optical or coaxial audio cable?

My Sony DVD player has both optical and coaxial digital outputs. Which do you think will give me the better sound?
For sure, the Coax connection is prefferable when sound quality is what matters.
Experiment. I've found Toslink very superior to coaxial in one system using an Assemblage DAC. More open with cleaner bottom end. I use a Nordost XLR in another system. Good luck.
I have a Sony DVD player and a Yamaha receiver running my B&W 602's for now. So I don't have a really high quality amplifier. I have the optical hooked up right now. Will I notice a difference even with my low price receiver?
Don't bother until you get into higher end gear (seperates). I also had a Yamaha for a while and the optical was fine. I now use coax with my Innersound amp and Martin Logan speakers. Coax is a slight improvement...

Happy listening!
You can get a really nice glass ( don't use plastic) fibre optical cable from wireworld for around $100.00. this is not much of an investment. Also, get yourself a decent coax and plug them both in. You should be able to switch from one to the other and you can decide for yourself. I have the Acoustic Zen coax and I like it. I understand the Nordost is quite good, too. You can sell any of these on Audiogon for not much of a loss, later.
After doing some experimentation on my own and talking to a dealer who also confirmed this, i think that most "commercial grade" Sony products work better using a high grade optical cable than they do using a coaxial cable. I found this out after trying several multiple hundred dollar coaxial digital cables on a Sony that i have and then switching over to a DH Labs plastic Toslink cable. The optical connection using the DH Labs cable sounded better in most every aspect over any of the other coaxial cables that i had tried. I am now running a glass Toslink for this connection that was purchased off of Ebay for the "princely sum" of $29 plus shipping.

Bare in mind that i'm not saying "Toslink is better" for all machines, just the non "super-duper" Sony's. Sean
It's my understanding that over time, the coax will be the better choice. Glass fiber WILL develop microfractures each and every time it moves, rendering the cable more and more opaque. After a while, its ability to transmit data will degrade. The metal coax should sweeten over time, as the crystals in the wire align. This is all assuming that you keep your coax terminal connections clean and fresh, of course.
So, what you are saying is that all of these Fiber Optic cables that various phone companies are burying for long term use will all have to be dug up and replaced on a regular basis ? Sean
I am running both optical and coax from my Sony transport. They are indistinguishable now, but only after I did mods to the digital output circuits to improve jitter. With the right cable, the coax can usually be better, because it avoids the optical to electrical conversion stages, which add both noise and jitter.
When we put the latest generation of Trident missiles into existing submarines there was concern that the hundreds of feet of 25 year old coax cable between the missile and the fire control system would never work at ten times the frequency for which it was originally intended. I participated in tests which revealed that the digital pulses were indeed thoroughly mutilated as they traveled through the wires...but, after reclocking and regeneration by the well designed line receivers, information was transmitted flawlessly. If digital audio equipment were properly designed (and I think that some is) this whole issue of digital transmission fidelity wouldn't matter.
Sean, I think the referance was to degredation of optical whenever it is disturbed. Buried optical lines remain untouched and unaffected.
If the cables are anywhere near heavily traveled roads, railroad tracks, construction zones, etc... the soil will constantly be shaking, vibrating and settling. This vibration will be transferred to the cables that are buried in the soil. Same things happen to very heavy buildings due to vibrations transferred through the ground i.e. foundations cracking, buildings shifting, etc.. If what Ellisonb said is true, these companies will be out digging up cables at random intervals having to deal with cable degradation. I sure hope he's wrong or we can expect a LOT of intermittent phone and / or high speed internet interruptions in the future. Sean
sean....In newer subs lots of optical cable is used. It, like everything else on the boat, will survive depth charge attack!!!
I just tested the difference between co-ax and optical cables in my system. I'm running a Denon DVD-2500 to a Rotel RSP-1066 using a Monster Cable fiber-optic interconnect (0.5 M) and a Monster Cable Video 2 interconenct (1.0 M) for the co-ax connection (yes...a video cable for a digital application). The test was using Coldplay's "Parachutes" CD and the RSP-1066 was in PCM mode. The fiber optic cable has been in use for 3 years. The Monster Cable Video 2 interconenct hasn't really seen the light of day.

I could immediately hear a difference, but I thought that perhaps I was somewhat biased since I knew which cable was which, so I had my wife compare the difference. I asked her first to describe the differences between "A" and "B", then to specify which she preferred.

We both preferred the co-ax connection.
Nrenter...I also have the Rotel 1066, and have tried out both coax and optical hookup. I hear a slight difference in gain, but that's about it. (Gain differences are easy to misinterpret as sonic quality). I will take another listen.
I didn't hear a gain difference. Instruments seemed more defined in space. Mind you, the difference was slight, but still noticiable. I've got both cables still attached, so I'll keep testing, too.
Nrenter...I suppose you realize that you can put the coax into one input and the optical into another, and switch back and forth without disconnecting any wires. Why not do the analog signal at the same time and cover all bases.
Nrenter....An afterthought...If the optical cable were defective, or improperly seated, the ROTEL would detect lack of a digital input, and would automatically revert to the analog signal (which you should have connected, per owners manual, so that you can send a signal to a recorder). Make sure that the optical signal is actually being used. Ditto for the coax.
I would only like to point out that when doing such tests, one is actually testing the "compatability" or "system synergy" of the components / cabling under test. Due to the variances in optical / coaxial and analogue output stages and those same design variations in input stages from component to component, it is quite possible that one person might favor a specific type of connection over another in System A, but someone else prefer a different type of connection in System B that uses different components.

I do agree that Eldartford's "test" is a good idea though and it will give one a good idea of what inputs / outputs seem to work best in that system. It has been my experience that changing cables can change those rankings though, suggesting that system building is basically a matter of trial and error and takes both time and experimentation. Sean

There is an element on the left side of the 1066 display that show whether the active input is "coaxial" or "optical".

I thought about including "analog" in the mix, but all I had was crap RCA cables, and I'm more interested in using the Denon DVD-2500 as a transport, and not use the Denon DACs.
Nrenter..Is that display the "active" input or the "selected" (by setup process) input?
It is the input defined in the OSD.

if you select "optical" with the OSD, and only have a co-ax or analog input, it will *not* default to the next available (valid) input.
Nrenter...See page 25 of the ROTEL 1066 owners manual.

"If no digital signal is present the unit will automatically revert to the analog input".

That's the way mine works. Try this:

1. Connect coax and analog to an input.
2. On the OSD, select coax. The 1066 display says "Coaxial"
3. Play a CD.
4. While playing, disconnect the coax.
5. After a brief silence, the music resumes. The 1066 display "Coaxial" disappears.
Hmmm...interesting. Guess I was wrong. I've never really used the analog out of my digital source into the 1066.

If you have more than one analog input in use, which input will it default to?

Sorry for taking this thread WAY off topic.
Nrenter...It defaults to the analog signal that is designated for the same input selection as the digital signal. In my case I have Coaxial and 2-CH Analog DVD signals assigned to VIDEO 2, which I have labeled "DISC". If I play a regular CD, the digital input is used, and I utilize the D/A and surround sound capabilities of the ROTEL. If I play a stereo SACD there is no digital, so the analog signal is used, and I can listen to this without any processing using the "2 CH" stereo function, or I can make center front and/or surround channels. Of course a multichannel disc (SACD or DVD-A) is played using the discrete MULTI (5-channel) analog signals.

This ROTEL has a lot of features which have taken me a while to figure out, and I am sure that I haven't got them all down yet. The labeling feature is nice. I have my outboard phono preamp stage plugged into VIDEO 1, and the label says "PHONO".

Can you tell a difference in sound between the MULTI inputs and the regular analog inputs? When I was doing my testing (several months ago) I thought that the MULTI inputs sounded better, so I run my turntable through the R/L of the MULTI inputs. According to Rotel, the signal path should be similar, but I thought that I could hear a difference.

Overall, I have been happy with my RSP-1066. For HT, I can't imagine spending any more (unless you really wanted lots of configuration options - crossovers per channel, more granular time delays, etc). As a combined 2 channel / HT pre-amp, it seems to fit my needs.
Nrenter...I have not compared the 2-CH analog input against the MULTI input (also analog). I would take ROTEL's word that it's the same signal. Of course if you use the MULTI input you forgo any capability for matrix multichannel playback of the stereo signal from that source (LP's in your case). I have a bunch of SQ quadraphonic LP's, and some other LP's that only claim to be stereo, but which respond well to matrix decoding.