Which Apple TV Has Optical Out? All You Need to Know

If you’re looking for an Apple TV, chances are the ones you’ll find don’t have optical out. Yet, there is still a method to obtain one, particularly if you know which Apple TVs have optical out.

So, Which Apple TV Has Optical Out?

Apple TV optical out is only accessible in versions from the third generation and earlier. When Apple announced the Apple TV HD in 2015, they discontinued support for this port.

It just featured HDMI and Ethernet connectivity, which is more than enough for the average user because HDMI can transport both audio and visual signals.

However, this does not imply that the Apple TV 3rd Generation is obsolete and that the 4th Generation and later versions cannot be used to connect to older sound systems.

In this article, we’ll discuss the Apple TV model you should buy, as well as several tips for supercharging your Apple TV, regardless of the model.

Which Apple TV Has Support for Optical Audio Port?

You can only get the Apple TV optical out of 3 models:

  • 1st-gen launched in 2006
  • 2nd-gen in 2010
  • 3rd-gen in 2012

Apple TVs made after 2015 lack an optical audio connector, preventing them from being connected to stereo speakers.

Here’s a list of all Apple TV models, along with their release dates and connectivity ports:

Apple TV Models Launch Year Ports
1st Generation 2007 HDMI
USB 2.0
2nd Generation 2010 HDMI
Micro USB
3rd Generation 2012 HDM
Micro USB
HD (4th Generation) 2015 HDMI 1.4
Power supply
4K 1st Generation 2017 HDMI 2.0
Power supply
4K 2nd Generation 2021 HDMI 2.0
Power supply
4K 3rd Generation Wifi 2022 HDMI 2.1
Power supply
4K 3rd Generation Wifi + Ethernet 2022 HDMI 2.1
Gigabit Ethernet
Power supply

Can You Still Use Apple TV 3rd Generation?

Yes. You can still use the Apple TV 3rd Generation because it is compatible with most entertainment systems, thanks to its HDMI and optical audio connectors. Because HDMI is backward compatible, you can utilize HDMI 2.1 with previous versions.

An earlier Apple TV model can still be connected to newer displays, and the optical audio connector allows you to connect it to older speaker systems. However, the capabilities offered in later models, particularly the 4K resolution, may make an upgrade worthwhile.

You may even stream movies from an external hard drive on your Apple TV.

Most customers would not be bothered by the removal of an optical audio port in later models because HDMI can convey both audio and video signals.

Aside from that, there are a few strategies you may use to boost the performance of your Apple TV.

Some Tips for Boosting Your Apple TV

Use Apple TV 3rd-Gen As Audio Output via Airplay

If you have an older sound system with only an optical port, you can still use Airplay to connect it to Apple TV HD and 4K models.

Users can use this capability to sync their Apple TV with other Apple devices or another Apple TV, in this case, a third-generation Apple TV.

You may use an optical cable to connect your Apple TV optical out to your stereo speakers, then sync your 3rd-Gen to your Apple TV HD via Airplay and utilize it as your audio output.

It doesn’t even have to cost you anything.

It works just as well as connecting your newest Apple TV models, with all of their latest capabilities, to older sound systems.

Connect Your Apple TV to Sound System via Airport Express

If you have an Apple AirPort Express, you may use it instead of the Apple TV optical out and it will still function.

Simply connect the AirPort Express to the sound system via optical out, and then utilize your AirPort Express as the audio output for your Apple TV HD via Airplay.

Unfortunately, finding an AirPort Express may be difficult because Apple discontinued production in 2014.

If you wish to connect your Apple TV HD or 4K to an older sound system, there are other less expensive solutions.

Use an HDMI Audio De-Embedder or Audio Extractor

If you want to connect your sound system to your Apple TV HD or 4K through optical out, then you can utilize an audio de-embedder or audio extractor.

Several of these audio extractors offer optical audio and support, such as the Avantree HAX04 HDR Audio Extractor (available on Amazon.com).

An audio extractor allows you versatility when utilizing your Apple TV HD or 4K. You can even utilize Bluetooth-enabled speakers or headphones by connecting it to a transmitter, such as the Avantree Oasis B Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter (available on Amazon.com).

Attach the audio extractor or de-embedder via HDMI to your Apple TV HD or 4K.

After this is in place, you may choose which audio and video ports to utilize.

Another cable can be used to link the display to the HDMI port, and another cable can be used to connect the audio to your sound system via optical, 3.5mm audio ports, or a Bluetooth transmitter.

This option enhances your Apple TV HD or 4K entertainment experience by providing numerous capabilities.

You may even connect your Apple TV HD or 4K to various sound systems for watching or playing games.

The nicest thing about audio extractors and de-embedders is that, despite having more functions, they are far less expensive than the other two solutions.

Final Thoughts: Which Apple TV Has Optical Out? 

The removal of optical audio in current Apple TV models may cause you to reconsider upgrading, although the connection is virtually identical.

HDMI can transfer both video and audio information, and there are numerous additional ways to connect it to older stereo speakers.

What you’ll need for the choices I mentioned may already be in your home, especially if you’re just upgrading your Apple TV optical out.

Purchasing an audio extractor or de-embedder will also not break the bank.

It’s worth every penny because it will give various connectivity possibilities.