Buying the Right Digital Audio Cables

Buying the right digital audio cables can be hard unless you know the facts. If you have never purchased one before, it will be necessary to know the ins and outs and how the technology works. But as the following shows, the facts are not hard to understand.

How These Cables Work

In simple terms, these cables send signals via 0s and 1s, the same as computers. They are capable of carrying half a dozen or more audio channels utilized in surround sound. Known as binary signals, they are less likely to be affected by interference. Unlike analog signals, degradation is not a problem.


The bottom line is that these devices are superior to analog cables in every way. To get the maximum benefits, your equipment must have digital connections. Together with the cables, you will get the optimum auditory experience. Note that you can still use analog cables. They can also be used on digital connections. However, the audio quality will not be the same.

Cable Categories

There are two types: the speaker cable / speaker wire and Interconnect audio cables. The Interconnect audio cables have three digital variants. They are High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cable, optical cable and coaxial digital cable.

High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) Cable

If you are thinking of buying the right digital audio cables and you want the best, look no further. HDMi is the best available. It is capable of transmitting 8 unique audio channels. HDMI can also deliver video signals. It is the only cable that can deal with 7.1 and 6.1 surround sound formats. This is used in some blue-ray DVDs.

Optical Cables

Also known as Toslink, these cables can handle 5.1 digital surround sound. Toslink cables can send out digital audio signals in the form of light pulses. That is the reason why the signal produced is so clear. In terms of quality, optical and coaxial cables offer the same results.

Coaxial Cables

This should not be mistaken for coaxial RF cables. This variant is capable of transmitting up to half a dozen audio channels. It is one of the most popular options when it comes to 5.1 digital surround sound. Its lugs and jacks are equal to the analog RCA jacks in terms of size. The difference is in the cable; coaxial jacks have an orange color. It helps differentiate it from the RCA type.

Audio Formats

The difference between the various cables is in the type of formats they support. This will determine how many audio channels they can handle. The majority of compact discs are stereo, or two channels. Most of the DVDs sold today have digital surround sound encoding, so they have six channels.

Surround sound formats have 2.0 or 5.1 labels. The first number tells you the audio channels that match with the directional speakers set in an area. The 5 for example, means there are five channels for the speakers. The .1 refers to the low-frequency effects (LFE) channel. This is for bass. It is usually generated by a subwoofer.

These cables send signals between components. While they work the same way, the quality is not the same, which is why knowing the facts is essential. Unless you are buying the right digital audio cables, the most sophisticated home theater system will produce tinny sounds. The cables are essential for an awesome sound experience.