I'm going to get a lot of flack from this, but I've never been able to tell the difference between various Toslink cables, cheap or expensive, plastic or glass. (I also can't detect a difference between Toslink and coax, but that's a whole other discussion.)
My advice is to keep it the way it is if you're happy with the sound.
Splurge and buy a $10 delux model from monoprice. It looks really cool and high end!
You might want to try an Amphenol glass cable just to put your mind at rest. There is a source for these if you to a search for Amphenol in discussions.
I believe I did detect a difference going to glass, but you must make that call yourself with your system.
Glass toslink make a huge improvement over regular in my opinion. I have detected almost zero difference between cheapo and branded non-glass toslink, but the upper end Audioquest and Wireworld supernova 5+ toslink will stand out far above the standard toslinks.
I have no experience with the amphenol.
I am a dealer, but do not sell any of the brands mentioned in this reply
What Buff said. Don't understand why Toslink is so quickly discarded as I've heard it sound superior to coax on more than one occassion.
I can tell a definite difference when using a Virtual Dynamics Master digital cable in my system on some recordings.
I cannot tell any difference in clarity, but I like the way the VD cable presents its sound stage differently. To me it seems that each instrument is not only in its own space, but that I can focus in on each musicians feelings of the music. I don't get this on all cd's, but I do notice this when using the Virtual Dynamics cable. This probably sounds absurd to some of you, but I can tell the difference and I know it is not just about the ones and zeros.
I think it is possible to hear such differences in some scenarios with these cables where things are just not going right with the cable, but that it's just not as common place nor as significant a difference perhaps as I find typically with different ICs say.
Here is how I shopped Toslink. I contacted Steve at The Cable Company www.fatwyre.com, and I used their cable lending library. Upon his suggestion I got a wireworld 5 and a Cardas cable that he suggested I try. The wireworld was very analytic and the Cardas was much more warm sounding. I wound up buying each cable as I has use for each of these qualities.
You have to call them about the lending library. It is not easy to find on their web sight.
Borrow some cables and shop without spending money on experiments. Yes, to answer your question glass is better.
I've got an echoaudio Layla 3g and tested the Bel Canto Dac3, the Berkley Alpha Dac, and the Audio Research Dac3, with some very expensive coax cables. All sounded better with the optical connection. Yet the guy at Berkley thought I was nuts for using optical. Is there some prejudice against optical, it seems like it should obviously be a better way to transmit digital information.
Btw, it was Radioshack optical cable, maybe I'll go get me some glass eh?
I've been very happy with a glass optical cable that I purchased from this place.
I purchased it from their ebay store. For less than $20 shipped, you can't go wrong.
I have to say digital cables is the component in my system I hear the least difference with from wire to wire. I hear clear differences between most any two analog ICs I try.
Mapman - Everything depends on the type of DAC you use. If it is NOS or just regular oversampling DAC then coax most likely will sound better. This most likely is because in spite o twice larger jitter toslink breaks ground loops and helps a lot in many situations. On the other hand upsampling DACs that suppress jitter like Benchmark DAC1 or Bel Canto DAC3 are not sensitive to jitter and should sound the same - unless you compare two devices and one is not "bit transparent" (digital volume control, DSP processing etc).
Mattzack2 - your DAC is not jitter rejecting and quality of digital cable will play role. I'm not saying coax will always be better but on average it is.
In general - the slower the driver is the more threshold point of receiver is affected by noise (slow for toslink). The faster coax driver on some transports will cause reflection problems (signal reflects on impedance boundaries) and requires very good digital cable with consistent characteristic impedance. Good shielding always helps - especially when driver is slow. On less expensive transports typical driver transition is 25ns while on fancy transports it might get below 10ns.
Everything is connected (so to speak) and sound depends not only on digital cable but synergy of all three components: transport, cable and DAC (and amount of ambient noise + quality of line voltage, ground loops - practically whole environment).
Tos-link or Toshiba Link is every bit as good as spdif over wire IF and only IF you use a glass cable, It makes a HUGE difference. I used a plastic Tos into my Museatex Bidat and it sounded really bad (actually multiple plastic toslink cables) and then I purchased a Monarchy Audio glass Tos for $50, well let me tell you it is the ONLY digital interconnect (and their have been MANY down through the years from $300 to $2000) that matched my FIM digital spdif cable. When people say they can't hear the difference, I of course believe them, but that doesn't mean you wont hear it... it AINT (improper grammar for effect) subtle :) You needn't spend a lot, but the worst connection you can possibly have is a plastic toslink. Trust me, it is not the interface it is the medium. A lot of people are not aware that plastic was used in industry with AT&T st-optical but it was far inferior to the glass....same thing with toslink. Mine sounds remarkable and like I said, in direct comparison to the best wire based digital cable I know of.
Hi all. I noticed that there had been some traffic on this thread I started months ago. Well I took the leap of faith and bought an Audioquest Optilink 5 and it was a nice improvement. Easily sounding better than the freebie cable I was using. I also had a chance to compare it to a Wireworld and Van Den Hul optical cable that a friend lent me. I thought the Audioquest cable was clearly the best sounding of the bunch. It is also the most expensive.