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Coaxial vs. Optical Cables

 

Erik Rogers
Unregistered guest
Obviously the coaxial are supposed to be better quality. But is it that much of a difference? Is it worth the extra money for a mid-level system? Also I would love to know of somewhere I can pick them up cheaper. Preferably online.
Thanks.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dloweman

Post Number: 118
Registered: Nov-04
I could be mistaken, but i was pretty sure that the optical cables were better! Someone with more knowledge speak up for us please, thanks!
 

New member
Username: Lexuscruiser

Bothell, Wa United States

Post Number: 3
Registered: Feb-05
optical cables are for sure better but they also cost a bit more as well... I dont know about the cost but I know that the electronics industry is a big scam because one of my friends is on the inside and he has gotten me a ton of this cable that costs around $200 or more at 16-32 feet at a regular store but he sold to me for $42 and he got it at a cost of $9 from the dealers... he also got me a really good 42inch LCD t.v. that is awesome from LG for only $1500 nothing wrong with it at all and normally it costs $4500-$9000 so just be careful and try and find the best deal by asking around and using the internet here.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Shahrukhd

Mumbai, Maharashtra India

Post Number: 21
Registered: Nov-04
Jabroni, does your fiend drive a white van? ;) <kidding>. Anyway, as far as the optical/coax question goes, I prefer the sound of the coaxial cable. I'm no expert, but IMO the coaxial sounds more "analogue" than the optical. But then, that's just me. See what the others say.
 

Erik Rogers
Unregistered guest
Ok I decided to stop being lazy. So instead of completely relying on all of you to answer this for me, I looked into it a little bit myself. From what I was able to read optical is slightly better in certain cases like long distances. But honestly my components are all within 3 feet of each other.

So I think I will try to save some money and go with the digital coaxial cables. I am still looking for good deals though. Anyone know of any? I have my favorite online electronics stores and such, but am not often in the market for cables so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 

Silver Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 180
Registered: Jan-05
Coaxial is better, but only after you allow them to break in properly.

Heh...just kidding.

It's an endless debate.......If you have a long run, supposedly optical is better. Coaxial proponents will say that they're better because it goes digital directly from your source into your receiver without any 'alleged' conversion, but optical changes to light pulses, and then back to digital....yada, yada, yada......Of course, each swears they are right. The argument goes on and on.......

I only needed two cables and they're short runs.(one for sat:one for DVD). I bought both digital coaxial and high-end RCAs to compare, and I could not tell the difference. In the end, I kept the two RCA that cost $50 for the pair, and returned the more expensive digital coaxials that cost about $100 for a pair. I honestly dont believe there is a single difference, except for the packaging.

I'll be honest, I even think that's a waste because a 20 year old RCA will sound just as good. Has anybody tried to connect via a single 'old' RCA to their digital coaxial input for sound??? The results might surprise you.

I have, and I couldnt hear a single bit of difference in quality. The funny thing is that I'm so stupid, that I kept and still use the $50 pair in spite of not hearing a difference. How dare I connect my fancy new receiver without using shiny new cables too, right??? What's the fun in that?

The entire cable industry is a sham filled with slick marketing selling copper wire soaked in snake oil and we all buy into it(including myself) because more expensive wire must sound better, right?

As for optical?? I never gave them much thought. Why would I spend $50 on a 3ft wire that will shatter if I accidentally bend too far??

OK, that should get things going...........
 

Erik Rogers
Unregistered guest
Being new to the audio side of things I wasn't sure if you would be able to notice as drastic a change as when you switch between the various video cables. But I figure if I am going to blow all this money on a home theater I can't stop before I even get to the cables.
 

Silver Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 186
Registered: Jan-05
Erik,

Audio cables are one thing, but video(to me)is a completely different beast.

When it comes to video cables, I'd recommend the best available especially if you have HDTV. At the very least, a moderately priced HDMI or DVI.
 

edster922
Unregistered guest
Erik,

Good place to buy speaker stands and audio/video wiring is accessories4less.com, very good prices and both the low-end and the higher end cables. I bought a 6 foot Recoton digital coax cable from them I think it was about $5-8, it's more than adequate.

The stereo sales guy who sold me my Marantz receiver said that a digital coax is slightly better but hardly any night-and-day difference.

My DVD is on a digital coax, my CD player is an older model which only offers optical out or RCA out, and I can't tell the difference between the two at least not for music quality.

With coax digital you can even use regular coax cable and just buy a pair of F-adapters from Radio Shack, they're dirt cheap about $3 each. This is what I'm using for my subwoofer, works great.
 

BigAl
Unregistered guest
Erik,

If your intent is to make a connection between two digital components in your home; feel free to use either coax or optical cables. The cables are only the medium used to transmit digital information and will not improve or degrade the orginal information. Each type does have Pro's and Con's based upon the enviroment they must work in, but for home use, cost should be the only issue.

 

Jeffery Burt
Unregistered guest
Optics is better than coaxial cable, simply because it is free from eletronic interference.
 

allanads
Unregistered guest
I totally agree with Paul. I am using a single RCA cord to connect my DVD player to a receiver via digital coaxial inputs. The sound is as good as it would be using a coaxial or optical cable. Its your reciver that matter and not the cables!!!
Happy Listening :-)
 

Bronze Member
Username: Blasterman

Post Number: 14
Registered: Mar-05
Can you guys tell me if purple Cat5 network cables have better sound than yellow Cat5 cables?

If coaxial cables have superior digital transmission over fiber optic, then why aren't the telecoms using coax when running long data lines??????

How many kilometers can I go with Coax before signal degredation again?
 

Silver Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 235
Registered: Nov-04
sam, how far away is your cd player/audio source from your reciever? like 10 ft, maybe 15 ft of cable. it doesnt really matter. electrical degradation at that length of cable is neglgible. if anything there can be a signal degradation converting an electrical signal to a light signal, as is case with cd players. if you happen to be running like over 100m of cable maybe. like mentioned above, both have their pros and cons. taking to absolutes just shows your ignorance to the facts.
 

Anonymous
 
But if it's digital, interferences won't matter that much... code correction takes care of screwed up bits...
 

Bronze Member
Username: Diablo

Fylde Coast, England

Post Number: 74
Registered: Dec-04
The standard error connection for either co-ax or optical is very good. Co-ax is more interference prone, of course, but the error correction should do a pretty good job on it - unless you run poor quality co-ax cable near to an interference source (around a circular saw ??).

Nearly all the the digital error which gets passed to the decoder will have arisen when reading the CD itself, due to scratches, dust or poor pressing. The error checking on audio CDs is quite poor, nothing like as strict as data CDs (CD-ROM). See the info on the Exact Audio Copy website for some info on this (please read the Technology section).

 

Bronze Member
Username: Sause

Post Number: 43
Registered: Oct-04
There is really two parts to this question now. One is the actual cable and one is the signal. Now when it comes to the cable, optical is better, less interferense. But when it comes to the signal Co-ax is better, like Paul started to say the are the same in side the orginal unit and then the optical signal is transformed into light and sent over the cable which it has to be converted back into a electronic digital signal. Thats where co-ax beats opitcal it doesn't have to do that.

As for using normal rca's, you are better off using an old video cable than audio cable. Video cables are co-ax anyways. heck you could use a coat hanger and still get decent sound.
 

An End To The B.S.
Unregistered guest
Unless your in a high RF noise area (airports with landing radar, powerlines, etc.etc.)or have the ears of Spock, @ 36" runs, I challange anyone to "hear" the difference! The only way you will notice any difference is on a scope.
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 132
Registered: Feb-05
Here we go again! The deaf challenging everyone else to hear the difference. If we didn't hear the difference we wouldn't say so. I, for one have better things to do than lie about what I can hear on an internet discussion forum. And I believe you when you say you can't hear the difference. I can hear the difference between good cables and bad cables (notice that I didn't say expensive ones and inexpensive ones). I have a pair of $80 Esoteric Audio interconnects that don't sound as good as my $6 set of NXG's. The cables that Jim Ott at Northwest Audio Labs makes for me sound better than any I've heard at several times there price. I really can hear the difference. Coax digital cable sounds better than optical. Ask anyone who listens critically.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Justme123

Post Number: 13
Registered: Mar-05
ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!

After 25+ years in an electonincs lab, the last 10 with optics in the 1 to 20 GHz range, I think I can weigh in here!

Are Bad Optics worse than Good Coax? Of course!
Are Bad Coax better than Good Optics? Of course NOT.

So if your "listening critically" and something is "off", you either screwed the pooch on your hookups, have something "bad" happening in your equipment, or, you just plain don't like what is REALLY there.

"Ask anyone who listens critically." What a Rube!
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 134
Registered: Feb-05
"So if your "listening critically" and something is "off", you either screwed the pooch on your hookups, have something "bad" happening in your equipment, or, you just plain don't like what is REALLY there."

I am glad you know what your'e talking about because I don't.

Read what fallsinquestion had to say.

"After 25+ years in an electonincs lab, the last 10 with optics in the 1 to 20 GHz range, I think I can weigh in here!"

I spent several years in an electronics lab as well. But my experience building notebooks and printers at HP has nothing to do with subject at hand. So unless you put your electronics experience more specifically in context it's moot.

"Are Bad Optics worse than Good Coax? Of course!
Are Bad Coax better than Good Optics? Of course NOT."

This I hope would be a given.
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