USB-Toslink-S/PDIF Tussle

Digital Interfaces - Which is Best?

My very latest delving has been into Fibre optic cables - i.e. Toslinks

It started by me placing an order for a DH Lab's "
Deluxe Toslink Optical Cable"

Wondering whether I'd done the right thing - I went searching...
  • Toslink has the advantage of not suffering from RF interference - so it is the better solution from that perspective
  • I started with my favourite cable maker Van Den Hul (aka VDH)
  • their OPTOCOUPLER II is a killer cable that "Guarantees" 250Mbps
  • I looked back at the DH Labs cable which states 150Mbps - Hmmm - not bad at all since it is less than half the price!
  • I then went looking at other manufacturers - e.g. my existing Chord toslink is 50Mbps
  • most of them didn't even publish their numbers

What about S/PDIF?
  • A different kettle of fish altogether...
  • The problem of RF pollution comes back into the equation, so I looked for cables with adequate shielding
  • Once again I went to VDH and found their Digicoupler - a triple screened cable with a performance of 3 Ghz
  • Once again - right there was DH Labs with their Silver Sonic D-75 and D110 with a performance of "beyond 2 Ghz"
  • and then there was the rest - not telling me the information I needed to know
  • The best performance in a brand name SPDIF cable I’ve found to date is from KLE Innovations - their gZero2D and gZero3D, which are extremely adept a transferring a digital signal
  • But the very best SPDIF I have used to date is my DIY Interconnect Cables - The "Helix Mark V" which seems to eclipse the the gZero3D by a smidgeon in clarity and imaging

What About USB?
  • Well, this can be an exceptional interface, but comes with caveats
  • The computers USB power is often used to power a DAC’s internal USB circuits - this can be quite unstable and impacts performance.
  • The USB cable itself contains both signal and power conductors which can cause noise and hence jitter - use a dual cable like this one
  • Also use a separate power adapter like this one
  • With the above additions, the USB interface will operate to the level of S/PDIF

If you are looking at digital interfaces - be sure that the cable(s) you select has a performance level somewhere near those above!

Good Huntin'