Sound at the speed of light

Use optical TOSLINK connections for unparalleled audio fidelity

A home entertainment centre that might include a high-wattage amplifier, a 10-way powerboard and wireless devices such as a casting dongle or media player can be a hotbed of electromagnetic activity. Even though shielded cables go a long way to minimising induced noise, in high-interference areas it can be almost impossible to ensure a completely clear signal. The audio signal being sent along analogue audio cables, especially long ones, can also suffer degradation due to resistance.

One way around both problems is to transfer audio data digitally: HDMI might be an obvious first choice for this, but it’s not suitable in all cases. For example, your sound bar may not have an HDMI socket, or you might have top-shelf legacy hardware which predates HDMI and you want to use it with a brand new 4K TV.

Originally developed by Toshiba (immortalised in the first three letters), TOSLINK is a digital audio standard that relies on optical fibre to transmit uncompressed stereo or compressed 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound. Toslink cables are up to 5m long, and because they use light rather than electrical impulses, there is zero degradation in the signal due to interference or resistance.

Noise reduction is not the only perk of optical audio cables: here are five fantastic benefits.

Connect a Bluetooth® receiver to your sound system via TOSLINK to stream music from your phone.

Binge on your favourite shows at any time of day or night without causing diplomatic issues thanks to 2.4GHz wireless headphones with an optical input.

Upgrade your laptop's entry-level audio with an external sound card that supports TOSLINK output to a 7.1 sound system.

Extract the audio stream from an HDMI signal and connect it directly to a sound system for out-of-this-world gaming or the ultimate home cinema experience

Make your sentimental old stereo backwards compatible with the latest audio gear using a high-definition digital-to-analogue converter.

Click here to learn more about digital home entertainment.


- February 2020

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