There was a time when the digital-decoding scene was dominated by HDMI 2.1; yet, even in that time, there also existed the digital optical cable. Toshiba first developed the optical audio cable in 1983. These cables are often referred to as TOSLINK or Toshiba Link cables within the audio-visual industry.
You only need to buy an optical cable once, so you shouldn’t try to save money on it. That’s because it can transport uncompressed audio signals from solitary components to an A/V receiver, soundbar, and other home theatre equipment.
We have compiled a list of the 7 best optical audio cables you can find in 2023.
So, without any further ado, let’s jump right into it!
Roundup of the Best Optical Audio Cables
|Overall Best Optical Audio Cable||Amazon Basics Digital Optical Audio Toslink Sound Bar TV Cable|
|Best Optical Audio Cable for Home Theater||EMK Digital Optical Audio Cable Toslink Cable|
|Most Durable Optical Audio Cable||FosPower 24K Gold Plated Toslink Digital Optical Audio Cable|
|Most Versatile Optical Audio Cable||AudioQuest Cinnamon Toslink Fiber Optic Digital Audio Cable|
|Best Optical Audio Cable for PlayStation||VANAUX 90 Degree Optical Audio Cable|
|Best Optical Audio Cable for DAC||Amazon Basics CL3 Rated Optical Audio Digital Toslink Cable|
|Best Budget Optical Audio Cable||StarTech.com 10 ft. Digital Optical Audio Cable|
What Is an Optical Audio Cable Used For?
We use optical audio cables to transmit digital audio from speakers or AV receivers. They are almost indistinguishable from HDMI cables that consumers often use. Instead of using optical audio cables wherever feasible, attempt to utilize HDMI cables instead. If you’re wondering why you can find the explanation below here:
HDMI cables can transmit higher-quality audio, including Blu-ray codecs, such as Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio. But, this functionality is not present in optical audio cables.
When you have older equipment that does not support HDMI, you can use the optical audio cable in this case. However, you need to do so to get the audio to your AV receiver or soundbar. This is a brief explanation of the usage of optical audio cables.
Things to Consider When Buying an Optical Audio Cables
Below are the things you should keep in mind while buying an optical audio cable:
Any length that is above ten meters is not a good option since it causes the transmission’s reliability to decrease. For example, optical audio cables often cannot be longer than 5 meters without an additional signal booster. For example, suppose you require lengths that are more than one hundred feet.
In that case, the best option for you would be an optical cable made with molten quartz since it will deliver higher-quality results. So, for example, suppose you need only a short cable. In that case, you may use a cable made of plastic optical fibers.
We say this because there will be no noticeable change in the signal’s quality. But only unless the distance between the sender and receiver is more than one hundred feet and the bandwidth levels are very high.
There is no difference in performance between the 5 mm and 8 mm cables. That’s because the width is just the exterior diameter of the cable, which does not influence the connections in any way.
As a result, there is no difference between the two sizes. However, you should know that thicker cables are more long-lasting and often come with a protective nylon mesh covering on the exterior. This is something that you may want to take into consideration.
There is not a significant quality gap between different optical audio cable brands. For example, suppose you do not have remarkable hearing and a very high-rate system. In that case, it is unlikely that you will hear any changes when you use a cheaper brand instead of a more costly one. This is the case even if you own a very good system.
The cost of optical audio cables is often higher than digital coaxial cables due to their higher bandwidth requirements. However, as a trade-off, they provide superior performance when reproducing digital signals since there is no interference from other electronic equipment nearby.
Therefore, the kind of optical cable you choose to invest in will significantly impact the pricing you provide. Plastic fiber cables of standard length, 5 meters, are much more affordable than quartz fiber cables of the same length.
In addition, certain cables come with connectors coated with 24k gold to improve signal transmission and help prevent corrosion. However, this may also significantly drive up the price of the cable.
It is always a good practice to check optical audio cables to ensure they don’t have any sharp kinks since this will prevent it from functioning correctly. Bending the cable inhibits it from passing light correctly along its length, which is acceptable but unavoidable.
Your optical audio cable needs to have a bandwidth that ranges from 9 MHz to 11 MHz for the greatest possible performance. The larger the bandwidth of this connection is, the more effective it will function.
However, it is important to keep in mind that smaller consumer items, such as CD players, would not experience a loss in quality due to limited bandwidth in the same way that a home theatre system would.
Top 8 Optical Audio Cables on the Market
We have prepared a list of the top 8 optical audio cables that you can easily get.
1. Amazon Basics Digital Optical Audio Toslink Sound Bar TV Cable
Best Optical Audio Cable for Home Theater
- Convenient length of 6 ft
- Rubberized cable
- Reasonably priced
- Handy rubber construction for high flexibility
- Long enough for the majority of users
- Compatible with almost any device
- We did not experience any issues with this cable
We widely consider the digital optical audio cable offered by AmazonBasics to be among the industry’s finest products. However, in our opinion, anyone seeking a solid Toslink cable needs to look no farther than this product.
You can connect and operate the Amazon Basics Digital Optical Audio Toslink Sound Bar TV Cable with any device, including gaming consoles, CD and Blu-ray players, and your home theatre’s audio-video components. This digital fiber optic cable is trustworthy since it can transport transmissions effortlessly. Additionally, it supports multi-channel audio.
The fact that Amazon constructed this optical-fiber cable using materials that are robust and long-lasting is one of the reasons we appreciate it. Take our word that Amazon has made this product to last very long. We conclude this because it has a PVC thin coating to secure it, gold-plated plugs that don’t corrode, and transmission tubes inside that are buffered for the best transmission. We are giving you this guarantee because we want you to know that you can trust us.
You may put this cable in a secure location when not using the product, thanks to the detachable cable protector tips. In addition, they will protect the cable’s sensitive connection pin from any dangers that may come from the outside.
In conclusion, if you want to make the most of the advantages of optical audio but do not want to spend much money on the technology, you will find that the Amazon Basics Digital Optical Audio Toslink Cable for TVs is an excellent option. It has a very simple appearance yet does what it aims to achieve. This cable, which comes in three different cable lengths of 3.3 feet, 6 feet, and 9.8 feet, is ideal for connecting your audio system and your television or gaming console.
View on Amazon: Amazon Basics Digital Optical Audio Toslink Sound Bar TV Cable
2. EMK Digital Optical Audio Cable Toslink Cable
Overall Best Optical Audio Cable
- Rated cable length of up to 49 ft
- Offers a rubber cable construction
- Inexpensive and sturdy option
- Good length for heavy-duty functions
- We did not experience any issues with this cable
EMK is a popular cable brand since it makes the most cost-effective products available. Therefore, this makes most of its products ideal for those with a limited budget and contributes to the company’s widespread popularity.
The EMK Digital Optical Audio Cable Toslink Cable comes in at the second spot on this list since it is the least expensive alternative, making it an excellent choice for shoppers on a limited budget. Even though it has a more affordable price tag, you still receive cable lengths between 3 feet and 49 feet, which most people consider above average.
Although the provided rubber cable is pretty flexible and simple to deal with, it is not the most long-lasting one. And this reflects the fact that EMK sells it at an affordable price. But, considering how much it costs, the fact that this optical comes with a warranty for three years is certainly a blessing.
In conclusion, the EMK Digital Optical Audio Cable Toslink Cable is an excellent audio cable that boasts varying lengths for people to choose between. While it does not come with gold-plated connectors, it does its job brilliantly. Overall, this is one of the best optical audio cables and ranked 2nd on our list for a reason.
View on Amazon: EMK Digital Optical Audio Cable Toslink Cable
3. FosPower 24K Gold Plated Toslink Digital Optical Audio Cable
Most Durable Optical Audio Cable
- Convenient length of 3 ft
- Comes as a braided cable
- Beginner-friendly and affordable
- Enhanced durability
- Gold-plated tips for superior transmission
- Length is not ideal for prolonged usage
The FosPower 24K Gold Plated Toslink Digital Optical Audio Cable comes equipped with pure metal connectors and a core made of high-quality fiber. FosPower manufactured this cable to guarantee that dependability would not be a problem. If you are looking forward to installing a sound system in your house, then this cable is an excellent choice for you to consider.
This optical cable has provided us with a sufficient amount of approach opportunities. This device astounds us with its compatibility and signal quality, considering that it costs almost half as much as the majority of the currently available variants. As a result, we have complete faith in suggesting this to anybody searching for an optical audio cable that is both competent and reasonably priced.
As evidence, the cable itself is very compatible with a variety of different electronic gadgets. Therefore, you should anticipate nothing less than superb and smooth sound transmission from the device, whether it is a soundbar, Blu-Ray player, or even a gaming console.
In addition, FosPower manufactured the product to be corrosion-free and harm resistant. The cable’s connection tips, conductors, and ferrules are all plated with 24k gold. Because some portions of the cable are gold-plated, it can function independently and without interruptions.
Additionally, FosPower includes intriguing jacket protection in the product’s construction. This jacket protection, lined with a robust layer of interwoven nylon, helps reduce the amount of internal optical damage that unintentional kinks may cause.
In conclusion, the FosPower 24K Gold Plated Toslink Digital Optical Audio Cable is a great optical cable. You may use it to connect your sound system to your TV. For example, an outer nylon mesh jacket adds to the cable’s OD6.0mm heavy-duty design. This shields the wire from kinks and nicks, as well as accidental bends, to keep it safe.
View on Amazon: FosPower 24K Gold Plated Toslink Digital Optical Audio Cable
4. AudioQuest Cinnamon Toslink Fiber Optic Digital Audio Cable
Most Versatile Optical Audio Cable
- 1.5m convenient length
- Comes with a rubberized surface
- Perfect for rough use
- Enhanced flexibility
- Extremely durable
- A bit pricey
AudioQuest is a relatively luxury and high-end manufacturer of optical cables that we recognize for its heavy-duty products that provide high-end specs and durability. The brand is also known for its reputation as a high-end manufacturer of optical cables.
The AudioQuest Cinnamon Toslink Fiber Optic Digital Audio Cable is on the fifth place in this guide because it is the best choice available for applications requiring high levels of durability. This optical cable has a length of 1.5 m. The length is much longer than any other available alternative. This makes it an excellent choice for applications that need much use.
In conclusion, the AudioQuest Cinnamon Toslink Fiber Optic Digital Audio Cable is a super-versatile optical audio cable you’ll find on the market now. With a length of 1.5 m, it makes sure to fulfill all your multimedia needs and is very easy to set up.
View on Amazon: AudioQuest Cinnamon Toslink Fiber Optic Digital Audio Cable
5.VANAUX 90 Degree Optical Audio Cable
Best Optical Audio Cable for PlayStation
- A good length of 26 ft
- Comes with a rubberized surface
- Among the longest cables on the market
- Good flexibility and durability
- Great value for money
- We did not experience any issues with this cable
The connection design of the VANAUX 90-degree optical audio cable takes up just 0.6 inches of space, making it ideal for use in audio installations with limited room. This is a far more compact option than other full-sized cables, which may take up to 2.8 inches of space.
Regarding the quality of its construction, the cable has corrosion-resistant gold-plated connectors made from 24K gold and a very robust PVC jacket. Additionally, the cable may be purchased in an extensive range of lengths, beginning at a scant 3.3 feet and extending up to 26 feet in length.
Each end of the wire has a plug that is at a right angle to it. It is available in two different variations: one has a single end with a right-angle plug, while the other has a right-angle plug on both ends. The latter facilitates installation even in more constrained spaces.
In conclusion, the VANAUX 90 Degree Optical Audio Cable is ideal if your television or soundbar’s orientation is such that it is relatively near the wall. That’s because there is a strong chance that there will not be enough room for an optical fiber cable of sufficient quality to connect appropriately.
View on Amazon: VANAUX 90 Degree Optical Audio Cable
6. Amazon Basics CL3 Rated Optical Audio Digital Toslink Cable
Best Optical Audio Cable for DAC
- Includes removable rubber tips to protect the cable when not plugged in
- Corrosion-resistant gold-plated connectors and buffer tubing for optimal signal transfer
- Durable PVC outer layer
- Clear, multi-channel, fiber-optic digital audio output through a lightweight, flexible cable
- Connects audio components, like a sound bar to receiver/preamp, audio processor, DAC, or television
- Can take time to set up
Suppose cost-effectiveness is of utmost importance to you, and you are on the hunt for the highest possible quality at the lowest price. In that case, you cannot go wrong with the AmazonBasics CL3 Optical Audio Cable. This Toslink cable is available in five lengths, ranging from 6 feet to 35 feet in length.
It has all of the desirable characteristics built-in, such as gold plating on the connections and pleasant handling, so you can easily plug it in and ensure it’s connected correctly. This version has a PVC covering, which adds both protection and longevity to the product.
If you want to conceal this cable’s sight in your home theatre by running it through the wall, this product will let you do so successfully.
To minimize the possibility of a fire breaking out in this arrangement, Amazon has purposefully crafted it using materials that produce the lowest amounts of smoke.
In conclusion, the Amazon Basics CL3 Rated Optical Audio Digital Toslink Cable is a simple product. However, the materials are high quality and accomplished to execute their purpose. The fact that the sound functions so well makes us extremely delighted. Since we were able to get the sound to work, we have been watching more television and movies. Shows like “Game of Thrones” are much more pleasurable with a full-bodied sound, which the television cannot produce on its own. Even at this price, it’s a decent deal.
View on Amazon: Amazon Basics CL3 Rated Optical Audio Digital Toslink Cable
7. StarTech.com 10 ft. Digital Optical Audio Cable
Best Budget Optical Audio Cable
- Delivers excellent audio signals
- Compact form factor makes this very convenient
- Sturdy PVC build
- Good flexibility
- Superior compatibility
- Feels a bit fragile and feeble to hold
The StarTech.com 10 ft. Digital Optical Audio Cable has been coated with PVC but still keeps its thickness very low. This little cable will nevertheless provide an outstanding digital audio connection despite its compact size. This performance is due to its gold-plated connection tips, complementing the cable’s otherwise understated design.
This item has been made as thin, lightweight, and compact as possible so that it may fit within even the tiniest enclosures. Despite this, do not be deceived by the seemingly small size of the wire. Although StarTech designed it to weigh as little as possible, its longevity is on par with its comparable alternatives. Therefore, using a very lightweight PVC material ensures the cable’s durability.
You should also expect the finest possible audio quality, free and unaffected from discernible distortions and signal interference. This is because StarTech has made these optical fiber cables to reduce the possibility of a broken signal. To promote even further signal transmission, the producers fitted the whole length of the cable with polished lenses at regular intervals.
Also, you can link any device you want to the component without any limits or worries. For example, it is abundantly clear that StarTech designed this item to be multi-compatible with various audio devices. So, suppose you want to stream anything from your television. In that case, you may do so with the assurance that the sound quality will be crystal clear and crisp.
In conclusion, the StarTech.com 10 ft. Digital Optical Audio Cable will greatly assist you in putting up your home sound system. It was designed to send and receive high-quality signals from and to the input and output speakers.
View on Amazon: StarTech.com 10 ft. Digital Optical Audio Cable
Frequently Asked Questions About Optical Audio Cables
No, an HDMI cable is better than an optical audio cable.
Optical connections and HDMI cables can carry precise, multi-channel sound, with considerable benefits over more typical analog audio interfaces. On the other hand, you can stream Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio through HDMI. However, it is not possible to use optical cables for this purpose. Analog signals are used less
HDMI is capable of transmitting video too. Also, when paired with ARC and eARC technologies, HDMI cables can be a unique cable option for linking your inputs to a TV or ancillary A/V equipment. At the same time, optical cables serve just audio transmission.
Optical cable interfaces are still present on many current gadgets, but HDMI is significantly more widespread. Older HDMI-enabled devices might not have the same audio functionality as newer models. HDMI 1.3 introduced Dolby TrueHD DTS-HD Master audio capability, whereas HDMI 1.3 included the audio return channel (ARC). HDMI 2.1 adds support for eARC in return.
While many newer systems only need an analog connection, digital connections that utilize optical media are becoming more common in newer systems (RCA). RCA cables combine video and audio transmission into a single cable. RCA cables are often less expensive than optical cables.
Ultimately, it is up to you to choose the kind of connection you will employ. For example, your requirements might differ based on your home theatre system’s components and whether you want stereo sound.
If you are concerned about cost, the RCA cable may be the best choice. But, if it is more vital to be compatible with modern systems that demand digital connections, then the optical cable would be the better choice.
No, optical cables are not necessarily the best for audio. HDMI is a superior option to these optical cables.
Yes and no.
Throughout the ’90s and ’00s, the optical cable was almost omnipresent. It was the simplest method to transmit Dolby Digital and DTS from a satellite tv box, TiVo, or DVD player to a receiver. Even in the earliest days of HDMI, the optical cable was kept nearby in case a user’s receiver was incompatible with HDMI.
Now, however, an increasing number of devices lack optical. For instance, it has disappeared from the most recent Roku and Apple TV 4K.
It has also vanished from many smaller televisions. However, it persists in bigger televisions as a somewhat unnecessary backup to HDMI with ARC.
What’s the rationale? Soundbars. Most soundbars continue to use an optical connection, which is one of the few factors keeping the format alive.
On the audio side, devices such as Chromecast Audio use an optical interface owing to space limitations. Chromecast Audio employs the mini-Toslink variation that fits into a 3.5mm analog port.
No, they aren’t. You can use them from both ends.
Most of the information you will send across optical connections will be digital, namely audio in the format of PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) or Dolby Digital. If they do not get a flawless signal, all Dolby Digital audio codecs are programmed to shut down entirely.
If any bits are missing or incorrect, the decoder will send out silence rather than risk transmitting something that might potentially harm your speakers. For example, suppose you are receiving a Dolby Digital signal that is no skipping. In that case, the optical connection that you are using is working properly.
Suppose you’re asking an audiophile about jitter. In that case, the answer for PCM transmission is that varied optical cables may create different levels depending on the cable. The truth is that the digital-to-analog converter in your device has a far greater impact on the sound than any other component. So a “better” optical connection might lead to noticeably uncompressed PCM audio.
Fiber optic cables often vary in size, even though their fundamental purpose remains to transmit light data. For example, regular Toslink and micro Toslink are the two varieties of fiber optic cables, with the latter being much more condensed, space-saving, and producing better audio quality than the former.
Over the course of 2 months, we tested over 20 optical audio cables. The optical audio cables you see on this list are the best 7 among them.
There is an abundance of advantages that come along with using optical audio connections. Since optical signals are used to transport sound waves, the strength or quality of the sound wave is not easily lost, even though it is sent over a long distance. This is because optical signals travel at very high speeds.
The quality of the AUX and RCA ports built into the board is much higher. Therefore, you may find an option for an optical audio connector on the vast majority of current TVs.
However, suppose you are looking for the highest possible quality. In that case, the product that FosPower has to offer should be able to satisfy your needs.