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SPDIF vs Optical – What are differences?

Some people might mistakenly believe that SPDIF and optical connections are interchangeable or that SPDIF is a type of optical connection given that both are digital connections.

In actuality, SPDIF is a connection protocol that may occasionally employ optical links. Before SPDIF, Toslink optical, the first optical connection format, was created. Depending on your workflow, you might find that one connection type works better for you than the other as the audio industry has developed and the use cases for each connection type have slightly changed.

What is SPDIF?

Sony and Philips created the Sony/Philips Digital Interconnect Format (SPDIF) for home theater in 1980.

What is Optical?

In 1983, Toshiba created optical, also known as TosLink optical, to link CD players with receivers.

SPDIF vs Optical – What are the differences?

In contrast to optical, which also refers to the type of cable or physical connection, SPDIF refers to the connection protocol rather than the actual cable or physical connection.

Two digital high-fidelity uncompressed PCM audio channels or compressed 5.1 surround sound are transmitted through SPDIF using power.
The industry-standard protocol for ADAT audio transfers is called Optical/TosLink, and it uses fiber optic connections to send up to 8 channels of audio.

SPDIF vs Optical – Which is better?

There are several circumstances in which SPDIF is preferable to optical, and vice versa. One connection type may be better than another depending on your needs. It’s important to note for music producers that your pro audio interface could provide you with both connections. While you can still access additional inputs through SPDIF in, some outboard preamps let you use the digital SPDIF out with an optical cable.

The main benefit of sending audio via SPDIF is that you won’t need to convert your digital audio to an analog signal before sending it to another device. Additional channels are another benefit. As a result, your audio signal’s quality is less likely to be lost. They are therefore particularly desirable for professional audio use, which explains why you’ll find them in audio interfaces.

Home theater installations frequently use optical because of its wide compatibility and better energy usage. Almost all audio equipment and parts will support optical connection.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is optical digital the same as SPDIF?

It’s an online connection. Optical typically carries the ADAT protocol on an optic cable – toSLINK, while SPDIF typically transmitted over RCA cables. Normally, optical can carry 8 channels with 44.1/48 Hz (4 channels with 88.2/98 Hz for some cases) and SPDIF stereo (4 channels).

Does SPDIF sound better?

Coaxial Sound output SPDIF gives excellent sound quality from a source source. The effect is achieved by eliminating the need to convert the audio from digital to analogue for insertion in jacks and then transferring it into a digital device.

What is the SPDIF port used for?

PDIF is a graphical interface for audio transfers. Digital audio signals can be transferred between devices without converting to analog signals that can compromise audio quality.

Is optical better sound quality?

When it comes to audio quality HDMI wins – top audio quality. Although the cable is still capable of handling surround sound and surprisingly high audio the new HDMI version has increased bandwidth and you can play higher resolution and higher audio.