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Mac Thread, 5.1 surround on iMac (2011) - How to? in Technical; Hey, Been trying to work out a clean way of merging my mac/pc into the one machine (VM Windows), and ...
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    Steve21's Avatar
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    5.1 surround on iMac (2011) - How to?

    Hey,

    Been trying to work out a clean way of merging my mac/pc into the one machine (VM Windows), and keep hitting the snag of imac not having 5.1 card. As far as I know there isn't any external adapters they sell either. So is there a way to get a 5.1 surround kit working on an imac, without buying additional amps etc?

    Currently using Logitech X530 ( Logitech X-530, Continued : 5.1 Surround Sound on the Cheap ) as you can see kind of limited on port choices

    If there isn't a way without an amp, would it make more sense just to bin the speakers and get a set that can work via optical (as I'm pretty sure all the new imacs work with optical output from the normal headphone socket?)

    Or am I barking up the wrong tree here?

    Many thanks,
    Steve

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    USB 5.1 Channel Audio Adapter - Blaze Audio

    Looks like you can get speakers that take an optical in. The other thing you could try is looking at an amp that takes an HDMI input.

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    Steve21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    USB 5.1 Channel Audio Adapter - Blaze Audio

    Looks like you can get speakers that take an optical in. The other thing you could try is looking at an amp that takes an HDMI input.
    Under the Mac system, the volume buttons of the adapter are not functional and there is 2-channel playback only

    For that USB adapter.

    Guess its either amp or optical speakers really.

    Steve

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    What do you want the 5.1 for? Anything more than plain old computer sounds and you would probably be better off with optical -> surround sound receiver.

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    Steve21 (28th October 2012)

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve21 View Post
    Under the Mac system, the volume buttons of the adapter are not functional and there is 2-channel playback only

    For that USB adapter.

    Guess its either amp or optical speakers really.

    Steve
    Do you need 5.1 in Mac anyway, its not like it can do Blu-ray and most games are Windows so would be handled by bootcamp anyway hence having drivers.

    You're right, the best solution is probably different speakers or an amp that can drop the output from optical or better (HDMI) - assuming Macs can do that - as there is a higher bitrate from HDMI.

    Edit: Greif, looks like you need another adapter even for basic HDMI with audio http://www.kanexlive.com/mdphd10ft
    No optical out either http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4619
    Last edited by SYNACK; 28th October 2012 at 01:22 PM.

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    Steve21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Do you need 5.1 in Mac anyway, its not like it can do Blu-ray and most games are Windows so would be handled by bootcamp anyway hence having drivers.
    Never really played with bootcamp yet, but wouldn't the original mac limits affect it still if it's going "through" it, or does it bypass it completely bootcamp to hardware wise?

    Edit: Greif, looks like you need another adapter even for basic HDMI with audio Kanex Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Cable 10 ft (3 m)
    No optical out either iMac (Mid 2011): External features, ports, and connectors
    Doesn't this basically mean it'll detect and use optical if you use the headphone socket though?

    S/PDIF optical digital output
    The S/PDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format) optical digital output is automatically selected when an S/PDIF optical digital output device is detected on the external combination audio port. The S/PDIF optical digital output supports pulse-code modulation (PCM) and Arc Consistency Algorithm #3 (AC-3) audio formats with the following stereo data stream characteristics:
    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    looks like you need another adapter even for basic HDMI with audio
    Some Mac's have HDMI ports, but in Steve's case a cheaper alternative would be to buy a mDP to HDMI adapter (10.95) + HDMI cable (5.89 for 3m).

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    it's not like it can do Blu-ray
    You can (either by using Mac Blu-Ray Player or by ripping the discs using MakeMKV and playing the .m2ts in VLC / MPlayerX).

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    assuming Macs can do that - as there is a higher bitrate from HDMI.
    Unfortunately OS X can't bitstream Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA to an amp over HDMI (although Dolby Digital and DTS are both fine).
    Last edited by Arthur; 28th October 2012 at 02:24 PM.

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    Steve21 (28th October 2012)

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve21 View Post
    Never really played with bootcamp yet, but wouldn't the original mac limits affect it still if it's going "through" it, or does it bypass it completely bootcamp to hardware wise?

    Doesn't this basically mean it'll detect and use optical if you use the headphone socket though?

    Steve
    The flaw with the USB one is to do with the drivers, under Windows via bootcamp it should be fine.

    Did not see that it supported SPdif, it is the oldschool copper version of optical so, so long as you got speakers or an amp that supports that older type it should manage older 5.1. You can get converters from toslink to SP-DIF but they are expensive and overrated.

    It looks like from Authur's post above that MacOS does not support any of the newer, higher fidelity audio outputs over HDMI anyway so you won't get any benefit unless under bootcamp Windows. I didn't suggest the other adapters as when I did a search it appeared that not all adapters actually supported audio out in the converters for the 2011 one and that was why the cable I posted was 'better' as it could. Could be standard now though.

    Yikes, weren't Macs supposed to be all media friendly at one point.
    Last edited by SYNACK; 28th October 2012 at 01:59 PM.

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    Steve21 (28th October 2012)

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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Yikes, weren't Macs supposed to be all media friendly at one point.
    You'd have thought that wouldn't you! Starting to wonder if it's easier just to stick with silly 2.1, or just keeping the pc box Trying to merge kit only to spend hundreds more seems bit of a waste, but guess it's future proofing it (well so so).

    Mmm

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Could be standard now though.
    KBHT4241 - About Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapters

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    If you are going for futureproofing I'd go down the external amp with HDMI input as that is the tech with more of a future, the other standards are kind of winding down/basically gone. That way its all modular, including speakers and you can move it to a different system when required. That way when you need to do media stuff in the future (and have to buy a PC again ) you can just connect the system to the new one.

    You also get better sound by going externally isolated as the amp itself is the one doing the reproduction, its all digital till it hits the speakers. By doing this it means that the only analog electronics that touch the sound are the comparatively quite and well isolated circuits in the amp just before the speaker. Even with the Mac speaking the equivalent of Aramaic 5.1 encoding to the amp you will end up with much better sound.

    Fair enough, I just can't believe how much hassle they have made it to hook up anything better than a pair of headphones though. Still I have learned something new about Apples. Now I think I need to go to bed to recover
    Last edited by SYNACK; 28th October 2012 at 02:20 PM.

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    I'm not sure if this has already been covered so forgive me if it has. You can obtain 5.1 audio directly out of the optical audio out on modern Macs. Obviously you will only get 5.1 if the media you are playing contains it, and obviously you need a receiver or speaker set with an optical digital input to be able to hear it. There's an article here describing how to get 5.1 from iTunes and from DVD Player. Setting up iTunes and DVD Player for digital surround sound
    The article which was mentioned in an earlier post About Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapters is really interesting because it shows that not all Macs output audio through their mini display port, and that not all MDP to HDMI adapters can pass multichannel audio. It's worth a look to be sure, but sounds like there's a lot to go wrong ;(

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