Apple appears to have removed optical audio output support from the headphone jack on its new 13-inch MacBook Pro with function keys, suggesting it is unlikely to have made the transition in the Touch Bar equipped models either.

Optical audio output is used to link Macs to home theater setups and A/V systems capable of multi-channel surround sound, by way of a mini TOSlink adapter connected to the 3.5mm jack.

macbookpronotouchbar
The removal of optical audio was first noted by AppleInsider, after it was discovered that Apple's technical specifications for the headphone jack no longer mentions support for "audio line out (digital/analog)".

Removal of the standard was confirmed by comparing the System Profiler report on a new 13-inch MacBook Pro, which makes no mention of S/PDIF Optical Digital Audio Output, against reports on 2015 models, which do.

optical out system profiler

Support for optical audio out, as it appears on a 2015 13-inch MacBook Pro

When queried about the removal, Apple said the feature was dropped due to a lack of customers using the functionality, noting that "plenty of USB-C zero-latency professional peripherals are available now, or coming very soon" with optical audio out connectivity.

The phasing out of the standard from the new MacBook Pro models follows a trend that began with the Apple TV. Apple ditched the optical audio port on the fourth generation Apple TV in favor of a USB-C port, preventing users from connecting headphones directly to the device.

Top Rated Comments

Quu Avatar
72 months ago
Of course they lack optical out. I can't wait for the next revelation where there's no battery inside and that too must be connected by dongle.
Score: 95 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DTphonehome Avatar
72 months ago
It's becoming ever more apparent that this is just a beefed-up MacBook, and not a Pro machine. If I were a creative professional who was waiting for an update, I'd be pricing out a Windows laptop at this point.
Score: 71 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kulfon Avatar
72 months ago
And they are still surprised by the level of criticism.
Score: 70 Votes (Like | Disagree)
azing Avatar
72 months ago
Another bad news story every day.

What next? It secretly runs Windows but not MacOS :eek:
Score: 59 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ginkobiloba Avatar
72 months ago
This is bordering on the comical.

To those who think no one uses this : Here is what Eric Persing of Spectrasonics , one of the leading developpers of pro virtual instruments in the audio world, and not exactly prone to tantrums, posted on his FB :
"APPLE HAS COMPLETELY LOST IT. I am absolutely FURIOUS about this news! This is literally a feature that our entire team at Spectrasonics utilizes EVERY DAY, dozens of times a day! The removal of optical out is INSANE! In our world of audio, this is a feature that made MacBook Pros truly a mobile/professional audio machine! Native core audio with simple digital audio output is one of the essential reasons that these laptops have always been the best for audio and music. NOW THEY'VE TAKEN IT AWAY SO THEY SAVE A PENNY!
I hate you apple! (Never thought I'd every say that)
"


When you align this to what Phil Shiller said, you can't not shake your head in disbelief:
"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."

Whatever this machine is, it's certainly ain't pro.
Score: 47 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gpat Avatar
72 months ago
... so this invalidates Phil Schiller's answer about the audio jack?
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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