Digital Audio Cables
Digital audio cables (or, as they're often called, SPDIF cables) provide a handy way to route multi-channel audio from one device to another with minimal to no signal loss. The specs for a coaxial digital audio cable are the same as for a typical video cable: 75 ohm impedance, coaxial construction. A good impedance match, and wide bandwidth, help keep the digital square-wave signal from rounding off to a point where data loss occurs, so impedance consistency and wide bandwidth are important here, just as in video cabling. The other option, optical or "TOSlink" digital audio cable, carries the same signal in plastic optical fiber; it's less robust over distance, but is generally reliable up to about 50 feet in good fiber.
Coaxial Digital Audio Cable: Belden 1694A
Our favorite cable for coaxial digital audio use (many others are available; see below) is Belden 1694A "Brilliance" precision digital video coaxial cable, a 75 ohm coax engineered for low signal loss over long runs. These cables are exceptionally well shielded to keep outside electromagnetic interference from entering and polluting the signal; the shielding consists of a combination of a dense (95% coverage) tinned copper braid and a double-sided aluminum-on-polyester foil, for the best protection both against EMI and RFI. View the technical specs for Belden 1694A.
The Connectors: Canare RCAPs
Connectors are a critical part of any cable, because if the coax isn't well-joined to the connectors, or if the connectors don't make firm electrical contact with the jacks, it doesn't much matter how good the coax is. For mechanical stability and electrical performance, there's no better RCA plug available than the Canare RCAP. These Canare plugs are designed for the best possible impedance match with 75 ohm video coax. These plugs crimp tightly to both the center conductor and the coaxial shield, so that the shielding of the whole cable assembly is tight and uninterrupted. The RCAP's gold-plated "internal pressure contact fingers" provide a strong, tight, electrically sound connection with equipment jacks, without the excessive tightness of many competing designs. View Canare's description and specs for the RCAP plugs. Need BNC plugs or F-connectors instead? See below.
Optical Digital Audio Cable: Mitsubishi Eska POF
When we have a choice, we prefer to run digital audio in coax; it's more robust over distance, and the cable is interchangeable with cable used for certain other applications (e.g., composite video). However, an increasing number of devices are coming onto the market with digital audio available only in optical form, following the TOSlink standard. For these applications, we build our optical cables using the finest high-performance Plastic Optical Fiber (POF), Mitsubishi's ESKA Fiber. While POF is in general rather lossy stuff compared to glass optical fiber, we prefer it for optical digital audio use because it's much more physically durable and because its aperture matches the spec for optical digital audio use, unlike glass fiber which is too small and must be used in bundles. Our fiber is encased first in a tough cladding layer and then, for added durability, a flexible outer PVC jacket similar in texture to the PVC on some of our high-flex Belden cables (e.g. Belden 1505F). In our own usage, we've tested these cables at lengths up to 50 feet and found them to perform perfectly even at those extended distances.
We hand-cut and terminate each of these cables ourselves so we know they're done right and tested before they go out. We think you'll be impressed with their performance; but we also offer a simple and easy return policy. If for any reason you're not completely satisfied, just return the cables, undamaged, within 30 days and we'll refund your purchase price in full.
Other Coaxial Digital Audio Cable Alternatives:
In addition to our standard Belden 1694A/Canare RCAP configuration, we can supply the following options:
We carry a variety of coaxial cables from which we can make individual cable assemblies. A couple are listed below; for a complete list, click here.
Belden 1505F Coax:
For most applications, where cables will be installed once or a few times and seldom handled, we recommend the solid-conductor coaxes above. However, if you will be handling your cables on a regular basis because of frequent system reconfigurations, or mobile use, or what-have-you, a multistranded, more flexible cable will stand up to that handling much better, and of course it's a bit easier to route. Until recently, there was no 75 ohm high-flex cable available that could compete with Belden's best cables for impedance consistency and bandwidth--to fill this void, Belden introduced 1505F, a highly flexible cable designed for use in video patch panels. Belden 1505F uses a compacted stranded center conductor and a double braid shield, and is sweep-tested to 3 GHz. The result is a more flexible, more durable cable, at a very slight sacrifice in performance characteristics. View Belden's specs and technical data for Belden 1505F.
Belden 1695A Coax:
Belden 1695A is a Teflon-dielectric version of 1694A and carries a plenum fire-safety rating; its performance is essentially identical to that of 1694A. View Belden's specs for 1695A.
Canare BNC, 1/8 inch, and F Connectors:
If your equipment accepts BNC plugs, mono 1/8" plugs, or F-connectors instead of RCA plugs, we've got you covered! Canare BNC plugs--true 75 ohm plugs of the highest quality--are available on all of the cables above; Canare F-connectors are available on the Belden 1694A cable; and Canare solder-on 1/8" miniplugs are available on the Belden 1505F cable. Pricing for BNCs and Fs is the same as for RCAs, while the 1/8" plugs add $5.00 per 1/8 inch end to the price. Just be sure to select the appropriate connector option when adding the cable to your shopping cart, and we'll take care of it. View Canare's description and specs for its BNC plugs. View Canare's description and specs for its F-connectors.
Just fill in your cable length in feet in the appropriate form below, select any applicable options, and the price will display to the right. To purchase, click "add to cart." To see a list of sample prices of these cables in various lengths, view our Digital Audio Cable Price List.
|Female Toslink/Male 1/8" Adapter|
for Optical Cables