SPDIF Coaxial Cable Recommendations For DS


Can anyone recommend a SPDIF coaxial cable that works well with the DS DAC?

For use with a CD transport.


Just about any RCA coax that’s well shielded works well, but my preference is Audioquest. They make a number of excellent cables and choose the one you can best afford.


I remember reading somewhere that the DS treats all inputs the same.

So would it be safe to say that if I like a USB cable of a certain brand and model, then I would also like the SPDIF variant of the same as an input to the DS (of course with the qualifier that SPDIF annd USB sources may not sound the same)?

I think that might be an overgeneralization. Some companies make their RCA’s and XLR’s similarly (tho this isn’t necessarily a good idea) but USB and HDMI have speced impedances, etc. and if the cable is going to work well there are more constraints on the USB cable and the HDMI cable than on the RCA and XLR cables.

It is my understanding that the S/PDIF standard calls for a 75 ohm transmission line. If the terminations are not 75 ohm there will be more significant reflections back and forth along the cable that can cause jitter by superimposing with a time delay on the true signal and cause jitter. What I also understand is that a BNC connector, due to spacing/geometry, is the only coax termination that is truly 75 ohm, although some WBT and Eichmann bullet plug RCAs can come closer to 75 ohms than a standard RCA. One company I am aware of, Nordost, now terminates all of its digital coax cables with BNC connectors and supplies BNC to RCA adaptors. They claim their cables sound better terminated this way even when using the adaptor if the component does not have a BNC connection (as in the case of the DS). I also have run across data that suggests digital coax cables 1.5 or 1.75 meters in length have less jitter issues than cables less than a meter in length. I believe (Ted, correct me if I am wrong) Ted has said in the past that the DS is pretty tolerate of issues related to less than ideal coax cables. Ted, can you comment again on this, please?

As long as the bitperfect test works reliably I wouldn’t worry about cable length, cable termination etc. The DS is very insensitive to jitter: it adds about 5nS of jitter to all inputs before it cleans things up. In theory that should swamp other input jitter.

In the past I’ve definitely heard lengths of cable, cable termination, etc make a difference in a system under reasonably controlled conditions. Those problems can be real, but not nearly so much on the DS.

Yacheah if your transport has a toslink out, you may want to consider going with a Lifatec glass cable. I had a Stereovox 75ohm coax wtth the BNC to RCA adapters that I was very fond of. I purchased a 20 inch Lifatec, and preferred that to the Stereovox coax which I have since sold. This is between an Oppo 105 and Directstream Senior.

Just my 2cents.

Me and all my friends here use aqvox coax (and aqvox usb) cable. But since i have the ds (two years now) i never try changed coax for another… for usb i tried but always come back to aqvox for vivacity and neutrality.

Having tried many of the high end spdif cables (Stealth, Kubala, AQ, Audience, Cardas, Synergistic, Acoustic Zen, Kimber, etc), I settled on HiDiamond. HD is a lesser known high-end cable manufacturer that has excellent reviews, backed up by my own experience. All my interconnects are now HD. The only cables I have that aren’t are power (Transparent) and speaker (Zu). I would try HD everywhere but I’m happy with what I have and it would cost a small fortune.

@jonm how does the Hi Diamond compare with Stealth and Cardas?

Would you be so kind as to elaborate more on the characteristics of the three?


Been quite a while since those were tried and decisions made but at a high level I found the HD cables to offer:

– more 3-dimensionality than any that came before (soundstage width, height, depth), and the soundstage presented to me as more realistic/as-intended
– better extension from lows to highs, more tonally balanced – no one frequency band seemed to overpower another,
– tight, punchy bass and non-glaring highs.

They just did everything right – across the board – that other cables would fail in one way or more. I enjoyed the Stealth Varidig in my system for a while before HD and that one came closest. I think HD just did everything that Varidig did well, a bit better. I recall being very disappointed in the Cardas given it’s following, and recall feeling everything seemed relatively flat and thin with those interconnects.

@jonm thanks for the feedback.

It’s surprising to hear the Cardas is flat and thin - that seems at odds with the Cardas house sound of a beautiful midrange.

The Stealth Varidig is one I hear really good things about especially the Sextet version which is 6 Varidigs in one. It’s very costly though.

If the HD beats the Varidig then it must be a really nice cable.

It was the varidig sextet that I had. It was an excellent interconnect. HiDiamond was imo quite a bit better all around. Everything positive you would say about the sound of the stealth, I would say was “more better” in the HD.

As to the cardas, it’s all relative. First of all they have a strong marketing machine so part of what we believe is good about them is what they themselves tell us. The rest is comparative. The golden cross may be better than many and excel in certain areas. But it couldn’t hold a candle to the stealth and not even close imo to the HD. I think even the AQ was better and I’m not a huge AQ fan. The stealth bested what came before it in my system, and stayed for longer than most, and was only replaced when i heard the HD. I stopped looking after the HD.

Hi @jonm

OK so you compared the Cardas Lightning 15 - I don’t think there was a Golden Cross SPDIF cable but the Lightning 15 was the same plum red colour as Golden Cross.

I had thought you compared the current Clear SPDIF Digital.

I just got one on loan from a friend right now and will try it out and chime back here.

You’re correct, it was the Lightning (I don’t recall a “15” being in the name but could’ve been). Was a few years ago so definitely not a current model.

OK i’ve tried a Cardas Clear SPDIF coaxial out now.

It’s a nice cable. A self effacing type of sound with no real emphasis in any frequency. Overall natural and smooth sounding with midrange sweetness but not as much midrange emphasis or warmth as the older Cardas cables.

It has a lot of detail and the layering of and space between musical notes is both impressive and engaging, as is the soundstage. The musical flow has a correctness about it.

So far, I would like more warmth or a midrange bump though vs the natural “clear” presentation it gives but will wait to see how it settles in.

the two i selected are Aqvox and Jorma design, same dynamics (aqvox a little more) precision and linearity (Jorma a little more).

I have an Audioquest from 2009 and a coax from Blue Jeans Cable and can’t hear much of a difference. Just my naive opinion but it seems like there are bigger differences in USB cables than coax - I’m probably wrong.

The Synergistic Research spdif cable is the best I have heard.

Snake River Audio Boomslang is an excellent s/pdif (coax). Been using it between an Oppo and DS dac for some time.