While I am waiting for my new MacBook Pro to arrive, I have started wondering how to connect everything together. My goal is to only have one cable to connect to the MacBook when I use it at home (which will be Thunderbolt 3 obviously). So I will probably get some sort of Tunderbolt-3 Dock with Displayport and Ethernet.

However, I am wondering how I should handle audio: I have a 5.1 surround system which provides both digital (optical toslink) and analog input (using three cinch cable for the different channels).

I know that I should be able to plug in a toslink cable into the 3.5 audio jack of the MBP (if Apple hasn't decided to remove that feature?). However, I would like to only have one cable as mentioned above, so I need to get the audio over USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 somehow.

Is this possible? What kinds of adapters would I need, so I can realize the following (basically I am looking for an adapter from TB3 or Displayport to Toslink (optical audio) or Digital Audio via Coax):

-------------     --------------           ------------------
-           -     -          DP==         ==TL              -
-  MacBook  -     -  Dock      -    ???    -   AV-Receiver  -
-           -     -            -    ???    -      (5.1)     -
-        TB3=======TB3      TB3==         ==DA              -
------------      --------------           ------------------

TB3 = Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C
DP = Displayport (regular size)
TL = Optical Audio (Toslink)
DA = Digital Audio (Coax)
  • 1
    If your dock doesn't have optical audio, get a USB DAC and hang it off the TB dock. I have this very model hooked up to my Mac and connected to my Bose system. Fantastic sound.
    – Allan
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 11:12
  • @Allan: Thanks for the idea (maybe consider posting as an answer?)! So bascially, the device would also work as an external sound card?
    – Matthias
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 19:41

2 Answers 2


You can also try picking up a relatively cheap FireWire soundcard. They are usually produced for con- or prosumers and are of a relatively high quality. Picking one up second-hand should not be that expensive.

  • Why would someone what to implement obsolete tech such as FW?
    – Allan
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 15:11
  • Thank you for the response! Unfortunately, this would require an additional adapter from USB-C/TB3 to FW. Are there maybe any easier solutions?
    – Matthias
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 17:32
  • 2
    I plan on using some great firewire interfaces for this reason - very cheap and the adapter plus the firewire device are more than capable when connected to the latest hardware.
    – bmike
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 17:58

For reference (what I did): I did not purchase a dock, but chose to plugin in two USB-C-connections: One for power and one for attaching the display (I used a USB-C to Displayport-Adapter from Aukey - the original Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 did not work for some reason). I figures out that I should be able to handle everything else using Wifi / Bluetooth.

Anyway regarding audio: It turns out that the MBP 2016 with TouchBar does indeed output audio via Displayport. My monitor (Dell U2711) is able to receive the signal and forward it using analogue 5.1 (three cinch cables).

Not sure if it helps anyone and whether the results are applicable to other situations, but in my setup this works without complaint.

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