Optical or coax??

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Calvin Watts III, Mar 6, 2002.

  1. Calvin Watts III

    Calvin Watts III Supporting Actor

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    Hi everyone...

    Not quite a newbie...but I always find that I still learn something new about HT systems almost every day.

    Anyways,my question is this:

    What would be the better/preferred method of getting digital sound?

    I have on my receiver two digital inputs - one coax,one opitcal (Toslink,yes?). At the moment,I have my PS2 hooked up to the optical,and my DVD player set to the coax. Both sound fine to me,but the PS2 isn't nearly as important as the DVD player.

    I am planning on getting an XBox though,which also needs an optical cable. So I was wondering what would be best. I guess I mean interference issues,things like that.

    Any help would be appreciated,and thanks for taking the time to read my post.

    Calvin
     
  2. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    The popular answer will be that difference between optical and coax is nil. I personally hear no differences between the two digital carriers.
    However- some might debate that one is better than the other- however if you hear no difference, I think that effectively answers your question.
    If you now will need 2 optical connections- you can buy an optical switch allowing you to leave the DVD on COAX and switch between the PSX and Xbox on the optical line.
    [​IMG]
    -Vince
     
  3. Alf S

    Alf S Producer

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    Ditto what Vince said...

    No differences in sound quality (assuming no defects in eith type of cable)

    The main reason many go with Coax, me included, is because it's usually a sturdurier, and more stable cable than SOME optical cables. By that I mean Optical can be more fragile than coax.

    You can also save a good deal of money by just buying a 75ohm type Video cable from Best Buy, Radio Shack etc. to use as a Digital Coax cable. No need to buy a $20+ cable.

    Good luck!

    Alfer
     
  4. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    While I agree there is no audible difference, there are two theoretical differences between optical and coaxial cables used for PCM (CD) signals. The first is interference -- optical cables are immune from any electrical disturbances, but are susceptible to problems if bent too sharply. The second theoretical difference is jitter. The theory is that the lesser bandwidth of optical/Toslink cable can negatively affect the timing of the signal more than coaxial. Keep in mind all the data bits are exactly perfect with either cable; it's just that the bits may not arrive at the d/a converters at precisely the right time. The actual audible effects of jitter are debatable, and I've never been able to discern a difference.

    As for DD and DTS signals, there is absolutely no difference in sound quality between the two types of cables. And no possibility of jitter. You could use a coat hanger as an interconnect and have zero data and timing errors.
     
  5. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i've got an optical cable i bought about 6 years ago. i don't baby it, but i don't toss it around either. afaik, it still works fine.
     
  6. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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  7. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    Vince,

    I'm not sure of the exact number, just that Toslink is less than coaxial. However, like you said, the amount Toslink does have should be plenty for any PCM application. Kind of like saying that 32-bits is better than 24, which may be true but way past the point of diminishing returns.
     
  8. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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  9. Kieran Coghlan

    Kieran Coghlan Second Unit

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  10. Adam Barratt

    Adam Barratt Cinematographer

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    Dolby Digital and DTS send their data in packets, which are buffered by the DSP processor. The buffered data is then output with precise timing, and doesn't suffer from the sort of transport or interference-induced jitter that may cause problems for conventional digital audio over S/PDIF.

    Adam
     
  11. Calvin Watts III

    Calvin Watts III Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the input everyone...you have been very helpful. [​IMG]
    Calvin
     
  12. CRyan

    CRyan Screenwriter

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    ahhh. The coat hanger. Did not take long for that to come up.
    [​IMG]
    C. Ryan
     
  13. Bill_D

    Bill_D Supporting Actor

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    I personally use both.
    "They" say that coax delivers a much richer, fuller sound on "busy", full-bandwith material. So I have coax on my DVD and Toslink on the Tivo and XBox(no coax option anyway).
    I personally cannot tell the difference but don't want to miss anything just in case.
    Whole lotta people named "They" on these boards.[​IMG]
     
  14. Rob Warren

    Rob Warren Auditioning

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    I have heard the difference before, but it was in a controlled environment. ( a mastering suite for Pro-audio) It was also through Genelec speakers which are very nice! So, if your stuff is not extremely good audiophile quality, then I don't think you'll come close to hearing the difference. Besides that, it sounds like from the other posts that DD and DTS have taken care of jitter issues. So, you may not hear a difference in this aspect. In other words, I wouldn't sweat it!
     

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