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What will give me better 5.1 sound from a DVD player? Fiber optic or coaxial cables?

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13 replies to this topic

#1 of 14 OFFLINE   kurt_fire


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Posted April 10 2003 - 01:17 PM

I have a 5.1 surruond system that can decode both DD and DTS. I know most of the current DVD players out there have both coax and fiber optic outputs for digital sound. I am going to purchase a new DVD player, so which form of audio cable should I use for the audio. Thanks guys.

#2 of 14 OFFLINE   Chris Gerhard

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Posted April 10 2003 - 01:34 PM

I prefer coax because it is sturdier. I have never had a problem with toslink and I am using those also but if give a choice I always would choose coax. No difference sonically to the best of my knowledge.


#3 of 14 OFFLINE   Philip Hamm

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Posted April 10 2003 - 02:10 PM

It doesn't make any difference for DTS and Dolby Digital. Coax is usually cheaper because you can use a run-of-the-mill 75ohm shielded composite video cable. Toslink cables can be more expensive. I've used ultra-cheap audio cables for coax and they work great.
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#4 of 14 OFFLINE   kurt_fire


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Posted April 10 2003 - 02:56 PM

so you guys think an Acoustic Research coaxial cable from BestBuy would work just as fine as anything??

#5 of 14 OFFLINE   Neil Joseph

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Posted April 10 2003 - 04:07 PM

I would go for the coax simply because it is more robust as others have mentioned...

Digital Audio: Optical Connection vs. Coax connection
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#6 of 14 OFFLINE   Carl Johnson

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Posted April 10 2003 - 04:19 PM

Six of one half a dozen of another, on working class equipment (like less than $1000 per componet) you're unlikely to hear a difference. Given a choice I use coax because it's cheaper but my receiver has two digital ins, optical for the CD player and coax for DVD. One digital in doesn't sound much if any better than the other, but they are both better than analogue inputs.

#7 of 14 OFFLINE   Philip Hamm

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Posted April 11 2003 - 12:04 AM

on working class equipment (like less than $1000 per componet) you're unlikely to hear a difference
And it is highly debatable whether there's a difference on high dollar equipment.
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#8 of 14 OFFLINE   Mark Hedges

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Posted April 11 2003 - 01:20 AM

I use coax because the cabling is cheaper and more robust. There are some people who say that to get the best signal from an optical connection you have to use a glass-based cable, which are very expensive. For a coax connection cabling doesn't seem to be as important (as long as it is a shielded 75 ohm cable).


#9 of 14 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted April 11 2003 - 01:35 AM

This question is asked so often that it's covered in the Beginner's Primer and FAQ:

Digital Audio: Optical Connection vs. Coax connection

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#10 of 14 OFFLINE   Brian L

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Posted April 11 2003 - 04:37 AM

I fall squarely into the "it does not make any performance difference" camp.

Having said that, I would also agree that coax will be sturdier, however if for some bizarre reason your cable were exposed to high amounts of RF noise and who knows what all, the optical cable would obviously not be affected by that. I suppose properly designed coax would also be immune.

As for cost, I recently bought a 6' Optical cable from Parts Express (their Dayton brand) and was pleasantly surprised at how stout it was. Seems to me it was less than $10, which is what you would pay for a Rat Shack Gold 75 Ohm job, and the thing was as big around as any coax I have used.

The connector was extremely robust as well. A far cry from some of the optical cable I own. I got a free one in the box with a DD Sat Box...what a POS. The thing was so small I am sure I could break it by giving it a dirty look. Then again, it does seem to work OK.


#11 of 14 OFFLINE   kurt_fire


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Posted April 11 2003 - 06:16 AM

i'm going to probably purchase the s35 DVD player sometime next week, and I guess I'll also purchase a 3" Acoustic Research coax cable over the fiber optic cable. Thanks guys.

#12 of 14 OFFLINE   Kevin C Brown

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Posted April 11 2003 - 07:59 AM

I've used both, and haven't noticed a difference. But if I have a choice, I use coax because of the sturdiness issue as well.

FWIW, Stereophile has a decided bias against optical. They talk about "digital fog," and bandwidth problems with Toslink. But I haven't been a subscriber long enough to understand where their beliefs come from.
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#13 of 14 OFFLINE   Robert Hoffman

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Posted April 14 2003 - 08:32 AM

Kurt, the Panny s35 only has an optical out. I just bought one last night and have only briefly played around with it. My surround set up is very 'consumer' ($250 Panasonic boom box with satellite speakers), so I can't really accurately tell you how it sounds. Except that I can tell you the amp in the boom box isn't nearly powerful enough to power all 5 channels. That being said, the optical output works (as it should).

#14 of 14 OFFLINE   Grant H

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Posted April 15 2003 - 08:06 AM

I use optical because I was getting a buzz through all speakers connected to my reciever when I was using coax even though it seemed to be a good sturdy well-insulated coax cable. I also heard slight dropouts every now and then with coax. Then again, I've found that all coax/rca cables seem to wear and break inside eventually. Then again, maybe it's because I was buying Radio Shack or K-Mart gold. If the cable was starting to go that could explain the problems. Anyway, you can find decent heavy-duty fiber-optic cables at Wal-Mart now that are quite inexpensive (around $20 for 6 feet). Much cheaper than they used to be. Been using fiber-optic cables for years with no problems. I get a little paranoid when I'm doing intitial connections or unplugging that I'll get the lenses dirty or scratched, especially since they only plug one way and you're usually in a dark, cramped spot plugging them in, but so far no problems. Not like when I broke my first gold S-Video connector with my first DVD player and had a black and white picture!! Luckily, Toshiba supplied an OEM S-Video cable until I got a new gold one.
I guess if you shift around your components all the time and are rough on cables the durablitity issue could come into play, but otherwise I wouldn't worry. I'm sure I've accidentally stepped on my cables when I've fooled around with equipment and never broken one. As many metal cables as I have, I figure anything that's going to reduce interference is good, so I'd go with fiber-optic cable for my digital sound to eliminate interference. That and they look so cool. Posted Image
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