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Discussion Starter #1
I have a deck with a optical input and a dsp with optical and a cd changer....I just dont have the cable which is about $50 a pop depending on how many I want to run...

I am trying to decide if I want to invest in the cable or change decks...

does optical make a significant difference?
 

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monoprice for cables
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I looked and didnt find Clarion Optical cables on that site...thanks
 

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My opinion,

In my experience so far, my observation is that going to all-digital connections isn't really audibly 'better' than a 'perfect' analog setup when it comes to a car environment. What digital does do is 'prevent' the problems (noises, interference, etc) that happen with analog devices.

I measured the average ambient SPL in my brother's home with an SPL meter and it was at a quiet 54db - 57db. My car is in the 60's db when parked with no other traffic. When driving at 75mph on a clean stretch of highway with no bumps or rumbles, I measured the average at around the upper 80's db.

Now, most people don't account for ambient noise masking the sound from their speakers. Everybody's threshold for hearing masked sounds varies. For some people, the ambient noise in a car devastates the quality of their speaker's sound by masking many smaller sounds within their music. Some people can hear these sounds under the ambient noise just enough that they aren't bothered heavily.

My personal observation when listening to music is that changes in inner ear pressure greatly effect my ability to hear delicate sounds and hear through ambient noise. From one day to the next I've found my hearing seems to vary in sensitivity to sound. Most of the time my hearing is just fine.

Anyway, the short of it is that in a car, you are unlikely to hear a noise difference at all. There will very likely be more noise and hiss in the source material (music recording) than in your gear.

The beauty of all-digital connections is that you can throw in a car system with less time and attention needed to get a noise-free setup. Grounding noises won't intrude on a digital signal. IMO, the manufacturer that goes completely digital on the volume control, sound processors (an all-digital pre-amp stage) and only go to analog at the final amplifier stage is the manufacturer that will have an industry-winning combo.
 

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Other than the noise benefits you also skip an extra A/D to D/A conversion, which if unless things have changed the A/D is generally the cheaper chip. So instead of your head unit converting it's digital to analog, only to be converted back to digital in the DSP and converted once again to analog to the amps... Using optical bypasses an extra A/D to D/A conversion and keeps the final output closer to the original source. Whether that is even audible or not is debatable, though I'd spend the money if I had that option.
 

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If you plan on keeping it, I would invest in the cable :p If you dont want to right now, run them analog and see what you think, then do optical if you feel its needed. Good luck gear selling buddy LOL
 

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Other than the noise benefits you also skip an extra A/D to D/A conversion, which if unless things have changed the A/D is generally the cheaper chip. So instead of your head unit converting it's digital to analog, only to be converted back to digital in the DSP and converted once again to analog to the amps... Using optical bypasses an extra A/D to D/A conversion and keeps the final output closer to the original source. Whether that is even audible or not is debatable, though I'd spend the money if I had that option.
Things have changed and have been that way for a long time actually. Where does the AUX input on old old alpine head units feed into? The CD changer port, if it's good enough for a CD changer it good enough.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
My issue right now is with the dsp, changer, passive 3 way and tiny car it is looking a little cramped. I need to simplify not complicate as my car is too small already. I am looking for a alpine or eclipse deck in trade btw
 

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I measured the average ambient SPL in my brother's home with an SPL meter and it was at a quiet 54db - 57db. My car is in the 60's db when parked with no other traffic. When driving at 75mph on a clean stretch of highway with no bumps or rumbles, I measured the average at around the upper 80's db.
You have a loud car.

I wonder why everyone is so preoccupied with 70+ MPH. How much are you people driving on the freeway? Most of my time in the car is spent under 50 MPH and a LOT of that is stuck at stoplights. Noise floor does matter for me because I can hear it.
 

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I have a deck with a optical input and a dsp with optical and a cd changer....I just dont have the cable which is about $50 a pop depending on how many I want to run...

I am trying to decide if I want to invest in the cable or change decks...

does optical make a significant difference?
I bought the opti cable off ebay for that combo you sold me... haven't tried it yet.
 

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Dang I pm'd you about that today.
 

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Other than the noise benefits you also skip an extra A/D to D/A conversion, which if unless things have changed the A/D is generally the cheaper chip. So instead of your head unit converting it's digital to analog, only to be converted back to digital in the DSP and converted once again to analog to the amps... Using optical bypasses an extra A/D to D/A conversion and keeps the final output closer to the original source. Whether that is even audible or not is debatable, though I'd spend the money if I had that option.

But in the other hand, it has to convert from Digital to optical, and then from optical to digital on the input of processor/unit.

The digital coaxial is the way when going for a car-like width, although it does not assure better sound quality.
 

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You have a loud car.

I wonder why everyone is so preoccupied with 70+ MPH. How much are you people driving on the freeway? Most of my time in the car is spent under 50 MPH and a LOT of that is stuck at stoplights. Noise floor does matter for me because I can hear it.
The hiss/noise you're hearing is very likely the noise floor on the music recording itself, not your gear. When a song fades and then the track changes, I can distinctinly hear a dramatic drop in hiss/noise to the point of inaudibility when driving, then when the next track plays I can typically hear it's noise floor.

So, it's not that I can't hear the noise floor, it's that I can't hear the noise floor of my gear (until my volume gets up to about 60%, the headunit is the culprit at that point, not my amps or the analog RCA connections). So, my 'gear' noise/hiss could 'possibly' be improved by moving to an all-digital pre-amp stage but not by much, if at all. Where the all-digital pre-amp stage is really useful is in a 'noisy/dirty/poorly grounded' electrical system.
 

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I have a deck with a optical input and a dsp with optical and a cd changer....I just dont have the cable which is about $50 a pop depending on how many I want to run...

I am trying to decide if I want to invest in the cable or change decks...

does optical make a significant difference?
First, a clarification is necessary. You say your deck has an optical "input." It well could have an optical input, but your question becomes moot if it does not have an optical OUTPUT. Assuming it does have an optical output, in my experience the answer to your question whether optical makes a "significanct difference" is: It Depends. It depends on the quality of the analog output stage of your headunit, and the quality of the digital to analog conversion performed by your processor. I use a Clarion DRZ9255 and the new Audison Bit One.1 processor. The Clarion has a great analog output stage, but there is nothing questionable about the sonic difference between the Clarion's analog output vs. the optical out going through the Bit One.1. The difference going optical is quite dramatic, in favor of the optical. With the prior version of the Bit One, the differences were subtle (in favor of the optical), but noticeable to my sensitive ears. With the Bit One.1, anyone can hear the differences: lower noise floor, wider and deeper soundstage, more body and depth to musical instruments and voices, more dynamic.

The bottom line is, you won't know the answer to your question unless you try. In my opinion, no one else can dispositively answer the question for you (though others have tried to do so here) unless they have used the exact same equipment you have, set it up exactly the way you have, and in the same vehicle you have, and have your ears and hearing capabilities. The cost of the optical cable (which is quite nominal in the grand scheme of things when you consider what we pay for other "accessories") could turn out to be one of the best investments you ever made. Why? Because either you will know the answer to a question that might haunt you forever if you didn't take the plunge, or because you took the plunge and are experiencing sonic bliss due to the change to optical.
 
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