What Is a Optical Cable?

  • By: Dominique
  • Date: 8. Juli 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

The optical audio port is a digital connection that uses fiber optic cables to transmit sound. It is typically used to connect a CD or DVD player to a sound system, but it can also be used to connect other types of audio equipment. The main advantage of the optical audio port is that it can carry a digital signal over long distances without losing quality. In addition, the cables are relatively inexpensive and easy to find.

However, the optical audio port does have some disadvantages. For one, it is not compatible with all types of audio equipment. In addition, the cables are somewhat fragile and can be challenging to install. As a result, the optical audio port is best suited for those who need high-quality digital audio transmission over long distances.

Optical Audio in my Past Personal Life

In the old days, I connected my devices with my AV-Receiver. I used an optical audio cable to the optical audio in-port on my AV-Receiver. To be honest, that is old-fashioned.

Optical Audio in Personal History
Personal History

Today there are so many wireless options available that it just doesn’t make sense to use a wired connection anymore. Wireless connections are more convenient and allow you to move your devices around without worrying about tangled cables.

Additionally, wireless connections tend to be more reliable than wired ones. So if you’re still using an old AV-Receiver, it might be time to upgrade to a newer model that supports wireless connections.

What Exactly Is Optical Audio?

Most of the cabling you use for your media centers, personal computers, and audio/visual equipment uses electrical signals. Be it analog or digital, the signal is sent as an electrical impulse over a conductive wire. Every cable, from the speaker wire on your 1970s turntable to the HDMI cable on your new HDTV, contains wires, wires, and more wires inside.

The one standout in the home audio/video market is the optical audio cable. Unlike other cabling standards, the optical audio system uses fiber optic cables and laser light to transmit digital audio signals between devices. The standard was introduced in 1983 by Toshiba and was initially intended for use with their fledgling Compact Disc players. (you’ll sometimes hear them referred to as Toshiba-Link or TOSLINK cables.

While electrical cables are susceptible to interference from things like power lines and other electronic devices, optical cables are not. This means they can transmit a purer signal with less degradation than their electrical counterparts.

In addition, optical cables are much thinner and more flexible than electrical cables, making them easier to route through tight spaces. However, there are a few downsides to optical cables as well. For one, they’re not as widely available as electrical cables. In addition, they’re more fragile and can be damaged if bent too sharply.

How Does Optical Audio Work?

At its most basic, optical audio is nothing more than a digital signal encoded onto a beam of light. This light is then sent down an optical fiber cable to its destination, where it’s decoded back into a digital signal.

While this might sound complicated, the process is quite simple. Optical audio cables have two main parts: a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter encodes the digital signal onto a light beam, while the receiver decodes the signal back into a digital format.

In between the transmitter and receiver is an optical fiber cable. This cable is made up of thousands of tiny glass fibers that are bundled together. These fibers are fragile, measuring just a few microns in diameter. (For reference, a human hair is about 100 microns in diameter.)

The transmitting end of the optical audio cable attaches to the source device, while the receiving end attaches to the destination device. The transmitter encodes the digital signal onto a light beam, which is then sent down the optical fiber cable to the receiver. The receiver decodes the signal back into a digital format, which is then sent to the destination device.

What Are the Benefits of Optical Audio?

A few key benefits of optical audio make it appealing for home theater and audio applications. First, optical audio cables are much thinner and more flexible than electrical cables. This makes them easier to route through tight spaces, making them ideal for installations where space is limited.

Second, optical audio cables are not susceptible to interference from other electronic devices or power lines. This means they can transmit a purer signal with less degradation than their electrical counterparts.

What Are the Benefits of Optical Audio?
What Are the Benefits of Optical Audio?

Finally, optical audio cables are available in longer lengths than electrical cables. This makes them ideal for installations where distance is a factor.

What Are the Disadvantages of Optical Audio?

There are a few downsides to optical audio as well. First, optical audio cables are not as widely available as electrical cables. This means they can be more expensive and harder to find. Second, optical audio cables are more fragile and can be damaged if bent too sharply. This makes them more challenging to work with than electrical cables.

Third, optical audio cables have limited bandwidth, meaning they can’t carry as much information as electrical cables. This limits their use to applications where audio quality is not a primary concern.

Fourth, optical audio cables are not compatible with all devices. Some older devices, for example, do not have optical audio outputs. This means you may need to use an adapter to connect your device to an optical audio cable.

Finally, optical audio cables require careful handling to avoid damage. They should be stored in a dry, dust-free environment and should not be bent too sharply.

How to Choose an Optical Audio Cable

When choosing an optical audio cable, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, consider the length of the cable you need. Optical audio cables are available in lengths ranging from a few feet to over 100 feet. Second, consider the type of connections you need. Optical audio cables have either Toslink or mini-Toslink connectors.

Toslink connectors are larger and more robust, making them ideal for home theater applications. Mini-Toslink connectors are smaller and less obtrusive, making them ideal for portable devices. Third, consider the quality of the cable you need.

Optical audio cables are available in various grades, from inexpensive consumer-grade cables to high-end professional-grade cables. The cable grade you need will depend on the application you are using it for.

How to Choose an Optical Audio Cable
How to Choose an Optical Audio Cable

For example, connecting a portable music player to a home theater system will need a high-quality cable to ensure optimal audio quality. On the other hand, if you are connecting a TV to a sound bar, a lower-quality cable will suffice.

Optical cables are ideal for transmitting digital audio signals over long distances. They are also immune to electromagnetic interference (EMI), making them ideal for installations where space is limited or where there is potential for EMI interference. However, optical cables have limited bandwidth and are incompatible with all devices. When choosing an optical audio cable, consider the length, type of connectors, and quality of the cable you need.

Previous Post

2160p vs 4k – Is 4k Video Resolution the Same as 2160p?

Next Post

VGA Connector: What is a VGA Cable & Port?