Apple Ditches Optical Audio Jack on New MacBook Pro

Apple doesn’t like the digital audio output on its devices very much these days. They removed it from the Apple TV 4, and now have ditched it from the new MacBook Pro (with or without the Touch Bar). Here’s what the specs show:

Mbp audio outputs

This is also the case with the MacBook and the MacBook Air, but previous MacBook Pros have included the digital audio output. Because it’s a “pro” feature, of course. If you do work with audio and depend on that output, consider your options. You may be able to use USB, if your audio peripheral supports it.

16 thoughts on “Apple Ditches Optical Audio Jack on New MacBook Pro

    • [Raises hand] I use the headphone jack’s optical out on my 2014 Macbook feeding a Schiit DAC to play my iTunes library and Apple Music on my hi-fi system. It’s brilliant and more robust that USB audio in my experience. I guess someday I’ll need to figure how to dongle another solution, but I’m planning to run my current laptop into the ground a bunch of years from now.

    • [Raises hand] I use the headphone jack’s optical out on my 2014 Macbook feeding a Schiit DAC to play my iTunes library and Apple Music on my hi-fi system. It’s brilliant and more robust that USB audio in my experience. I guess someday I’ll need to figure how to dongle another solution, but I’m planning to run my current laptop into the ground a bunch of years from now.

  1. This is interesting in light of Phil Schiller’s comments in his Independent interview that Apple kept the audio jack specifically for pro musicians:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/apple-macbook-pro-new-philip-schiller-interview-phil-iphone-ios-criticism-a7393156.html

    “Is it inconsistent to keep the 3.5mm headphone jack as it’s no longer on the latest iPhone?

    Not at all. These are pro machines. If it was just about headphones then it doesn’t need to be there, we believe that wireless is a great solution for headphones. But many users have setups with studio monitors, amps, and other pro audio gear that do not have wireless solutions and need the 3.5mm jack.”

    Kirk, are you sure there’s no digital output, or is it just so ubiquitous that it doesn’t need to be explicitly stated?

  2. This is interesting in light of Phil Schiller’s comments in his Independent interview that Apple kept the audio jack specifically for pro musicians:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/apple-macbook-pro-new-philip-schiller-interview-phil-iphone-ios-criticism-a7393156.html

    “Is it inconsistent to keep the 3.5mm headphone jack as it’s no longer on the latest iPhone?

    Not at all. These are pro machines. If it was just about headphones then it doesn’t need to be there, we believe that wireless is a great solution for headphones. But many users have setups with studio monitors, amps, and other pro audio gear that do not have wireless solutions and need the 3.5mm jack.”

    Kirk, are you sure there’s no digital output, or is it just so ubiquitous that it doesn’t need to be explicitly stated?

  3. I love that TOSLink for home use. I use it with our home media MacMini. It really is less a pro feature and more a highend consumer connection. It is difficult to configure for anything beyond consumer use.

    I don’t know any pro use for it or any pro that has used it. I’ve tried to find pro devices that used it. None exist. When it comes to multi-channel, high resolution output connectivity almost everything uses either firewire or USB.

    The thing about the 3.5mm headphone jack is this. In audio, adaptors are a way of life. There are so many connectors—3 pin XLR, 1/4″, RCA, coax, banana plugs, male to male and female to female turnarounds, etc.—it is kind of amazing that, for headphones, the audio world has settled on the mini-jack. There is nothing better. Literally. Every pro audio device that has a headphone connection uses it or it’s 1/4″ variation, from the cheapest audio console to the most expensive. It really is a pro feature. It would be ridiculous to not have it.

    Joe

  4. I love that TOSLink for home use. I use it with our home media MacMini. It really is less a pro feature and more a highend consumer connection. It is difficult to configure for anything beyond consumer use.

    I don’t know any pro use for it or any pro that has used it. I’ve tried to find pro devices that used it. None exist. When it comes to multi-channel, high resolution output connectivity almost everything uses either firewire or USB.

    The thing about the 3.5mm headphone jack is this. In audio, adaptors are a way of life. There are so many connectors—3 pin XLR, 1/4″, RCA, coax, banana plugs, male to male and female to female turnarounds, etc.—it is kind of amazing that, for headphones, the audio world has settled on the mini-jack. There is nothing better. Literally. Every pro audio device that has a headphone connection uses it or it’s 1/4″ variation, from the cheapest audio console to the most expensive. It really is a pro feature. It would be ridiculous to not have it.

    Joe

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