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  1. #1
    ROG Member Array stumpy6317 PC Specs
    stumpy6317 PC Specs
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    What is better USB OR Toslink

    First of if this is posted in the wrong place please move.
    Up until this afternoon I had used a set of Logitech Z5500 which I bought when they were released (long time now). After spending a fortune on upgrading my pc I thought it time to update my listening pleasure.
    So I popped along to my local HIFI shop and walked out (considerably lighter in the pocket), with a Rega DAC-R, BRIO-R and KEF LS50 speakers.
    When I got them home a mate rang and asked if I was gonna using the USB connection, when I said I was gonna be using the Toslink that I have always used. He then said I was connecting it wrong. After a little of backwards and forwards debate, we agreed to disagree. So to help answer this question. Which is the better connection to use. Reason I say it should not be any difference is that the toslink is digital (optical) which is exactly the same as a usb isn't it???
    If it the usb it by by soundcard (ZxR)
    Thanks

  2. #2
    ROG Guru: Black Belt Array Korth PC Specs
    Korth PC Specs
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    TOSLINK (now) has enough signal bandwidth to carry two channels of uncompressed lossless (L+R stereo) PCM, Dolby-compressed 7.1 Surround, Dolby Digital Plus, or DTS-HD High Resolution Audio. It doesn't have enough signal bandwidth to carry highest-fidelity audio formats like lossless Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, or LPCM.

    Confusingly, there are actually two revisions of TOSLINK - the older version capable of ~3.1Mbps (originally 20-bit CDA quality at 48kHz) and the newer version capable of 125Mbps (which can support the HD audio formats listed above) - and they are both referred to as "TOSLINK" or "EIAJ Optical". A TOSLINK connection will operate at speed of the slowest TOSLINK component, and there's no official designation describing which of the two TOSLINK component(s) might be installed in your audio hardware, so you'd have to do some careful research or testing to confirm every piece of hardware in your TOSLINK setup supports the full 125Mbps. The "old" TOSLINK revision is junk, the "new" one is great, and you'll hear the difference.

    HDMI can carry more signal bandwidth than TOSLINK, enough to easily support every HD Audio standard. (DisplayPort embeds an HDMI HD Audio signal channel which is also better than TOSLINK, but chances are nobody will use DP for audio-only applications until DP-capable audio toys become available.)

    USB 2.x (280Mbps High Speed) can also carry more signal bandwidth than TOSLINK. USB 3.0 (4Gbps Super Speed) blows TOSLINK away entirely, USB 3.1 onwards are even faster. But again, you might have to carefully determine exactly which USB standard is supported by your audio hardware because (for all you know) the slowest link in the chain might default to USB 1.x (12Mbps Full Speed) which is vastly inferior to TOSLINK.

    I've overheard crazy Apple fanatics talking about FireWire audio interfaces, but I know little about FireWire aside from FireWire revisions and USB revisions leapfrogging each other in terms of raw bandwidth.

    TOSLINK optical cables are (almost) entirely immune to electrical line noise and EM/RF interference. They are available in long lengths (cheap plastic fiber can run 5-10m or more, costly glass fiber can run dozens or even hundreds of meters). They are somewhat rigid and inflexible, they can easily be damaged by pinching or bending, they aren't reusable in any other hardware, and certified cables can only be purchased from one manufacturer.

    HDMI and USB cables are commonly available in 2m or longer lengths, and they can plug into pretty much anything. But they can introduce electrical interference into the audio stream, especially if they're too cheap or too long or if they need to be run in proximity of electrically "noisy" power lines and machinery.
    Last edited by Korth; 11-26-2015 at 08:40 PM.

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