spdif vs toslink

any difference between RCA spdif and a plastic toslink connection? I am sending it from a computer to a DAC.
Pro's con's?....sound quality...effect of cables?
thanks in advance!
Using a computer as the digital source, you might be better off with a Toslink than a coaxial digital connection. The coax would be more likely to transmit the high levels of RFI that computers generate internally. In effect, the Toslink would tend to isolate the rest of the system from all of the "electrical hash & trash" that the computer was generating due to using non-conductive ( plastic or glass ) conductors. Sean
I would consider going for a glass toslink. I got one from the internet--search audiogon for "glass" low cost--$40. high quality sound. am using it for my home theater setup. Big improvement over the previous junk but that was just a long composite video cable. I have read that glass is better than coax. good luck Dan
Most audiophiles would consider a good coax better than toslink. If you read this forum often enough you will see plenty of evidence of that. Most of the audio magazines say the same thing. Having said that, what Sean says about electrically isolating your computer from your audio system is valid and as such I would use the toslink in your application.

The digital output will pass a digital audio signal only. I am unaware of any video signals being passed digitally from one device to another except for digital cameras and video cameras in which case you would be using an USB or 1394 connection.

I am using a Tara Labs optical connector between my DVD and my SRS receiver with good success however I will be going to coax as I want to hook my PS2 with the toslink as that's the only output on the PS2 and my receiver has only one optical input. This will be good in that it will isolate some of the electrical hash from the PS2 from entering the rest of the system. The added benefit is that the receiver has better DAC's than the PS2.
Thanks....I am using a Yamaha UW10 interface going to an old Audio Research Dac1...it sounds OK...but not as good as my dearly departed ipod...I have not bought an external drive to store my wav files and am just running it off the drive that is in the Dell computer. Does the hard drive have any impact on the quality of the sound?...I am an analog guy trying to get into the digital world so thanks for your patience....
I once read a story where a mastering engineer claimed he could tell whether it was a Maxtor or a Western Digital HD attached to his DAW. He was probably making a joke. The key factors with drives is the interface and platter rotation speed. Any recent vintage HD with ATA, IDE, Firewire, USB 2 or SCSI and 7200 rpm platters will have no problems with the playback of two channel audio.

As far as optical vs. non-optical, my experience is that balanced AES/EBU is definitely superior to optical.

Did you have Apple replace the dead iPod?
I sent the ipod back to apple for repair. Considering the thing last only a month I figured they'd just give me a new one, but no such luck. I do like the itunes software so something good came out of the experience. I have and AES/EBU input on my DAC3...how do I get that out of my computer?
Ntscdan, they'll probably give you a refurbished iPod.

I've had very good experiences with RME audio cards. Their 96 Series offers AES/EBU balanced outputs and goes for about $400. I think it's the best way to go, but might want to try the glass optical cable first.

I totally agree that iTunes is a very slick piece of software. I use it as the centerpiece of my digtial audio setup (Apple G5 with 650 Gb of storage - about 16,000 songs).
Thanks for the card link...16,000 songs! What kind of music are you listening to?...a bit of everything I guess.
Maybe I am missing something! For me its jazz and mostly 60s soul/r&b...and a very selective amount of "classic" country from my teenage days in radio...but that's another post...
Here's a link to a thread about my music collection. CLICK HERE. It's a little eclectic, but nothing really out of the ordinary.

As far as 60s soul goes one of my favorites is Major Lance. Not much recorded output, but a lot of great songs by Curtis Mayfield and equally great production from Johnny Pate.