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Diffrence in quality of diffrent optical cables?

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5 replies to this topic

#1 of 6 RodNoble



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Posted December 30 2003 - 12:36 PM

Is there a difference from the 10$ cable to the 70$ cable when it comes to optical cable?

I was wondering this and my buddy made a good point.. its light sending singles... basically just 1's and 0's... so lets just say on and off..

so since there only sending a on or off signal wouldn’t that mean that regardless of the quality of the signal as long as the signal got there then it will play the music at the perfect quality?

Is this how it works?

The reason I ask is because I bought some decent cable from an audio shop.. it was like 70 bucks.. so yes I probably over paid alittle.. but it looks and feels like good quality.. now there are these optical cables at this electronics shop that’s like 10 bucks.. now it just looks and feels cheap but if what I said earlier is true then it shouldn’t really matter right?

#2 of 6 Chu Gai

Chu Gai

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Posted December 30 2003 - 01:49 PM

Basically you're correct from a functional point of view that there's no difference in sound quality. Spending more generally gets you nicer looking and perhaps better latching connectors as well as a bit thicker cable. Sometimes the light troughput is stronger, but so long as your receiver can pick up the signal, it doesn't matter. As to whether this is worth the price differential, that's up to you.

Most optical cable you buy uses plastic fibers and that works well in relatively short distances. Glass almost always costs substantially more and is generally used in professional applications when the length goes beyond 5 meters. The following
link though is one hell of a price for glass toslink if I say so myself.

#3 of 6 Bob McElfresh

Bob McElfresh


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Posted December 30 2003 - 02:55 PM

This is a controversial issue.

Fact: you can take a $70 optical cable and a $15 cheap optical cable and shine the output on a piece of white paper. The intensity of the two cables can be visiably different.

Fact: This may not matter as long as the light is bright enough to be sensed by the reciever.

Home Theater magazine did a test with 3 coaxial and 3 optical cables. The reviewers could not hear any difference between the 3 coaxial and 2 of the optical cables. But 1 of the optical cables sounded different to all of them.

This was never explained.

So in theory all optical cables should produce the same bits which means all should sound identical. But there are some who swear they heard a difference.

So the generic advice is:

- Use coaxial if possible (less reported variations)
- Use the least-expensive, but quality optical cable you can find that works.

#4 of 6 Vincent_S


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Posted December 30 2003 - 05:47 PM

I had an Acoustic Research optical cable(cheapest one they have), I gave that to a friend that wanted an optical cable. Now I have a Tara Labs and I could not tell any difference between the two. I usually just use the dig. coax output. I can't put my finger on it but I prefer the sound of the coax.Posted Image

P.S.- I think the AR cable was approx $20 at Best Buy. I don't know how much retail on the Tara Labs is but I got it new on Ebay for $15. If I had to guess I would say $40-$60.

#5 of 6 RodNoble



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Posted December 30 2003 - 08:42 PM

Hey thanks for the replys...

thats intresting about the light with the diffrent cables.. makes you figured there is a diffrence for sure.. now weather that diffrence makes a diffrence i guess not..

#6 of 6 Shane Martin

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Posted December 31 2003 - 02:26 AM

I don't know how much retail on the Tara Labs is but I got it new on Ebay for $15. If I had to guess I would say $40-$60
$45 though I paid significantly less for mine. It did make a difference on my system over the cheapy one I had previously(some pos I bought at Target).