Optical or Coax??? What Brand of interconnects should I use?


OK I am so new at all this. I just spent several $K on my gear, now what cables should I use to connect it all up? I refuse to use a five dollar Radio Shack cable to connect my equipment. I heard that 10% of what you spend on the equipment is how much should be budgeted for the cables. Is this a good gauge?

Also I don't want to spend good money on cables just because of the name on the packaging. I heard that Monster Cable is not all that great and is very over-priced. What brand is considered to be of good quality?

I may be new at all this but I intend to do this right the first time.

Also, I understand the difference between Coax and Optical connects but which one is optimum. I heard that as with all cables, but especially with optical, runs should be kept as short as possible. In my case it doesn't matter because my interconnects should all be no more than one meter in length. So at short distances which one wins out?

Any information is as always greatly appreciated.

I doubt that the 10% rule applies is most applications.
You could use the same cables on a $5,000 system as a $3000 system ($300 in cables). I do not belive that another $200 would inmprove the sound of the $5,000 system. Just my opinion.
I have Monster and RCA video component inter connects.
I returned the Monster and saved at least $50 without sacrificing any video quality.
I will not go near the optical vs. coax debate even if coax does sound less detailed but warmer to me.

I have had a great deal of connectivity problems with cables from Radio Shack. Mostly open connections and broken connectors, usually thier gold cables. Try AR cables of have a look at the cables at www.partsexpress.com.

That "10% rule" is someone trying to oversimplify your purchasing decision. 10% on cables will not make a 10% improvement in sound - don't believe it.

Cables can make a difference but the connector is by far the most important aspect. I cannot tell you how many times early in my audio addition days, a grundgy sounding channel was caused by oxidation or a nearly open connection. I would walk over to my equipment and touch something and instantly everything sounded great - for a while. Three feet of special expensive wire wont make much of a difference. My short and open problems have been eliminated since I have switched to AR and some Monster. I do have some old 3 foot Radio Shack plain tin cables like these http://www.radioshack.com/product.asp?catalog%5Fname=CTLG&category%5Fname=CTLG%5F007%5F002%5F003%5F007&product%5Fid=42%2D2366 that don't short and have served me well.

If someone tells you otherwise they will probably tell how it sounded to THEM. Ask them how many millivolts or percentage of THD the special cable passes in the audio bandwidth and you will be greeted with blank stares. Even if cables differences can be detected with true A/B/X testing (never done) they are very subtle (not for example a reduction in various distortions from 10% to 1%). Your source, speakers and clipping amplifiers are where you should be consentrating your efforts (and money).

Re: Optical vs. Coax.
When correctly connected, Coax and Optical should be exactly the same. Bandwidth isn't and issue, error correction (when connected correctly) isn't and issue. Distance, say over 50 feet might lean toward optical but who does that? Optical cables can be miles long compared to copper's hundred of feet for the same amount of signal loss. Optical cable can be fragile and cannot be taken around corners too tightly or pinched. For all intents and perposes though, it doesn't make a difference which one you use.

Now, having said that, there are a couple of situation where one MIGHT be better than the other. They both fall under "defective equipment" though.

1. The CD data, though optical, is converted to a electrical signal. To create an optical signal, this electrical signal - essentially the coax signal, has to be convered to optical by a laser-diode. You could theorize that am optical signal could not be superior to a coax signal because it is derived from the coax signal. I would not worry about it though.

2. Optical connections do not carry grounds. In a pooly designed system an optical connection COULD produce less hum because there are fewer ground paths. The music to the decoder would not be any better but a crappy amp could add hum to an otherwise pristene music signal just before it got to the speakers. This hum would be faily obvious though.

Try them and use whichever one you like. If you truely hear a dramatic difference, there's something wrong with you equipment sending the data.

Hope this helps.

Two words: lamp cord.

Seriously though, IMHO you will get a much better return on your audio/video investment if you spend the extra money on components rather than wire and connectors. Don't use complete sh*t, but in my experience mid to low priced cables and connectors work just fine.

I second the comments of AdamT. Unless you have thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of equipment, I think most people could not hear the difference between interconnects, in my opinion. I think the biggest thing to worry about, as far as speaker cable goes is gauge. With surround speakers especially, the wire connecting the speakers has to be relatively long. The longer the cable, the more signal it will lose. Therefore, the thicker the speaker cable, the less signal it will lose. I recommend using at least 16 gauge, but I prefer 12 gauge. Parts Express (www.partsexpress.com) is a wonderful place to buy any type of interconnect from. The stuff is all very high quality, and very reasonably priced. I got 100 feet of high grade 12 gauge speaker wire for $28.00 shipped. For the same amount of Monster's run of the mill 12 gauge, it would have been over $150...yikes! As far as optical, coaxial, or video cables, once again, parts express is great. Also, at Circuit City or Best Buy, they sell cheaper, off brand or name brand cables. I got an 8 foot monster optical cable at CC for $25...very reasonable...but stay away from the stuff that says it is "THX Certified"...it is very, very expensive and probably is no better than the run of the mill stuff. I got 8ft of GE component video cable from CC for $9 I think...once again, very reasonable, and it performs very well.

I've had good experience and prices with interconnects and wire from www.hometech.com.

Brad C.
I say why not get quality and good prices at the same time...

how you say ?

« Previous Thread Next Thread »

Main Forums

Today's Posts

Forum Help

Follow Us