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  1. #1
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    Coaxial digital v. Toslink

    Which provides superior audio?

  2. #2
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    neither.

  3. #3
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    One will light'n your wallet more.
    Look & Listen

  4. #4
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    Well this isn't completely true. Sound quality will be about the same, but digital coaxial is capable of picking of interferrence, while toslink is not. Also, with toslink, you cant go too long on cable length.

  5. #5
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    I've always been told that coaxial is the better option for normal usuage. The reasoing was that the optical gets converted twice during the signal path (one from digtital to light, and one from light back to digtal). This converting does cause degradation in the signal.

    A situation in which Toslink would be better, would be for longer runs. First, it doesn't get interference AFAIK, and secondly it won't degrade over long runs either.

  6. #6
    Forum Regular N. Abstentia's Avatar
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    It's DIGITAL. There is no degredation. Either it gets to the other end or it doesn't.

  7. #7
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Yeah, the fact that light instead of electricity is used to send digital signal is irrelevant. It's rare that information wouldn't make it.

    The odds of coaxial info picking up interference are slim to none in most setups with a half decent cable (like the $7 Radio Shack kind or better), it's not being fed an analog signal so the DAC shouldn't be interpretting any interference even if it did pick it up. If your coaxial cable is getting interference, you'd have already been experiencing worse problems in the rest of your system.

    If you're running hundreds of feet, optical is probably the better choice, but you wouldn't be using consumer grade optical cables, you'd be using commercial grade, high durability kind.
    For home use, either is fine, there's less chance of coax cable getting a kink in it that disrupts the flow or having problems with the terminal ends, but it's been years since we've heard issues with optical cables.

    My equipment generally dictates what I use, I'm guessing it's 50/50 right now.

  8. #8
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    Question : Why do they sell $7, $70 and $700 if all they're all the same then? Why does a $700 cable sound better than the $7, if both are digital?

  9. #9
    Forum Regular paul_pci's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dolby
    Question : Why do they sell $7, $70 and $700 if all they're all the same then? Why does a $700 cable sound better than the $7, if both are digital?
    Now you're on to something. As has been already indicated, the only thing to worry about it how well built the connector is.

  10. #10
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    I think I understand.

    So the majority of price of a digital coxial is actually the connector itself? The wire is pretty 'standard' on all makes and 'models'?

  11. #11
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Dolby: The majority of the price is rediculous mark-up.

    Do you have a spare video cable lying around (yellow RCA cable)? Try using that in your digital output, you might be surprised...then ask yourself why the same Digital Coax cable costs 2 or 3 times as much? How about component video cables? Same thing.
    I guess orange more expensive than yellow? Does it cost that much money to print "Digital" on the package?
    Both a video RCA (yellow) and digital coaxial cable (orange) should be the same technically, though the video cable is likely to have more shielding because unlike the digital cable, the video cable actually needs the shielding. Same goes for component video cables which are generally the thickest - they often have the most shielding. All of these cable's impedances are 75 ohms - this is what you should worry about - more and more left and right (red and white) audio cables are too these days, but many are less, down to 30 ohms and anywhere in between, so they can't be used as such.

    You can use a video cable, a component video cable or a digital audio (coaxial) cable for the same purposes. My observations have been that the "digital cable" gets better packaging, maybe some cool silver sheathing (not true shielding) on the cable part, which is likely the only difference and the biggest contributor to cost, all things equal.

  12. #12
    Forum Regular paul_pci's Avatar
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    Kex is right. Being selective about quality connectors for either optical or coaxial is not coterminous with expense. There is cheap (in price) and then there is cheap (in build) and they don't always coincide.

  13. #13
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dolby
    Question : Why do they sell $7, $70 and $700 if all they're all the same then? Why does a $700 cable sound better than the $7, if both are digital?
    Answer: Because they can.

    There are many people that are of the belief that cables are just as important as speakers in the audio chain. I'm not, but I have a good friend that actually has more invested into his cables than his speakers. I don't condemn him for this because as long as someone is happy with their rig, far be it from me to dictate how to achieve that. These folks are in the camp that state cables can impart a change in sound as dramatic as a change in speakers, a belief that I don't agree with. For them, a $700 digital cable is as important as their $2,500 speakers. Do your own tests and decide for yourself.

  14. #14
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    In general, the coaxial cable has higher data capacity than the Toslink, but both types of cable far exceed the bandwidth requirements for carrying digital audio signals. The Toslink is a simpler connection and a less intrusive cable, and for audio signals, it has more than enough data capacity. I go with coaxial cable on my system because I had some extra composite video cables. Since 75 ohm analog video cables are functionally identical to "digital audio" cables, this saved me from having to buy two extra Toslink optical cables. Kex and paul are right in that the thing to look out for when cable shopping is well constructed connectors that fit tightly and won't separate from the cables.

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