4 Replies Latest reply: Mar 7, 2012 10:01 AM by Inaki
Joseph Coates Level 1 (15 points)

If you have an analog stereo amp or reciever, one that uses RCA plugs, using an Apple TV 2 requires that the HDMI or Toslink optical be processed by a DAC or digital audio converter.

If you are an audiophile, you will know all about this but, if you just want to get the job done and have decent stereo from Apple TV 2, here is my experience.

If you have a TV with an RCA audio jack out - one white and one red - you can plug the Apple TV 2 HDMI cable into the TV and run an RCA cable to the reciever in jacks for CD, LD, VCR, Tape. (Just not LP!) The TV DAC will do the audio via the digital HDMI and you are done! Make sure you set Apple TV to two channel stereo or it will be just the noise of unprocessed Dolby Digital gunk.

I have a bottom of the line Sony Bravia and its DAC is fine for Netflix, OTA HDTV (excellent audio with Dobly Digital turned off) and most uses.

If you want to get a bit more better sound, plug a DAC into the Apple TV via the Toslink optical out. Then run RCA to the reciever (same as above). If you spend hundreds of dollars on a DAC, it will sound great. But if you have done this, you are an audiophile and know this already. Why are you reading this?!

If you want an great but cheap DAC, pick up a FiiO D3 Digital to Analog Audio Converter - 192kHz/24bit Optical and Coaxial DAC for $30 (Amazon sells them).

For most music, like MP3s, you won't hear much difference (okay, none at all) than if you run audio through HMDI to the TV DAC then out to RCA. But for good recordings (like ones I burned from CDs I own), the FiiO D3 does add a little more zip and range resulting in a livlier performance.

I run the FiiO DAC to an perfectly fine Yamaha RX-595 receiver with direct amplification circuit (skips the base, treble, balance) and in turn to some Magenpan MMG speakers. Jazz and classical via iTunes to Apple TV 2 sound great!

AppleTV 2, iOS 4.3.2
  • Inaki Level 1 (5 points)

    Do you have any problems with the D3's "Connected" status going wonky when the AppleTV goes to sleep and is woken up again?  I seem to have that issue with it, whenever I re-awaken it, it won't connect to the D3 and I have a lot of audio dropouts.


    Any pointers?

  • Joseph Coates Level 1 (15 points)

    I have had no issues with the D3 and Apple TV working after sleep. Indeed, there is no data connection between the two except that the Apple TV sends a laser based digitial audio signal to the D3 for DA conversion. The D3 does not communicate with the Apple TV and the Apple TV does not signal to the D3 that it is asleep or awake. The D3 just sits there and waits for the light to come in for conversion to analog.

    I suspect your problem is in the Apple TV. Perhaps you have a bad unit and need to get a replacement under warranty (ASAP if still under the 90 day but hopefully you bought the Apple care 1-3 year warranty with it?) Regardless, even out of warranty, if you make an appointment with an Apple store via the web, show up, very nicely tell the Genius Bar person that the toslink feature seems to never have been working (does not matter that it goes to a D3 or a $6000 DAC so don't mention it!), they will check your warranty, see that it is bad, and 9 times out of ten, hand you a brand new Apple TV unit! They take the old one back, refurb it, and resell it. No one looses. Be nice the whole time! Even if they say you are out of luck, just be nice. Nice really works at the Apple store!

    The other issue that might cause this is syncing. If the D3 or Apple TV are hooked up to a power strip that shuts off to save power (or that you shut off manually), this might unsync the two. So leave both on power lines that always remain on. That's how I have mine set up.

  • GWP1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I'm looking to connect the Apple TV to my formerly-state-of-the-art Bose Lifestyle system from a decade ago.  Only has RCA inputs.  Will this gizmo work in this situation as well?  I see warnings that it will not work with Dolby Digital audio.

  • Inaki Level 1 (5 points)

    Well no, it won't do any multi-channel audio. Just stereo.