Optical Audio (optical audio) and MAC:
Today to share an audio signal between 2 equipment continues converting the audio signal digital-analog, analog-digital. This results in quality loss.
For years the Mac computers include the ability to do this without having to convert the analog audio signal.
The most popular formats are SPDIF digital audio, AES and MADI.
The advantages of digital audio connection is that we avoid having to convert the analog signal (losing quality), as DAC converters including computers usually are poor quality, and we add another cable with minijack analog, loss is important.
A digital computer receives the digital audio for a Digital Input (digital input) or issued from a Digital Ouput (digital output).
A commercially the most widely used format is the SPDIF, which is found in almost all audio apparatus (CD, DVD, Minidisc, etc.). What varies is the type of connection.
- Coaxial: through RCA or minijack
- Optical: through minijack connectors or TOSLINK
The transmission protocol has SPDIF 20 bit - Estéreo. But it can 24 bit – 4 channels.
Then summarize the MAC-Intel computers with optical connection:
- iMac all since the end of 2006 (optical digital audio mini jack connection)
- Mac mini: all since the early 2006 (optical digital audio mini jack connection)
- Mac Pro: all since the early 2006 (optical digital audio Toslink)
- MacBook: All from May 2006 (optical digital audio mini jack connection)
- MacBook Air: not
- MacBook Pro: All from May 2006
I recommend using Optical Cables, before Coaxial.
For MAC computers that did not have Tolink, there is a very inexpensive minijack adapter of around € 2, and lets you use the same cable with TOSLINK connections,, minijack connections.
MAC computers automatically detect if the signal is analog or digital.
Not the same use any minijack connector, since the optical audio minijack adapter passes the laser TOSLINK connector.
Unable to connect a coaxial digital output to an optical. That will require a converter..