This question has been asked dozens of times before, no matter how long the discussion has gone on, the winner, and still champion is... is COAX.
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I agree that coax is best, even on RCA's if implemented properly (which is not usual). I had Wadia and Altis Altimate optical for years, but as my system got better I realized that it's the second-worst (next to Toslink). If you contact [email protected],net, he'll explain WHY optical is worse, and tell you about his Varidig technology which, uniquely, insures a proper 75 ohm impedance match. Or see the discussion at www.interlinkhouse.com. I'm using his coax, and the sound beats Altis and Wadia optical by a mile.
Coax is better except (a) as pointed out above very long runs and (b) if the digital source has rf contamination or grounding problems as can be the case with Digital Satillite music. I subscribe to the 100+ channel DMX service and actuallly convert the coax to optical using a Theta Linque to establish an optical gap from all the rf junk that gets through the coax. I use completely seperate AC for it as well.
I seem to be the odd one out and prefer AT&T optical. But, only if you use a very good optical cable - most of the industrial types sound awful, and the guage of the fibre needs to be right, and you need to use suitable termination aids like the Theta gel-like stuff. A very good optical cable will sound cleaner, more detailed and more dynamic than very good coax, but the clincher for me is that coax always (at least for me) adds an artificial warmth due to earth noise. To validate the last comment - I hear this earth noise even if I listen to the AT&T connection, when the coax cable is left in place - but the earth noise is removed when the coax is removed. I can well imagine that for some, the added warmth of the coax is preferred - but since it is actually noise, then I suggest the problem should be fixed elsewhere.