In the quest to get the best home audio system, audiophiles spend hours researching the speakers, the AV receiver and the subwoofers. In this haste to get the latest and the greatest gear, sometimes people forget to factor in the less glamorous aspects of the system – like cables. Cables carry a lot of importance in an audio system. The efficiency with which the cables carry the signal can make or break the sound, even if the rest of your hardware is top notch.
Digital or Analog. Which is better?
The war between the digital and analog has been raging ever since the introduction of digital music over three decades ago. Analog cables work by transmitting information through streams of electricity, while digital cables work by transmitting information through a series of 1’s and 0’s.
Audiophiles prefer analog for the same reason vinyl is prevalent: purity of sound. Analog devices using analog connections are “natural”. The digital format, however, is ubiquitous and more accessible. It might not be “natural” but it can emulate the “natural-ness” very closely. In truth, one does not trump the other.
The choice between digital and analog depends on what suits you best, how it sounds.
The Final Question
The choice between HDMI, Analog, Coaxial and Optical depends on your gear. Maybe you have everything connected to your TV and if you want to get the audio out to a soundbar you can use an optical cable. Don’t sweat over not being able to connect with HDMI. For most setups, optical and HDMI will give out the same output.
Optical is immune to RF/EM interferences, but it doesn’t support the Blu Ray disk formats. If you want to use an analog connection on your CD player, you need a digital to analog converters.
If you want a hassle free setup, HDMI cables are best suited for your needs. If you can live with not having TrueHD or HD Master Audio, go for optical. If you’re a purist, you’d already have an analog connection. There is no one better than the other two, however. The choice between is HDMI, Optical, Coaxial and Analog is simply a matter of personal preference.
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