If you’ve just taken ownership of a shiny (okay, it’s mainly matt) new PS4 then you may have noticed something was missing. Since 2016, the PlayStation 4 (or PlayStation 4 Slim as it’s also known) has lacked an optical audio port. This was present on the previous model and many people moving from one to another just assumed that everything would be the same, only slimmer. Well, whether for the purposes of slimness, or to keep costs down, it’s gone.
Why do I need the optical audio port?
If you’re asking the question then, chances are, you don’t. But the optical connection provides digital surround-sound output via fibre-optic. This is separate from the HDMI, often the sole connection from your console to a TV. Essentially, the port offers an additional way to share the console’s audio output. As a result, many owners use it to connect their console to a sound bar or similar audio device. Many surround-sound headphones will also make use of it – I have a set of Astro A50 wireless headphones and these use the optical port.
The connector is also known as S/PDIF. Ironically, the ‘S’ in that stands for ‘Sony’ as it’s full title is ‘Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format’.
Now, you could be cynical and suggest this is a way for Sony to sell its own headphones, which don’t require this port. Coincidently, the day the PlayStation 4 Slim went on sale, so did a new pair of their headphones, but I’ll leave you to decide on the reasoning.
What can I do?
If you’ve not already purchased the console, it’s not too late. With a little more cash, you can buy the PlayStation Pro, which retains the optical audio port. Even if you’re not rocking the latest 4K TV, you’ll still have much to benefit from the Pro, including high frame rates.
If you have a PS4 Slim and need the port, then there are a couple of solutions:
- You can buy an adapter. This connects to the HDMI port on your PlayStation 4 and provides HDMI output as well as an optical audio port. It doesn’t cost too much either.
- If your TV has an optical port then it may also pass Dolby Digital signals via the HDMI (you can contact the manufacturer to confirm this). If your TV does support this feature, then you can just connect directly to this instead.
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