Can I play sound on my new Beam by connecting to the optical out of my Macbook Pro?

Have connected my playbar with my ancient but reliable 17´´MacBook Pro. It was a bit bulky, so I invested in a beam, which fits nicely under my 30" display. To watch videos or listen to music while working, I'd like to use the optical out of the macbook, but seem to be unable to get it to work with the Beam.

I have a little adapter which lives on the tip of the optical, so it connects to the "headset" plug (which doubles as an optical out).

However, I don't seem to be able to get the Beam to get any input.

Is there a remedy or am I lost?

cheers & appreciate all the help I may be able to get.

13 replies

Find out what type of signal the optical output from the Mac is carrying. The Sonos can only interpret Dolby Digital and stereo. Anything else can’t be “read”
Hi Airgetlam
thanks for your comment. The output is stereo. Worked like a charm on the Playbar. Just with the HDMI-optical adapter it seems to cause issues, as it expects some TV "intelligence".
P.S.: The Mac does not have ARC. :$
Ummm, you have me stumped. Since the optical connection is a one way connection, there shouldn’t be any “talk back” anyway. If your using the adapter, it should just “work”, since the device wouldn’t ever know what is generating the optical signal. Which you’ve proven, apparently, by testing on the PLAYBAR. Makes me wonder if maybe the adapter is broken in some fashion?
uh-oh... Will try with a Firestick then...
Is the output digital? Do you know what the sample rate is set to? Does it still work with a Playbar?
John, it is, according to Applications > Utilities > Audio MIDI Setup.App 2 ch 24-bit Integer @ 44,1 kHz. And yes, it works like a charm with the Playbar.
This is a bit of a punt, but do you have an option to make that 16 bit not 24?
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Hi snarky100

Try this setup.

Disclaimer: The products shown in the links are for illustration purposes only and are not intended as brand advertising.

The cable shown in the first link should run from your MacBook to the optical input of the adapter shown in the second link. The optical adapter supplied with the Beam should be connected to one end of the HDMI cable and that end should be connected to the optical output of the adapter shown in the second link. The remaining end of the HDMI cable should be connected to the Beam.

Toslink to Mini Toslink Cable (6 FT), Fosmon Digital Optical Audio Male to Male S/PDIF Fiber Optic Cord for Apple MacBook Pro, Mac Pro/Mini, iMac, Chromecast Audio, & More

Tensun Optical to Coaxial Digital Audio Out Converter, Bi-Directional Coax Coaxial to Toslink SPDIF Optical Adapter Repeater 24bit/192K HD Sampling (Optical-to-coaxial and Coaxial-to-Optical)

Hi John B: your tip was good, thank you! It has produced a connection to the Beam.

It turns out that I might have caused a slight disconnect of the interface when pulling out the cable last time, so there is still some crackling and intermittent loss of sound, but that has nothing to do with the Beam, just with the interface in the Mac.

AJTrek1: Thanks to you too - as it seems, I did not have the device you recommend, but a similar one using the 3.5 analog out and wire it through to a SPDIF exit. As the interface also works in analog with crackling sounds and intermittent loss of connection, also your hint was a great one.

I will have to check cabling in the MacBook and failing that will buy a USB-sound card which will probably do the same trick as the internal optical/analog.
Here is an update. I bought an external USB-sound card. The Beam does not work with the optical out at any sample rate. Is there anyone trying to do something similar? I am stumped now.
So, no dice. The beam is a one-trick pony. I didn't expect this, as all other SONOS systems i own had no issue to play from an optical source if they had one. Will the same happen if I buy a playbase?
I'm a bit confused by the failure of the optical output not to be played by the Beam....optical, being a one way carrier, wouldn't know what device is feeding it a signal, so it should work, assuming what is being fed is a simple (and I use that word fairly carefully) Dolby Digital signal. My understanding is, having not tested myself, that it can't handle anything other than stereo or Dolby Digital, so if the USB sound card you were using was, for instance, sending a DTS, or Dolby Digital Plus, or pretty much any other signal to the Beam, the Beam would fail to be able to read it. This would be the same across the Beam, the PLAYBAR, or the PLAYBASE, as they all have the same software installed on them. And I see by scrolling back in this thread, most of this has been said before, so I apologize for repeating myself....but I do think it's important, and potentially germane to your attempts.

I don't own a Beam, and am somewhat unfamiliar with the actual interface on it, but my impression was that there was an optical to HDMI adapter involved in order to get the optical signal into the Beam. Have you double checked to make sure that the adapter is functioning the way it's supposed to, by using your TV to do some testing? I think you might benefit from isolating where the issue is....if you can prove that the Beam is functioning, you can then move backwards up the chain to see where the issue lies.

More specifically to your previous post, I am not aware of what sample rate the optical input is expecting. Without giving it much thought, I've always assumed that the sample rate of an optical signal was constant, and just the data being carried across it varied.

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