Is a 'digital' audio connection really better??

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by videobruce, Sep 18, 2006.

  1. videobruce

    videobruce Stunt Coordinator

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    Didn't know where to post this, but with all the hype of "digital" everything, is a digital or optical audio connection from a source to a audio receiver/int. amp really that noticeable of a improvement??
     
  2. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Since a "digital" connection is the only type capable of transmitting Dolby Digital and DTS (unless you use the 5.1 analog outputs on a DVD player), the answer is a resounding "Yes!". If you do not use the digital audio connection, you are stuck with downconverted Dolby Pro-Logic, which pales in comparison to DD or DTS.

    Now the good news - You do not have to spend a fortune on a "digital" cable in order to get digital surround sound. For optical, you can get a cheap optical at Radio Shack for around $10. For coax, it's even cheaper. You can use any composite video cable for coax digital audio. Use one of the ones that came with your DVD player and it'll cost you nothing. Don't be fooled by the "Digital" description on high priced cables, most of it is marketing BS. With digital, it either works or it doesn't.
     
  3. Hartwig Hanser

    Hartwig Hanser Second Unit

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    It depends, which machine does the better Digital/Analogue conversion. If you have an expensive, audiophile DVD player, it may be better to have analogue connection to the receiver. If the receiver has an 5.1 analogue input and the player does internal DD and DTS decoding, you can connect via 6 RCA cables and have full DD and DTS capabilities. I do this with my modified Denon 2910 to Rotel RSP1066 for Music/Opera (the denon sounding better IMO for classical music).
     
  4. videobruce

    videobruce Stunt Coordinator

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    Other than the additional channels, which really isn't a issue with me, how about the actual 'audio quality' between a conventional L&R audio out and a coxial or optical out (forgetting about the center channel)?
    The cost of cables is a non issue.

    Other than a DVD player (which I rarely use), comming from the internal tuner of a TV or a DVR (both with a 8VSB & QAM tuner) will I really hear a sonic improvement? I have a older receiver with analog only inputs. I am just questioning the 'supposed' improvement (other than the surrond sound improvement).

    To put it another way, plain stereo off a CD player (for example), will I hear a noticeable improvement (not with test equipment or a A/B comparison).

    Hope you understand. Audio is important, but I'm not real critical.
     
  5. Hartwig Hanser

    Hartwig Hanser Second Unit

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    Again, it only depends on the DACs used. If you have an old, cheap CD player and an high end Receiver or PRepro, the digital connection will sound better, since you will use the better DACS in the REceiver/Prepro. If you have an excellent player, use the analogue outputs.
    In short: a digital connection per se is not better or worse than analogue
     
  6. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    If you are not concerned with surround sound, then you will probably not care if there is an improvement or not. However, the difference between DD surround from an HD source and regular analog is dramatic and necessary for the full theater effect. Surround sound is the improvement, along with a far greater dynamic range, an LFE track for low frequency effects and better stereo imaging and clarity. If these mean nothing to you (and believe me, they are not "supposed" at all, they are dramatic improvements), then you will probably be satisfied with your old stuff.

    Edit: With the CD player, you will probably not hear very much of a difference.
     
  7. haru182

    haru182 Auditioning

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    Well how about this....

    I have a very nice older sony DVD changer (its got 2 s vid outs plus 5.1 outs and other goodies) but I also have a JVC receiver that has 5.1 ins plus the digital ins. Which should I use for the connection? the digital (optical) or the 5.1.

    In other words, is there going to be a noticeable difference between the two decoders? Sony vs JVC?
     
  8. Seth=L

    Seth=L Screenwriter

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    In most cases digital connections offer superior performance with surround sound. Of course there are some variants to that, like a brand new Rotel CD player and a Pioneer Elite receiver from a couple years ago is not likely to have as good of DACs as the Rotel. Rotel has competant DACs in their CD players, that most receivers couldn't match. This is of course just an example.
     
  9. Alex/d

    Alex/d Stunt Coordinator

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    Or... like in my case with the Sony SACD player I have... I was never a fan of TOSlink and the DAC's in the Sony sound quite well in my opinion.
    However, everything else I try to use digital connections on. That's just me.
    But honestly, it depends on what you are using. The differences between the physical connections are identical, if not, very similar. Different equipment sounds better with analog, for instance (imo) SACD players, and digital sounds better with DVD players.
     

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