Toslink cables are also called optical fibre cables or optical audio cables. Cables with Toslink connectors are used for the digital transmission of audio signals by optical means. Since the signal is not transmitted electrically, there can be no influence from electromagnetic interference fields. The connected devices remain electrically separated, which has many advantages. A connection with a Toslink cable fulfils the desire for the highest audio quality and at the same time minimal susceptibility to interference.
What is an optical cable?
In an optical cable, light waves are used to transmit data. This is why this type of cable is also called an optical fibre. The main core is usually made of glass or plastic with very good optical properties. The optical fibre consists mainly of electrically non-conductive fibres through which information is transmitted in the form of a light beam. This type of information transmission is theoretically completely loss-free. This contrasts with electrical cables, where the signal is transmitted by an electrical impulse through an electrically conductive wire. The use of optical cables means that the transmitted signal is resistant to the effects of weather charges or neighbouring electrical devices. At the same time, transmission losses are kept low. The signal quality is also not affected by distance. The efficient optical cable retains an unchanged signal even over long distances between the connected devices. A major advantage of optical cables is the absence of electromagnetic interactions with neighbouring devices and the absence of potential differences in the line path.
How does a Toslink cable work?
Inside a Toslink cable is a flexible glass fibre core made of individual glass fibres. The digital audio signal is transmitted in binary form, i.e. by specific light pulses. These are sent from an output device, received by the playback device and converted back into an audio signal. Since the entire connection is made with light pulses, there is no interference from other signal lines.
When is a Toslink cable used?
An optical cable is used when the highest quality is required. It is also suitable when long distances have to be bridged. Conventional analogue audio cables always have a signal loss due to their electrical resistance, depending on the cable length. With fibre optic cables, on the other hand, this phenomenon is not known. However, optical cables should not be bent severely, as this can damage the fibre optic core. Damage to the optical fibres will result in noisy background noise or a total failure of the connection.
To use a Toslink cable, you need equipment that is designed for an optical fibre connection. Modern devices are more likely to have a Toslink connection than older ones. The use of optical audio cables makes more sense if neighbouring devices cause strong electromagnetic fields. Since analogue signals can be easily disturbed, optical transmission is being used more and more, especially with modern audio equipment.
Adapters are needed if you want to combine two Toslink cables into one long cable. This is quickly done with an appropriate coupling. If you want to send an optical signal to two devices in parallel, you need a Toslink splitter. And if the space behind the devices is very tight, a 90-degree adapter will help you to lay the cable without kinks.
Toslink converter to analogue
A digital audio converter converts the digital audio signal into an analogue stereo signal. At the input of the unit, the signal can be fed in optically via TOSLINK. At the output, the audio signal is sent to the analogue device via Cinch. This converter makes sense if the playback device (e.g. the HIFI system) does not yet have a Toslink input.