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DVD Audio Input: "Optical" vs. "Coaxial"

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DVD Audio Input: "Optical" vs. "Coaxial"

Old 09-04-01, 03:31 PM
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DVD Audio Input: "Optical" vs. "Coaxial"

Dear All,
Thanks for clarifying the 16:9 question that I posted earlier. Now I have another question about the DVD AUDIO:

My Sony A/V Unit (equipped with built-in Dolby Digital/DTS Decoder) has both the OPTICAL and COAXIAL (and traditional Front, Left, Right, Sub-Woofer) Inputs.

In the past I have enjoyed my OPTICAL input connection since the clarity of the sound was amazing.

Recently I have purchased a PlayStation 2 system and I have connected its sound via OPTICAL (yes, PlayStation 2 games DO utilize full 5.1 Dolby Digital!) as a result I am only left with COAXIAL connection for my DVD AUDIO.

The Question:

Is COAXIAL has lesser clarity compared to OPTICAL? I mean I have now purchased a COAXIAL MONSTER CABLE and to be honest with you I can not tell the difference between the OPTICAL and COAXIAL. (I mean they are both GOOD)

Thanks again for helping a fellow newbie!
Old 09-04-01, 03:38 PM
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There are some people who swear one is better than the other, but I can't tell a difference between the two. I don't think you'll miss a thing using the coax.
Old 09-04-01, 03:48 PM
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Thanks! I guess I fall into the category of "I really CAN'T tell the differecen".

I even discussed this issue with a Dolby Laboratory Tech Support (here in San Francisco, their HQ) and he said the difference (if any) is VERY nominal.

p.s. Now if I could find an adapter to give me one "extra" COMPONENT Input for my TV, so I can hook up both my DVD Player and PlayStation 2. (currently PS2 is connected via COMPONENT Input and my DVD via S-VIDEO)

Thanks agian, you guys are the BEST!
Old 09-04-01, 04:22 PM
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If I send you two emails with identical content, and say, one comes by way of fiber optic cable and the other through copper cables. Do you see the difference in the contents of the two messages ??

It is the same situation for digital audio - It is digital information being sent over two different transmission media. There is absolutely no discernable difference between digital audio via coax or optical. Unless you are planning to run a few hundred meters of cable OR want to coil your cables into a tight spiral or around tight corners, you can choose either one.

People who say they notice differences between the two types of cables are either elitists or nincompoops or both.
Old 09-04-01, 04:24 PM
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Originally posted by Cannibal Corpse

p.s. Now if I could find an adapter to give me one "extra" COMPONENT Input for my TV, so I can hook up both my DVD Player and PlayStation 2. (currently PS2 is connected via COMPONENT Input and my DVD via S-VIDEO)

Thanks agian, you guys are the BEST!

arggghh !!! ... does the image quality of your PS2 matter MORE than that of your DVD ??? I would've done the opposite and reserved the component connections on my TV for my DVDs.
Old 09-04-01, 04:30 PM
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Originally posted by Cannibal Corpse

p.s. Now if I could find an adapter to give me one "extra" COMPONENT Input for my TV, so I can hook up both my DVD Player and PlayStation 2. (currently PS2 is connected via COMPONENT Input and my DVD via S-VIDEO)

Kinda off topic, but the PS2 has component outputs? Did you need to buy a special cable or does this come standard? Pretty sweet considering my PSX only has composite.
Old 09-04-01, 04:52 PM
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Can't tell the difference. But I'll tell ya, I spent 4.95 on a 75 ohm cable wire with the right connector and it works just fine.
Old 09-04-01, 05:47 PM
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Optical is superior for the following reasons: low power, high bandwidth, with little signal loss over great distances (100s of miles) verses copper.

Over a distance of 2 meters absolutely zero nada no difference.
Old 09-04-01, 05:53 PM
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I beleive a lot of he confusion of Coax Digital outputs might have something to do with Laserdisc players. As others have said... on a DVD player you are just sending a digital bitstream where your decoder will take the bitstream and turn it into sound. With a digital bitstream it makes no difference what cable you use... you could use a coat hanger if you wanted too. Coax or Optical (Toslink) will make no difference either.

Now with a Laserdisc player the Co-ax AC-3 output is a RF output. The laserdisc records the DD 5.1 signal on a analog audio track, and is sent to a RF demodulator where it is converted to the digital bitstream to be processed by yout DD decoder. With a Laserdisc player you NEED the bandwidth of a 75ohm coax cable in order to properly send the AC-3 RF output.

Now a CD player is slightly different then either the Laserdisc or DVD player. The PCM bitstream from the CD player is time dependent... so if a bit arrives at the wrong time then you introduce something called jitter, which is that undesirable hash sound and loss of resolution in digital audio. (that's an oversimplified explanation, go here for a full explantion http://www.digido.com/jitteressay.html ). The main problem of Toslink is lack of bandwidth. The theorists say that unless the D/A can recover the precision of clock periods of the digital signal, Toslink will introduce the highest level of random jitter. A coax cable, on the other hand can be designed with extremely high bandwidth, which I guess is supposed to reduce random noise-induced jitter. So sonically, a high quality coax digital link is more desirable than a high quality Toslink fiber optic digital link for your PCM digital data from your CD player. Of course... I can't tell a difference nor could I tell you what jitter sounds like. Years of riding a loud motorcycle has destroyed my accute sence of hearing.


To make a long story short:

DVD player: Use any digital connection
CD player: Use a Coax Digital connection if availible.
Old 09-04-01, 06:15 PM
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Optical is superior for the following reasons: low power, high bandwidth, with little signal loss over great distances (100s of miles) verses copper.
Yes... optical fibers have a much higher bandwidth then a metal wire, but in this case the bandwidth of Toslink is limited by it's implementations (transmitter and receiver). Now if you step up to a AT&T-ST type optical transmission system you will get MUCH more bandwidth. Remember... Toslink has the lowest bandwidth of all commercially availible digital links. Of course optical transmittes/receiver have come a long way since Toslink was introduced... if you have good quality equipment and interconnects it should not matter

Of course... with electrical digital signals if you don't have properly impedence matches connectors/ cable you will get reflections of the signal in the cable... yet again introducing jitter. (and you are subject to RF interference if you use crappy unshielded cables too!). I say use anything... as long as it's a good quality interconnect you should be fine.
Old 09-06-01, 12:20 PM
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Originally posted by skar


Kinda off topic, but the PS2 has component outputs? Did you need to buy a special cable or does this come standard? Pretty sweet considering my PSX only has composite.
The PS2 comes with composite outs, but you can buy an S-video out (which is what I have) or a composite out separately.
Old 09-06-01, 02:18 PM
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PS2 games aren't in full 5.1 Only certain games have cutscenes that have 5.1 audio. AFAIK, the only system with games in full, true 5.1 is the XBox.
Old 09-06-01, 03:31 PM
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Originally posted by Chest Rockwell
... the only system with games in full, true 5.1 is the XBox.
How do you know this? The system and the games are not out yet.
Old 09-06-01, 04:22 PM
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Not to get off topic... I am not sure if any games have been announced for X-Box that have 5.1 audio in game... but I KNOW that X-Box has the capability to do real-time 5.1 sound during game play. Playstation 2, as far as I know, does not have any published capability. Though there are ways to do it... some companies have tried, but I think they decided not to go with it as it took up too much processing power.
Old 09-06-01, 04:32 PM
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Originally posted by kinky
If I send you two emails with identical content, and say, one comes by way of fiber optic cable and the other through copper cables. Do you see the difference in the contents of the two messages ??

It is the same situation for digital audio - It is digital information being sent over two different transmission media. There is absolutely no discernable difference between digital audio via coax or optical.

Interesting example. Works well, bits are bits.

One caveat, though, optical may help eliminate a
ground loop hum, since it's electrically 'dead'.

I use coax with no problems or hum.
Old 09-07-01, 12:00 AM
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Off the topic

I saw a flyer in EB stating that there would be 5.1 DD games for the X-Box. There are even reports that the new Game Cube will have some 5.1DD titles available.

saintsfan
Old 09-07-01, 12:44 AM
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Prologic soundtracks on my Onkyo reciever sounded like crap w/Toslink but the Tru 75 OHM End to End coax i'm using sounds great on Prologic. My subwoofer bass is harder hitting also is DTS mode also.

Everyone heard the vast difference in Prologic sound between the cables so it was'nt just me. Could have been a bad toslink cable though.
Old 09-07-01, 01:07 AM
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Originally posted by cubanx
Prologic soundtracks on my Onkyo reciever sounded like crap w/Toslink but the Tru 75 OHM End to End coax i'm using sounds great on Prologic. My subwoofer bass is harder hitting also is DTS mode also.

Everyone heard the vast difference in Prologic sound between the cables so it was'nt just me. Could have been a bad toslink cable though.
Vast difference?

Sounds like a bad cable or connection somewhere. But if the coax is working for you why mess with it.
Old 09-07-01, 01:25 AM
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Originally posted by cubanx
Prologic soundtracks on my Onkyo reciever sounded like crap w/Toslink but the Tru 75 OHM End to End coax i'm using sounds great on Prologic. My subwoofer bass is harder hitting also is DTS mode also.

Everyone heard the vast difference in Prologic sound between the cables so it was'nt just me. Could have been a bad toslink cable though.
On my Onkyo I can't hear any difference. It's sounds like you may have had a bad cable. The problem I have with Toslink cables is that if you even look at them funny they break. Just too fragile.
Old 09-29-01, 02:11 PM
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reviving an old thread ...

what are good prices for these cables?

Coaxial?
Optical?

Feel free to give me specs (manufacturer, length of cable, etc.).
Old 09-29-01, 09:49 PM
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Re: reviving an old thread ...

Originally posted by namja
what are good prices for these cables?

Coaxial?
Optical?

Feel free to give me specs (manufacturer, length of cable, etc.).
For coaxial I just go with Radio Shack Gold Series 75 ohm composite cable (i think they have a specific coaial digital labled cable as well). You should be able to get either for under 10 bucks.

J
Old 09-30-01, 01:07 AM
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Re: Re: reviving an old thread ...

Originally posted by Master J
For coaxial I just go with Radio Shack Gold Series 75 ohm composite cable (i think they have a specific coaial digital labled cable as well). You should be able to get either for under 10 bucks.
Well, I went to BB and CC and they both only had the Monster cable for $40. Then I went to Radio Shack and picked up the Gold Series Digital Audio Cable for $15.

Is the Monster cable any 'better'??? Why the heck is it $40???
Old 09-30-01, 04:24 AM
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Re: Re: Re: reviving an old thread ...

Originally posted by namja

Well, I went to BB and CC and they both only had the Monster cable for $40. Then I went to Radio Shack and picked up the Gold Series Digital Audio Cable for $15.

Is the Monster cable any 'better'??? Why the heck is it $40???
It's $40 because it has the 'Monster' name on it so they've got to put a monster of a price as well.
I'm sure you're system, with the Radio Shack Gold cable, will sound just as good as the Monster cables BB and CC carry.
Old 09-30-01, 10:34 AM
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Re: reviving an old thread ...

Originally posted by namja
what are good prices for these cables?

Coaxial?
Optical?

Feel free to give me specs (manufacturer, length of cable, etc.).
Philips Magnavox Gold Series 6ft. $29.9? (Walmart, I know, I know) I think Target had some RCA cables (sold out at my local store) for around $12 or $13. Both optical.

Remember that it is a digital transmission. As long as the data gets there it doesn't deteriorate. Just be careful with the fiber optic cable so it doesn't make any sudden bends.
Old 10-01-01, 10:10 AM
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Well these is a lot in this threat to talk about.

First, in HT applications there is no difference between coaxil and optical inputs - provided you use a 75 ohn cable for coaxil.

However I prefer the optical cables over the coaxil. You can get a "black box" to do optical source switching.

Check out the Audio Authotiry model #1177 - this is what I use in my system as I have 5 optical sources and only 4 inputs on my current receiver.

http://www.audioauthority.com

I'm currently in a similar situation with my component inputs - my TV has 2 component sources, but if I use the RGB input for my HD then I only have 1 component input, yet I have 2 component outputs DVD and PS2. Although I use component for the DVD and not the PS2

There are 2 ways you can solve this problem, either buy a new receiver with component video switching, or purchase a "black box" that does it for you.

Here are a couple I know of:

http://www.keydigital.com/detail.asp...CT_ID=KD-SW2x1
http://www.audioauthority.com
check model numbers #985U, #985DTV, and #954

Personally I'd suggest just getting a new receiver that has optical input and component video switching, it'll cost abotu the same as a couple of these "black boxes" and will use a lot less calbe

Oh and to J: I don't work for either of these companies

Last edited by DavePhipps; 10-01-01 at 10:12 AM.

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