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Question for the digital cable experts...fiber or coax?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I read something in a thread recently that I now cannot find so here is a direct question. This thread through many posters seemed to take for granted that if given a choice between hooking up a device digitally with a fiber optic cable or 75 ohm coax cable the coax would always be better. Is this true?

My specific application is a DV47A DVD player with both 75 Ohm coax digital output and fiber TOS LINK output to a headphone amp that has an on board DAC with coax or fiber inputs. I can hook up both at the same time. I am assuming the amp can only use one input at a time but I don't know which one it favors when both are connected. Hooked up like this, while listening to music I can disconnect the fiber or coax and the sound is not interupted at all so the switching is instant. In this application with some short tests I can't hear a difference between the fiber or coax. Is it my ears? should I be listening for something specific? any opinions?

Thanks.
post #2 of 18
Much depends on the quality of the optical and coax cables, and lengths as well. I found little difference, until I tried the (discontinued) Elco DC-32 digital coax. I wound up buying half a dozen of them, and regret not buying more. Once I hit a really good coax, there was no turning back.
post #3 of 18
Say Hirsch, in your experience how much does a higher quality coax digital cable give? In terms of sound quality?

As drastic as ICs? Or more like power cables? More subtle?
Think it's worth it?

post #4 of 18
Coax is generally viewed to be better.

markl
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally posted by jodokast
Say Hirsch, in your experience how much does a higher quality coax digital cable give? In terms of sound quality?

As drastic as ICs? Or more like power cables? More subtle?
Think it's worth it?

What I heard was a level of detail I had not previously experienced in a digital setup, without the addition of digital harshness. There's simply more of the music present. Nuance and transparency greatly improved. I couldn't go backward after hearing it.

I can't really compare the difference to a change in any other cable. For example: Grado HPA-1 and Homegrown Silver Lace are not sonically compatible. Change the interconnect here, and the difference will be greater than any possible power cord upgrade. ZOTL and Silver Lace get along very well. So, changing an interconnect from something like Silver Sonic BL-1 is quite subtle.

If you've got a bad digital interconnect in place, the improvement will be dramatic. If your setup is already good, it will be less so.

I know that I'm being vague, but what you hear will really depend on how well what you've already got is working, along with possibile compatibility issues.
post #6 of 18
doh!
You're gonna make me replace my cheapo $10 radioshack coax cord aren't ya? Hehe.....I think I"ll start spending some $$ and experimenting then.....


btw where did you buy your gw world dsp?
post #7 of 18
Ummm....I thought we all decided that digital cables, due to their digital nature, do not matter. Most of the cable wars are over analog.

I remember a site were a guy used a coat hanger for a digital cable and the result were the same as a more expensive cable.
post #8 of 18
*cough*

someone besides me?
post #9 of 18
I'm way too tired to get into another cable debate. In my system, the digital interconnect makes a very big difference. I suspect that, as with all things cable, some will have had similar experiences, while others who have not heard differences will try and tell us why we can't have experienced what we did
post #10 of 18
Man how things change....


I remember MacDef, or maybe even Jude, saying that w/ digi cables it does not make a difference...
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally posted by Czilla9000
I remember MacDef, or maybe even Jude, saying that w/ digi cables it does not make a difference...
Wasn't me... and therefore it wasn't Jude, either

("Jude's audio twin" joke )
post #12 of 18

Toslink bad; Coax better

Unless the coax cable is complete crap, it will always beat Toslink no matter what the price of the Toslink cable. Glass optical like AT&T ST on the other hand is a different matter.

And by the way digital cables do make a difference, it may not be as audible as ICs but if you listen carefully you can hear it.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the responses!

Not a single response yet as to why coax is better than TOS LINK.

As a telecommunications engineer I work with digital signals, coax, and fiber all the time. I'm sure there is a difference, perhaps huge, between telecommunications grade cables and what you pick up at your local circuit city. In my line of work I can put a 45 Mega Bits per second signal on a coax cable (the same guage as a standard audio digital cable) and run it 200 feet or less and it works fine. In the fiber arena I can run a straight digital signal at 10 Giga bits per second on a pair of fibers for several miles. Using DWDM technology I can run 40 Giga bits per second several miles on a pair of fibers about the size of a human hair.

The practical limit of what a fiber cable can carry is limited only by the devices at either end. The theorectical limit if I remember correctly is around 1000 tera bytes per second.

In comparison the amount of data carried for audio with coax is like putting a pea down a six lane highway. For fiber it's like taking a cup of water out of the ocean. Both extreme exaggerations but you get the idea.

Is audio grade fiber so poor, or the connectors so bad that it corrupts the signal to an audible extent and that because of this coax is better? Remember we are not talking analog here only zero's and one's and slow at that.
post #14 of 18
The reason is that the somewhat questionable quality of the toslink connection produces more jitter than electrical s/p-dif - at least that's what german audio magazines claim unisono. That seems to make some sense...

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini
post #15 of 18
The above is correct.

Plastic optical cables (TosLink) generate a lot of jitter whereas SPDIF do not.

Glass optical (AT&T ST) does not have this problem, however it is only found on expensive transports.
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