Which is better optical audio cables or standard RCA?

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

  1. ArtV

    ArtV Extra

    Mar 9, 2002
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    I am wondering whether or not the standard RCA A/V cables are worse or the same as a digital optical audio cable.
  2. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

    Oct 1, 2000
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    Central FL
    Real Name:
    A standard digital coaxial cable will generally make a better electrical connections since the RCA plug is better than what comes on standard cheap optical cables. The better optical cables have ends that are machined multiple times to make it fit better. A coaxial cable will generaly hold up better and result in less jitter too. Obviously in the context of a particular system with particular components, there could be differences.
  3. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

    May 6, 1999
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    If you mean 75-ohm coaxial RCA cables meant for video and digital audio transmission, the consensus is that they are at least as good as optical due to higher bandwidth (though I can't tell any difference).

    The RCA cables used for your analog stereo connections should not be used for digital audio.
  4. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

    Jul 8, 1998
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    You are talking a digital connection for the RCA, compared to an optical digital connection, right?

    IMHO, bits is bits as far as a digital link is concerned. A 75 OHM video cable should work fine, as would a non-75 OHM generic audio cable.

    An optical cable will provide the advantage of being immune to any electrical interference, but in my rig I have used and do use both, and both perform perfectly.

    Given that, I would probably opt for an a decent RCA connection (I use Radio Shack 75 Ohm gold, once praised by no less a high-end devote than Robert Harley then of Stereophile!), only because they are a lot cheaper and perhaps more robust then an optical cable.

    Having said all that, this is an area of great controversy. You will find those that say that one digital cable sounds better than another, and that one optical cable sounds better than another.

    I personally think that's a load of rubbish, but if someones says they hear a difference, who am I to argue?

    Try asking this question over at Audio Asylum, if you want to see what I mean.

  5. ChrisRC

    ChrisRC Guest


    I have already done some legwork on this question, this is what I have gathered so far....

    Coaxial: Higher bandwidth, more susceptible to interference.

    Optical: Lower Bandwidth, less susceptible to interference.

    Audible Difference: Only if you can hear a fly break wind at a mile away.

    I for one prefer the coaxial, since the cabling is more durable than an optical cable, and I find coaxial cheaper. Of course, I only have one component connected via digital. If you have more than one, on most receivers, you will have more optical than coaxial inputs. So that may be a deciding factor for you.

  6. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

    May 22, 1999
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    Art, are you asking:

    - Which is better for a digital connection Coaxial vs Optical?


    - Would running L/R audio cables from my DVD player to my receiver give better/worse sound than digital?

    Two very different questions with different answers.
  7. Andrew Walbert

    Andrew Walbert Stunt Coordinator

    Nov 21, 2002
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    For really long runs (50M or more), optical is the better option. If you're concerned with your cables acting as antenna's, then optical is the way to go. No electrical signal being transmitted means no unwanted line noise being picked up. But honestly, unless you're able to hear a difference, the coaxial cable is cheaper, and therefore a better value.
  8. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

    Jun 29, 2001
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    well maybe Andrew. with regards to long lengths, the AES, in the use of toslink for connections, considers 5 meters to be the cut-off when considering plastic vs. glass. Glass will definitely cost you. As to cost and durability, consider the following link...
    where one can obtain an armor coated toslink (1 meter $20, 5 meter $37). yup, you can walk on it. that's pretty durable to me [​IMG]

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