Which is better Coax or Optical cables


I wanted to get some opinions on which provides better sound, coax or optical cables.  Is there a benefit to using one over the other?  Is there a brand/model you recommend?

thankful
I have always preferred coax over optical. If you have to use optical get a good glass cable, not a plastic one. To recommend coax we need a price point and what equipment you are using
Alan
I have always preferred coax over optical.
+1

Why do you prefer coax over optical?

This is the digital side of my system:

Oppo 105D
Primaluna Dialogue Premium Integrated
Emerald Physics KC II Pro speakers



thankful - it is system thing. What works for one system might not work for another (even for the same system but in different location). Transitions in optical cable are very slow, therefore it is sensitive to system noise (varying threshold point converts to time jitter) but is not sensitive to ambient electrical noise, ground loops, characteristic impedance mismatch etc.
Transitions in coax are much faster, hence it is less sensitive to system electrical noise, but is sensitive to ambient electrical noise and requires good shielding. It is also sensitive to characteristic impedance matching on both ends while this sensitivity is also a function of source slew rate, cable length and propagation speed thru the cable (dielectric). The best thing is to avoid recommendations and to try as many cables as possible..

Low jitter that you’re looking for means low noise in the music. Jitter induced noise is proportional to signal level and cannot be detected without signal/music. It will manifest itself only as a lack of clarity, harshness, sharp sibilants, poor imaging etc.
@thankful If this is your setup as you listed it:

Oppo 105D
Primaluna Dialogue Premium Integrated
Emerald Physics KC II Pro speakers

I don’t see how you would need a digital cable at all, your integrated doesn’t have a built in Dac nor do you mention an external  Dac. So you just need analog RCA cables to hook your Oppo up to your Primaluna.
As @kijanki already pointed out, it's system dependent. One benefit of optical is the inherent electrical isolation. Lifatec makes excellent glass cables capable of handling 24/192 files.

http://www.lifatec.com/toslink2.html
"But" if a person were to place a DAC between the Oppo and integrated there would be a need one.


""But" if a person were to place a DAC between the Oppo and integrated there would be a need one."

True, however it’s not as simple as adding the DAC and cable. More often than not it becomes an exploration to find the right combination that compliments your system. Have you considered other paths for upgrade?

Given that the contrasts between cable types has been addressed, and that you currently own only a 105D, the question becomes: Are you considering the purchase of a DAC and for what reason? 
Both can be good option and as advised by ahendler if you are choosing optical buy glass and not fiber,If you are buying
Coax buy a professional cable and not the cheap stock ones.
I am open for other options but I previously had a Exogal DAC between the Oppo 105D and the integrated and it was outstanding.  Had to sell it to raise some money but I am planning to do something in the next few months.  Just raising money and researching....

When you had the Exogal did you use coax or optical. Did you keep the cable when you got rid of the dac. Then use that cable firstt if you get a new dac
Alan
If OP intends to add a DAC with 105D, he should use USB not coax or optical because 105D can handle native DSD only via the digital USB input on the rear of the unit(not the USB input on the front!). When I did so, I found an improvement also adding Schiit Wyrd, or iFi USB filter unit.
If you don't care about DSD, then ignore my suggestion. Cheers,
Spencer

My vote would also be coax. So many brands available, but I would add Black Cat Cables to your list. These are designed by the same guy that designed the Illuminati digital cable.

I have always preferred Digital Coax, but must admit that the new DH Labs Glass Master Toslink does indeed sound more analog with no loss in resolution.  The people on this board touting Glass Optical Cables are correct.
Most of my listening in recent years has been via a solid desktop audio system, which I've repeatedly upgraded over the past 2 years. In that time I used 4 different DACs, with signal coming from a 24/96 Musical Fidelity S/PDIF converter, which I upgraded to the 24/192 M.F. unit ~9 months ago. On all 4 DACs I compared USB to coax; on 2 of the 4, I compared also USB & coax to toslink/glass.

Here's what I heard:

1 - Coax sounded better to me with all 4 DACs. The difference was not particularly large: but was certainly audible.

2 - In all cases, coax sounded more relaxed, a bit less edgy/glassy--a more expansive, enjoyable sound vs USB and toslink/glass.

3 - In all cases, I heard these differences both through speakers and  headphones (4 different headphones).

The problem with coax (the opportunity, as well) is there are so many brands, designs & differing costs. No one can listen to all the coax cables that get mentioned/praised in reviews and forums. I began  with an inexpensive Billy Jeans 1.5M coax, which I preferred to USB (Belkin Gold) or SonicWave "Impact" toslink/glass.

Then, based on favorable reviews from sources I trust, I upgraded to a 1.3M cable by Oyaide (DR-510), ~$220 shipped direct from Japan. It immediately sounded better than the BJs in every way--again, rather subtle but welcome differences.

My current DAC is IMO endgame-quality: Audio GD NOS 19 (an R2 R, non-oversampling design). It's 5 months old & has the latest Amanero USB implementation. This is a very fine sounding unit, and the Oyaide coax pushed it even further in the direction of relaxed (yet more than sufficiently detailed), analogue-like sound.

I will soon replace the M.F. 24/192 converter with the Singxer SU-1, which has been very favorably reviewed in multiple publications & platforms. I will revisit the USB vs coax vs glass with the SU-1.

Pls note that in all cases, the USB signal is conveyed via a USB Regen device.
I have the Oyaide but the Transparent is better but more money. I had one and sold it but missed it so much I bought another. Big sound  difference between brands.

I have the Tellurium Q Black Digital coax cable, astonishing sound : natural ,transparent and spacious soundstage.
The downside, it’s a revealing cable that immediately will expose bad recordings and weaknesses in your system.
After buying it I noticed that my power amp and CD weren't good enough and upgraded both also many bad recordings can't be heard anymore especially those made at the 80's unfortunately. But good cable should be faithful and revealing ...
Use Coax never optical unless absolutely necessary. Just think about whats happening to the digital signal and conversion losses, it matters... 

Caution: The optical inputs are not recommended for DSD or for sample rates above 96 kHz. Optical connections may be unreliable at sample rates above 96 kHz.
Coax. Is this even a discussion?

http://silversonic.com/docs/products/GlassMasterToslink.html

Give it a try.... Money back Guarantee if you prefer your Coax, but feedback tells us this is a more "analog" sounding cable.

dhlabs

what about the previous comment that says "Caution: The optical inputs are not recommended for DSD or for sample rates above 96 kHz. Optical connections may be unreliable at sample rates above 96 kHz. "  Is this true? 

Coax...stop debating it already.  Toslink is inferior.  AES/EBU is another matter.
Optical cables made of glass can be very good cables with high performance but coax cables will be always overall suppirier,they are more transparent, agile and natural. 
You have to pick the distortion that sounds best to you.
many of these replies should be used in a college electronics course on why consumers buy snake oil

if you have an opinion then state why you think one is better than the other

that will make for a suppirier thread
Plastic fiber TOSLink cables -- basically everything available on Amazon -- are junk. Cheap plastic cables can barely handle the bandwidth required for 44.1/16 (for the most part not even that) forget about anything higher. 

The problem stems from losses due to internal reflections. You need very fine, high-purity quartz-class conductor bundles and polished connectors to reduce reflection losses to to negligible level. Of course the quality of the receiver and transmitters play into this.

There are also high grade plastic cables out there such as the mid-level AQ and Supra cables that are supposedly the sweet spot for price-performance. I haven't compared any glass cables, but I do have a Supra cable that cost around $80, and have confirmed it competes in SQ with a filtered/isolated USB connection running off my dedicated audio PC. 
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Check the spec's on toslink vs coax connections.  Toslink is limited to 96khz plus it's construction is generally inferior to coax, certainly when compared to a really well designed coax.  I use an MIT Magnum Digital Coax which produces superior sound to my previous $12k balanced cable running analog from my Krell Cipher (which I now sold).
For short length less than 15ft and with 24/96pcm, toslink is just as good as good coax. With toslink, There's no electrical comnection between components for those who care.  Plastic vs glass for such a short distance is silly... There's no loss of 0's and 1's with plastic.
Coax can stream beyond 24/96pcm.
Both can't do dsd.  Only coax can stream dsd converted into pcm using dop stansard (24/176.8)...
so i guess coax is better, it has less limitations.
No need to spend a fortune.  Just good shielding and 75ohms connectors.
Hands down without a doubt Coax or RCA is way better then Toslink/Optical for handling digital signals. the list in order is XLR,Coax,Optical. Toslink is last because it adds the most jitter of all. (jitter is digital distortion)