SPDIF vs Glass Toslink


#1

I am about to upgrade the link between my Esoteric X-03SE (cd player) and DirectStream DAC. I am limited to two digital outputs: SPDIF and Toslink. I currently use an old SPDIF and am looking to upgrade to either a higher quality SPDIF or a Glass Toslink (not plastic.) I would like to hear your preferences between the two options.


#2

Most people are likely to recommend their favourite digital coax cable and tell you to avoid optical at all costs. Some might tell you that both of your options are terrible and you should focus on other things like power regeneration or vibration control. Etc etc.

Personally, I use Toslink as the only input on my DirectStream DAC even for “critical” listening. I use no-name plastic cables from wherever is cheap and convenient. There’s a cheap 4-way active Toslink switch in between my Squeezebox Touch and the DAC. And other than the switch not living up to its claim of support for 192kHz audio rates (it manages 176.4, so it’s good enough for 1x DSD) I am super happy with it all.

All the other inputs on the DS are via electrical conductors, and I’m sensitive to the sonic consequences of electrical noise which digital sources emit through their connections. Toslink has zero of that problem and for me the absence is very noticeable.

Toslink gets criticised for jitter issues, which is definitely a big factor on other DACs, but the design of the DS makes it pretty much impervious to moderate levels of jitter from any source.

Don’t bother with glass unless cheap plastic cables literally do not work for you. This is a system as close to “bits are bits” as any I’ve heard – I spent years listening hard and trying many different things. Try it. It’s almost free. And you might love it.


#3

I concur. Toslink is probably your best option with DS for the reasons described by dvorak. After trying the other options of USB and coax I found the ‘TOS’ is best.


#4

I have had good luck with the Analysis Plus Toslink cable which uses medical grade optical fiber. I have been able to play 192kHz files through my Squeezebox Touch to the DS DAC with this cable, although a couple of times I had to wiggle the connector end a little to get it lined up just right to pass the signal without breaking up. AudioAdvisor.com has them starting a $39 for 1 meter, $55 for 2 meter and $71 for 3 meter, which is very reasonable.


#5

But the optical I lit is limited to 24/96 is there no concern of this ? I could not play 24/192 or 24/176 over it.

Coax needs to be a cable that is properly speced out or it causes noise Ina big way.

Not saying you need to spend hundreds on one. I have a bunch and some sound great while others horrible.

I do have one custom made up from Steve Nugent of Imperical audio his works best it’s not pretty but it’s designed as per what is needed

and the sound is obvious when correct


#6

With my PWT I find that the HDMI works best there. I have a good coaxial cable and a great glass Toslink and they both sound good on other sources connected to the DS. With the PWD and MK2 I could indeed hear the differences in Toslink cables and found the best to be a Lifatec glass optical cable. I haven’t tried different Toslink cables with the DS–and others (including Ted) say that the DS is less finicky with cables. . . . I agree that Toslink is a great connection method, and I don’t listen to 192 files so no issue there for me.

I say get a few cables and experiment.


#7
1234 said But the optical I lit is limited to 24/96 is there no concern of this ? I could not play 24/192 or 24/176 over it.
There have been other threads discussing this. Short version: your DAC is guaranteed to support 96kHz SPDIF sample rates over optical, but some units are lucky to have optical transceivers which function correctly at higher rates too. Mine is one such - I can play up to 192kHz PCM and 1x DSD over Toslink into my DirectStream DAC.

#8
willcycle said I concur. Toslink is probably your best option with DS for the reasons described by dvorak. After trying the other options of USB and coax I found the 'TOS' is best.
Hi Dvorak: That's incredible. A late digital bloomer (with respect to outboard DAC's & connection method), but recently, I purchased a Schiit Mode-2 Uber --for TV connection.

The 25-ft. Optical Toslink worked not. Connected to (one of) my CDP’s, I was blown away at what I was hearing;a lucidity, openness, clarity /definition and sheer musicality, I’d like to say “I nearly fell off my chair” , but was in fact seated in it.

A $12.00 Blue-Rigger 25-ft. Toslink optical !

Reading your comments tells me a lot about the non-electrical nature (superiority?) of this connection method.It appears that you feel “higher-end” optical is not necessary --or could even better performance be elicited ?

pj


#9

dvorak - though the AKM chip in the SB Touch is potentially capable of higher rates, I don’t think that it is enabled above 24/96 in the Touch.

http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/Hardware_comparison


#10

allhifi it depends on the DAC. For some kinds of digital receivers the quality of the optical signal matters a lot. Not so for the DS DAC.

@badbeef with the EDO software mod installed you get up to 192khz via USB optical and coax. The analog outputs are disabled.


#11

Cool! I have two of 'em.