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I am curious how others on the forum feel about…

Do you get better audio from Toslink or coaxial cable? I see some advantages with Toslink: no magnetic or RF interference. Is there any signal degradation from the electrical to light from light to electrical conversion?

Your opinions would be greatly appreciated.

-Bill M.
 

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Personally I've never been able to tell even the slightest difference, but then again my ears ain't the best in the barn. :huh:
 

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Coaxial cables can handle more data, faster, so it is suppose to be better. But Toslink is pretty much interference proof, so you actually might get better results with them.

I haven't been able to notice difference.
 

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You would have to have pretty good gear to hear a difference (if any). In my experience there is not much difference between cables, so long as you're not using really low quality discount store stuff. Both of these formats have advantages and disadvantages, most likely the best cable will depend on the environment in which it is used.

D.
 

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Possibly less clock recovery jitter due to the sharper rise/fall times of the signals on the coaxial interface. But like Steve says with Toslink you don't have to worry about adding a groundloop. In practice most often there is no audible difference.
 

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For audio only devices, the ground loop possibility may be an advantage for optical. For units with other connections for video, there is still a ground path, so it is not an advantage there. Optical conversion should have no effect on the signal, but it is one more thing to fail. Optical cables are more fragile and the connections are often less solid. With well shielded coaxial connections, we have found that we get significatnly better reliability in most systems, so we prefer to use coaxial where we can. In hundreds of installs, I have never serviced one for a problem on a coaxial audio link, but have serviced quite a few for problems on optical links.

The signal is the same as long as interference is not an issue, which it should not be with a quality cable.
 

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I tried ABing both the coaxial and optical connections from my CD player to my AVR, but couldn't hear a difference at all.

That said, I'm using the analog outs of my CD player, since I want to use its DAC rather than the AVR's.
 

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So does the CD conversion sound better than the AVR? Which units are you using?

There are other reasons to use the analog outs also. Some receivers with multizone operation need an analog signal for zone 2 or 3.
 

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My observation is that using my AVR's DAC gave a slightly brighter sound, which I didn't prefer. My CDP is a NAD C542, while the AVR is an Onkyo 797.
 

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From personal experience I like coax because it's cheaper and easy to DIY make yourself. Just takes some RG-6 cable and some compression RCA connectors and you have custom length cables.
 

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I'm an optical advocate. I have an Acoustic Research optical cable and a Monster cable THX coax. I can hear a difference. The optical sounds better. I guess the only way to describe it is cleaner sounding. Sounds more open.
 

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To what do you attribute the difference? Do you realize that it is exactly the same signal witht he exception of the convertion to optical at the source end and the conversion from optical at the destination? There is no difference except in the case of noise that might be transferred over the gounds and interference that might occur if the shielding is poor. What units are you using?
 

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I don't know all the answers to the questions you have just asked. Maybe the quality of the monster cable isn't as good as the AR optical. I've ran them both from the same dvd player into the same receiver, and the only advantage I'd give the coax is in the midrange. Of course this could be because the treble and bass were brought out more with the optical.

When I say I like the optical better, It's not by a huge margin, just barely noticeable. But it is noticeable.
 

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Could something be set up differently between the two inputs?

What's the rest of the system look like?
 

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I don't know all the answers to the questions you have just asked. Maybe the quality of the monster cable isn't as good as the AR optical. I've ran them both from the same dvd player into the same receiver, and the only advantage I'd give the coax is in the midrange. Of course this could be because the treble and bass were brought out more with the optical.

When I say I like the optical better, It's not by a huge margin, just barely noticeable. But it is noticeable.

What are the models of the units and is there any other connection between the source and the receiver? Have you done blind comparisons?
 

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Pioneer vsx-d411 receiver and an older phillips dvd player when the tests were done. I did better than blind listening tests. I did a wife listening test. Without telling her which was which she was able to tell which sounded better. No other sound connections were made.
 

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What about video connections? Is there a ground path between the units, even through your display? I wonder if there might be some common mode noise that might account for the difference. If there is no connection from the display to the audio, then you might be getting a ground loop or noise in the gound conection with the coax that you are not with the optical. Just trying to figure out why there might be a difference...there should not be, but you are obviously experiencing something.
 

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Not sure. I'm pretty sure that quality isn't an issue with the optical cable, being they all shoot light and receive the same. It could be a quality issue with the coax cable. I know that they both send digital signals, and I know that it's 1's and 0's that are transmitted. I'm clueless too as to why one could sound better than the other. My best guess is that there was something with either the receiver or the dvd player. One of the plugs where the connections are made could've been better than the other. Or another option is that the coax is sending a low level electrical signal and not all the 1's and 0's are coming thru properly. Don't know. I guess it could all attribute back to the guy who spends $50 on cables and the guy that spends $10,000 on the same type and length of cable. Some may actually be better than others.

Either way, I'll stick with the optical for most if not all my future connections because of my experience with them.


Oh, and can't really recall the video connections at the time. Don't know if I had the tv on for both tests but I know I had just a composite video connection running from the DVD player and being switched thru the receiver. I was running a test with a Mellencamp CD and then the Queen "A night at the opera" DVD audio on the DTS setting.

I know this may sound out in left field all this talk. I really understand why all this sounds a little questionable, mainly because I thought the same thing when I first heard it. I thought it's digital. The signal either makes it there and decodes or it doesn't. Couldn't figure out why the optical had a more appealing sound, just know that it did.

Anyway just gonna wait for the 1.3 HDMI receivers to become more prevelant and buy one of those for all the connections.
 
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