-

Jump to content



Sign up for a free account!

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests and you won't get the popup ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.

Photo

Difference between optical and coaxial?


This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
36 replies to this topic

#1 of 37 Babek

Babek

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 87 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 01 2003

Posted January 09 2003 - 01:26 PM

I know that there is a significent price difference between the two cables, and I would think optical is the best, but what exactly is the difference between the two cables?
Is it that you get DTS sound through optical or what? A explanation would be nice.
thanks
My Home Theatre:
-Toshiba 57hx81 widescreen tv
-Toshiba SD 3750 DVD player
-Integra DTR 5.3 receiver
-SEL, Paradigm, and Kenwood 6.1 surround system-Monster flux speaker wire, Ultralink matrix series component video cable, monster subwoofer cable-Monster HTS 1000 MKII PowerCenter-leather...

#2 of 37 Babek

Babek

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 87 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 01 2003

Posted January 09 2003 - 04:23 PM

anyone know?
My Home Theatre:
-Toshiba 57hx81 widescreen tv
-Toshiba SD 3750 DVD player
-Integra DTR 5.3 receiver
-SEL, Paradigm, and Kenwood 6.1 surround system-Monster flux speaker wire, Ultralink matrix series component video cable, monster subwoofer cable-Monster HTS 1000 MKII PowerCenter-leather...

#3 of 37 Rich Wenzel

Rich Wenzel

    Supporting Actor

  • 556 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 09 2002

Posted January 09 2003 - 04:33 PM

coaxial and optical serve the same purpose. neither performs a function that other does not.

some say coaxial is a higher end cable for a couple of reasons, it has a higher bandwith capability than optical (debatable if that means anything) and it has a more secure connection than optical (less like to fall out). Also some would say over long distances, coaxial is better.

Arguments for optical are that its usually cheaper and digital is digital so therefore it doesnt matter.

generally higher end components tend to have more coaxial inputs than optical...high end cd players often only have coaxial....

cheaper dvd players tend to have optical....

Rich
B&W DM605S2 x 2 & LCR6S2, Rotel RSX 1055 & RC955, Denon DV 1600, Marantz 4000OSE, Panasonic PT56wx51 (I think, who cares, its a TV)

"Aren't you going to kiss her goodbye?"
"No."

#4 of 37 Babek

Babek

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 87 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 01 2003

Posted January 09 2003 - 04:36 PM

whoa, dude, you sure?

all my 3 years of home theater research and being a fanatic have shown that optical is the higher one. you totally put me off with that statement. are you sure that coaxial is high end? especially since u can use an rca cable for it.
My Home Theatre:
-Toshiba 57hx81 widescreen tv
-Toshiba SD 3750 DVD player
-Integra DTR 5.3 receiver
-SEL, Paradigm, and Kenwood 6.1 surround system-Monster flux speaker wire, Ultralink matrix series component video cable, monster subwoofer cable-Monster HTS 1000 MKII PowerCenter-leather...

#5 of 37 Rich Wenzel

Rich Wenzel

    Supporting Actor

  • 556 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 09 2002

Posted January 09 2003 - 06:49 PM

well I could be wrong.

here is what one poster on audioreview said:
http://forums14.cons....@7.Fua9athTfm2^33@.ef8cb97/2
B&W DM605S2 x 2 & LCR6S2, Rotel RSX 1055 & RC955, Denon DV 1600, Marantz 4000OSE, Panasonic PT56wx51 (I think, who cares, its a TV)

"Aren't you going to kiss her goodbye?"
"No."

#6 of 37 David Lorenzo

David Lorenzo

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 198 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 12 2002

Posted January 09 2003 - 07:42 PM

They both transfer a digital signal, i.e. 1's and 0's. Bandwidth is of no use comparing coax to optical. They both can transfer the same signal.

In theory, there should be no differences in sound quality between the 2.

Some people swear that coax sounds better. Most people would be hard pressed to tell the difference. One advantage optical has is that there is no possibility of interference from other cables. One advantage of coax is that the connectors are more secure. When you get into the high end cables, coax tends to be more expensive. Personally I would get a cheap good quality cable of either type and call it a day.

I read of some people performing blind tests of different coax cables. In the end neither of them could tell the difference between $24 cables and those costing over $200.

#7 of 37 Dan Krieg

Dan Krieg

    Auditioning

  • 7 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 26 2002

Posted January 10 2003 - 01:21 AM

Babek,

If you are going to use a coax cable, remember it is not regular RCA audio cable. Coax digital cable must be rated 75 ohms. Good quality composite video cable is cheaper than the "audio" coax cable and serves the same purpose.

#8 of 37 Terry St

Terry St

    Second Unit

  • 393 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 21 2002

Posted January 10 2003 - 02:22 AM

One advantage of optical cables people haven't mentioned yet is electrical isolation. Plastic doesn't conduct electricity well. This could solve a ground loop problem if you have one. A disadvantage of optical cables is that they're more delicate than coax. Bend or twist them too sharply and they may stop working. (Digital cables tend to be all or nothing. Either they work flawlessly, or they don't. Some people tell tales of twisting their digital cables slightly to find the best imaging, soundstage, clarity, etc.. I'd have to hear it to believe it personally.)

As for which is better... The light emitters/sensors on optical cable ports are inexpensive little devices. This really irks people who are into expensive cables. They could go out and spend thousands on super high-end depleted uranium glass toslink cable (wrapped in genuine Saskatchewan sealskin bindings) and would still have to plug it into 5 cent LED's. So instead they claim that the conversion from electrical signal to light and back again causes unacceptable ammounts of jitter and call it a day.

As ludicrous as it may sound, they could be right for all I know. I've never seen conclusive proof one way or the other. If it really bugs you, buy both kinds of cables and conduct a blind ABX test to confirm that you can't hear any difference. Then return one.

#9 of 37 Lam Nguyen

Lam Nguyen

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 108 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 29 2002

Posted January 10 2003 - 03:33 AM

Both coaxial and optical cable carry digital audio signal,
one advantage that coaxial has over the optical is the connection. After numerous times of plugging and unplugging the optical cable from your cd player, dust gets in and cover the lens of the player causing skips and degrade the audio signal.
As far as sound quality, they sound the same to me. Maybe the coaxial is less bright sounding, audiophiles says that coaxial is better than optical for music. Hopes this help.

#10 of 37 Rich Wenzel

Rich Wenzel

    Supporting Actor

  • 556 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 09 2002

Posted January 10 2003 - 04:14 AM

i have also heard people say that optical cables dont take being bent well...

i dont know how much to put into that...

Rich
B&W DM605S2 x 2 & LCR6S2, Rotel RSX 1055 & RC955, Denon DV 1600, Marantz 4000OSE, Panasonic PT56wx51 (I think, who cares, its a TV)

"Aren't you going to kiss her goodbye?"
"No."

#11 of 37 Ted Kim

Ted Kim

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 214 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 11 2002

Posted January 10 2003 - 04:56 AM

I've read recommendations suggesting optical cables should be 2 meters. Don't use a short one as the signal reflections in the cable can mess up the sound. Furthermore, it is my understanding that the signal in the Cd player will be manipulated as electrical 1's and 0's, so in order to use an optical cable, you need to convert that to light. Now just like in cameras, the quality of the optics is very important. Most commercial grade equipment uses a cheap plastic lens versus the expensive ground lens.
So by using optical cables you are really adding an additional conversion of electrical data to optical data to get transmitted in the cable and then get reconverted back to electrical data in the D/A. So the added complexity of using optical connections seems to work against it versus using a coax. Somebody correct me if I am off on this.

My own comparisons are that coax and optical cables sound quite different, my preference being coax.

#12 of 37 Ted Kim

Ted Kim

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 214 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 11 2002

Posted January 10 2003 - 04:57 AM

I've read recommendations suggesting optical cables should be 2 meters. Don't use a short one as the signal reflections in the cable can mess up the sound. Furthermore, it is my understanding that the signal in the Cd player will be manipulated as electrical 1's and 0's, so in order to use an optical cable, you need to convert that to light. Now just like in cameras, the quality of the lens is very important. Most commercial grade equipment uses a cheap plastic lens versus the expensive ground lens.
So by using optical cables you are really adding an additional conversion of electrical data to optical data to get transmitted in the cable and then get reconverted back to electrical data in the D/A. So the added complexity of using optical connections seems to work against it versus using a coax.

My own comparisons are that coax and optical cables sound quite different, my preference being coax.

#13 of 37 JonStern

JonStern

    Agent

  • 32 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 05 2002

Posted January 10 2003 - 05:28 AM

Coax was the original high-end digital connection of choice. "Glass" (or "ST") optical, with glass fiber instead of plastic, was promoted as an alternative by companies like Wadia. Toslink, or "plastic," is the optical connection everyone uses today but was once last in the pack and frowned upon. The reason cable companies recommend 2 meter lengths is so that you buy 2 meters instead of 1.
Music:

Denon 3803 AVR
Outlaw 755 amp
Outlaw ICBMSony SCD-C2000ES SACDPolk LSi15/LSi9/LSiC (front/surround/center)SVS PCi Ultra subHT:Denon 1905 AVROutlaw 7100 amp (on the way)Panasonic 27"Panasonic DVD-RP62Polk RTi8/CSi5/RTi6/FXi5(front/center/surround/back)Velodyne F1200 sub

#14 of 37 larry crimmins

larry crimmins

    Agent

  • 31 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 04 2002

Posted January 10 2003 - 05:33 AM

There are options in digital optical cables. Plastic optical (toslink) is about the worst connection you can make. st optical (glass) cables sound more detailed and have much higher bandwidth. It has been shown that coaxial while not as good as st optical is much superior to toslink. It is a mistake to think of digital audio as 1s & 0s as there is much more involved such as jitter,timing etc. By the way the bandwidth on a toslink connection is about 4 meg.,coaxial is typically 10 meg. and st optical is about 50 meg. I can tell you from personal experience that there great differences even among different brands of glass cables.
I presently use the Wireworld Supernova III+ Glass Toslink Optical Cable (can be found on AudioAdvisor for approx $100)and prefer it to previous brands which were plastic. Is the difference profound ? I heard a more pleasing sound.
I also have a Synergistics Research Digital Corridor 2 coax on another component that only has a coax connection, and it is also quite good.
Some manufacturers of CDP's and transports only provide coax out to an external DAC , believing that is preferreable (marketing decision.)
Either type of digital cable can provide fine performance if it is carefully chosen.

Posted Image

#15 of 37 Ted Kim

Ted Kim

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 214 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 11 2002

Posted January 10 2003 - 06:02 AM

Quote:
The reason cable companies recommend 2 meter lengths is so that you buy 2 meters instead of 1.


It's not just the cable companies, its the reviewers. Read what Wes Philips, the former Stereophile reviewer, writes in the context of the Bel Canto DAC.

"The other thing that had me puzzled was the difference between using TosLink and coaxial S/PDIF. When using the DAC1 to decode CDs from pretty much any transport, coaxial sounded better -- brighter and more focused. TosLink, in comparison, sounded sweeter -- honeyed would be the word, implying a slightly amber coloration to boot. This changed, however, when decoding 24/96 DADs from my DV-525 with TosLink -- those sounded explosively lifelike and dynamic. Wow!

Then I ran into my cousin by marriage, Ernie Meunier, at a memorial service for my father-in-law. After the service we went out to dinner and began talking about audio, as we audiophiles are wont to do. I mentioned how much I was enjoying the DAC1, and Ernie said he’d read somewhere that it "liked" TosLink in lengths greater than a meter. "I heard two meters works better than a meter -- something to do with internal reflections," Ernie said.

Hmmm. That’s a cheap enough mod for a guy with a closet full of cables, so I tried it. Damn! It worked. The difference with CDs was (I can’t help myself) illuminating -- very little coloration remained. Well, just a hint. And with DADs? Oh mama -- papa like!"


The bolded text is what I've been reading for quite a while.
See http://www.onhifi.co...lcanto_dac1.htm for a full review.

#16 of 37 John Garcia

John Garcia

    Executive Producer

  • 11,528 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 24 1999
  • Real Name:John
  • LocationNorCal

Posted January 10 2003 - 06:53 AM

Quote:
Now just like in cameras, the quality of the lens is very important. Most commercial grade equipment uses a cheap plastic lens versus the expensive ground lens.

I would have to say this is the what I feel can be one of the biggest differences between cables. I spent last year working at a fiber optic company (passive and active optical amplifiers, mostly for networking), and I found that optical is a lot more complicated than it seems. VERY small imperfections can cause problems. The quality, shape, and polishing method of the lens are all important factors. Internal reflection is a significant consideration as well.

So far, I have stuck with coaxial, but my CDP happens to only have optical. 90% of the time I use my CDP via analog anyway. Optical is only there for the occasional DTS CD, of which I have very few.

As with all interconnects, IMO, the difference one will hear when changing interconnect types and qualities, is directly proportional to the gear used.
HT: Emotiva UMC-200, Emotiva XPA-3, Carnegie Acoustics CSB-1s + CSC-1, GR Research A/V-1s, Epik Empire, Oppo BDP-105, PS4, PS3,URC R-50, APC-H10, Panamax 5100 Bluejeans Cable
System Two: Marantz PM7200, Pioneer FS52s, Panasonic BD79
(stolen) : Marantz SR-8300, GR Research A/V-2s, Sony SCD-222ES SACD, Panasonic BD-65, PS3 60G (250G)

Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

 


#17 of 37 Guy Usher

Guy Usher

    Supporting Actor

  • 780 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 20 2002

Posted January 10 2003 - 10:57 PM

Coax for 1 reason only, the connection.
As stated here and many other places the average audiophile (I was very careful on how I worded this)can tell little if any difference in sound quality, matter of fact it appears to me that they speak higher of coax than optical for the most part.
When you funnel it down to price/performance ratio looks to me like coax gets the nod.
I am not a beleiver in Gucci cables however I will say I have noticed differences in sound with different coax cables, one time on a quick and dirty set-up I grabbed the shortest cable I could find amongtst the 10 million loose patch cords I have accumulated (yes they like coat hangers breed at night), I knew I didnt like the looks of the cable I grabed so at a point later I changed it to a bigger better one (thats all I know) and the sound changed a ton. . .
Even Monkeys fall from trees.

#18 of 37 Kevin L K

Kevin L K

    Second Unit

  • 273 posts
  • Join Date: May 26 2001

Posted January 11 2003 - 01:12 AM

Cable material--whether plastic or glass--has NOTHING to do with it being called TosLink or not. Cables that transmit digital signals optically are ALL called TosLink connections because the company Toshiba invented that type of cable. It's short for Toshiba Link.

EDIT

I am NOT saying that Toshiba invented fiber-optics.I'm simply pointing out that Toshiba developed the digital audio cable that is used in today's home theater for optical digital connections.

#19 of 37 BrentPollard

BrentPollard

    Second Unit

  • 447 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 18 2001

Posted January 11 2003 - 02:24 AM

Nuthin' beats those Saskatchewan seal skin bindings.Posted Image

#20 of 37 jerry davis

jerry davis

    Auditioning

  • 14 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 30 2002

Posted January 11 2003 - 04:08 AM

Here are some glass optical 1.5m cables for $29.95 on eBay.

http://cgi.ebay.com/....tem=3000198063

At $29.95, you can not say that is a fortune.
Jerry





Forum Nav Content I Follow