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Optical vs Digital audio output.

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Ernest R, Jan 17, 2005.

  1. Ernest R

    Ernest R Agent

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    On a percentage scale, how much better will a oprtical connection be over a coax digital connection.

    Reason for the question:

    I bought by dvd player in the early days of dvddome. It broke last month and looking for a dvdr to replace it. 3 years after I put together a HT system but never replace the DVD player which only had digital coax audio outs. Well now I will have the optical out to connect the Dennon receiver. But just courious how better DTS will sound using the optical connection.

    Future Thanks.
     
  2. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    The consensus is that there is no difference in audio quality between coaxial and optical digital outputs. If you are going to use the coaxial output, make sure you get a good digital coaxial audio cable. A glass optical cable is superior to a plastic one.
     
  3. John S

    John S Producer

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    Optical would only really be an advantage in extreme interference situations. Otherwise, I'd still call it a wash between the two.

    I use optical more only because I like the little red light comming out of the end of the cable. [​IMG]
     
  4. Elinor

    Elinor Supporting Actor

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    Ernest, historically audiophiles have considered the coax connection to be superior. While this is probably not true, it certainly is no worse. I have used both types of connection and really can't tell a bit of difference (bit, get it?).
     
  5. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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  6. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    In my experience, a good quality coax is less expensive than a similar quality optical cable. I prefer coax for the sturdy connection.
     
  7. Adam Barratt

    Adam Barratt Cinematographer

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    Ernest, as far as DTS goes (and Dolby Digital) there will be zero audible difference when switching from coax to optical, or vice-versa, due to the nature of the transport systems used.

    Adam
     
  8. Ernest R

    Ernest R Agent

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    Thanks all.

    Now, why did THEY do it? Two mediums of transfer with same end result. Was one standard too conveinent?
     
  9. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    hey...that's actually a pretty good question. does anybody know???
     
  10. Kevin_F

    Kevin_F Stunt Coordinator

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    How does the above compare to using composite for audio?
     
  11. John S

    John S Producer

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    By composite? Do you mean multi channel analog input?

    I'd say from a top rated DVD player that would aslo be very good, just not digital.

    I guess HDMI can carry digital now? I would assume that is coax on the inside.
     
  12. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I looked it up at one point. Coax had been around for a long time actually; optical came along a little later when the whole fiber optic thing started to become more common. They're both still out there because there's so much gear out there that uses one, the other or both, that a receiver manufacturer basically has to include both.

    Analog vs digital sound quality, in terms of what we are talking about, is entirely dependant on which DACs are better - the source or the receiver.

    HDMI has always been digital has it not?



    Let me confuse you further - a composite video cable can be used as a coaxial digital cable [​IMG] Composite is a video term, not an audio term, and the two types of cables (composite video vs analog RCA) are not always interchangable due to different specifications. The specs for composite video and coaxial digital are roughly the same however.
     
  13. Kevin_F

    Kevin_F Stunt Coordinator

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    I am referring totally to audio. Is there much of a difference between coax, fiber optic and composite cables used for audio?
     
  14. John S

    John S Producer

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    When you say Composite Audio.. What do you mean?

    There really is no such thing...

    There is analog 2 channel, and there is analog multi-channel.

    As I understand it HDMI can carry video and audio in the same cable. But I am really not all to sure how that works. Most people right now use it for video only.
     
  15. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Let me try to explain it. There are two types transfer methods for audio over wires, digital and analog.

    For digital, there are two different cables for transport, digital coaxial and digital optical. A digital optical cable calls for a fiber optic cable. A digital coax cable calls for a 75 Ohm RCA connector coax cable. This 75 Ohm RCA connector coax cable just happens to be the same specifications as an RCA "composite" video cable, i.e. the two are interchangeble. Some cables are specified as "Digital Coax Super Duper Cable", but in reality, the only specification they need to have is that of a 75 Ohm RCA coax (aka "composite video") cable. Neat, huh? (they planned it like that)

    Now, we get to analog. Analog audio cables consist of 2 RCA coax cables, the familiar "red and white". These can be less than 75 Ohms, so they are not interchangeble with "composite" video cables, which have to be 75 Ohms.

    Which is better? Well, they are really different being that one is digital and one is analog. One thing is for sure, if you want the best available sound from your DVD's, hooking up via the digital connection is the way to go (basically speaking ... there are some 5.1 direct connect solutions, but they are for another time[​IMG] ).
     
  16. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    When you use analog cables, the player is doing the decoding of the sound. When you use digital, the receiver/processor is doing the decoding. Which will sound better will be very much affected by which of the units has better decoding and bass management capabilities, but usually the receiver will do better bass management. A higher quality player may have better D to A Converters (DACs) and very well could sound better than an average receiver.
     
  17. Kevin_F

    Kevin_F Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the explanation Jeff, that helps a lot, thinking about it as digital vs. analog. An yes, I was referring to the red and white cables when I mentioned 'composite'.

    So as long as my receiver and output device have the ports available, it is best to use either digital coax or optical fiber.

    Got it now [​IMG]
     
  18. dany

    dany Supporting Actor

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    So JC,when you use the 6 analog cables,how does the DVD player decode if it doesnt have a DD decoder built-in? I think no matter which cable you use,the reciever will/would do the better job of bass management and decoding 99% of the time. I'm still learning this stuff.
     
  19. John S

    John S Producer

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    A DVD player that has 6 analogs out, would always have a decoder in it, pretty sure anyways.
     
  20. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Yes, always. If the player did not decode, there would be no reason to have the m/c outputs.
     

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