Digital Audio Cable

Coaxial Audio CableThe digital audio cable introduces the more progressive way to connect audio components. In general, it improves sound quality if to compare with the analog audio cable, as the sound signal can be easily passed on the greater distance without quality loss thanks to “noise-proof” audio data transferring capabilities. Some people can also find it more convenient and aesthetic to have just a single wire carrying the signal from the PC sound card to the home theater system delivering DTS or another type of surround sound.

That being said, many people often overestimate the benefits being added by the digital audio connection, as it is widely believed that such a cable can dramatically improve sound quality and bring acoustic system performance to an absolutely new level. As we have already mentioned, yes, in some cases it might make you feel the difference; but connecting the closely standing stereo speakers with the quality analog PC audio cables of short length looks perfectly reasonable as well. Of course, when dealing with the multichannel sound or big distances, the analog cable is not a rival to the digital one. To be fair, some small connection problems can break the digital signal entirely.

Actually, SPDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interconnect Format) is the format underlying the signal transferring via digital audio cables. It is also known as S/PDIF and S/P-DIF. It is often used as the generic synonym of the digital audio connection. So, if your sound card has an SPDIF output socket and you have an audio receiver supporting the corresponding sound signal decoding format, then you might want to take advantage of this connection scheme. Note that not only a traditional stand-alone home audio receiver can be used in this scheme; you can also make use of digital speakers that can be connected to a digital source directly.

Digital audio cables can be divided into two groups: digital optical cables (also known as Toslink optical) and digital coaxial cables. It is widely thought that the optical and coaxial types of connection have a very subtle difference in performance, though the optical one can benefit on longer distances. At the same time, the coaxial cable provides a sort of more durable connection, as it is flexible and won’t break as soon as the optical one can in case of moving the connected components too often. So, it usually tends to be the more optimal choice. Yet, note that the output socket type of your sound card may be incompatible with the input socket type of your sound system. Luckily, such an issue can be quite easily resolved with the special digital signal converter, either coaxial to optical or optical to coaxial one.

Thanks to the standard RCA jack connectivity, the digital coaxial cable can be even used for analog audio signal transferring, as the better quality factor allows it to be excellent where the analog one is just good. On the contrary, using the analog RCA to RCA cable for digital connection might not be that great idea, though it can be acceptable for a very short length.

Some audiophiles may even use an external DAC – the digital-to-analog converter. It is used as the more advanced alternative to the built-in sound card DAC. As a rule, either SPDIF or USB cable is used for connecting the external DAC, depending on its available input socket types.

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