Originally Posted by Zues
Just curious if anyone else can tell a difference between these two. To me optical sounds way better. I have a nice monster cable coaxial cable vs a ultra thin optical cable that came with a satelite box. No comparison the optical sounds way better. And it's the thinnest cable i've ever seen. Xm satelite also sounds amazing via satelite-optical.
Also curious for cd playback if anyone prefers digital, i run analog interconnects but am starting to doubt myself if digital is not better.
Optical and Coaxial both send digital bitstreams (1s and 0s) encoded in their respective signal carrier types (light and electrical signals respectively). The cable itself won't make any difference. It is possible that the optical signal is being skewed as it is turned back into an electrical signal from a light signal, that there is damage to one or the other of the two cords, or that there is some timing aberrations between the two due to the two previously mentioned potential problems (as well as excessive bending in the optical cable causing light to fall outside the angle needed for total internal reflection), but hopefully if you have a half-decent system (probably even the cheapest system does it nowadays) it will cache and reclock the bitstream in some way. If you were bending the cable too much you would know it, as you likely wouldn't hear anything (unless audio optical is spread spectrum... in which case you would likely get static and some audio - Of this I'm not certain as I specialized in Networking Computer Science not in Audio Networking, though I doubt they would use spread spectrum in something like an audio device because of the added unnecessary complexity/costs).
As far as digital vs. analog in CD output, it really depends, to me, on what you eventually have decoding the digital signal into analog... At some point a piece of equipment is doing the same thing in both cases. Having the digital signal converted to analog as close to the speaker as possible is always an advantage, as it is very difficult to skew a digital signal (it takes a lot to skew one, and there are excellent algorithms for error correction when it does occur), while skewing an analog signal is many times easier (though you can greatly reduce the risk by using balanced cables - this won't help with signal attenuation however). Ultimately though, you reduce the risk most by using digital up until the last moments before audio output.