Lifatec TOSLINK Optical Cable


500+ Head-Fier
The best glass optical cable on the market.
Pros: Everything including the glass fiber is produced in-house
No-nonsense plugs make a solid connection
Cons: Snake oil if you think a $10 cable is all you need
It's still an optical cable, so care must be taken when handling it
For those who think a $10 plastic optical cable is good enough, cool. I'm making absolutely no claims that this cable improves sound quality. However, as this is an optical cable, it confers specific advantages over USB cables which I'll detail further below.

So why pay USD $135 for a 6-foot optical cable? What you're paying for is supporting a small, specialized company that produces a quality, handmade product. What makes Lifatec unique is that they specialize in supplying medical-grade optic fiber lines for endoscopes. Their optical cable business is a bonus, but it means that they know exactly what they're doing instead of outsourcing the cables to an OEM, then slapping their brand label on them. This means they can also make custom length cables. I specifically wanted a cable that was 4 feet long and they were happy to make it.

When compared against other boutique cables, Lifatec's cable doesn't look fancy at all, but it actually out-specs them at a fraction of the price. Lifatec's cable is made of 470 glass fibers. DH Labs charges $265 for their 6.5-foot Glass Master optical cable, but it has 300 glass fibers. AudioQuest charges $300 for their 5-foot Vodka optical cable, but it's just a pretty rebranded Asahi Kasei 217 plastic fiber cable.

The plug is well-built and snaps into the optical jack more solidly than any of my cheap optical cables. The plug is made of plastic, but that's because a gold-plated plug on a non-electrical cable is pointless. The cable itself is actually lighter and more flexible than my cheap optical cables because the sheathing isn't some thick PVC. I haven't attempted a stress test, and won't do so, but I wouldn't use this cable (or any optical cable) in an area where it may be stepped on. There's no protection other than the thin sheathing, as optical cables are immune to electromagnetic interference.

The Lifatec cable will carry a 24-bit 192khz PCM signal with no issues. USB can carry a 32-bit 768khz PCM signal, as well as more exotic signals such as DSD and MQA. But what looks great on paper doesn't necessarily translate to real results. I had a $700 Topping D90 DAC (review here) that had several issues with handling USB audio. First, there was an electrical ground loop, and I could clearly hear the noise even when there was no audio being played. Second, USB audio tends to turn on and off, leading to popping artifacts. Switching from USB to optical solved all of these issues, and so for me, optical is the DAC input of choice. A $10 plastic optical cable may have done the same. However, after reading reports that some optical cables couldn't handle 24-bit 192khz PCM signals, I decided to purchase the Lifatec cable for peace of mind.

Some have claimed that this is the best optical cable at any price, and that they've heard sonic improvements over other optical cables. I make no such claims, and neither does Lifatec, which is a breath of fresh air compared to other companies. It gets the job done, and even though it out-specs the competition, it's not monstrously expensive compared to boutique cables that cost over $1000. By purchasing this, you're getting a quality cable, handmade by a small company in the USA, instead of a mass-produced product made in China and sold at large margins. And that's good enough for me.
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Thanks for reviewing a TOSLINK patch with S/T quality. Lucent Technologies specified connectors incompatible with TOSLINK for the industrial S/T standard, which uses optical glass fiber rather than the optical plastics of most TOSLINK connections.
fortunate son
fortunate son
The Lifatec is a well made tight fitting cable. It is the most analytical optical cable I have used.
I have the Lifatec optic cable. It sounds notable better than the one I had in its place.