Optical Cable Brand

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Rajeev_s, Jan 6, 2003.

  1. Rajeev_s

    Rajeev_s Stunt Coordinator

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    Does it matter what brand of optical cable I use, I dont want to spend $$ for monster. Is there a difference technically ?
    There shouldnt be, its a optical fiber and its digital signal. Either you get the signal or you dont right ?
    Thanks for the help
     
  2. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I don't see any point in using $50 optical cables, for exactly the reason you gave.

    Construction is the difference - strength of terminations, sheathing, etc... but the sound should be identical. I am using a $9 optical cable and it works just fine.
     
  3. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    so long as you're not going past about 5 meters, regular old plastic toslink will do just fine. like anything else there's some stuff out there that looks a little flimsy but it doesn't take much money to get a more robust one.
     
  4. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Someone had both a Radio Shack and Monster optical cable. He plugged them into the same outlet on his DVD player and shined the other end onto a white piece of paper. He said the Monster cable was dramatically brighter than the Radio Shack.

    Both cables appeared to work.

    I'm a big fan of inexpensive copper, but optical is ... different. There are other issues with optical that would make me nervous.

    Home Theater Magazine did a comparison of several coaxial cables and several optical cables in their "Bits are Bits" article a few years ago.

    In the comparison, all the coaxial cables sounded the same, but all 4 reviewers noticed a sound change with some of the optical cables. (This is using the same hardware, same music over and over again). This was never fully explained. I suspect that there might be a mis-alignment of the connector or micro-fractures in the cables. But when data gets munged on these digital feeds, the sound usually goes silent, not tone-shift!?! So something is funny.

    Anyway, while I usually recommend a $15 video cable for a coaxial-digital connection, I might have to recommend getting a more name-brand optical cable. Just because there seems to be some variation in QC. I'd suspect Monster has better/tighter QC than Radio Shack.
     
  5. Mark Murphy

    Mark Murphy Supporting Actor

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    I had an inexpensive fiber optic cable from Radio Shack and "upgraded" to a monster fiber optic cable and I can't tell the difference. At some point, I'll try to get my hands on a light meter from work and test out the two. See what conducts better light.
     
  6. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    that was one of those sighted evaluations wasn't it Bob? while i don't have the article you're talking about, it certainly seems to me if one obtained an unusual result one would obtain additional samples and try to be thorough and investigative. as far as light throughput, well one doesn't need much to qualify as a signal.
     
  7. Brae

    Brae Supporting Actor

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    I'm using a $4.50 optical cable that has perform just as well as the buy/return Monster equivalent I borrowed from HiFi Buys. Lemme know if you want the part number. This is for a 12' optical cable.

    BTW, considering we are talk red LED light source, unless you can see the light coming out the other end of the optical cable, the receiver will be sensitive enough to determine a when something is shining and not.

    The nice thing about using LED light source is that we are talking about sending light down a path typically less than 100 feet. In my business, interconnects can run several hundred feet for OC-192 bandwidths while the same technology can pump light across repeaters 40 kilometers apart.

    I would suggest you borrow the most expensive cable from your nearest retail store and then the cheapest one you can find (locally or mail order) and see if you can tell a difference to your ears.
     
  8. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Well remember that all fiber cables have some loss as well as the connectors and junctions themselves.

    I just don't know what the specifications are for TOSlink. There should be some minimum specification on how much light is required by the receiver.
     
  9. Brae

    Brae Supporting Actor

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    John, naturally. And if the el'cheapo cables didn't perform to a minimumstandard I think that you would find a lot of people complaining about them. Honestly, I have yet to hear on the several HT-related forums I troll upon about an el'cheapo optical cable failing.
    Just because one optical cable shows a bright output than the other does not mean the not-so-bright cable isn't doing a wonderful job. I'm not advocating cheaper-is-better, but just my personal experimental experiences. [​IMG]
     
  10. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    yeah, I may use nice cables all around and truly do hear distinctions between interconnects and speaker wire.
    However my optical cables are 6 dollar RCA toslink. I would be interested in the specification as I've got several fiber test equipment in the lab including an OTDR. If I could calibrate it with a reference toslink cable I could then tell you exactly how much loss each cable/junction has.
    -edit- Heck the one with the brighter light might actually overdrive the receiver. Doubtful with LED instead of laser though. [​IMG]
     
  11. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    John,

    You beat me to the punch. In many of my optical fiber network installations (mostly laser, but some LED) overdriving the optical receiver with a too short cable (less than 1 meter) is more common than a weak light output signal.

    So, like you said, the cable with the brighter light output could actually be detrimental and not beneficial.
     
  12. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Bruce,
    I've burned my share of receivers back in the day. Do it a few times and you'll learn to measure the light first. Learned my lesson and have to reteach it to my techs every now and then. [​IMG]
     
  13. Jared_C

    Jared_C Stunt Coordinator

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    Monster cable is now making a line with thx logos on them, the optical cable sells for $20 just about everywhere. can't go wrong, btw, its 4feet in length
     
  14. Mark Murphy

    Mark Murphy Supporting Actor

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    I dont' know how much loss to expect from 4-6 ft fiber run, but in my experience working with SONET multiplexers, there is expected loss, necessary loss. A "hot" signal can be more detrimental to the equipment than a weak one. I think for a short run of even a few miles, we needed, by Fujitsu standards, to have at least -12 db of loss. We would pad (usually -5 db) anything more. -15 to -19 db was ideal.
     
  15. Mike Matheson

    Mike Matheson Second Unit

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    One difference between inexpensive optical cables can be the plugs themselves--I had a Radio Shack Gold series optical cable that just didn't hold firmly in the back of my pre/pro. Any time it was bumped (by me messing with other cables, or the cat walking around) the cable would pop out. Replaced the RS cable with an Acoustic Research Pro optical and haven't had a problem since (the AR cable fits snugly; makes a comforting "click" when inserted).
     
  16. Brae

    Brae Supporting Actor

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    Mark Murphy, we are padding to the same levels on our Fujitsu SONET rings. Also, on the Nortel BSN5000's we are padding them to between -17 and -23 dB for effective communications. Its a sad day when an office tech decides to do a sorry butt (you replace the butt with something more appropriate) job and runs the fiber so hot that it kills a the Rx port on an card costing between $8K and $14K. Of course, this could be worse if the idiot does this to a bunch of Rx ports on a GX550, hehe.
     
  17. Jeremy Little

    Jeremy Little Supporting Actor

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