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Old 07-15-2013, 08:08 AM
nst7 nst7 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Cincinnati OH
Posts: 9,859
Default 2010-2012 Mac Pros, Imacs, and Macbook Pros do multi-channel HDMI audio out!

Maybe some of you know this already, but I just figured out that the recent Macs that don't have physical HDMI outputs will still do multichannel HDMI audio out through the Displayport protocol for surround mixing/monitoring.

I got interested in this recently when someone posted about hooking up their recent Mac Mini (which does have the HDMI jack) to their home theater receiver and monitoring surround through it.

In doing some research, I realized that pretty much all the Macs since 2010 will support this, even if they don't have a physical HDMI jack. You just need an inexpensive adapter. Specifically, a Mini-displayport to HDMI adapter, and then an HDMI cable in whatever length you need.

I got this adapter, which works and is built well:


It's $24.99, but they will price match Amazon's price (the price that it would be with shipping). You can get it from Amazon here:


So either way it's about $16.00

I've been using this from my 2010 Mac Pro into my home theater receiver (they're both in the same room). With a single HDMI cable, I not only get the multichannel audio, but my TV (hooked up by HDMI to the receiver) is seen by the Mac as a 2nd display, where I have the typical options of using it for extended desktop, or mirroring mode, just like I would with any other display.

Once you configure it properly in your Mac, you don't even need to use Aggregate Audio function in Protools. Your receiver model will simply show up as another option for sound output, in addition to built-in output, digital output, etc., and you just select that instead of your normal interface.

To figure out if your Mac has this capability, go to the upper left Apple icon, select "About this Mac">"more info">"system report">"hardware">"Audio (built in)". Over to the right you will see all your Mac's options including line out, headphone out, digital out, etc. Down at the bottom you will see "HDMI / Displayport output". If that last thing is listed, then your Mac has this capability. You just need the adapter and cable and you're good to go.

If anyone is interested in details of how to set it up, I'll explain it. There is something odd I had to do in the Protools I/O setup that I still don't understand, but somehow it works.
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Old 07-15-2013, 08:44 AM
Cheesehead Cheesehead is offline
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: London
Posts: 940
Default Re: 2010-2012 Mac Pros, Imacs, and Macbook Pros do multi-channel HDMI audio out!

Hi nst7,

I'd be very interested in knowing exactly how that is done if you have time to explain.

Sounds like it would be useful.

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Old 07-15-2013, 12:46 PM
nst7 nst7 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Cincinnati OH
Posts: 9,859
Default Re: 2010-2012 Mac Pros, Imacs, and Macbook Pros do multi-channel HDMI audio out!

Okay, I'll do my best. I may not have all the terminology correct, as I'm just a hobbyist in this area. It looks like from your signature that you're far more advanced in this area, so hopefully you can fill in any blanks.

Step 1 - hookup:

Make sure Protools is not open (this may not be required, but should make it easier). You will do a few steps before you actually open Protools.

Also, I see that you have HDX. I would suggest powering off your HD interface (HD IO, etc.), so it's not even an option, making this less confusing.

Assuming you already have one of these adapters (minidisplayport to HDMI), make sure it's hooked up to your Mac, and an HDMI cable is hooked up to the adapter. Make sure the other end of the HDMI cable is hooked up to your home theater receiver, and that your receiver is turned ON. It must be turned on for your Mac to recognize it as an option, and have it show up in the choices.

Note that this should work whether or not your TV (or projector) is turned on or not. This setup assumes that you run an HDMI out from your receiver to your TV or projector for your picture, as is typical with home setups, but may not be with professional setups. I would suggest turning the TV on for the purposes of this setup the first time, just to make things easier.

At this point, when you turn on your receiver, your main Mac display screen will see it, and your TV, as a second display (or 3rd, if you already have a second one), and the screen will go blank for a second, then come back up. By default it will be in extended desktop mode, but you can go into display preferences (under System Preferences) or in the upper right corner under the display icon, and check the box for "enable mirroring", which I would suggest you do until later when you figure out how you want to set things up.

Note that if your TV/projector is hooked up by HDMI from the receiver, but the TV is not turned on, your Mac will still see the receiver as if it was another display, so all of the above will still happen. I guess it recognizes that a display is hooked up to the receiver even if it's not on.

Step 2 - Configuring the Mac:

Open "System Preferences" and choose "Sound" (the speaker icon). You will have the typical choices of built in output, HDX, etc., but you will also see what looks like the model number of your receiver, with a few extra number/letters.

You will select that. You must first do this in System Preferences, before it will show up as an option in AudioMidi setup, which is the next step.

Open AudioMidi setup (under "Utilities"). In the left hand column, it will show an option of HDMI (it might say 0 in/2 out). Select that, then on the right side of that window, select "Output". It will show your Receiver model number in the "Source" selection.

Under "Format" (directly below), you have two selection options. The first is for the sample rate. Most likely you will choose 48000 HZ, assuming that's what your Protools surround sessions are (if it's something different that you use, of course select the appropriate number). The other option will show things like "2 channel 24 bit integer". In that drop down menu, select "6 channel 24 bit integer. This is assuming your session is 24 bit, and that you're doing 5.1 surround. There are options for 16 bit as well. If you are doing 7.1 surround, you will see something like "8 channel 24 bit integer". Your receiver must be 7.1 capable for the 8 channel to show up as an option (mine is not, just 5.1).

Do not mess with the volume control sliders below, as they are not relevant in this setup.

Next, in the bottom right, click "Configure Speakers". This opens a drop down window. Up at the top, select "Multichannel". To the right of that, it should default to 5.1 surround or 7.1 surround, based on what you did in the previous step.

Lower in that window, you will see various rectangles that are labeled with the appropriate speaker names (Center, Left front, subwoofer, etc.).

If you click on each of these rectangles, it will emit pink noise through that speaker so you can confirm that everything is where it needs to be.

MAKE SURE the VOLUME of your receiver is set pretty low for this!

By clicking on each of these, you can verify that center is indeed center, left surround is indeed left surround, etc.

Assuming that's correct, click "Apply" and "Done".

You can now quit Audio Midi setup. At this point, anything you play from the Mac should come through your receiver and speakers, including Youtube videos, Itunes, etc.

Step 3 - Configure Protools:

Again, make sure your HD interfaces are turned off. Hold down the "N" key as you launch Protools. It should eventually come to the playback engine. In the drop down menu at the top, you'll see the usual options. HDX, built in output, digital output, etc. But you'll now see another option - "HDMI". You will select that. Remember, you are not selecting "Protools aggregate audio", as you don't have to. You will just select "HDMI". Protools will just treat it as yet another interface option, just like if you added a usb/firewire interface.

Now, before you do anything in the session, open the I/O setup. This is where it can get a little confusing, but that may just be me, as I'm not as familiar with the workings of the I/O setup.

Select the "Output" tab. It will show an "HDMI" icon with the purple Avid squiggly lines below it.

It may just show a stereo path under "format". Select a 5.1 path (or 7.1, if that applies, and you've done the previous configurations for that).

Then click on the first little box to the right (the mouse pointer will become a pencil), and it should automatically create LCRLsRsLFE in the boxes.

This is where I got confused, but I think I've figured it out. Down to the left, under "5.1 path order", it defaults to "LCRLsRsLFE (C24/Film)".

What you actually need to do is set it to "LRCLFELsRs (SMPTE/ITU)".

Or just go to the little boxes and move the channels around.

This is where my hobbyist knowledge fails. I have no idea what any of those paths mean. But when I selected the "C24/film" path order, the channels were in the wrong speakers. When I selected the "SMPTE/ITU" path, all the channels were in the correct speakers.

Maybe someone can enlighten me as to what those path configurations mean.

Then, finally, it appears you must go to the "Busses" tab, and click "default". I have no idea why.

But after that, you can finally set the output of all your tracks to your 5.1 output, including master faders, etc. Your existing sessions should open fine with all their busses, paths, etc.

And you should now be able to press play and hear what you're doing through your receiver and speakers.

I'll add a few more thoughts later on tonight when I have time.
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Old 07-15-2013, 04:37 PM
Cheesehead Cheesehead is offline
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: London
Posts: 940
Default Re: 2010-2012 Mac Pros, Imacs, and Macbook Pros do multi-channel HDMI audio out!


That's an amazingly detailed rundown of what to do, I'll give it a try.

In answer to your question:
The C24/Film 5.1 path order has always been the default for Pro Tools.
But the SMPTE order is more common and is the default for many decoders and I tunes 5.1 trailers and Film files.

Thanks for the info.
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