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I have a 2010 Mac mini and I would like to output 5.1 surround sound from it.

The optical audio out is the way to achieve this, but I don't want to have an audio receiver, 5 times bigger then the mini.

I know there is the Logitech Z-5500 and the new Z906 that can do direct optical audio-in, but it seems to be the only option.

Is there other speakers with optical-in or small/cheap adapter?

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If you want to have 5.1/7.1 (multichannel) audio, you can do it via the optical out (mini-toslink), the HDMI or the Mini-Display Port.

On the receiver side, you must have a decoder, able to decode the stream (PCM for 2 channels and DD/AC3/DTS and their variants) and convert it to analogue signal.

I had the same dilemma when I got my ATV2, I wanted something to be able to utilize my optical SPDIF, and to be able to decode Surround sound. After doing some research, there were several solutions:

  • Optical->RCA analogue convertors. Stereo only, like GefenTV. This doesn't do multichannel.
  • A small size 5.1 Decoder - you can read the HD Audio Rush review here.
  • A Logitech Z-5500.
  • Full-blown 5.1/7.1 amplifier.

Personally I decided to go with the amplifier and bought a Pioneer 7.1 receiver.

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