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Optical audio or RCA cable?

  • 14 February 2018
  • 8 replies
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I have my Connect running to my Yamaha receiver and pushing Martin Logan fronts and center. I have an extra optical cable and an RCA (red/white). Do you guys have thoughts on what will produce the best quality sound?

As a sidenote, I'm also needing the cable that will provide the quickest signal...as has been covered before, I can only use my Connect in DIRECT mode when playing my Ones in conjunction with my main system that is using the Connect. Otherwise there is a small but noticeable delay.
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Best answer by Stanley_4 16 February 2018, 01:25

Quickest, tough to answer as it depends on the speeds of the DAC converter in the Sonos and your amp. If you have any way to test it trying both and picking the fastest would be your best bet.

In general I go optical where possible, the fewer electrical connections in a system the less likely you will develop any unwanted sounds from the system. Odds are low of having a problem but fiber cables are cheap and easy so why not.
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8 replies

Which cable will not matter; use the one on hand. I also doubt that any will enable you to not run the receiver in Direct mode if you want perfect sync as is needed with speakers in the same space - or even in an adjacent open one.
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Optical is a digital signal and besides being able to carry multiple channel surround, it is far superior to RCA connections, which are 2-channel analog.
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Quickest, tough to answer as it depends on the speeds of the DAC converter in the Sonos and your amp. If you have any way to test it trying both and picking the fastest would be your best bet.

In general I go optical where possible, the fewer electrical connections in a system the less likely you will develop any unwanted sounds from the system. Odds are low of having a problem but fiber cables are cheap and easy so why not.
Optical is a digital signal and besides being able to carry multiple channel surround, it is far superior to RCA connections, which are 2-channel analog.The Connect can only output stereo. Using digital will use the DAC in the amp, using analog will use the DAC in the Connect. I very much doubt you will hear any difference.
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There is zero chance of inducting ground loop noise in an optical transmission.
It isn't rocket science to eliminate this noise in the rare case it arises in RCA. What are the downsides to optical against this stated advantage?
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Optical downsides, none that I'm aware of aside from being able to break the optical conductor if you kink it hard or damage the ends if you don't put the covers on when not using the cable.

Since I'm running the signal through the digital part of my Denon for audio processing anyway (not pure-direct mode) I see no advantage to having the Sonos convert from the internal digital to RCA analog, sending it to my Denon, Converting from analog to the Denon internal digital for processing and then back to analog to send to the amplifier section.
Those are fair points but for a hifi amp, rather than an AVR, I would expect passthrough of the analog input.