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Best answer: try both, see if you hear a difference.


Next best answer: coaxial.
 

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if you dont want to spend much go optical


if you want to spend more go coax


if you use cheap coax it should sound worse than optical but a well designed coax may sound more coherent and less harshness
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by bmedude
you wont hear any difference, unless the quality of one of your cables is significanly lower than the other


Unless the cable is so bad that it introduces errors, then it will sound no different.


And in the case of that many errors you'll hear nothing but slience.



Remember, both connections are digital. Its ethier there or not at all. No inbetween. However thanks to the loads of marketing BS from audio companies many people are begining to think otherwise.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by stevewm
Unless the cable is so bad that it introduces errors, then it will sound no different.


And in the case of that many errors you'll hear nothing but slience.


Remember, both connections are digital. Its ethier there or not at all. No inbetween. However thanks to the loads of marketing BS from audio companies many people are begining to think otherwise.
Not exactly...


I had a chance to ask this same basic question to Greg Soo of EMM Labs-- a company that comes from the Pro market where BS is less spread, and a company that is known for being honest and producing fair-priced components. Their DAC is probably the best on the market. They use optical cables exclusively between their transport and DAC, but his answer about entry level gear was really interesting. Optical is theoretically superior because there is practically no degredation of the signal over very long lengths. They've tested lengths of up to 1500 feet and the signal is practically perfect. The same can NOT be said for Digital coaxial, which begins to degrade after a few meters.


But for budget gear, coaxial is generally superior. The reason for this is not the cable, but the transmitter. The transmitters in typical toslink connectors have very slow rise and fall times. This introduces jitter into the signal, which is audible by practually everybody. This jitter either has to be eliminated by dealing with it at the source by using a better quality transmitter, or by eliminating it at the receiver. Either one is generally too expensive for low or even mid-fi level gear, or simply isn't used.


So, in general, use coaxial unless you have a very high-quality source component that recommends you use an optical cable.
 

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For normal "consumer" (non geeks with racks) connection lengths should not be a big deal. This does not mean you can actually use a coat hanger, though. A piece of junk can definately influence the sound. There is no error correction, so the whole "no sound" thing is "not quite" correct.

A good coax can go many meters, a good toslink is only good for several meters with typical plastic and yes, many, many meters with glass.

Components do have a variety of qualities in their interfaces between optical and copper, and their connectors for either, but the Dacs, etc are generally considered more important . Or so I think from what I have heard.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by TheMadMilkman
This jitter either has to be eliminated by dealing with it at the source by using a better quality transmitter, or by eliminating it at the receiver. Either one is generally too expensive for low or even mid-fi level gear, or simply isn't used.
Could you explain how it would be cost prohibitive to eliminate jitter in even very low end receivers? Any Dolby/DTS decoder is going to have to clock the decoded signal before sending it to their DACs anyway, I do not see how any significant cost would be incured by using the same circuitry to reclock an incoming PCM signal. Given the fact that most recievers use all-in-one surround decoders for incoming digital streams, signal processing, and decoding it would probably be *more* difficult for the engineers to not reclock an incoming PCM signal and bypass the logic used for the decoded Dolby/DTS stream. Even if there is an additional expense we are talking about pennies to reclock the signal - not hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Regarding the comment someone else made about using a coat hanger to pass a digital audio signal there was a link to an article here http://2eyespy.tripod.com/myaudioand...epage/id3.html where the author did just that and the processor was able to decode the incoming dolby digital signal just fine without any drop-outs in audio.

My preference in this matter would be to use coax over toslink when it is available. Not because of any preceived or imagined performance benefits but because you can use one of the video cables you have laying around that come with your vcr's and DVD players and not have to purchase an optical cable.
 

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It's important to realize that the optical cable connection takes the electrical signal provided to the coax, converts it to optical via a little module, and sends it to a receiver where it's re-converted to electrical. Using coax allows one to skip the electrical to optical and subsequent optical to electrical conversion.


Such conversions aren't always a bad thing (consider optoisolators, for example), but in this case really only seem to provide a benefit over long cable runs when glass fibers are used.


I've seen a handful of independent tests showing jitter is somewhat higher over optical, but for long runs in noisy environments it's easier to live with.
 

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I always find that Co Ax gives a better sound than optical..You will find most folks agree with this, but the choice as they say - is all yours!
 

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rader

the link is no longer good to the coat hanger article, but i have seen the article. So is this your cable suggestion?

I just personally feel that coax is more reliable as a cable connection. I doubt the coax/optical converters are a problem, I just don't feel as good about the optical connections.
 

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When cable providers become a 'utility' and all of your TV, telephone, etc are dropped to your home via fiber. What will we do? What WILL we do?

Fiber vs. coax... stop worrying!
 

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Quote:
It's important to realize that the optical cable connection takes the electrical signal provided to the coax, converts it to optical via a little module, and sends it to a receiver where it's re-converted to electrical. Using coax allows one to skip the electrical to optical and subsequent optical to electrical conversion.
If that's important, then:


It's also important to realize that the coax cable connection takes the electrical signal provided by the decoder, passes it through a cheap pulse transformer, dropping the signal level to 300 to 500mVp-p, and sends it to a receiver where it passes through another pulse transformer. Using optical allows one to skip the pulse transformers on each end and provides electrical isolation. The electrical to light conversion is done using an LED, a very mature technology.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by tsteves
Ratman

Have you seen those connectors for fiber network cables? A bit better than toslink!
Yes... I'm quite familiar with SC, ST and MTRJ connectors. They can all pull out fairly easy.
 
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