Digital Audio Cables
Audio Cables and connectors contribute to making your audio system sound great. Modern audio equipment uses digital signals made from 0′s and 1′s. Digital media includes CD’s, MP3′s and DVD audio signals processed by a chip and they create superior sound. Digital Audio Cables preserve and transmit the highest quality digital signal. There are two types: coaxial digital cables and optical digital cables.
Coaxial Digital Cables
Coaxial digital cables are the most common type used for digital audio. They look similar to older cables but instead of carrying analog signal they carry digital ones.
They look very similar to cable TV cables, with RCA connectors on the end of the cable. They are thicker than analog cables, transmit digital signals in pulses of electricity. and are shielded from interference with the help of a surrounding aluminum wrap. Coaxial digital cables have 75 ohm impedance so they can handle more energy. They are an extremely attractive and cost effective choice.
Optical Digital Cables (also called S/PDIF, for Sony/Philips Digital Interface)
Coaxial digital cables still use copper wire to transmit their data but optical digital cables do not. Optical digital cables use pulses of light instead. Their signal does not degrade or weaken over long distances.
With them you get one of the best reproductions of digital signals available and though they are more expensive, true audiophiles say nothing beats optical digital cable technology. Optical digital cables do not use RCA style connectors, they use what are called Toslink (or EIA-J). The only disadvantage is that these cables don’t work optimally when bent because light can’t bend.
Choosing Between Cables
Many audio components allow both types of connectors and most listeners will not be able to tell the difference in sound. Both cables will provide premium sound and practically perfect transmission of digital signals. Optical cables are better in environments with lots of electrical interference and for long distance transmission, so if you need speakers or components that travel 25 to 50 feet, optical digital cables are for you.
HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) Ports
HDMI are also a way of carrying digital audio signals used in conjunction with video, for instance with DVD’s, HDTV’s and high definition DVD players, but the vast majority of audio components such as CD players do not include this option.