optical cable differences

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by dave-u, Aug 11, 2002.

  1. dave-u

    dave-u Auditioning

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    Is there a difference between all the different toslink cables out there?. Just trying to make a wise choice. Is the $40 cable really better than the $10??
    Thanks for the info
    dave-u
     
  2. Ben Scott

    Ben Scott Auditioning

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    As far as I understand it, an optical signal is an optical signal. The information either gets there or it doesn't. If part of the signal is lost then you get timing issues and would be able to tell. I use optical cables that I got on my friend's discount from Best buy for 7 dollars and can tell absolutely no difference from 60 dollar Monster Cables.
     
  3. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    I would be sceptical about the build quality of a cable selling for $10. It costs almost that much just in parts to build a decent cable. At least, that's my idea. Also, since Toslink generally has a reputation for being more fragile than coax, it might be wise to pay a little more for a well constructed cable.

    Sonically, you'd probably have a really hard time hearing any differences.
     
  4. Rob Rodier

    Rob Rodier Supporting Actor

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    I agree with Saurav for the same reasons.


    -rob
     
  5. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    Saurav's post sounds reasonable to me.
     
  6. Howard_S

    Howard_S Supporting Actor

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    I doubt you'll hear much difference. Perhaps that is why high end cable companies almost never make optical cables. I genearlly avoid optical cables. You'll be better off with a coaxial cable if you can. You can get decent coaxial cables for a lot less than a decent optical cable. And you can spend more on coaxials to go beyond what optical cables can do. But I would buy a decent optical cable over a cheapy one.
     
  7. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Possibly Saurav but not if there's a factory overseas cranking them out at say 200,000 or so a year. From what I've seen the differences seem to be in three areas:
    1)thickness of the cable (this may have more to do with the overall outside diameter rather then the number of optical fibers
    2)polish on the ends of the fibers possibly letting more light through but i don't see this as a big thing...not like we're loosing massive amounts of information
    3)connector...possibly some connectors do a better job at staying in place.

    I'd expect small places on the web to charge significantly more. I forget what better cables' price is but i thought it was rather steep.

    Glass fibers are a bit more difficult to come by but i've seen significant gouging in that area by some 'companies'.
     
  8. Sebastian

    Sebastian Second Unit

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    Yeah the only difference you will see is the one in your pocket book. Ben hit the nail on the head, an optical signal is either on or off. Ironically though so did Saurav, You are paying for the extra thickness of the cable, better build quality not sound, unless you have a lot of RF interference problems. I have a $20 toslink cable with no sound or interference issues, sounds great. I also agree with Howard, If you can go with a digital coax cable for your audio connection, do that. Just make sure you buy a DIGITAL coax cable and not a standard coax cable (better band with).
     
  9. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    What possible effect would electromagnetic interference have on a toslink Sebastian?
     
  10. Zbigniew

    Zbigniew Stunt Coordinator

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    Sebastian,

    how much bandwidth you need really ? 400k? 600k ? because that is what you are really sending through.

    Also: if you want to have fun, doi a search on "jitter" - there was whole holy war. And remeber - for DD/DTS, jitter do not exist - since data is packetized/compressed, DAC has to reclock signal.

    In data, we deal with optical connectors sending up to 10Gb for hundresd of miles with no amplification. Of course, equipment costs a little more. Still, in the lab we sometimes need to use what we have handy - and it usually works.

    Toslink cable is plastic, not glass; I do not know off-hand what is the lambda used; still, I was able to disconnect some of cables used at my home, and still keep it playing with 1 inch of space (making sure that I properly align it). So adding a few dB of attenuation did not stop it from working.

    If a $10 works, use it. If you can hear a difference between $10 and $40 cable, I am really envious of your hearing.


    _zjt
     
  11. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    If you only need a short run, go to EB or Gamestop

    I got an optical cable for my XBox for $7.99

    Works peachy
     
  12. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  13. Gary Kellerman

    Gary Kellerman Stunt Coordinator

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    I did hear a difference between a GE optical cable that ran me about $12 and a former friends AR optical cable. The GE seemed to give a sharper high end response. The AR sounded overall nice, but there seemed to be rolloff on the high end freqencies. I have had a huge argument over this on another forum because I did not conduct a double blind test.
    I do not have the people to do such a test or I would conduct one. There is one thing I do know about myself and that is I am sensitive to bass response and different tonalities of audio equipment. Some have talked about clocking and jitter but I am not quite "Einstein" to figure this out. I know there is something going on here but I do not know the cause nor do I have the test equipment to find the cause and try to graph it.
     
  14. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    it's certainly a bizarre finding to say the least with optical.
     
  15. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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  16. Benson R

    Benson R Supporting Actor

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    I am by not means an expert on this but as a student who is almost done with my Electrical Engineering degree I don't see it being possible to find any differences between a cheap optical and the most expensive even on the home theater system to end all home theater systems. Since the optical is just a series of light pulses there can be not interference from other components like there could be with a coaxial connection.
     
  17. GordonL

    GordonL Supporting Actor

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    I've read where the purity of the glass used can affect the signal but the degradation applies to distance and since we're talking lengths of 3-6 ft, I doubt that applies. I think the difference between a $10 and $40 cable lies mainly in the quality of the jacket/ connectors and the image that the manufacturer wants to project. For instance, Recoton makes a $10-$15 optical cable with thin jackets and small plastic connectors. Recoton also owns AR, who makes $20-$40 cables with a more upscale image, thicker jackets and bigger, stiffer connectors. Might even be made in the same factory. Since the glass/plastic fibers are pretty fragile, I would opt for thicker jackets and beefier connectors. FYI, you can find the AR cables online for not much more (sometimes less) than what Best Buy charges for the cheap Recoton cables.
     
  18. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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  19. Sebastian

    Sebastian Second Unit

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    Chu Gai
    I am talking about interference with other electronic components in the house. Come to think of it, your right, fiber optics are preferred since they are immune to radiated noise. So to that end go with the $5 cable, j/k
    No but seriously get a descent looking $20 cable and you should be fine.
     
  20. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    For sure there is a difference in the cables out there. Depending on the fiber used, the jacket, the buffer and the connector they can all yield very different results for loss, bandwidth and reflection. Heck different fiber from the same spool measures different. No double blind test needed here, in the industry each cable or spool purchased has certified specifications and test results. the optical transceivers used matters to.

    But as far as any audible difference you'll have to be the judge. Build quality and a good buffer (keeps fiber from bending at sharp angles) would be the reason to buy a 40 dollar optical cable.
     

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