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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is there an advantage to digital optical vs digital coaxial?


The salesman from an independent store in my city told me the coaxial is better, but in theory (at least in my mind) the optical should be better (minutely faster traveling information). My Integra manual says they both deliver the same quality.


Thanks

Mike
 

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Do a search- we've been over this before.


To summarize- in general coax is better, but glass fiber toslink is excellent and plastic toslink can also be very good. A lot depends on your equipment and environment. Optical avoids ground loops and RFI/EMI. Coax avoids an electrical to optical and optical to electrical interface and has higher bandwidth (than plastic toslink). The best way to decide in you house and your system is to try both.
 

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Overwhelmingly we're told that coax is vastly superior to toslink, but on MY system, the differences have been miniscule if present at all. I had a Sony CD player with both, and I tested it back to back on both a B&K Ref20 and my current Classe SSP75. The coax might have been *slightly* better in the midrange, but I'm not really sure. I no longer have either the CDP or the toslink cable, but I'd be surprised if it was glass. Your mileage may vary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the help guys. I honestly did search, but the closest thing I found was a compairison of digital to 6-wire for dvd audio and questions about specific reciever units.


But thinks a lot for your help! This is exactly what I was looking for.
 

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Monster says they are the same. But Ray Kimber ( www.kimber.com ) who makes silver digital coaxial cables swears that SPDIF coaxial design is superior. His defense is that coaxial is less susceptible to noise. I would add one practical reason I use digital coaxial is optical is easily broken. Sonically, tests have proven the digital transfer is identical between the two.
 

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How could coaxial be less susceptible to noise than an optical transmission path? Perhaps it is in reference to the extra E/O O/E steps required, and the possibiltiy of noise being introduced at those points?
 

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I don't know. Ray Kimber knows his stuff though. I thought fiber optics was the cleanest. Perhaps it has to do with the braided shielding in the coax design.
 

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On my old Pioneer non elite receiver, the digital coax sounded better to me, but my newer Yamaha system they sound indentical, to my ears anyway. :)
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Brian Puccio
Correct me if I am wrong, but since it is digital, either the ones and zeros get there, or they don't, no?
That is correct only for the actual transmission of the data over the medium. But the problem is that Optical has, well for lack of a long explanation so this is brief and not exactly how it works, but OPTICAL has an extra step to convert the digital signal to the TOSLINK protocol used by the Optical cable.


In theory this is not a problem, except that the TOSLINK protocol has a few specifications that are too loosely defined leaving the interpretation up to the equipment manufacturer to decide what end of the tolerance they will use on there equipment.


The second and not so big of a problem is that Optical cable has a shorter maximum length requirement.


I would only recommend Optical if you have the same brand of equipment on each end of the cable.


JM
 

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TWO extra steps. It has to convert it back also.


The electrical-optical and optical-electrical conversion is prone to increase jitter. Some of these assemblies are very sophisticated and do an excellent job. Many, however, are made to be inexpensive with little focus on quality. I don't remember which electronics store but I've seen the converter/transmitter assembly sold for as little as $3.


I don't think Ray Kimber is speaking strictly of EMI/RFI and other forms of electrical induced noise.
 

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Well, Ray Kimber knows how to market products... that much is for certain. ;)
 

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And to know how to market silver wire for 10 grand a set is one good salesman.
 

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Ray Kimber is an extremely honest gentleman and a sound engineer. You may not believe that wire makes a difference in a system and that is fine.

That would make the price of some price no object designs seem exorbitant. But I would be careful to suggest that Ray Kimber's products are solely about marketing. He has one of the largest private engineering libraries in the world. He is a sound engineer who is also very generous with his time. When I first started in this business in 1983 he was most helpful in educating me on some engineering issues that had nothing to do with his core business-wire.


The high end industry has suffered form an excess of pseudo science and perhaps, some hucksterism. Anyone who has ever spoken to Ray Kimber will immediately grasp that he has sound engineering behind anything he does. This does not mean that his is the only opinion on a subject but it does speak to the issue as to whether his products are little more than marketing hype. It took a long time for the bits is bits guys to accept that jitter and other clock errors cause distortion that is detectable and audible. And the "perfect sound forever" crew now suggest that perhaps 44k sampling rates were not conducive to their perfect sound forever forecast. Now you tell me which was hype?


Prices for cost no object designs are inherently steep. Only so many people are willing to pursue absolute perfection. It is a limited market and so there are no economies of scale. What does a Cray II cost? A F-16? Stock car racing? Pushing the state of the art in any field is takes years of development and requires costly and limited production runs. The sonic benefits are apparent, in my opinion, even if the sonic benefits are at the limits of marginal utility. In other words, that small increase in fidelity costs a lot of money and one could make a cost/benefit analysis and conclude that the benefit is not worth the cost. This does not mean that the benefits are fiction, nothing more than hype. Ray Kimber does not make shielded wires and one could make a case that it is better to have one's wires shielded. But Ray Kimber has a reason why his wires are unshielded and it is worth listening to even if you go in an other direction.


The fact is the man is not a salesman. A lot of what has been written above about plastic vs glass, coaxial vs optical and the effects of clock issues on digital distortion was once denigrated as marketing hype but is now accepted wisdom. If you give Ray Kimber a call I think you will find him more then willing to speak with you and very convincing in his arguments. I doubt you will persist in your belief that his products are not founded on sound engineering concepts and principles. This does not mean that you will go out and spend 10K on one of his products. But it is not hype


Alan
 

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From Alan:"you will find him very convincing"-that sounds like a salesman. Remember Ray needs profits to feed his family also. If you cannot make money from something (THX training, CEDIA, HAA, a fancy wire idea) than he would just be a engineer drawing up wire designs. I think Ray is a great salesman AND great sound engineer. Good salesmen are "honest gentlemen" and the best sales staff were once technicians, installers, or engineers first. Technical knowledge in the A/V industry is the foundation to marketing any of its products. Although I see some of Kimbers product pricey I see the value in the science behind its design. Kimber Kable is better than Straight Wire, Monster M-series, or Z-series, XLO. Kimber Kable makes the best speaker wire in the world.


Scott


....runs away to take shelter...."Fire in the hole!...Fire in the hole!!!"
 

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Scott:

If Dolby has a set of specifications for Dolby Digital that state that you need to be able to place 105db in the room and I produce a speaker that can do this is it hype? If I produce a wire that has superior signal transfer properties and I can demonstrate this is this hype? If I were to argue that glass produces less jitter than plastic does that make me a salesman if I also prove it? The fact is that there is little difference between different brands of soap or tooth paste. You purchase one product or an other in large part because of how it is sold. You may need to be convinced that a product has value. You may wish to listen to plastic vs glass in your system to see if there is an audible difference before paying the additional money for the glass interface. That is sales. You may need jitter explained to you or some other specification and that is sales. I may need to convince you that I am not only about separating you from your money but I believe in what I am saying and that is sales.


When your minister suggests that it would be good for your soul to support the church financially is his argument not based in part on his self interest? Might it also be true, whatever his self interest? A teacher is paid to teach. Might he also take pride in his job and also do it because he actually wants to help others learn? If I respond to some post here am I doing so for purely altruistic reasons or do I get a charge to my ego as well? A really good salesman can sell anything and his arguements may be completely false. The real question is are there any merits to Ray Kimber's products or are they a sham like the emperor's new clothes? My point is not that Kimber Cable is better than any other product but that his products are based on sound engineering even if they are expensive. You may need to be convinced that they improve the sound or that they are not based on flim-flam but just because he wants to sell his products does not make him a salesman. If I convince you that optical interface is superior and you seek out products with this interface am I a salesman or have I convinced you that something is better and you then reach the conclusion that you want it. Were you to apply salesman to Noel Lee I would have fewer objections. Self interest and a belief system are not mutually exclusive.


Alan
 

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Alan, if you scroll this thread I was the one in support of Mr. Kimber. Since you brought up religion in the forum then I will say you are preaching to the choir. I am in suppport of Kimber Kable. I wasn't being fascious. I am getting to know you more as you post and it seems like you like debate. Nothing wrong with that, this is a forum as long as it is civil, rational and logical and not compative. John Ashman has his IP banned from AVS for such a thing.
 

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Scott

Did you find anything I wrote uncivil? I cannot think how but if so I apologize in advance. It is to your use of the word salesman that I take issue. I think it implies that something is being put over on someone else. Perhaps you do not mean it that way but that is how it struck me. My point is that unlike some in this business Ray Kimber can point to solid engineering for anything he produces. His is not the only voice so one may disagree with him but I think it unfair to categorize him as a salesman. That's it.


Alan
 
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