What is the best Digital Optical/Coax cable? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 39 Old 08-31-2008, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi guys. What is the best way to connect a DVD player to a receiver?

Also, what is the best Digital coax and digital optical cable out there?

or is it irrelevant, since it's digital, either you get the signal, or you don't?

Thanks.
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post #2 of 39 Old 08-31-2008, 03:46 PM
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On paper, optical is immune to interference from other sources, while coaxial is less damage prone. But really, most coaxials are shielded well enough and opticals will be okay as long as you're not tugging on them or kinking them or anything like that. So it's six of one. I use both without a problem (optical on DVD player, coax on cable box, but I could switch and not really care.)

As far as best cable, I don't really think there is one. I just get Monoprice ones. Bluejeanscable cables are a few dollars more and a bit nicer, but I don't think they're overwhelmingly better. Monster cables certainly aren't better than whatever outrageous markup is on them.


Another choice is that if your DVD player and receiver both use HDMI audio, then a single HDMI cable can carry audio and video to the receiver (and another HDMI out to the display for video.) For Dolby Digital and DTS on DVDs, it works just as well, no better, no worse. It's also one cable.

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post #3 of 39 Old 08-31-2008, 03:46 PM
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imo, hdmi... short of that, component/spdif... as far as spdif, there shouldn't be any difference between optical and coax, although optical can be a bit delicate...

nope, irrelevant... go to blue jeans cable or monoprice and get the length you need...

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post #4 of 39 Old 08-31-2008, 04:05 PM - Thread Starter
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thanks guys
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post #5 of 39 Old 08-31-2008, 05:27 PM
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The advantage of coax is that you can have a somewhat longer run without data dropouts. Not an issue in a normal home, however. We're talking about tens of meters.
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post #6 of 39 Old 09-01-2008, 03:57 PM
 
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or is it irrelevant, since it's digital, either you get the signal, or you don't?

Ding ding ding!

My philosophy: optical's only advantage is resiliance to noise. But realistically coax is fairly robust in this department as well, and the advantage really only becomes pertinent over ridiculously long runs, in which case optical is extremely expensive or simply not readily available. Optical is also fragile. Coax is extremely cheap, robust, and works every bit as well. I have never seen a coax digital run fail with any kind of decent 75ohm cabling. I have seen optical cables break, connections pop out, connectors break, etc. Given that coax is every bit as effective, and cheaper, and more robust physically in terms of the cable and the connection, that's my preference, but not for any performance-related reasons (where again, both are the same).
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post #7 of 39 Old 09-02-2008, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by caunyd View Post

or is it irrelevant, since it's digital, either you get the signal, or you don't?

I am sorry, but this is incorrect. I'll copy and paste my response to a topic on HMDI to explain why:

"HDMI is a digital solution, yes, but thinking it suffers no degradation if there is a picture is absolutely incorrect.
Just like Ethernet, which uses Differential Manchester Encoding, the cable medium actually carries an encoded signal. That is, dips and peaks in the electrical signal at a set oscillation. However, these are more of what you would call a logical dip and peak, with the actual signal actually having quite a bit of sloping and other non-uniform structures. The encoder and decoder then use a particular tolerance level for judging the main underlying signal.
Thing is, wires are not made of super conductive material, so they suffer from resistance. Even more, they still suffer from cross-talk. Examining the HDMI cable structure, it seems they have attempted to minimize cross-talk, but outside influences can still affect them. The result? Periodic fluctuations in the signal along with, at times, incorrect decoding of the signal if the resistance of the wires, over a certain distance, start to decrease the difference between the peaks and dips in the encoded signal.
The signal may be digital, but it still uses electricity to carry the signal between sources. If the signal gets degraded, like mentioned above, you'll still get a picture (assuming the signal degradation doesn't mess with the security handshaking) but it could very well affect the information on the pixel level. This may represent itself in incorrect color representation, flickering pixels...etc, while still receiving a full image. Some of which, i have experienced personally."

Coaxial can run into the exact same problems that HDMI runs into. Slowly the degradation of the signal can affect how each bit is interpreted, giving rise to bit level errors that will turn into audio errors even when receiving a full signal.
Though it gets a bit more complex when we're talking about optics to carry that signal. Fiber optic communication generally either does short burst, or a constant stream that is modulated to carry the signal (the later being for far faster transfer speed needs). Optic transmission is usually limited by the quality of the optic cable, and the light source. Some use LED's for simple, close point to point communications, while lasers are used for longer distance runs (and also provide the capability for multiplexing). I would assume SPDIF uses diode's for practicality economical sake.
So, coaxial would, in theory, still be vulnerable to the same old same old (EMF, resistance...etc), while optical would be vulnerable to distant runs. Though, it is unlikely that you would notice any error's in coaxial as its transmission band is in essence expanded compared to analog and so it is less vulnerable to any fluctuations even if they do occur.
So, really, they both are just as equal, with optical being the best if you're paranoid about interference, but possibly being worse for distant runs as the light output decreases over an increasing distance which may also lead to bit level errors (optics too have tolerance levels for interpretation of the signal, due to stray light). Although this is only conjecture on my part, i have not looked into the specs of SPDIF over optical, so i am not sure what the standard transmission source is (LED? Laser?), and then it also depends on the grade of your optical cable. If you have good optical cable you may be able to easily outrun coaxial, LED optics can still run quite a long ways before needing repeated.
Eitherway, such distance runs are probably out of the question for any sane HT project, so my top choice would be optical. But, realistically coaxial will work just as well, unless your HT room is generating an amazing amount of interference.


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post #8 of 39 Old 09-02-2008, 04:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jarrod1937 View Post

I am sorry, but this is incorrect. I'll copy and paste my response to a topic on HMDI to explain why:

"HDMI is a digital solution, yes, but thinking it suffers no degradation if there is a picture is absolutely incorrect.

This is bologna. When you reach the limits of HDMI cabling (which isn't hard to do, actually), the impact on the image is pretty severe. There is a very small zone where you will begin to have small sparklies, past that you will have severe sparklies and snow, or no picture whatsoever. Any kind of sparklies I would describe as the cabling not being sufficient for the task, and the system not working. If there is no visible obvious degradation like this, there is no further improvement to be had. HDMI failure is pretty obvious, it comes as close to an all-or-nothing proposition as you really can.


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Just like Ethernet, which uses Differential Manchester Encoding, the cable medium actually carries an encoded signal. That is, dips and peaks in the electrical signal at a set oscillation. However, these are more of what you would call a logical dip and peak, with the actual signal actually having quite a bit of sloping and other non-uniform structures. The encoder and decoder then use a particular tolerance level for judging the main underlying signal.
Thing is, wires are not made of super conductive material, so they suffer from resistance. Even more, they still suffer from cross-talk. Examining the HDMI cable structure, it seems they have attempted to minimize cross-talk, but outside influences can still affect them. The result? Periodic fluctuations in the signal along with, at times, incorrect decoding of the signal if the resistance of the wires, over a certain distance, start to decrease the difference between the peaks and dips in the encoded signal.
The signal may be digital, but it still uses electricity to carry the signal between sources. If the signal gets degraded, like mentioned above, you'll still get a picture (assuming the signal degradation doesn't mess with the security handshaking) but it could very well affect the information on the pixel level. This may represent itself in incorrect color representation, flickering pixels...etc, while still receiving a full image. Some of which, i have experienced personally."

Incorrect colors no. Flickering pixels, yes, but again this will become very obvious. That's called the sparklies, and it's unacceptable and I would describe that as a system failure. If you're not getting that, there isn't a problem from a system performance standpoint for your particular task.

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Coaxial can run into the exact same problems that HDMI runs into. Slowly the degradation of the signal can affect how each bit is interpreted, giving rise to bit level errors that will turn into audio errors even when receiving a full signal.

Certainly. But again, it's pretty much all or nothing. If your audio stream is dropping out entirely, you've got a problem.

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Though it gets a bit more complex when we're talking about optics to carry that signal. Fiber optic communication generally either does short burst, or a constant stream that is modulated to carry the signal (the later being for far faster transfer speed needs). Optic transmission is usually limited by the quality of the optic cable, and the light source. Some use LED's for simple, close point to point communications, while lasers are used for longer distance runs (and also provide the capability for multiplexing). I would assume SPDIF uses diode's for practicality economical sake.
So, coaxial would, in theory, still be vulnerable to the same old same old (EMF, resistance...etc), while optical would be vulnerable to distant runs. Though, it is unlikely that you would notice any error's in coaxial as its transmission band is in essence expanded compared to analog and so it is less vulnerable to any fluctuations even if they do occur.

Correct. Although it's worth pointing out that digital signals are extremely robust against noise, and this is improved also with the receiving equipment's ability to recognize the signal. Whereas small amounts of noise in an analog system can be heard directly, HUGE amounts of noise can bombard a digital signal yet the signal can often still be perfectly received.

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So, really, they both are just as equal, with optical being the best if you're paranoid about interference, but possibly being worse for distant runs as the light output decreases over an increasing distance which may also lead to bit level errors (optics too have tolerance levels for interpretation of the signal, due to stray light). Although this is only conjecture on my part, i have not looked into the specs of SPDIF over optical, so i am not sure what the standard transmission source is (LED? Laser?), and then it also depends on the grade of your optical cable. If you have good optical cable you may be able to easily outrun coaxial, LED optics can still run quite a long ways before needing repeated.
Eitherway, such distance runs are probably out of the question for any sane HT project, so my top choice would be optical. But, realistically coaxial will work just as well, unless your HT room is generating an amazing amount of interference.

SPDIF uses leds universally afaik.
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post #9 of 39 Old 09-02-2008, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles View Post


Certainly. But again, it's pretty much all or nothing. If your audio stream is dropping out entirely, you've got a problem.

Not from my experience at all. I've actually experienced crackling and in general unpleasant sounds when using a degraded SPDIF signal. The audio was still there, but there was definite degradation that occurred from the dropping of parts of the bit stream, which was remedied by a new cable. But i will admit, in the majority of situations it is probably going to be all or nothing, but that is not always the case, which is what i was trying to point out.


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post #10 of 39 Old 09-02-2008, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by jarrod1937 View Post

Not from my experience at all. I've actually experienced crackling and in general unpleasant sounds when using a degraded SPDIF signal. The audio was still there, but there was definite degradation that occurred from the dropping of parts of the bit stream, which was remedied by a new cable. But i will admit, in the majority of situations it is probably going to be all or nothing, but that is not always the case, which is what i was trying to point out.

You may have had a shorting cable although I suspect the crackling noises may well have come from the analog sections of your system or from the source material. One thing for sure, any defects in the transmission of spdif or optical audio are going to be extremely noticeable, and not subtle defects only capable of being heard by certain people.

If you want a reliable coax cable on the cheap, get a length of RG6 quad shield tv cable and crimp RCA jacks on the ends. You can't get any better than the quad shield no matter how much you pay.
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post #11 of 39 Old 09-02-2008, 09:23 PM
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I have done some experimenting with cables. I am convinced there is a difference in performance among cables, including those carrying digital information. Theoretically, you would think that one optical cable will "sound" as good as any another as long as it works. I have found this not to be true. There are inexpensive glass toslink cables sold on ebay and elsewhere, and I have found these to be superior to cheaper plastic optical fiber. I have also found these perform better than my Monster coax cable, although I don't feel comfortable making generalizations about coax due to my limited experience with it.

I was inclined to be a skeptic about cables, but my experience has convinced me they matter a lot. In this case, the cable I am recommending is quite inexpensive. Compare it to the cheapest toslink you have. Unless they sound exactly the same, you must conclude that there are more factors in optical cable performance than the simple digital nature of the signal. I don't know why this is, but I'm a professional musician and I trust my ears. I hear a difference. I cannot speak to the performance of expensive optical cables.
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post #12 of 39 Old 09-03-2008, 05:26 AM
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I wonder what those other factors are?

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post #13 of 39 Old 09-03-2008, 06:19 AM
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I need to hit three posts before I can provide relevant links.
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post #14 of 39 Old 09-03-2008, 06:20 AM
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It's a good question, Chu. Here's a little more:

"When constructed from very high purity quartz, TOSLINK interconnects can exhibit a very wide bandwidth - 10MHz is not uncommon in practice. Compare this with the performance of a typical plastic conductor fiber optic cable that reaches its limitations at a mere 5MHz to 6MHz. When the signal is multi-channel audio with advanced word-lengths of 24 bits and/or sampling rates over 100KHz, this bandwidth is especially critical."

"Basically, a TOSLINK cable manufactured from a quartz glass will likely have a much closer RI when compared to the source optical module than one made from plastic. Further, TOSLINK interconnects manufactured from quartz typically boast a step index ratio, or stepped refractive distribution. This factor always enables a better mating of the fiber conductor with the optical source."

http://www.audioholics.com/education...history-basics

Reading this article, it's possible newer plastic toslinks have caught up, but nothing I own sounds as good.

Others share my opinion:
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f21/glass-toslink-37212/

I agree the difference is not subtle. When I got into high end headphone gear, it became apparent to me. Now I have upgraded my speakers, etc, and it is even more obvious.

"And true, "bad" Toslink does most certainly exist. If it's bad, it's clearly bad."
"In fact, based on Audio Asylum commentary of listeners who have performed their own comparisons, some clearly prefer glass-fiber Toslink. Perhaps that's due to creating a true stop gap against interference from ground problems."
http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/t...toslink_2.html

New plastic fibers offer improvements:
"POF is a newer plastic-based cable which promises performance similar to glass cable on very short runs, but at a lower cost."
http://www.arcelect.com/fibercable.htm
http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/freea...isnumber=20046

Silica = glass. The first article should make it clear there is more to this than simply saying all working digital fiber is the same regardless of material. There are lots of articles about newer POF fiber if you google it. I don't know if any toslink for home audio uses this.
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post #15 of 39 Old 09-03-2008, 11:57 AM
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I don't doubt that glass probably has better performance over plastic. The problem is defining better performance. To most it would mean the ability to run a longer length of optical cable. It certainly wouldn't have anything to do with audibility like the opinions expressed on the wacko audiophile links you provided.

Digital cables don't carry waveforms. They carry data or, if you like, waveforms encoded in digital numbers. And they either carry it accurately and completely or they don't. They have no way to alter the data. Any audible differences would arise from within the listener's own perceptions and biases, not from the cables themselves.
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post #16 of 39 Old 09-03-2008, 12:21 PM
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Bitstream DD/DTS bandwidth 'hovers' around 1/2 Mb anyway. Don't get caught up in the marketing hype.

DD+ is still below 3 Mb.

DTrueHD could be applicable at 18Mb. Any devices/software providing that over optical?
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post #17 of 39 Old 09-03-2008, 12:24 PM
 
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post

It certainly wouldn't have anything to do with audibility like the opinions expressed on the wacko audiophile links you provided.

Digital cables don't carry waveforms. They carry data or, if you like, waveforms encoded in digital numbers. And they either carry it accurately and completely or they don't. They have no way to alter the data. Any audible differences would arise from within the listener's own perceptions and biases, not from the cables themselves.

The bandwidth of the cables is important, because, unlike computer data transfer in which real-time doesn't matter, digital data transfer in audio is done in real-time, and then converted back to analog in real-time, and that impacts the reconstructed analog waveform.

You can read about it on one of those wacko audiophile links.
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post #18 of 39 Old 09-03-2008, 01:34 PM
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I don't doubt that glass probably has better performance over plastic. The problem is defining better performance. To most it would mean the ability to run a longer length of optical cable. It certainly wouldn't have anything to do with audibility like the opinions expressed on the wacko audiophile links you provided.

Digital cables don't carry waveforms. They carry data or, if you like, waveforms encoded in digital numbers. And they either carry it accurately and completely or they don't. They have no way to alter the data. Any audible differences would arise from within the listener's own perceptions and biases, not from the cables themselves.

I can understand your suspicion of bias. We all have our biases. Your comment about "wacko" audiophiles reveals a bias. Perception is another matter. Some of us can perceive sound better than others. My wife can't tell the difference in my old and new speakers, Paradigm Titans and Microwalsh Talls. To me, the difference is huge and worth a lot of money. But then she recognizes her limitations. The quality of associated gear will also limit the ability to perceive any difference.

If you are looking for rational explanations, one might be the quality of the particular cables in question. Would you believe that a cable with very poor reflectivity or poorly finished ends would suffer no performance loss? If there were even a .01% loss of information, do you think the receiver couldn't compensate for that and would cease to function? Or could it be designed to work with some signal loss? I think these are at least in the realm of possibility. Another possibility is simply that glass, in this application, is better for sound quality. The links are there to provide support, from people with more knowledge and experience than most, rather than just one strong opinion, as some offer. I'm no authority, for sure. I just am saying what I heard.

By the way, HDMI sounds best of all if your devices can support it. At least it does on my gear.

Sorry to edit this. I went off on a tangent before.
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post #19 of 39 Old 09-03-2008, 02:13 PM
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FWIW...
My $8 (6 year old plastic) Recoton fiber cable "sounds" no different than my $20 AR coax cable (using the same source). Due to hardware additions/changes, I added an optical to coax converter and heard no differences. If I had HDMI for audio, I'd expect the same results.
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Bitstream DD/DTS bandwidth 'hovers' around 1/2 Mb anyway. Don't get caught up in the marketing hype.

DD+ is still below 3 Mb.

DTrueHD could be applicable at 18Mb. Any devices/software providing that over optical?

I don't know, Ratman. DTrueHD's bandwidth requirements don't seem relevant in this thread. But to speculate on an answer, I would assume consumer electronics would be designed to work perfectly with the worst functioning material commercially available. It wouldn't make sense to market a device or format that only works with a particular type of optical cable. This logic also applies to a possible explanation for those who think a connection must be either on and perfect or lossy and useless. Electronics can't be too finicky for the mass market. They may all be designed to compensate for less than ideal data transfer. I only intended above to raise the issue of an at least theoretical difference in the performance between cheap plastic and silica, in case that is not common knowledge.
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post #21 of 39 Old 09-03-2008, 03:02 PM
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Wow, that's back when $8 was $8!! You could buy 5 or 6 gallons of gas for that kind of money!

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post #22 of 39 Old 09-03-2008, 03:53 PM
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Wow, that's back when $8 was $8!

Yeah!
I found that cable on a rack on the other side of the buliding from the A/V stuff in Best Buy by the Sony Minidisc players. I may be wrong, but didn't Mon$ter take over Recoton? That should tell you something, eh?

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DTrueHD's bandwidth requirements don't seem relevant in this thread.

Yes, I know, just throwing out the numbers to compare to your references.

As for common knowledge... at average distances, most plastic core Toslink work fine and "sound" no different. There's no need to go for the esoteric cables.
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Well, we have a difference of opinion then. The esoteric cable I am recommending is sold by one ebayer for $19.

Here's a practical resolution to this. If you on principle refuse to accept that there is a difference among digital cables, coax, plastic or glass, get the absolute cheapest one you can. If you didn't get one free with your component, I see a toslink online for a dollar. Do the same if you don't think you would notice a difference regardless, for whatever reason.

If you think that maybe, just maybe, someone may be paying more for another cable for a good reason (enough to support a small industry), and if you could appreciate a better sound if it were available to you, and if you are humble enough about your knowledge to experiment with an open mind, then you may want to try other cables. You could find someone online who has a good return policy. Or you could go somewhere expensive cables are sold and ask them to let you audition their cables. Or you could do what I did and say $19 is pretty cheap so let's see give this a shot.

I bought some Blue Jeans analog interconnects a while back, swayed by those who downplay cables, and compared them to a pair of Audioquest cables I had. I thought the Audioquest were clearly better. Blue Jeans had a good return policy, which I used. I got the better cables for my situation. Trust your ears, not someone else's. Ignore the hype and cynicism and just be a good consumer.
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post #24 of 39 Old 09-03-2008, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by lontano View Post

Well, we have a difference of opinion then. The esoteric cable I am recommending is sold by one ebayer for $19.

Yes... that's an accurate assumption.

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Here's a practical resolution to this. If you on principle refuse to accept that there is a difference among digital cables, coax, plastic or glass, get the absolute cheapest one you can. If you didn't get one free with your component, I see a toslink online for a dollar. Do the same if you don't think you would notice a difference regardless, for whatever reason.

Been there... done that. No difference.

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If you think that maybe, just maybe, someone may be paying more for another cable for a good reason (enough to support a small industry), and if you could appreciate a better sound if it were available to you, and if you are humble enough about your knowledge to experiment with an open mind, then you may want to try other cables.

Again... see above.

Quote:
You could find someone online who has a good return policy. Or you could go somewhere expensive cables are sold and ask them to let you audition their cables. Or you could do what I did and say $19 is pretty cheap so let's see give this a shot.

Ditto...

Quote:
I bought some Blue Jeans analog interconnects a while back, swayed by those who downplay cables, and compared them to a pair of Audioquest cables I had. I thought the Audioquest were clearly better. Blue Jeans had a good return policy, which I used. I got the better cables for my situation. Trust your ears, not someone else's. Ignore the hype and cynicism and just be a good consumer.

Trust me.. I ignore the hype and cynicism. I do trust my ears and experieces. But... good consumer? LOL!
I'll buy what technically makes sense.
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post #25 of 39 Old 09-04-2008, 10:13 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lontano View Post

Well, we have a difference of opinion then. The esoteric cable I am recommending is sold by one ebayer for $19.

Here's a practical resolution to this. If you on principle refuse to accept that there is a difference among digital cables, coax, plastic or glass, get the absolute cheapest one you can. If you didn't get one free with your component, I see a toslink online for a dollar. Do the same if you don't think you would notice a difference regardless, for whatever reason.

You are confusing two things together. Absolutely there are differences in cabling. That's not the question. The question is whether those differences are relevant to the task at hand, and whether they impact performance of the system.

When it comes to digital cabling, if the signal is received and properly interpreted, there is no performance difference to be had. If the signal is not received properly, you get grossly non-functioning performance. Severe dropouts or no sound at all.


Quote:


If you think that maybe, just maybe, someone may be paying more for another cable for a good reason (enough to support a small industry), and if you could appreciate a better sound if it were available to you, and if you are humble enough about your knowledge to experiment with an open mind, then you may want to try other cables. You could find someone online who has a good return policy. Or you could go somewhere expensive cables are sold and ask them to let you audition their cables. Or you could do what I did and say $19 is pretty cheap so let's see give this a shot.

But you're talking about digital cabling. If the system is functioning fine, there is no performance improvement to be had. If the cable is failed or poor and the system doesn't work at all, then yes obviously there is improvement to be had since nothing works.

Quote:


I bought some Blue Jeans analog interconnects a while back, swayed by those who downplay cables, and compared them to a pair of Audioquest cables I had. I thought the Audioquest were clearly better. Blue Jeans had a good return policy, which I used. I got the better cables for my situation. Trust your ears, not someone else's. Ignore the hype and cynicism and just be a good consumer.

Better in what way? Blue Jeans assembles cables from quite literally, objectively speaking, the very best cable you can buy on earth at any price. Note of disclosure: I work for a company that sells Audioquest cabling. That being said I don't use any AQ cabling in my own system at all. It's all belden or canare, some of it purchased from BJ cable.

You have made several claims about certain cables being better, particularly digital cables, and when asked for reasons or examples or evidence why, all you did was provide links to other people who hold your rather silly opinion.
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post #26 of 39 Old 09-04-2008, 10:36 AM
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Continuing in my effort to provide actual useful information instead of simple ideology, I will here give some links to explain why digital cables can sound different.

http://www.jitter.de/english/what.html
This link includes an explanation of jitter. Once source is line induced jitter, the subject pertinent here. He links to this technical document:
http://www.jitter.de/pdfextern/jitter92.pdf
2.3 deals with line induced jitter.
3.3 deals with the audibility of jitter.

Here is another technical paper on jitter by the same author.
http://www.jitter.de/pdfextern/towards.pdf
3.7 answers my previous speculation that yes, there is tolerance for problems with the digital signal designed into the DACs of receivers. Therefore the all or nothing idea of digital transmission theory of earlier posters is a fallacy. This document also validates member tcb-player's assertion that the real time processing is an issue here. Devices interpolate missing data.

This addresses audibility in a more practical read.
http://www.jitter.de/english/engc_navfr.html

This shows measurement of jitter.
http://stereophile.com/reference/193jitter/index4.html
This quote is needed here:
"Minute timing variations in a digital audio system produce an analog-like variability in the final analog signal's fidelity. The belief that if the ones and zeros are the same, the sound must be the same, is thus exposed as, at best, naive. "

This page explains the technical standard, S/PDIF, used in digital connections brought about by the advent of the cd player. Notice that although CD bitrate is shown to be 2.8 MHz, below the 5-6 MHz possible in plastic (post #14), the author states that differences in interfaces can cause lesser sound quality in DACs, such as you have in a receiver.
http://www.hardwarebook.info/S/PDIF

I think I've provided enough in this thread that anyone who is truly trying to make an informed decision about this knows where to look online. To answer the OP's question, it seems coax is more likely to be a better connection than optical based on bandwidth and susceptibility to jitter. This is a very common debate online. We should all have some humility about our subjective impressions and limitations, try to find facts and keep an open mind.
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post #27 of 39 Old 09-04-2008, 10:40 AM
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ChrisWiggles,

My reply is awaiting moderator approval because of the links I included, I presume. I used the Blue Jeans cable as an example of using your options as a consumer to see what is the best product for your situation. Digressing into analog cable would not be appropriate in this thread. To answer your question, however, the Audioquest sounded better.
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post #28 of 39 Old 09-05-2008, 09:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles View Post

You have made several claims about certain cables being better, particularly digital cables, and when asked for reasons or examples or evidence why, all you did was provide links to other people who hold your rather silly opinion.

I'm trying to offer more than than my "silly" opinion, and I am not just linking to more opinions. I do not see any technical or authoritative links or explanations from those who are disagreeing with me. So until you offer more than an opinion of your own, you are not proving your point. Unless, of course, you yourself have special credentials or knowledge. Otherwise, this looks like another expression of bias from those who can't hear a difference among cables.
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post #29 of 39 Old 09-05-2008, 10:11 AM
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Lontano:

First of all, you deserve kudos for actually trying to produce some real, scientific backup for your arguments, as opposed to the usual high-end handwaving.

That said, your evidence doesn't hold up. Here is the abstract of a more recent paper looking at the audibility of jitter. (It references, among others, the 1991 Dunn paper your cite.) From its conclusion:

Quote:


The threshold of audibility for pure tones was found to be about 10 ns rms at 20 kHz and higher at lower frequencies. For nearly all program material no audible degradation was heard for any amount of jitter added below the level at which the DIR lost lock. Certain program material was found in which an audible degradation due to jitter was heard. The threshold of audibility for these programs was found to be in the range of 30 ns rms to 300 ns rms for sinusoidal jitter.

Take a look at those thresholdsthey are in the 10s of nanoseconds. Jitter in consumer devices that I've seen measured generally range in the hundreds of picosecondstwo orders of magnitude lower. So yes, jitter is a real phenomenon. But it take so much of it to be audible that the odds are you have never heard it, and never will.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #30 of 39 Old 09-05-2008, 10:53 AM
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Thanks for your civility, mcnarus. Also, thank you for trying to provide some substance.

Unfortunately, I would have to pay $20 to see the essay to which you are linking, so I'll have to take your word for it.

Here is a relatively recent study showing that some can in fact hear jitter:
http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/ast/26/1/50/_pdf
"The results indicate that the threshold for
random jitter on program materials is several hundreds ns
for well-trained listeners under their preferable listening
conditions. The threshold values seem to be sufficiently
larger than the jitter actually observed in various consumer
products."

Not to be self-aggrandizing, but I am a professional musician. I am very familiar with the sounds of the acoustic instruments I hear. daily I am annually test for hearing loss and my hearing is excellent. I have some excellent gear that is very revealing. I am telling you honestly that I can hear differences among cables. I am sure many of my colleagues could do the same. If someone doesn't have that experience, there is not much I can say that can convince him of something he doesn't want to believe. As I have said, this is very well-worn debate online, and I do not have the time, resources or technical knowledge to settle this here.

I have tried to be reasonable about the possible explanations for what I personally have heard. I reiterate that using one's options as a consumer are a smart course of action to determine what the actual benefit will be to any one user's specific situation. Simply dismissing this as a possibility based on the subjective experience and technical guesswork of a handful of online posters, as we've seen here, is not useful information to the reader.

With respect, I have spent a lot of time on this already. I am not trying to "win" this debate, since that is not a possibility in a forum like this, and I will allow others to have the last word. I hope this discussion has been useful to someone.
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