If you’re in the market for an Apple TV, there’s a good chance that the models you’ll find don’t have optical out.
However, there’s still a way to get your hands on one, especially if you know which Apple TV has optical out.
Apple TV optical out is only available in 3rd Gen and earlier models. Apple stopped supporting this port when they released the Apple TV HD in 2015. It only had HDMI and Ethernet ports for connectivity, which are more than enough for an average user because HDMI can send audio and video signals.
However, it doesn’t mean that the Apple TV 3rd-Gen is outdated and that you can’t use the 4th-Gen and later models to connect to older sound systems.
In this article, we’ll talk about which Apple TV model you should get, together with some tricks you can do to supercharge your Apple TV, regardless of its model.
Which Apple TV Has Support for Optical Audio Port?
You can only get the Apple TV optical out from 3 models:
- 1st-gen launched in 2006
- 2nd-gen in 2010
- 3rd-gen in 2012
Apple TVs released after 2015 don’t have an optical audio port, which prevents people from connecting them to stereo speakers.
Here’s a table of all Apple TV models to give you a birds-eye view of their release dates and connectivity ports:
|Apple TV Models||Launch Year||Ports|
|HD (4th Generation)||2015||HDMI 1.4|
|4K 1st Generation||2017||HDMI 2.0|
|4K 2nd Generation||2021||HDMI 2.0|
|4K 3rd Generation Wifi||2022||HDMI 2.1|
|4K 3rd Generation Wifi + Ethernet||2022||HDMI 2.1|
Can You Still Use Apple TV 3rd Generation?
You can still use the Apple TV 3rd-Gen because it works with most entertainment systems, especially with its HDMI and optical audio ports. HDMI is backward compatible, so you can use HDMI 2.1 with earlier versions.
You can still connect an older Apple TV model to modern displays, and the optical audio port will allow you to connect it to older speaker systems. However, the features added in later models, particularly the 4K resolution, might be worth an upgrade.
You can even use your Apple TV to watch movies from an external hard drive.
The lack of an optical audio port in newer models wouldn’t be an issue for most users because HDMI can send audio and video signals.
Aside from this, there are also a few tricks that you can do to supercharge your Apple TV.
3 Tricks To Supercharge Your Apple TV
1. Use Apple TV 3rd-Gen As Audio Output via Airplay
If you have an older sound system with only an optical input, you can still connect it to Apple TV HD and 4K models using Airplay.
This feature allows users to sync their Apple TV with other Apple devices or another Apple TV, in this case, a 3rd Generation Apple TV.
You can connect your Apple TV optical out to your stereo speakers using an optical cable, then sync your 3rd-Gen to your Apple TV HD via Airplay and use it as your audio output.
You don’t even have to spend anything on it.
It works as well as connecting your newer Apple TV models, with all of its latest features, directly connected to older sound systems.
2. Connect Your Apple TV to Sound System via Airport Express
If you have an Apple AirPort Express around your house, you can use it instead of the Apple TV optical out, and it’ll still work fine.
You only need to connect the AirPort Express to the sound system using the optical out, then use your AirPort Express as the audio output for your Apple TV HD via Airplay.
However, finding an AirPort Express might be challenging because Apple stopped producing it in 2014.
There are also cheaper options if you want to connect your Apple TV HD or 4K to older sound systems.
3. Use an HDMI Audio De-Embedder or Audio Extractor
If you want to connect your sound system to your Apple TV HD or 4K using optical out, then you can use an audio de-embedder or audio extractor.
Some of these audio extractors, like the Avantree HAX04 HDR Audio Extractor (available on Amazon.com), have optical audio and support.
An audio extractor gives you flexibility when using your Apple TV HD or 4K. You can even connect it to a transmitter, like the Avantree Oasis B Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter (available on Amazon.com), to use Bluetooth-enabled speakers or headphones.
Connect the audio extractor or de-embedder to your Apple TV HD or 4K via HDMI.
Once this is in place, you can decide the ports you’ll use for your audio and video.
You can connect the display via HDMI using another cable and the audio to your sound system using optical, 3.5mm audio jacks, or a Bluetooth transmitter.
This option supercharges your Apple TV HD or 4K because it provides many features to enhance your entertainment experience.
You can even connect your Apple TV HD or 4K to different sound systems you can use when watching or playing games.
The best part about audio extractors or de-embedders is that despite having more features, they’re much cheaper than the other two options.
Which Apple TV Has Optical Out? Conclusion
The lack of optical audio for newer Apple TV models might make you reconsider upgrading, but there’s little difference in connectivity.
HDMI can send both video and audio signals, and there are a lot of other options that you can use to connect it to older stereo speakers.
What you’ll need for the options I shared with you might be inside your house, especially if you’re only upgrading your Apple TV optical out.
If you buy an audio extractor or de-embedder, it definitely won’t break the bank, either.
It’s worth every penny because it will give several connectivity options.
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