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ID.'s picture
Last seen: 2 days 14 hours ago
Joined: 22/02/2010 - 13:12
Posts: 2769
Digital: Coax vs Optical

I'm trying to decide whether to use a coax or optical cable from my digital transport. What do you use/prefer? Is there any particular reason why? (e.g. optical isn't subject to interference and mains noise)

Apple Mini -> Pioneer U-05 -> Adam A7X

ATV -> NuForce Icon HDP -> Genelec 8020C

Sennheiser HD650, HD595; B&W P7; Audio Technica ATH-AD900X, ATH-A900X

Anonymous's picture
Re: Digital: Coax vs Optical

Optical, for the reason you state.

I've never compared the two so don't know if there is a difference in sound quality, but would strongly doubt it given the nature of the signal being transported.

Anonymous's picture
Re: Digital: Coax vs Optical

I think the general consensus is that coax is best mainly due to the fact that toslink requires 2 extra conversions...electrical to optical and back again. Have to be honest though, I can't really say I can tell the difference.

Ragworm's picture
Last seen: 4 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 24/07/2007 - 19:28
Posts: 86
Re: Digital: Coax vs Optical

For some time now the received wisdom seems to have been that COAX is better. I have two 3M optical cables linking my Blu Ray player and PVR to my Yamaha surround receiver. I paid £7 each for these and they look identical to the TCI Coral ones. I've always wondered if COAX would sound better and recently found a 3M QED cable for a very reasonable £19. I was able to connect it to my Sony Blu Ray player in parallel with the optical lead to my amp and switch between them easily. After a week of A-B comparision with both movies and music I couldn't hear any difference at all. The COAX is currently back in its box in a cupboard as the black optical leads are thinner, more flexible and less obtrusive than the bright purple COAX. QED (pun intended!)

Anonymous's picture
Re: Digital: Coax vs Optical

I use optical for long runs from my Sky box and DVD (which sit under the TV) to the surround processor (which sits in the hifi rack).  I figure the (relatively) low quality signal from both of these won't be affected by the two extra conversions and if you shop around you can get long runs of optical for small amounts of money.

I would only ever use coax from my CD transport to my DAC because the extra two conversions are avoided and because the relatively short run (a half metre cable would do me) means I can spend more without spending, er, more, if you know what I mean.

MUSICRAFT's picture
Last seen: 2 days 4 hours ago
Joined: 23/03/2009 - 20:38
Posts: 5520
Re: Digital: Coax vs Optical

Up to 3m i use coaxial as to me it sounds more natural then optical.


Rick @ Musicraft

Musicraft (Derby) - Specialist Hi-Fi, AV & Multimedia dealer

kevinJ's picture
Last seen: 9 months 2 days ago
Joined: 02/11/2008 - 13:56
Posts: 370
Re: Digital: Coax vs Optical

I would say coax, because there's no extra conversion needed to pass the signal.

But I had to use an optical connection due to other reasons...

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