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sound differences in DIGITAL cables

post #1 of 108
Thread Starter 
Hi all, just want to raise this question...I don't want to make it an argument or something,just interested to know how many of you tried different digital cables in their setups and noticed a difference in sound(for better or worse).

I just bought a new optical cable for my rig (dyton) to replace my monster coax cable i have been used so far. both cables sound good, no complain.
the reason i wanted to replace my monster cable is because in my ultra micro dac i have a small mini connection for the coaxial input(like headphones 3.5 plug connection) so i had to use an adaptor. although some people told me that the adapter shouldn't be an issue...i prefered to go for sure and still replace it with optical cable.(the ultra micro dac have a standart toslink input connection and for that i don't need an adapter!)

the new dayton optical is also shorter than the monster coax (1.5 ft. vs 4 ft.)

I am not sure,but i think that there are very minor sound differnces between the two....like in the dyton for example i noticed some echo in the sound,which i find more enjoyable and also the bass is tiny bit tighter and controlled, and the treble is more extended and smooth. i really like that sound better.
am i illusioning myself? is it psycological or maybe there are sound differences between digital cables? and if you can,please explain to me what causes/creates this sound differences. what differ the cables from each other and how does it effects the sound?

thanks!
post #2 of 108
I liked a heap of info about jitter in my blog, which you may find useful.

I noticed early on there was an improvement with better optical cables with the DACs I used. I think the quality of the digital connection with cheaper DACs is most noticeable as they don't have any means built in to correct jitter. In a thread somewhere, a poster wrote about radical differences with his Havana DAC and the type of connection used. Optical connections, according to one DAC maker, have the highest jitter, so that audible distortion results isn't a surprise.
post #3 of 108
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post
I liked a heap of info about jitter in my blog, which you may find useful.

I noticed early on there was an improvement with better optical cables with the DACs I used. I think the quality of the digital connection with cheaper DACs is most noticeable as they don't have any means built in to correct jitter. In a thread somewhere, a poster wrote about radical differences with his Havana DAC and the type of connection used. Optical connections, according to one DAC maker, have the highest jitter, so that audible distortion results isn't a surprise.
thanks for the link! i will look into it.
post #4 of 108
Thread Starter 
I read the first article and it says that optical cables are intruducing more jitter than coax cables. the reason is(by the article) that optical has another buffer level or something like that... although i almost certain that i heard somewhere else that optical are supposed to be better. monster (the cable company) also thinks that

if it's true, than i sorry i bought myself another optical cable. although i still have my monster coax.
the funny thing is that now i think that i love the sound more than before..maybe i love distorted sound

anyway..i will be glad to hear more comment on this.
post #5 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by plonter View Post
I read the first article and it says that optical cables are intruducing more jitter than coax cables. the reason is(by the article) that optical has another buffer level or something like that... although i almost certain that i heard somewhere else that optical are supposed to be better. monster (the cable company) also thinks that
The good thing about optical cable is that there is no electrical connection between the devices, thus reducing changes for ground loops (humming).

Quote:
if it's true, than i sorry i bought myself another optical cable. although i still have my monster coax.
the funny thing is that now i think that i love the sound more than before..maybe i love distorted sound
Don't be. I don't believe you are hearing jitter. It is DAC's fault if incoming jitter affects the result, and modern re-clocking ones like Ultra Micro DAC should be immune to that.
post #6 of 108
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tot View Post
The good thing about optical cable is that there is no electrical connection between the devices, thus reducing changes for ground loops (humming).


Don't be. I don't believe you are hearing jitter. It is DAC's fault if incoming jitter affects the result, and modern re-clocking ones like Ultra Micro DAC should be immune to that.
thanks! the sound is amazingly good through the optical anyway..
but how one can explain the different sound i am getting from the optical and coaxial cables. i can clearly hear a difference. and if it's not jutter...than what causes this difference?

btw..in the first post i mentioned that the treble was more extended through the optical but i realised that it's not true, it just seemed like that because the overall sound is a little more "clean" (at least to me) . but some say that the coax sound is generally more warm and rich...it may be true, i feel it too but from some reason i tends to like the optical sound more.
i probably love dry and cold sound(in the good way) over warm.
post #7 of 108
What kind of difference are you hearing?

The only artifact that people quote is jitter. Jitter is not a noise, is not an attenuator. So it will not give you extended high, lower base, darker background, better sound stage etc.

It is a kind of distortion that is not harmonic based. So it is quite distinctive and you know it when you hear it. That kind of skew in tone is quite similar to some of intentional distortion in heavy metal although not in the same magnitude.
post #8 of 108
Some people say -- I have no idea if it is true -- that digital coax S/PDIF cables must be 1.5 meters otherwise they suffer a reflection (digital bounceback) problem than can muddy the sound. 4 feet is less than 1.5 meters, so maybe that's why optical sounds better? Or perhaps the adapter is causing a problem, but it's hard to see what that would be.

But hey, if it sounds better to you, that's all that matters as long as you don't overspend.
post #9 of 108
Dan Lavry wrote a long post on jitter and how it doesn't necessarily consistently affect the sound, as it depends on the music and many other factors. That should be linked in my above blog entry somewhere now too.
post #10 of 108
Thread Starter 
thanks for the comments, and yes...the important thing is that the music sounds good. but it's very interesting subjuct anyway.

anybody else got the chance to listen to various digital cables(with the same transport and dac) and hear a difference in sound? i am just interested to know.
post #11 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by plonter View Post
thanks for the comments, and yes...the important thing is that the music sounds good. but it's very interesting subjuct anyway.

anybody else got the chance to listen to various digital cables(with the same transport and dac) and hear a difference in sound? i am just interested to know.
I use an optical and a coax-cable from my computer to my amp (AT-DHA3000) and hear no (great) differences. Sometimes I think there might be some slight difference, but I can not name it. (Maybe I need some education in the nomenclature )


But I think that since both the coax and the optical are digital, it could also depend on the device-tolerances. If the signal level goes below the threshold (or if reflections go above it) there will be loss or deformation of data (after all, there is no real feedback as there is with TCP/IP, it is a connectionless stream of data, more like UDP or broadcast). If this happens sometimes - I doubt you could tell. If it happens frequently - you probably could hear it. (Compare it with a dead pixel or a missing pixel in one frame of a movie. If the missing pixel is white on a otherwise black frame you could notice it. If it is a less bright yellow pixel on a yellow frame you would probably miss it.) So there you have a sliding scale with all kind of variables... If the signal level is well above the threshold and the reflections* are well below it (and the timing of both transmitter and recipient are within the same bounds) then you should not be able to tell the difference.

(* on badly shielded coax you also might have interference from outside sources - and somebody else already mentioned the possibility of loops. Both are next to impossible on optical cable in my expierence).
post #12 of 108
i can hear a difference of digital coax from p.c. - DAC - headphones if I compare a cheap stock copper crap rca cable to a high end solid-silver conductor-having, silver connector, having rca ... much more vibrant/open and detailed in the silver cable , even though it's digital info. passing through ... I swear ... I just tried this last weekend ... did not expect to hear a difference .
My advice is use *silver*(ideally solid silver <not> silver plated copper)digital cables/wires as much as your budget will allow ... it is overall, much better for audio SQ than copper in my book ...
post #13 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by tohenk2 View Post
But I think that since both the coax and the optical are digital, it could also depend on the device-tolerances. If the signal level goes below the threshold (or if reflections go above it) there will be loss or deformation of data (after all, there is no real feedback as there is with TCP/IP, it is a connectionless stream of data, more like UDP or broadcast). If this happens sometimes - I doubt you could tell. If it happens frequently - you probably could hear it.
Bit errors are clearly audible, they sound like static. It has happened me couple of times with bad cable or bad connection with coax cables.
post #14 of 108
yup there are differences in digital cables

i went from my QED SR75 reference, which had high ratings as best bang for the buck, to my cardas lighting 15.

the QED was less open and couldnt handle complex passages of music. It sounded congested and you couldnt separate each instrument.

even though i didnt believe that digital coax cables could make a difference, i could easily distinguish each cable 100% of the time.
post #15 of 108
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by endless402 View Post
yup there are differences in digital cables

i went from my QED SR75 reference, which had high ratings as best bang for the buck, to my cardas lighting 15.

the QED was less open and couldnt handle complex passages of music. It sounded congested and you couldnt separate each instrument.

even though i didnt believe that digital coax cables could make a difference, i could easily distinguish each cable 100% of the time.
i am really happy to hear that, because the difference between my new dayton optical is audible indeed from my older monster coax cable.
i heard the difference from the first 2 seconds i listened with the dayton, because i know the sound of my system so good with certain records.

the dayton sound is more open and clear to me. you know it's funny...i like the sound of a 16$ cable than a 50$ one (this is the price in israel...monster cables are Ridiculously overpriced and over appriciated here!).

i don't know if it's because i used the monster coax with an adapter...but the sound difference is surely there.
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