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Coax vs Optical ?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by -, Jan 4, 2001.

  1. Guest

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    Most people who claim to hear a difference seem to prefer coax (like me).

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  2. SimonL

    SimonL
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    I asked the same question a while ago when I bought a new DD/DTS amp having previously used a 6 channel input on a Prologic amp. The general response I got was to go for coax which I did. I have since tried an optical lead borrowed from a friend who had changed to coax and to be honest could not really see the difference!

    Simon

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  3. bigalroz

    bigalroz
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    I can't beleive there is ANY difference whatsoever as the signal is DIGITAL any RFI interference on coaxial or number of data format conversions (optical)shouldn't matter. The error correction algorithms will almost certainly be able to recreate the original digital signal EXACTLY. The claimed differences between cable types and quality (for digital)is all a lot of marketing rubbish designed to part people from their hard earned cash! And anyone who crys "what about jitter?", jitter only comes into the equation during digital to analogue conversion i.e. after the data has been transfered over the cable to the DACS on your amp.

    P.S. I'm a software engineer so I (hope) I know all about digital signals

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  4. Jeff

    Jeff
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    Have you actually tried? I have, coaxial and optical do sound different, after that it is down to personal taste, I find coaxial smoother. I can also hear a difference between a cheap optical cable and an expensive one that I have. Digital is no different than analogue in that the stronger the signal the better the quality.
     
  5. GaryG

    GaryG
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    If you use two tin cans connected together by a piece of string to talk to each other, it doesn't matter what type of string you use to connect the cans because you won't be able to tell the difference.

    However, as you improve the things connected to either end of the string there will come a point where the type of string will make a difference!

    Regards
    Gary
     
  6. Paul Dunning

    Paul Dunning
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    having read many articles claiming no real difference between coax and optical.........during the last week i have read two reports on how to set up components who state go for coax ????

    any answers??? at present i use optical if coax is better are there any reccomendations

    cheers
     
  7. Mad Max

    Mad Max
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    I use coaxial basically to avoid two signal conversions... Digital to optical on the player, and Optical back to Digital on the receiver.

    The main advantage of optical is that it can't pick up noise (interferences) on the way, like coax can (theoretically).

    Soundwise ? Who knows ? some hear a difference, some don't [​IMG]

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  8. Stuart M. Robinson

    Stuart M. Robinson
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    Guys,

    Tos-link vs. coaxial electrical digital connection is an emotive subject. There are many who claim to hear differences, and that's OK, but when questioned, their listening tests are flawed or not conducted blind, in which case all bets are off.

    From a technical standpoint, it is impossible for any of the bitstream formats (MPEG-Audio, Dolby Digital and DTS) to be effected in any way by the type of digital interface used. They either work, or they don't.

    The transmission of PCM is a little different because square waves are formed from smaller waveforms (fractals would be a good analogy) and one can argue that the wider the bandwidth the better, which is where coaxial links win out.

    However, the influence this has on a system is infinitesimal and cannot be detected during controlled blind testing. Moreover, a coaxial link may actually be the cause of a system ground-loop, and that's something to be avoided.

    I wouldn't worry about whether or not one connection format is any better than another, simply concentrate on using a cable that is well-constructed, properly shielded, makes a good, firm connection and in the case of coaxial, is the correct impedance (75ohms).


    Stuart M. Robinson
    SMR Group – http://www.smr-group.co.uk/
     
  9. Jeff

    Jeff
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    How about sky digital?, are you saying that signal stengh and quality aren't important.
     
  10. bigalroz

    bigalroz
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    Jeff, Sky Digital is a different matter, I assume that you mean the signal from the satellite in orbit to your dish. The signal CAN be affected by things such as weather but this is because it is transmitted through the air, and heavy weather, buildings etc can effectively block the signal so potentially large chunks of data is just never received by your dish. You can't really use this as an analogy with the cable scenario as this would be like temporarily pulling the cable out of your amp. With a cable you have a very conrolled and clean evironment to send your signal so you should get very little (i.e. correctable), or no signal loss.

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  11. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones
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    This will probably get flamed but here goes. Many years ago when optical was starting to be widely used in computer networks as a company we did some research into optical cables. There are many different kinds. At the time a pair of fibre fly leads 1M were about £100. The cable came in several forms glass pvc shielded kevlar etc etc.

    The thing is here over short distances <100M and provided that the cable doesnt bend too much there is no real difference in the cable. As the vable length increases so does the error rate and a better class of cable is required. Over large distances this can amount to a lot of money, but again on short runs peanuts. I dont know the cost of cable now but the its less than £1 metre for very high quality.

    Provided its digital with some form of error checking I just cant see what difference the cable is going to make.

    I had a discussion with a person from Keene I asked what their gold plated Toslink leads offered over their normal ones...he couldnt answer only to say the cable was different. Incidently these computer fly leeds that used to cost £80 now cost a few pounds. The most important thing about the cable is how the cable actually links to the equipment its plugged into and whether the core of the cable is at a right ange to its side.

    If anyone does have some Fibre testing gear I suggest that you take a pair of £80 leads and a pair of £5 leads and check the cable. I dont think youll find a difference.

    As to those who think they can hear a difference... I just cant see it as I said with error checking (I dont know how sophisticated this is but assume that it is pretty reliable) then I just dont see how you can hear a difference.

    Its basically the same for Coax, provided it does error checking and its digital then there should be no difference.

    Just my 2p worth.

    If on the other hand the interface has no error checking then the quality of cable and termination is definately important. I cant believe that it doesnt error check ...does it?


    Dave
     
  12. Jesus H

    Jesus H
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    if you are using a good optical cable, i wouldn't waste your money on a coax cable, the difference, which there should be none, will be most probably inaudible.

    spend your money on a DVD istead, ths will make a bigger difference to your life than that between optical and coaxial.

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  13. Guest

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    Paul,I cannot determine which is best.However,I would like to point out a steal of a coaxial lead for £17.50 which I purchased on the basis of a what hi-fi 2000 Award(Ecosse Reference Producer 1 metre)quote:a digital cable which puts in such a superb performance that you might well wonder if the Scottish Company has put the decimal point in the wrong place....There is a 10 year guarantee with this cable after it is registered.Maybe this might be of some help.

     
  14. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones
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    I agree I have just purchased a coax cable from IXOS. Not the best but the best price for a 7M run.

    On optical cable I decided that its not the cable but the interconnects that make the difference, as Im not sure on the error checking involves (and whether there is any) decided that the COAX was more flexible and would give better results than the Fibre.

    Dave
     
  15. fenton

    fenton
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    The difference in sound is exactly that of error checking. If the processor has to spend time in error checking then the sound will differ, i.e. phasing, etc.
    Just think of CDs. Alot of the surface area on a CD is dedicated to error checking.
    A decent transport on a CD generally gives a better sound than a cheap one with the same DAC, due to the fact that less error checking and correction needs to take place. The main audio result. Base is much faster and better instrument seperation.
     
  16. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    ......signal integrity.
    Fenton is correct.
    To ensure the signal stays true, Stuart's post says it all.
    If you 'really' want to mash your brains on the topic, check out some of the technical editorials by a Mr. Miller I think in HiFi Choice.
    I've read prob. as many articles as you Paul and must admit that there is an argument to it all, but......... come on, is it really that critical a difference?

    Have you spent ££££££££££££££'s on a sytem that will allow you to enjoy the 'upper 3rd treble 2nd reverse mid bass phase signal' or whatever that much more because of it?

    Just buy a goodie that fits your gear and you'll be pumping brain slush like the rest of us in a film. Enjoy. [​IMG]



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  17. adz

    adz
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    coax is better, as it is a pure bitstream. ie when using optic it has to modulate the digital signal onto a light carrier for transmission and then demodulate the light carrier in order to recieve the digital bitstream- wot a waste of time! the only time it might be of use is if the connection from dvd to receive is a fair distance or space saving is involved
     
  18. Epsilon

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    Digital... ok... DIGITAL... say I brought a cheap Ethernet cable would my sound files sound any different... no because they would be corrupted and to the coax v optical we still use copper over here in Britten to get our internet before the hubs so... maybe this post will look a little different than yours...

    the reason why you can hear the difference between coax and optical may be because of the coding but the difference between cheap or expensive cables is because if someone has brought cheap cables they probably have a cheap encoder / decoder / speakers... really had this never crossed any of your minds...

    this is worse than the people who say that they will go CRT rather than TFT because of the lag... ITS 2 to 7 ms on most TFT screens nowadays which in a FPS makes nooo difference... but at least they have a point where as this is just nonsense

    just to make this 100% clear digital is just on off on off 0's and 1's if there is interference strong as the signal well they should put more power though the wire... analogue on the other hand is waves which can be distorted easily which is why this mith came about because we where so used to analogue that we applied the same rules

    ok before i write an essay trying to explain this get a diagram of an analogue signal then a diagram of a digital signal then you might get it
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
  19. dwhite

    dwhite
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    Epsilon as this is an 8 year old post you have dragged up, I'm sure all the participants have moved on.
     

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