HDMI vs Fiber Optic cable for audio... What is best for the latest audio equipment? - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 14 Old 03-16-2009, 10:43 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
TommyHolly's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: CHICAGO!!
Posts: 116
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Hey everyone,
I looked around the forums about what would be better, HDMI or Fiber Optics and its a bit confusing because the threads are old and span almost a year while the technology changes. So many of the capabilities have changed and I wanna get the latest word. So I have some questions:

1. As of right now, 17 Mar 2009, using the latest equipment with all the latest system updates, which is better? HDMI or Fiber Optic cables? I don't want to get into the what-if questions about HDMI over 50ft or that HDMI is easier because it can handle audio and video. Extra cost aside, ease of one connection aside, which one is better for audio?

(For example, I have a brand new Onkyo TX-NR906 a/v receiver, a new 160GB Playstation 3, and a Comcast HD cable box that I need connected. They are all within 3 feet of each other.)

2. According to the other threads here, it seems that HDMI can do every format that fiber can and more? Is that true? Or, is there certain audio formats that only Fiber can do and HDMI cant?

Thanks for the help! =)
TommyHolly is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 14 Old 03-16-2009, 10:55 PM
AVS Special Member
 
jdcrox's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Cape Cod, MA
Posts: 2,018
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 33 Post(s)
Liked: 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyHolly View Post

Hey everyone,
I looked around the forums about what would be better, HDMI or Fiber Optics and its a bit confusing because the threads are old and span almost a year while the technology changes. So many of the capabilities have changed and I wanna get the latest word. So I have some questions:

1. As of right now, 17 Mar 2009, using the latest equipment with all the latest system updates, which is better? HDMI or Fiber Optic cables? I don't want to get into the what-if questions about HDMI over 50ft or that HDMI is easier because it can handle audio and video. Extra cost aside, ease of one connection aside, which one is better for audio?

(For example, I have a brand new Onkyo TX-NR906 a/v receiver, a new 160GB Playstation 3, and a Comcast HD cable box that I need connected. They are all within 3 feet of each other.)

2. According to the other threads here, it seems that HDMI can do every format that fiber can and more? Is that true? Or, is there certain audio formats that only Fiber can do and HDMI cant?

Thanks for the help! =)

HDMI can do everything spdif can do, and more. Spdif, be it optical or coaxial cannot carry uncompressed 5.1 or 7.1 audio, such as the HD audio on Blu-Ray. HDMI can.
jdcrox is offline  
post #3 of 14 Old 03-16-2009, 11:15 PM
AVS Addicted Member
 
Tulpa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 10,026
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyHolly View Post

(For example, I have a brand new Onkyo TX-NR906 a/v receiver, a new 160GB Playstation 3, and a Comcast HD cable box that I need connected. They are all within 3 feet of each other.)

Since you're using the PS3, I assume you're also using Blu-Ray. HDMI can utilize the TrueHD/DTS-MA lossless soundtracks, which with the PS3, is only available over HDMI. Optical/coaxial spdif is limited to legacy Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1, and their variants, all lossy.

The cable box will also be limited to DD 5.1, so no big gain with HDMI there, other than the audio/video one cable convenience. HDMI won't add anything else audiowise.

Quote:


2. According to the other threads here, it seems that HDMI can do every format that fiber can and more? Is that true?

For home theater, pretty much. Optical and HDMI can use the legacy lossy sountracks equally. HDMI adds the lossless capability (which is also utilized by multi-channel analog audio, but since you have the PS3, that's not an option.)

Don't believe everything on the Interwebz! A duck's quack DOES echo!
Tulpa is offline  
post #4 of 14 Old 03-17-2009, 06:32 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
TommyHolly's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: CHICAGO!!
Posts: 116
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
So basically, fiber optics still cannot deliver as many formats as HDMI? More to the point, there is no advantage in the case of short runs to use Fiber as long as HDMI is available, correct?

Another way to put it is, if your HDMI cable can reach your equipment without signal loss, (50ft or less I'm told), then you are always better off using HDMI instead of fiber.

Or finally the best way to put it is, HDMI is better than Fiber Optics. Right?
TommyHolly is offline  
post #5 of 14 Old 03-17-2009, 07:02 AM
AVS Special Member
 
William's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 8,410
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 22 Post(s)
Liked: 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyHolly View Post

So basically, fiber optics still cannot deliver as many formats as HDMI? More to the point, there is no advantage in the case of short runs to use Fiber as long as HDMI is available, correct?

Another way to put it is, if your HDMI cable can reach your equipment without signal loss, (50ft or less I'm told), then you are always better off using HDMI instead of fiber.

Or finally the best way to put it is, HDMI is better than Fiber Optics. Right?

Fiber optic is related to the transmission method and not the signal. You can buy fiber optic HDMI cable. It appears you are calling S/PDIF fiber optic which it can be (or coaxial). S/PDIF can't handle multi channel LPCM, TrueHD, DD+, DTS-HD or DTS-Master. Also with HDMI you get a one cable for video and audio and less chance of lip sync.

So HDMI is better than S/PDIF but can be fiber optic itself.
William is offline  
post #6 of 14 Old 03-17-2009, 08:04 AM
AVS Addicted Member
 
Tulpa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 10,026
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyHolly View Post

So basically, fiber optics still cannot deliver as many formats as HDMI? More to the point, there is no advantage in the case of short runs to use Fiber as long as HDMI is available, correct?

If your equipment can use HDMI fully, then yes, there's no advantage to optical/coaxial digital audio cables.

There is no DISADVANTAGE other than more cables to using optical/coaxial, either, unless you're wanting lossless formats.

It depends on your setup and what you want to do. So there's no absolute right or wrong answer to HDMI vs. optical for audio, although with modern components HDMI is *probably* better, since it is utilized in most AVRs, displays, and source components.

Don't believe everything on the Interwebz! A duck's quack DOES echo!
Tulpa is offline  
post #7 of 14 Old 03-17-2009, 06:51 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
TommyHolly's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: CHICAGO!!
Posts: 116
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
What is lossless formats and why would I want them? What that means to me is the audio format is not compressed at all. Now usually there is a small amount of data that is lost when it is compressed in order to make a smaller file/data stream.

By the way, for my civilian job I work as an engineer in fiber optics so I am familiar with how the data is transmitted, I'm just not familiar with the way these audio companies use the fiber and why it would not be as good as HDMI, if not surpass it.

The only thing I can think of is that having fiber optics is an extra step in the process of delivering an audio signal. You have an analogue wave form (which is the actual music you hear with your ears), recorded on a CD/DVD/MP3 in a digital format, then changed back into an audible analogue format for your ears to listen to. Having fiber optics in there means that at one point or another, it needs to either stay digital or get re-converted back into digital and then converted into a infra-red light pulse, then back into a digital electrical signal, then converted into an audio analogue signal... Having fiber is an extra step that would probably need the latest Mux/Demux or CO/DEC or end equipment updated for the latest changes all working tohgether. So I can see why fiber has less options available, I just figured these audio companies would have poured thier money into making sure the fiber had the latest and greatest over any other median?

I'll stick with HDMI only then. It has everything available and the fiber does not have any extra features.
TommyHolly is offline  
post #8 of 14 Old 03-17-2009, 07:07 PM
AVS Addicted Member
 
Tulpa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 10,026
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyHolly View Post

What is lossless formats and why would I want them?

Dolby TrueHD is an example of a lossless home theater audio format:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truehd

DTS-MA is the DTS company's equivalent. It's up to you whether you want it or not. Some say they hear a night and day difference, others say there's little improvement over the lossy formats like Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. I'm not going to pronounce judgment either way. That's for your ears to decide.

Quote:


By the way, for my civilian job I work as an engineer in fiber optics so I am familiar with how the data is transmitted, I'm just not familiar with the way these audio companies use the fiber and why it would not be as good as HDMI, if not surpass it.

Certainly fiber optics have the potential for massive data transmission. Ask any cable company.

But the TOSlink standard for home theater hasn't been upgraded to increase the bandwidth needed. It would probably require new connections, etc., or whatever else to enable it, and HDMI has largely stepped in to fill the role needed.

They could improve on it later, though. But the data on DVD, Blu-Ray, etc., doesn't care if it goes across fiber or copper wire. It only cares if the cable has the bandwidth needed.

Don't believe everything on the Interwebz! A duck's quack DOES echo!
Tulpa is offline  
post #9 of 14 Old 03-17-2009, 07:09 PM
AVS Special Member
 
jdcrox's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Cape Cod, MA
Posts: 2,018
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 33 Post(s)
Liked: 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyHolly View Post

What is lossless formats and why would I want them? What that means to me is the audio format is not compressed at all. Now usually there is a small amount of data that is lost when it is compressed in order to make a smaller file/data stream.

By the way, for my civilian job I work as an engineer in fiber optics so I am familiar with how the data is transmitted, I'm just not familiar with the way these audio companies use the fiber and why it would not be as good as HDMI, if not surpass it.

The only thing I can think of is that having fiber optics is an extra step in the process of delivering an audio signal. You have an analogue wave form (which is the actual music you hear with your ears), recorded on a CD/DVD/MP3 in a digital format, then changed back into an audible analogue format for your ears to listen to. Having fiber optics in there means that at one point or another, it needs to either stay digital or get re-converted back into digital and then converted into a infra-red light pulse, then back into a digital electrical signal, then converted into an audio analogue signal... Having fiber is an extra step that would probably need the latest Mux/Demux or CO/DEC or end equipment updated for the latest changes all working tohgether. So I can see why fiber has less options available, I just figured these audio companies would have poured thier money into making sure the fiber had the latest and greatest over any other median?

I'll stick with HDMI only then. It has everything available and the fiber does not have any extra features.

Once again, it really has nothing to do with being fiber or wire, it is simply the transmission protocol. Fiber-optic in home AV is usually a Toslink cable, which uses SPDIF for transmission. That is short for Sony Philips Digital InterFace, IIRC. SPDIF does not have the bandwidth for lossless audio, such as from Blu-Ray. HDMI uses a different transmission and as such has much higher bandwidth than consumer-level fiber optic.
jdcrox is offline  
post #10 of 14 Old 03-17-2009, 07:19 PM
AVS Addicted Member
 
Tulpa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 10,026
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 59
Yeah, it basically comes down to what fiber optics are available to the average consumer, not what fiber optics can do in general.

Don't believe everything on the Interwebz! A duck's quack DOES echo!
Tulpa is offline  
post #11 of 14 Old 03-17-2009, 09:26 PM
ekb
AVS Special Member
 
ekb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Lawrenceville, NJ
Posts: 4,186
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyHolly View Post

What is lossless formats and why would I want them? What that means to me is the audio format is not compressed at all. Now usually there is a small amount of data that is lost when it is compressed in order to make a smaller file/data stream.

Lossless can be compressed such as Dolby True HD and DTS-MA. Once decoded, you have the exact same PCM bitstream as the non-compressed original. You would want it because there cannot be any degredation due to loss of audio information.

Ed
ekb is offline  
post #12 of 14 Old 03-17-2009, 09:30 PM
ekb
AVS Special Member
 
ekb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Lawrenceville, NJ
Posts: 4,186
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by William View Post

Also with HDMI you get a one cable for video and audio and less chance of lip sync.

I don't think that separate audio and video cables lead to lipsync problems. Lipsync originates with the processing of signals - usually the more intensive video processing leads to the video lagging the audio.

Ed
ekb is offline  
post #13 of 14 Old 03-17-2009, 10:30 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
TommyHolly's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: CHICAGO!!
Posts: 116
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Hey thanks everyone. I understand it alot better now.
TommyHolly is offline  
post #14 of 14 Old 05-23-2011, 03:33 PM
AVS Special Member
 
holt7153's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: City of Angels
Posts: 3,251
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 27 Post(s)
Liked: 112
this is a 2-year old thread...

***************************************
My girlfriend works at Hooters…in the kitchen.
holt7153 is online now  
Reply Audio Theory, Setup, and Chat



Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off