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  1. #1

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    Default Optical Cable Differences?

    In my continueing quest to get the monsters out of my system, I switched to an optical cable from Outlaw Audio to connect my Denon 910 to my Yamaha HTR-5790. I could not believe the difference in sound quality, like night-and-day! I have been trying different analog IC's, and there are differences, but nothing like the change in sound when switching optical cables. The Outlaw optical cable has a much more open sound with much clearer high-end, and better mid-range for the voices in the soundtrack. The other difference I noticed is that I have to turn up the volume about 2 db more to get the same sound level, but the sound quality is much improved. Maybe this kind of difference is normal, but I sure didn't expect it!
    DKG999
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  2. #2

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    Just wondering if anyone has an idea as to how different digital cables can have much effect on the sound. It seems to me that nothing but ones and zeros are being passed from the player to the avr. As long as the ones and zeros are not so distorted that the receiver can't distinguish between them I don't see how different cables can have any effect. Can anyone help out with this issue?

    Thanks much,

    Labrat

  3. #3

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    Default

    Did you just open this?
    Attached Images  
    Tschüss
    Zach

  4. #4

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    Some people think there is a difference, some don't. You just have to try for yourself.

    A fun experiment is to use a coat hanger for a "digital coax".

  5. #5

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    be sure it's a metal coat hanger, plastic won't work;)
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  6. #6

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    I've always wondered the same thing.

    I've worked with fiber a bit over the last year. Terminating, splicing, etc. for data systems and I came to the conclusion that it really doesn't make a difference. If you have a bad cable, you'll know it. Try playing a CD while unplugging and plugging in your cable and you'll hear what I'm talking about.

    If it's good, then it works and that's about it.



    This is a $30,000 fiber splicer, and next to it is a $5000 fiber cutter that I used when I was setting up some networks in Iraq. When splicing the fiber this machine would measure the latency or loss down to like .000000001 or something crazy. I'm willing to assume that any mfgr of other fiber cables have much more expensive and better equipment that will make and test each cable to at least those specs. When dealing with data networks I experienced incredibly little to no latency with plain fiber over long (hundreds of meters) runs.

    One might think that audio is different, but it's not. It's all still just fiber, light, 0's and 1's. If it's a 0 on one end then it's a 0 on the other end and the digital to analog converter is what interprets and converts it to an analog, audible signal. The difference one hears would be in the DACs (or your head), not in the cable.

    Saying that a fiber cable has an effect on the sound of music is like saying that a fiber cable has an effect on the quality of this message that I'm typing right now. The fiber is not going to change the color of my font, or cut out some words, or make this anything more or less than what I send from this end to the polk server, unless it's BAD. 1's and 0's, fiber is either good or bad, and there is no inbetween or anything better than "it works".

    (in my humble opinion at least)
    Last edited by phuz; 02-04-2005 at 01:10 PM.

  7. #7

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    Whoa, I really didn't mean to open the can - but you gotta love the image.

    Thanks for the input Phuz, that is what I was thinking but didn't have any experience playing with digital signal transmission to back it up. It is probably worth trying different cables just to see if there is any audible difference - I mean what do you have to lose and you get to spend some time playing with the toys (audio gear).

    I may have to try a slight twist on the coat hanger experiment just for the heck of it. If you shove a metal hangar inside a plastic one and wrap the whole thing with unraveled capacitor or aluminum foil do you end up with a shieled cable;) ?

    Labrat

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    I didn't think there would be much difference, but I have now switched back and forth between the Outlaw, the Monster, and an AR optical cable. I have had several other people listen also, and there is a difference! I am wondering if it has more to do with the connector than the cable. The Outlaw and the AR fit/snap into the optical jacks very tightly and don't wiggle much. The Monster goes in lot more easily and has a lot more wiggle/play. The Monster is also the thinnest cable, but I don't think that is probably a good indication of how thick the actual optical cable is inside the jackets.

    Had I not experienced this, I would be really skeptical, as it is all 1's and 0's. Would the actual clarity of the optical cable impact the sound quality? Is it possible to lose light transmission at the plug and impact sound quality? Inquiring minds want to know!

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    DKG999
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  9. #9

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    dkg999 those are good questions, and I can't answer them with facts or data. Earlier I was just stating my very cynical opinion, base on experiences with data systems... not audio systems.

    I also can't say I've done a shootout with optical cables yet, so what you are saying might very well be true. Good on ya, I'm glad you found a better cable that you are happy with. :)

  10. #10

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    Originally posted by dkg999
    ...Had I not experienced this, I would be really skeptical, as it is all 1's and 0's. Would the actual clarity of the optical cable impact the sound quality? Is it possible to lose light transmission at the plug and impact sound quality? Inquiring minds want to know!
    Do you have the analog outputs also hooked up? If the monster cable isn't transmitting the signal, and you have the analogs hooked up, the receiver may be automatically switching to the analog input. That would sound different.

  11. #11

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    Originally posted by phuz
    Earlier I was just stating my very cynical opinion, base on experiences with data systems... not audio systems.
    But...on the upstream side of the DAC it IS a data system.

    Also, regarding the connectors, I've played around by partially removing the connector from the socket. Absolutely no change until the transmission stopped. It either works or it doesn't.

  12. #12

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    I highly doubt that the build quality (as long as the thing holds together) has much to with the quality of the signal, however, the longevity of the calbe may be an important consideration.

  13. #13

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    the sound probably improved because of the bigger 1's and 0's the new cable is able to carry... that's my best guess.
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  14. #14

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    I know a little about fibers in a digital world (Telco Co Tech), I have to think that there's digital noise in cables. Not just a 1 or 0 but a refractive 1 behind the 1 making some cables better then others. Sorry all I have to think there's a difference even if I haven't swapped the cables myself.

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