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    Optical vs HDMI Cable - Which Digital Audio Connection to use?

    • 5 min read

    If you have bought a new sound system or a gaming station, you need a cable to connect it to your screen. In this article, we will explore which of the two cables are best for your particular setup.

    There are two options:

    1. HDMI Cable (High definition multimedia interface)
    2. Optical Cable

    HDMI VS Optical cable

    Each of these two wires has its pros and cons. This post discusses their differences and similarities and sees which one is best for you.

    What is an Optical Cable?

    Optical cable transfers signal using light, and it is usually less than 5 meters in length. Most commonly used in most old electronics systems.

    optical cable connected

    It is mostly used to send audio signals from one device to another. Common audio formats that it transfers include:-

     

    1. PCM stereo audio
    2. Dolby Digital
    3. DTS multichannel audio

    Where is Optical Cable Used?

    Optical cables are used for the internet, computer networking, telephone lines, and cable television. Besides, they are also extensively used in the automotive industry for lighting both inside and outside of the vehicle, in the medical industry for endoscopy, and in the military for transmitting data at high speeds.

    What Does an Optical Cable Connector Look Like?

    An optical fiber cable connector looks different on different devices. The connectors are designed according to the purpose of the device it is made for. For example, since your TV sends out a sound, it will have an output connector. On the other hand, the external speaker will be equipped with an input connector.

    This also stays in line with the fact we previously mentioned. HDMI cables have the same ends - it doesn’t matter which end is connected with which device. For optical cables, however, the case is different. Some connectors may have a cap placed over them as protection; you would need to remove it before connecting the cable.

    optical cable connector

    What is an HDMI Cable?

    HDMI cable offers you an all-in-one solution. It provides high-definition transmission of both audio and video signals.

    • It allows you to easily connect both your audio and video using a single cable.
    • It is an excellent choice for gaming consoles like PS4/5 and Xbox One, as they come with HDMI port connections.
    • Both ends of the HDMI cables are the same, and it doesn’t matter which ends go where.

    Where is HDMI Cable Used?

    One of the most common uses of an HDMI cable is to watch movies on TV from your laptop. All you need to do is connect the cables to both devices, and you’re good to go. You can also use an HDMI cable to connect another monitor to your PC; this works as an extended screen, boosting convenience. If you find yourself multitasking on many windows, you might want to consider getting an HDMI cable from Syncwire. Not only are the sables available at great prices, but they also offer a wide range of sizes.

    Furthermore, you can also use an HDMI cable to connect your gaming console and your Set-Top Box to your TV. You’ll be getting high-definition content with just one cable attached to both ends.

    What Does an HDMI Connector Look Like?

    An HDMI connector is designed very similar to that of a USB port. It’s wider, taller, and not a proper rectangle, though. However, just like a USB port, this one is also designed in a way that it can only fit an HDMI cable in a specific orientation. You’ll often find these ports right next to USB ports on your TV, gaming consoles, PCs, and laptops.

    HDMI cable header

    Key Differences Between HDMI Cable & Optical Cable

    Even today, both cables are widely used in different electronics. Both kinds of cables are readily available in the market at a low price. Here are some key differences between HDMI and Optic Fiber cables to help you make the right choice.

    Basic Build of cables

    HDMI cables use copper wires to transmit signals. This copper wire is wrapped inside adequate insulation to eradicate any leakage of data. The inner material can also be made of aluminum, gold, or silver instead of copper. The PVC cover ensures that the cable remains flexible, which further increases the durability.

    basic built of HDMI cables

     

    On the other hand, optical fiber cables are made from Optical fiber. They are light-reflecting cables and transmit data with the help of a fast lighting medium.  These cables transfer at exceptionally high speeds with minimal interruptions. These cables are also coated with dark sheath coating to prevent any loss of information.

    Audio

    Both cables are designed to work for many formats. Optical cable supports surround sound systems with up to 5.1 channels. This almost covers up the essential need for our audio devices' compatibility. On the other hand, HDMI supports TrueHD formats, Dolby Digital, DTS HD and Blu-Ray.

    The dominating factor of HDMI is its capability to play Blu-Ray. If you’re looking to watch a movie you’ve been waiting for on Blu-Ray, we highly suggest you get to use an HDMI cable to have a pleasant experience.

    Video

    Optical Cable is specifically designed to transmit high-quality audio between two different devices. That is why to watch a video on TV; you’ll need two separate cables; one for audio and one for the video.

    Here HDMI cables tip the scales in their favor once again; HDMI offers you a complete package that provides the utmost transmission of audio as well as video by a single cable. The quality and the complete transmission remain uninterrupted, provided that connections are even, and there is no malfunction with the HDMI sync.

    Prices

    As we mentioned in the previous section, you’ll need two separate cables if you’re looking to watch something on optical fiber. That is why optical fiber cables are generally a pricier option.

    Since you only need one HDMI cable to fulfill the same purpose, not only do you get value for money, but you get a hassle-free experience every time you put on a movie. That is why we recommend buying one from Syncwire. Not only do you get great value for money, but you also have a variety of options to choose from; get something that suits your needs and your style!

    HDMI cables from Syncwire offer

    • HD audio and video
    • Support 4K resolution devices
    • Highly durable thanks to nylon covering
    • Flexible
    • Quick data transmission (no buffering, no lag)
    • Quick setup

     

    FUNCTION

    HDMI CABLE

    OPTICAL FIBER CABLES

    Stereo Support

    Yes

    Yes

    Controls TV Volume

    Yes

    No

    Audio Switches On With TV

    Yes

    Yes

    Max Audio Bandwidth

    1.0 Mbps

    384kbps


    In a Nutshell

    HDMI cables are more widely used because of its convenience and the wide variety of features it offers. Not only is it a more cost-effective option than optical cables, but HDMI is also easy to understand, use, and provides convenience thanks to only being one single cable.

    Almost all gaming consoles and PCs support HDMI cables as well as optical fiber cables. On the other hand, many new laptops have abandoned the optical cable port and only support HDMI input to save space, minimize the laptop’s thickness, and produce a more elegant, sleek look. Either way, no matter what type you choose, we guarantee you’ll have no problems when it comes to listening to mashups and rap music.

     

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