Optical audio cable arrived on the scene back in the 1980s and since that time, it has gradually evolved to be the first choice for the installation of audio systems. The key reason is that you can invest a great deal of money in the sound system itself but however good it is, it will never perform at its best if the cabling you use isn’t up to the job.
The advantages of using fibre optics over traditional cabling are many and here we will explore six of its key benefits.
When optical cables are used, they convert electrical signals to light, and this travels much more cleanly through the cabling than sound does through copper. The lack of interference means extremely low levels of distortion ensuring the quality of the signal is maintained, guaranteeing an exceptional audio visual experience.
Because the signal travels as light you can run the cabling over much longer distances with little degradation. The light also travels faster over these distances than sound would, so you are not losing anything in terms of responsiveness.
Fibre cabling is very thin, durable and lightweight when compared against copper cabling. For example, to get high speeds with copper cabling you need to use a high-grade cable which means a larger diameter; a heavier weight; and a much more bulky appearance. This space-saving capability of fibre is particularly important in large-scale set-ups, as it leaves you with a lot more space in the cabling ducts.
The core of fibre cabling is glass, which is an insulator. It is not affected therefore by many environmental factors, such as electromagnetic and radio-frequency interference, which can impact on traditional cabling. While coaxial cable, for televisions and networking, is shielded to prevent interference over longer distances the signal can still end up weakened due to electrical resistance. There are also shielded audio cables which offer protection, however, they also suffer the same resistance issues as coaxial cable.
Therefore, because fibre cabling suffers none of these problems it is ideal in an audio environment because it means you can run it almost anywhere, without worrying that external factors will impact upon it.
It is not to be recommended, but fibre can even be immersed in water and it doesn’t suffer from temperature fluctuations as much as copper. This has the bonus of ensuring fibre cables are not a fire risk as there is only light, not electrical current, running through the core of them.
While the initial cost of installing fibre cabling may be higher than copper, although prices are continually dropping, the savings over the longer term should outweigh the initial outlay.
As stated earlier copper cables are more prone to damage than fibre and this means you will have to replace fibre far less frequently. It offers far greater bandwidth and speed, enabling it to easily accommodate the increasing demands of new technology like 4K and ultra-high definition sound. In addition, it’s far more reliable, suffers almost no degradation or interference so the signal doesn’t require boosting, even over very long cable runs. This is a hugely important factor in a business environment, because not only does it mean you are out of action for less time, but also you don’t have to bear the costs of your staff undertaking repairs.
Whether you are looking to choose cabling at home for your own audio system or if you are looking to use it in a commercial environment, fibre optics will almost always be a better choice than traditional cabling. With so many benefits and little downside, apart from perhaps the initial installation cost, fibre optics will ensure you enjoy better quality sound far into the future when more traditional cabling would have fallen by the wayside.