Originally Posted by jayfore
I just bought a new Blu-Ray player from Costco. My existing one has optical audio out, which I have been using for years. The new player does not have an optical audio output -- just coax. OK, fine, I can deal with that... But do I need a special cable for it?
Not unless your cable is exceptionally long. For the usual lengths that this cable is in a home audio system (3 feet or less), the application is generally very non-critical.
To demonstrate the non-critical nature of this connection, crative people have used coat hanger wires, Christmas tinsel, and even wet the forefingers on each hand and bridged the connection with their bodies. Under some conditions, they all can work! I've tried several of these myself.
Seems that any of my spare cables, like from the olden days (RCA type) fit just fine, but is there a difference in quality?
Again, it depends on the application. One of the nice things about digital is that problems with cabling generally fit into one of two categories - they work very well, or they don't work at all. There are exceptions but they are relatively rare.
I would guess there is.
If you understand the relevant technology, guessing is vastly reduced.
Further, if I should get one specifically designed for this, does it really matter which one I get?
"Designed for this" expressed technically is: "A 75 ohm coaxial cable with RCA male connectors on each end". This is the same thing as some video cables with yellow connectors that one finds for sale in places that sell A/V cables.
I am not looking to spend much money, but also want it to sound at least as good as what the optical cable already gives me. Coax audio cables can be found on Ebay for under $4 shipped -- are those fine?
You must be looking at the high priced items! I found cables for as little as $0.99 including shipping that would probably do the job. Of course, you didn't specify length.