optical cable quality

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I noticed I can drop a large chunk of change on optical cable for digital
audio output going from the television to the home theater amp. Thick
looking braided stuff.

I cheaped out and got a hunk of Sony cable from Targets.

Is the shortcoming on this 15 dollar piece of cable the fact that it might
not be as durable, or will the expensive stuff yield better sound?

I figure it is digital, so as long as it is not dropping 1's and 0's ...it
should sound the same.

Should I bust open my wallet, or save it for speaker cable or other
interconnects?

Thanks for any knowledge that you may be able to share!!

....Dave



Re: optical cable quality


I would point out one thing about our cable hookup.
After a year of having digital cable box we called the service out to check
on something.
The cable guy tested the signal strength and it was weak at the cable box.
Now being digital you would think it either works or it dosent! you now the
1's and 0's
Well the weak signal was causing me to not receive certian stations and I
was never getting the on demand movie feature. I never knew I wes missing
these features!!!

We traced the problem to cheap splitters I was using and cheap screw on
connectors.
They had been fine for the analog signal but when we switched to digital the
couldnt handle it.
The cable guy replaced all the splitters, gave me new cable with his crimped
connectors and our picture didnt get better on the channels we had always
recieved but now we were getting channels that were not coming through
before and now the on demand feature worked...

Kinda flys in the face of i'm either getting my 1's and 0's or I'm not....
Signal streangth is important.
Also a good cable guy who knows what he's doing and takes the time to do it
right...

Steve


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Re: optical cable quality


Not apples to apples. Digital optical cable connects digital sources
like DVD players & Xbox 360's to a receiver typically 3-6' apart,
passing a dedicated, efficient bitstream of 0's & 1's.

Meanwhile the multiplxed signal from Comcast to your home includes
various low-bandwidth and high-bandwidth transmissions that all needs
to be separated by your digital cable box. Your home, like many wired
back in the 70's & 80's, have old RG-59 coax and low MHz splitters,
that are insufficient for passing today's high-bandwidth signals--like
trying to sip a milkshake thru a coffee-stirrer straw. The low
bandwidth material (like the coffee) was able to get through; meanwhile
the high-bandwidth material could not (like the shake). Once you got a
bigger straw, the high-bandwidth signals finally got through.

Digital is all or nothing; below the required signal strength, and you
get nothing, no snow, no ghosts--nothing. However surpess that
threshold--bang, perfect picture. That's the point of the 0's & 1's
comment. Once you pass a digital signal successfully, no amount of
montrous, 24K gold cable will make a difference...except in your kids'
college fund.

comcastss news groups wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it


Re: optical cable quality


Not apples to apples. Digital optical cable connects digital sources
like DVD players & Xbox 360's to a receiver typically 3-6' apart,
passing a dedicated, efficient bitstream of 0's & 1's.

Meanwhile the multiplxed signal from Comcast to your home includes
various low-bandwidth and high-bandwidth transmissions that all needs
to be separated by your digital cable box. Your home, like many wired
back in the 70's & 80's, have old RG-59 coax and low MHz splitters,
that are insufficient for passing today's high-bandwidth signals--like
trying to sip a milkshake thru a coffee-stirrer straw. The low
bandwidth material (like the coffee) was able to get through; meanwhile
the high-bandwidth material could not (like the shake). Once you got a
bigger straw, the high-bandwidth signals finally got through.

Digital is all or nothing; below the required signal strength, and you
get nothing, no snow, no ghosts--nothing. However surpess that
threshold--bang, perfect picture. That's the point of the 0's & 1's
comment. Once you pass a digital signal successfully, no amount of
montrous, 24K gold cable will make a difference...except in your kids'
college fund.

comcastss news groups wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it


Re: optical cable quality


Your insight serves you well. "High end" a/v cables are the "snake oil"
of the 21st century.
Toshiba invented the optical digital connection, hence "TOSLINK." Their
data sheet can be found at
www.willas-array.com/prod/products/directory/pdf/toshiba/OPT_0005.PDF,
which specs 3 different kinds of optical fiber:

1) APF, all-plastic fiber for "short-distance" data transmission (up to
40 METERS)
2) PCF, plastic cladding silica fiber for "medium distance" (up to 1000
M)
3) All-silica fiber for long distance, as in miles from Verizon to your
home.

Obviously APF is fine for most any home theater (unless your components
are spread out 120' apart). Premium TOSLINK cables can be purchased
direct from a high-quality fiber manufacturer at
http://www.lifatec.com/toslink4.html for just $8. These cables are a
mere 2.2mm (.090"), and as they put it "note our cable jacketing is
thinner than our expensive competitors' because we feel the customer
deserves performance, not extra fat."

Lifatec does offer clad TOSLINK cables for "rugged environments"...or
customers who simply expect "good" cables to be thick. Likewise all
other "monstrous" TOSLINK cables are merely sheathed APF to give the
impression of quality and robustness..., which helps them justify their
exorbitant price margins.

Bottom line is that $8 2.2mm Lifatec TOSLINK is just as good, if not
better than any $100 Ginormous brand cable.

Same goes for most any other cable:
a) Speaker: simple 12 ga OFC for $0.50/ft at www.partsexpress.com
b) Component video: Quality coax-based RCA cables from
www.bluejeanscables.com (or me).
c) HDMI or DVI: again a digital signal, so most any decent cable is
fine; I like the ones at www.monoprice.com

Good luck,
Jeff
www.1080me.com



Dave Edwards wrote:
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Re: optical cable quality


Jeff....
Thanks much. This is exactly the info I needed. I needed to go from the TV
to the home theater amp and bought a length of Sony cable. Then I realized I
could use another to go from the DVD/CD player to the amp. I went back to
the store and there were no more cheap Sony cables....so I got a cheap GE
cable. Well, they both work, so I figure if they work well enough for light
to get through,  I can't make the 1's and 0's any better!
....Dave
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