(Interesting cable added) Acoustic-Fun SIO Quartz Multi-Fiber Optical Cable.
Tho our recently released Toslink optical cable predates the creation date of this forum, and can't really be considered as new here, I feel it is something that I'd like to introduce to everyone here.
In my own quest for better sound, I find myself kept coming back to coax and AES/EBU cable all the time, and for good reason. That plastic toslink cable that I have simply stinks!
However, the problem is that there are a lot of devices on the market that uses Toslink output and ONLY Toslink. Take for example, Sony's Playstation 3 is one of the example that uses Toslink. The plastic casing it uses will give you quite a headache trying add a coax connector via modding, as the job will look positively like a golden wart on the back of the unit. (Assuming you are using a gold plated RCA socket)
Then I recalled seeing an Audioquest poster somewhere about making a toslink cable with a bundle of finer quartz optical fiber. Since Toslink's fiber is 1mm thick, there's no hope of making a quartz fiber that thick and still make it flexible. Thus it will have to be made out of many finer strands of optical fiber if quartz fiber is going to be used.
Then of course, we found a factory that is capable of making such a cable and we have them make some samples for us to test how the cables will actually perform in real life. We compared 3 versions of optical cable, one regular plastic cable, one multi-fiber cable with standard toslink connector, and one multi-fiber cable with adaptive lens toslink connector. All multi-fiber cable are packing over 250 fiber each in their fiber bundle.
This is simple, just plug one end of the cable into a player and see what's the other end of the cable is doing with naked eye.
We were slightly surprised that plastic fiber is quite a big brighter than the quartz one. Plastic fiber's end lights up brightly, while the quartz cables (both of them) lights up well too, and showed a pattern of the bundled fibers. I know this test does not really relate to how will it perform on equipments, but this is as much for fun as it is for users who might be doing the same thing and wonder if it is what they should be seeing themselves.
All cables are hooked up to my normal listening gear, which consists of:
Sony CDP-X5000 (CD player)
KECES DA-131 (DAC)
IeGO Limited Edition SuperSilver Analog IC
Proton AP-400Pro (Pre)
Balanced Analog IC that I forgotten the name of... :spin:
Ashly FET-1500 (Power Amp)
IeGO Torrent Speaker Cable
Acoustic Energy AE-120SE (Speaker)
We attached the optical cable to the system and tried each of them out, as well as testing them against our coax cable while we are at it. Also, since some of my equipments might be a bit far from the DAC, I've also have a 3.0M multi-fiber cable made with adaptive lens, and it is also casually compared to the cable in the main test.
Multi-Fiber with Adaptive lens: A
Multi-Fiber with normal lens: B
Regular plastic: C
A > B >>> C
In comparing the clarity of the three, plastic is no surprise in getting the lowest mark due to the muddy sound and lacking the finer details in sound. By simply going with multi-fiber, the situation improved greatly, with details instantly coming into focus. When compared to multi-fiber with adaptive lens, all the finer details are even better defined and articulated.
Sound Stage: (Presentation)
A > B >> C
As the test progressed, it is pretty clear that further comparison of the plastic to the multi-fiber is like beating a dead horse, it's not going anywhere except down. Please pardon me for leaving it out in the details of the comparisons below, but if you are really interested, please let me know and I'll dig up the notes scribbled down during the comparison.
When both multi-fiber cable are compared against each other, we find that the standard lens version provides a reasonably large sound stage without congestion. With the adaptive lens, the sound stage bloom to what we felt as a 30% increase in perceived size of sound stage. While all of the positioning and clarity remain excellent.
A > B >> C
Well, here I can describe some of the harder to categorize stuff as well as the conclusion of the test. On the overall "feel" of the sound, multi-fiber cable clearly showed better emotion (Plastic: Flat...), and very engaging too. Again, the one with adaptive lens still hold a clear advantage. Taking all of the test result into consideration, the performance difference between standard and adaptive lens is significant, and the additional cost for the upgrade is more than justified by the difference in performance.
While not in the scope of this comparison, we've also compared the three optical cable to our C75X coax and a custom 3M version of the multi-fiber adaptive lens cable. We found it to be performing very well, coming close to what our C75X coaxial cable can offer. We find this very encouraging, as we have previously found that Toslink optical fall FAR short of what coaxial cable can offer, not to mention C75X is no slouch when compared to many other high-performance coaxial cables.
As for the 3M version of the cable, we found that the difference is not glaringly visible, but still noticeable. The longer version sounded a little sharper and a little harsher, the longer length have make it sound closer to the standard lens version of the multi-fiber cable, even tho it uses adaptive lens just like the shorter cable does.
At the end, the multi-fiber cable with adaptive lens (legend: A) is chosen and named as Acoustic-Fun SIO optical cable. :)
I know this might not sound all that interesting without any photos, but I promise I'll have the additional photo up soon too, as well as some photos of a few rather interesting plastic Toslink cables. :)
For the link to our cable, please check it out at: Acoustic-Fun SIO Multi-Fiber Optical Cable
Hello everyone, here's the "interesting" toslink cable that I have promised.
We have came across these interesting cable and just couldn't resist getting them for tests. The two cables in there IS indeed transparent, you can see the letterings of the keyboard through the cable itself. While the orange cable was picked for testing for the interesting look as well.
These cable of course won't be as good as the multi-fiber, but is still good for equipments that needs the connection but something that you don't feel the need to invest in the top grade cables. In our tests, the orange cable (with adaptive lens as well) sounds a fair bit better than both clear ones, while the clear one with adaptive lens only sounds slightly better than the clear one without.
Price? If we were to sell these, we will be pricing them around $20~25 USD each, and should be able to find a cheaper shipping method for these low price items, so that the shipping won't be more than the actual cable itself. :P
Comments? Suggestions? ;)
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