New Apple TV uses USB-C for service, ditches optical audio out port

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited November 2015
The new Apple TV looks largely the same as its predecessors, but its ports around back have been revised, removing optical audio output, and using USB-C for restoring the device through its service port.




The loss of optical audio out, in particular, could be upsetting to some home theater enthusiasts. While HDMI sends both audio and video over a single cable, copyright compliance requirements with HDMI can make it difficult or impossible for users to connect their headphones without the use of an intermediary receiver or HDTV with an optical out port.

Optical audio out ports on devices like the third-generation Apple TV, as well as modern game consoles such as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, make it possible for users to connect headphones directly to the device, without the need for a receiver or home theater system.

Without a dedicated optical port on the fourth-generation Apple TV, those without a receiver looking to use headphones may be out of luck, as audio can only be sent out through the HDMI 1.4 port. Users with HDTVs that pass through audio via their own optical port, however, could still receive sound over headphones.

The Apple TV also holds the distinction of being Apple's second device with a USB-C port, though most users likely won't access it. Unlike with the 12-inch MacBook, which uses the USB-C port for both charging and syncing, the USB-C connection on the Apple TV will only be used for diagnostics purposes.

Other changes to the Apple TV are more significant: It features a much more capable 64-bit A8 processor, as well as storage capacities of 32 or 64 gigabytes, for $149 or $199, respectively. Wi-Fi connectivity has also been upgraded to 802.11ac, while the device still features a dedicated Ethernet port.
«13456710

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 189



    My home theatre system doesn't have HDMI in on the receiver, so that's a bummer, since I'd rather not also buy a new (and better) receiver to upgrade.

     

    But will wireless headphones not work with the new AppleTV via Bluetooth?  

  • Reply 2 of 189

    Whaaaat!?!  This blows, I have an optical cable from my Apple TV to my stereo and am constantly streaming music to it through iTunes.  I also listen to movies through my stereo.....  I don't get it.

  • Reply 3 of 189
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,098member
    To keep to a specific price point they have to balance features vs. cost. Those features deemed to be ones not used by a reasonable subset of users are likely to get axed as they decide which trade-offs to make. Optical out usage is probably not used that much any more (compared to the volume of users/devices).
  • Reply 4 of 189
    Heard the remote would recharge via a built-in Lightning cable. For some reason I thought Apple would provide an adapter to the USB-C port for charging.
  • Reply 5 of 189
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JamesJpn View Post

     

    Whaaaat!?!  This blows, I have an optical cable from my Apple TV to my stereo and am constantly streaming music to it through iTunes.  I also listen to movies through my stereo.....  I don't get it.




    There will be a dongle, and most new receivers have HDMI inputs. But I agree, I don't really follow the logic behind eliminating optical audio for the vast majority of existing music-listening setups.

  • Reply 6 of 189
    This sucks. I use the optical port to play music throughout my house, with the HDMI connected to my home theater sys

    Now, Apple TV can't send audio to two sources at the same time

    Do I have this right?
  • Reply 7 of 189
    Quote:


     Whaaaat!?!  This blows, I have an optical cable from my Apple TV to my stereo and am constantly streaming music to it through iTunes.  I also listen to movies through my stereo.....  I don't get it.


     

    You shouldbe able to forward the sound output from your Apple TV to an Airport Express, which has an optical out port. You then plug whatever speakers you want into the Airport Express.

     

    This is currently possible with the 3rd Gen Apple TV so hopefully they keep that feature.

  • Reply 8 of 189
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,694member
    This will fix your lack of audio output issue: http://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=10251
  • Reply 9 of 189
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by joelsalt View Post

     



    My home theatre system doesn't have HDMI in on the receiver, so that's a bummer, since I'd rather not also buy a new (and better) receiver to upgrade.

     

    But will wireless headphones not work with the new AppleTV via Bluetooth?  




    I was in the same boat as you and ended up buying one of these to sort me out. Not only does it allow me to have four HDMI devices, it splits the audio out to TOSLINK so I can have DD and DTS audio coming into my receiver from each of those HDMI devices. I use a Harmony remote to select the HDMI input on the switch to match the device I select.

     

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IAM74UO?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_search_detailpage

     

    Much cheaper than replacing my (otherwise quite capable) receiver.

  • Reply 10 of 189
    red oak wrote: »
    This sucks. I use the optical port to play music throughout my house, with the HDMI connected to my home theater sys

    Now, Apple TV can't send audio to two sources at the same time

    Do I have this right?

    I honestly don't get the need for optical ports from the Apple TV. I only use the optical out from my TV, since the TV has to be on anyways for the AppleTV to work in any meaningful way, no?
  • Reply 11 of 189

    The time for the optical port has come and gone.  Few will miss it.

    Glad to see USB-C on here.

    I am mystified as to why the Bluetooth is 4.0.  They missed a huge HomeKit opportunity for advancement if they had gone with 4.1 (like the iPod Touch!) or 4.2.

    HDMI only at 1.4 is disappointing, but understandable since they didn't go whole hog to UHD.  Since there are so many of the next gen technologies that are in flux (competing HDR formats, more patent assertions on HEVC, wide gamut with inconsistent tech), I would expect next year's model to be the one that gets all of these to "just work" and well.

    I will buy this one as a solid advance over the previous model, but it looks like my ideal unit will have to wait until next year.

  • Reply 12 of 189

    I connect my Apple TV with the optical cable to my stereo and stream from my laptop.  The actual TV has nothing to do with it.  Then when I watch a movie the audio goes from my Apple TV to my stereo which of course sounds much better than my TV's audio.

  • Reply 13 of 189
    ash471ash471 Posts: 705member
    Anyone know if USB-c can be used to add external storage to ATV? If so, this will be a big deal.
  • Reply 14 of 189
    welshdog wrote: »
    This will fix your lack of audio output issue: http://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=10251

    In theory USB audio devices may (at least unintentionally) also work. Several work on iOS already.
  • Reply 15 of 189
    Well, THAT news just saved me the cost of a new Apple TV. WTF? There's just no excuse for ditching the only port for audio out on a device like this. Well, my thanks to those who've posted various devices for workarounds, but I'm not looking to add more black boxes and connecting wires to my gear where no additions have been needed up til now. Just dumb.
  • Reply 16 of 189
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 1,006member
    ...since the TV has to be on anyways for the AppleTV to work in any meaningful way, no?

    No. If playing just music, you don't need the TV on with the existing ATV, this new one you do need the TV on and you've got to have a TV that has optical (or otherwise) audio out. Pretty stupid really.
  • Reply 17 of 189
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    Without a dedicated optical port on the fourth-generation Apple TV, those without a receiver looking to use headphones may be out of luck, as audio can only be sent out through the HDMI 1.4 port.

     

    I've never tried using Bluetooth earbuds with ?TV, but the new ?TV does have Bluetooth 4.0.

    Presumably it works pretty well, so there *is* a way to use headphones without optical digital.

    Just not your old wired ones.  (Unless there's some kind of Bluetooth adapter you can plug them into.)

  • Reply 18 of 189
    2oh12oh1 Posts: 501member

    That's disappointing.  I love having the optical out on my Apple TV.  I use it all the time, when streaming music.

  • Reply 19 of 189
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,985member
    welshdog wrote: »
    This will fix your lack of audio output issue: http://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=10251

    $47, and another box.
  • Reply 20 of 189
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,924member
    That really is disappointing. I don't always want my home theater on. Therefore, I run the audio to my receiver via optical or coax digital and the HDMI to the tv for video. A whole bunch of use cases being ignored here.
Sign In or Register to comment.