The new Apple TV looks just like the old Apple TV (which is still for sale for $69), only it’s about half an inch taller. But even with more surface area to work with, Apple ditched the optical audio-out port on the old version. Now the only way you can get sound out of your Apple TV is with HDMI.
No optical-out port is hugely disappointing to me, but others might not care as much. The USB-C port isn’t for you; it’s just for service and support.
And that really stinks. My current Apple TV—used daily—is connected to my TV with HDMI, as well as my stereo receiver with an optical audio cable. That way, if I’m just watching TV that will sound good enough on my TV’s speakers, I can leave the stereo off. But if I am watching Top Gun or something, I can mute the TV, flip on the stereo, and enjoy Tom Cruise’s antics in surround sound. I like having the option. I also enjoy sending music from my iPhone, iPad, and Mac to my stereo via AirPlay on the Apple TV, and my television can stay off.
Sure, newer receivers have HDMI or even AirPlay built in, or I could use an AirPort Express to AirPlay music to the stereo, but it bums me out that Apple didn’t think it necessary to let users select different audio outputs for different use cases.
No optical port means an amplifier upgrade is needed – at least for me that is if I am like others to continue enjoying digital sound via the Apple TV.
UPDATE: It seems an HDMI switch box may solve the issue – I will order one and test. It would certainly be cheaper than upgrading my amplifier.