usb vs toslink?

Is it superior or hype?
currently i have my laptop computer connect to my dac by Apple AE by toslink cable. Is there a big improvement to use CAT 5 directly from computer to a USB converter or USB DAC.
has anyone try this , please share your experience

Big difference...not sure of all the technical issues involved but it's NOT like the old Optical vs. coax argument.... I am using an IMAC and was very disappointed in the Optical output quality. The USB into a good USB DAC is absolutely the way to go. Further, With the IMAC at least, Your use of the Optical adapter/Headphone port mutes the speaker output on the may want to hear other things/on other sessions without having to disconnect the Optical cable. There are several great USB Dacs available...including the Wavelength and the PS Audio Digilink 3... with apple lossless, the quality is, in my opinion, outstanding.
Just to be clear about your terms which I hope will help your research.

TOSLINK was developed by Toshiba back in the 70s. It is their equivalent to SPDIF which guess what was developed by Sony. Neither of these formats was ever envisioned as anything more then a test protocol. Lots of interesting stuff on Wikipedia.

TOSLINK and SPDIF are both very sensitive to the quality of execution. Most posters on these boards seem happy with their AE mini-TOSLINK but it is nowhere near optimal.

CAT5 cabling is used with Ethernet. Chris Venhaus and others developed cable recipes based on CAT5 for use primarily as speaker cables but no one uses CAT5 in conjunction with USB.

To connect a computer via USB one uses a USB cable - the Belkin USB Gold is most peoples choice. Or the Opticis fiber USB if you need a run over 15'.

There is also the option to run USB to something like the Hagerman or Blue Circle USB converter which lets you output AES, SPDIF or TOSLINK the"last meter" to your DAC.

Now of course comes the tricky part. For people who already have a DAC that a) they are really happy with and b) use with other gear; the USB to Hagerman routine with a premium cable on to the DAC is the path of least resistance and has made a lot of people happy.

If you don't have a DAC, then the recommendation is to use a USB DAC such as the Wavelength, Benchmark, Apogee, Paradisea or any (increasing) number of others.

The gold standard is a DAC that is designed to take the signal from USB directly to I2S completely skipping a SPDIF implementation.
i have a trivista DAC. or my krell 20i also accept digital input ( coaxial or toslink ), i am fairly happy with the sound of krell, or trivista, so my question is that if i get a hagerman and connect to either dac, would I expect a margiinal or noticeable improvement vs, apple AE to either DAC.
i have try apple AE , it's ok for background music, but not for serious listening
Toslink now comes in two flavors:

1) Plastic
2) Glass

The glass is a quantum leap in fidelity improvement over the plastic. van den Hul Octocoupler is probably the best glass Toslink out there!
is usb to dac ie. hagman better than toslink from apple AE to DAC?
A1126 - if you are not happy with the AE I suggest you try the Hagerman or Blue Circle. You have nice toys and these don't cost much.

As Fatparrot points out, there are (nothing new) two flavors of Toslink - glass and plastic. I ran a Wireworld SuperNova (glass) directly from my Mac G4 to a TriVista and it was excellent - unfortunately I don't think anyone is making a cable this good for the mini-Toslink
van den Hul Octocoupler is available in 3 configurations:

1) Toslink to Toslink
2) Mini to Toslink
3) Mini to Mini

Ckorody, when Toslink first came out, I thought that it was only available in plastic, as opposed to the AT&T Glass cable [not compatible with the Toslink terminations].
My PC is about 100 feet away from my DAC. If I am not mistaken, Hagerman usb converter uses usb cable not CAT5. So, the 15-foot limitation on usb cable length would be an issue. (The optic usb cable is very expensive and such it's out of question.) Is there any alternative to it?

What do you think of Squeezbox which uses CAT5. (It costs more than double the Hagerman's usb.) Any other inexpensive choices?
why the 15 ft limitation for usb cable??
Check out this thread for comparisons among different digital playback methods (e.g., Toslink vs usb vs CD-R, etc):
Digital Playback Comparison
thanks bruce,
i just order the hagman usb , i'll see how it go
hi bruce, i notice you mention you use a long coxial cable not i assume a shorter usb cable, why ? why not the other way around??
The USB standard is 15 feet. The big reason for this is that the cable also carries 5v which is how some many USB devices get their power. Power drops over distance.

You can extend the USB with various devices but I personally use an Opticis. Color me lucky but I find it to be a good value and reasonably priced. Also, there is a big advantage to isolating the computer and the DAC from each other. A fiber cable (be it Opticis or for that matter Toslink) does that. Instant way to avoid any ground loops and possible hash.

I am a big Squeezebox fan - beyond the CAT5 you can order it with WiFi capability and if you are lucky (environment dependent) you can eliminate cabling entirely.

>Fatparrot I don't know, you are most likely right. However there have been glass versions for a few years now. Check the famous shoot out in 6 moons when a glass Toslink equalled the best SPDIF cables.