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dfbills Level 2 (190 points)

I just hooked up my 2011 Mac Mini 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 running Lion and I'm unable to output sound via the optical connection. 


The new Mac Mini is connected to my TV via a HDMI cable and I'm using a Toslink cable to connect the audio to my receiver from the Mini.


All the audio options on the Mini seem to indicate only two audio out options:  internal speaker and HDMI audio.  There appears to be no optical or analog audio out available.


I've looked in the Sound Prefpane, Audio Midi Setup and even the excellent Sound Source menubar app from Rogue Amoeba to no avail.


The audio setup was working perfectly on my Late 2005 Mac Mini running Snow Leopard, but that's using a DVI to HDMI cable and a Toslink audio hookup.


Any thoughts on how to fix this?

Mac mini, Mac OS X (10.7)
  • woodmeister50 Level 5 (5,170 points)

    Can you plug in a pair of headphones and see if "Line Out"

    shows up is sound prefs?  Do you have another optical cable

    to try?  You may have coincidentally damaged it when putting

    the new setup together?  Rare, but happens.


    Something else you may try, configure the hardware the way

    you want then to a PRAM zap.  This can sometimes force the

    system to rediscover hardware. 


    Failing relief from any of the above, I would take it back and

    check it out in the store you got it.  If it doesn't work there,

    demand a new Mini, because it's broke.

  • dfbills Level 2 (190 points)

    Thanks, woodmeister50.  The headphones are such an obvious test.. of course it wasn't on my mind since the output wasn't showing up. 


    I won't be able to test until Tuesday, but I'll report back.

  • dfbills Level 2 (190 points)

    It turns out that when the audio output is set to HDMI, you can't use toslink.



    Apparently, you have to send audio via HDMI, then spit it out from the device connected to that HDMI connection.



    In my case, HDMI goes into my HDTV and I went from the TV back to my amp with a toslink audio cable.

  • woodmeister50 Level 5 (5,170 points)

    Then, it seems like there has been a flip over in

    the 2011 vs. the 2010.  In my 2010, if I had an optical

    connection, it would take over all audio and could get none

    over HDMI until I removed the optical.

  • m4sheikh Level 1 (0 points)



    Just wanted to ask what should one do if there is no Optical Audio Out in ones HDTV. I have a Sony Bravia but unfortunately theres no optic out. After reading your post, I'm wondering how I can get Digital Audio playing on the surround system if I have the following setup:


    1) Sony Bravia V series 52 inch

    2) Mac Mini 2011

    3) Digital amp/receiver (with no HDMI input or output)

    4) Speakers (Klipsch)


    Please help because I don't think I'll get to change my HDTV anytime soon!



  • marco964 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hello dfbills,
    I'm facing the same problem with my mac mini.
    I bought a new mac mini about 15 days ago.
    I tried to connect it to my AV digital receiver (ONKYO TX-SR608) via HDMI in order to get 5.1 audio output. But the only thing I obtained is a stereo output.
    In midi configuration all the multi channel audio options are disabled. The only one that is selectable is the stereo option. On the other hand in VLC audio set up the multi channel option is selectable but if I click on it the program (and the played dvd) hangs up.
    Yesterday, tired of making continuous efforts in order to get the multi channel signal from the HDMI interface I bought an optical (toslink) cable. It was also suggested to me at the GENIUS BAR by an Apple operator.
    I connected the optical cable to the audio output of the computer and then I connected it to my AV Receiver.
    At the same time I disconnect the HDMI cable from the AV Receiver and connected it directly to my HDTV.
    Unfortunately nothing has changed. I only obtained a 1080p video output (and stereo audio output, of course) via HDMI and no audio output from the optical output.
    When the optical cable is connected, an audio encoded option appears in the menù of the midi configuration (internal audio output) but there is no way to obtain multi channel output in speaker configuration.
    I notice that in this configuration also the stereo signal via optical output is not working and no light is visible across the optical fibre. Note that I tested the cable with other devices and its working fine.
    Although Apple claims that the mac mini supports all the multi channel audio output both via HDMI and internal audio output I could not get it in any way despite the various configurations attempted.
    I do not think it is a hardware problem but rather a software problem, driver or other software devices released with new Lion OS. I saw from many other forums that at least the optical cable solves the problem in previous versions of the MAC OS.
    Note that after upgrading to version 10.7 of LION OS I had problems with video output after restarting the OS.
    Sorry for the many words but I tried to be as accurate as possible in order to give you all the elements to help solve the problem.
    Waiting for someone who can give me the right solution (configuration or suggestion).

    Many thanks in advance!

  • m4sheikh Level 1 (0 points)

    Looks like we are in the same boat and there's absolutely no way I'm changing my HDTV just for this nonsensical issue! Apple needs to provide an update for this!!!

  • m4sheikh Level 1 (0 points)

    does your receiver upscale digital out?

  • woodmeister50 Level 5 (5,170 points)

    To pass Dolby or DTS to your receiver or TV, you must

    go to Audio Midi Setup and select your HDMI output and

    set it to 24bit, stereo.  This will allow pass through of

    these signals to the receiver/TV.


    This is because, Dolby and DTS are streams encoded

    into a stereo digital stream.  There is a flag in this stream

    to tell the the receiveing device to decode it.


    No software to my knowledge on the Mac platform decodes

    any Dolby or DTS into multichannel PCM and sends it out

    digital to HDMI or optical.

  • marco964 Level 1 (0 points)


    yes my receiver upscales digital inputs, but the problem is that no signal is coming from the mac mini via optical output.

    Via HDMI the maximum I obbtain is a stereo signal reprocessed by my receiver in Dolby Pro Logic II.

    I'am very disappointed for this issue. I spent a lot of money for the mini relying on the specifications stated by Apple.

    I hope they provide a fix as soon as possible or the mac mini will never be able to perform as a media center or simply as a dvd player compared with other devices at lower price.

    And at least but not the last Apple is declaring characteristics that are not really supported by the actual mac mini.

  • dfbills Level 2 (190 points)

    I'm pretty sure the Apple DVD Player sends multichannel audio out when you have it enabled.  My receiver sure thinks so.

  • dfbills Level 2 (190 points)

    For now, the best you can really do is to go analog from your TV back to the receiver. 

  • m4sheikh Level 1 (0 points)


    My plans to buy a Mac Mini are currently on hold until this silly issue is resolved.



    Have you tried @woodmeister50's solution?

  • marco964 Level 1 (0 points)

    I agree with your choice if you are searching for a (full optional) media center.

    From my piont of view it's a shame that the new version of the OS does not fully support multichannel audio output as it was in the old version (see Leopard) despite of the upgradated hardware of the new mini.

    We just have to wait for Apple...

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