel audio on my spdif out. Only solution is to use my BD players optical out directly to my receiver.

        If i were to buy the new apple tv i either have to buy a new receiver that can play hdmi audio directly, og buy a splitter to put between the apple tv and my tv set 🙁

        Major bummer if you compare it with the last apple tv that HAS its own optical out 🙁

  • Chindavon

    That’s going to be annoying without optical. I guess it’s time to go find another speaker bar.

  • Chris

    The only thing Samsung have built correctly is HDMI sound pass-through using just one optical cable from the DVD player to the TV.

  • Zdeněk Švarc

    … and C) Connect HDMI to TV and optical from TV to AV receiver (if TV supports optical).

  • morrowland

    Well, I just got my new Apple TV. And I just ordered a new $725 Yamaha receiver with HDMI inputs. My trusty Sony STR-DE845 has no HDMI inputs but has multiple opticals, which I’ve been using for years (and with the last 2 generations of Apple TVs). I shoulda read more before I bought this new one. Coulda woulda shoulda.

    Oh well, Apple’s strategy of planned obsolescence moves ahead as predicted. I dare not moan about it lest I appear to be an old fart/troll. Anybody want some Firewire external drives? How about a $400 Lacie Thunderbolt-only external drive?