SPDIF vs. TosLink: Which Cable Is Better?

We were as confused as you if you tried to find the difference between SPDIF and TOSLINK cables.

You need to understand that SPDIF is not always a separate entity from TOSLINK. SPDIF cables can also be TOSLINK.

We want to explain just that. This guide will help you to choose the best digital audio connector for your needs.

Are you willing to find out more about it? Continue reading!

What Is SPDIF Cable?


SPDIF cable is a digital interconnection system, the word SPDIF is the abbreviation of Sony/Phillips Digital Interface.

SPDIF includes fiber-optic cables and TOSLINK connectors. SPDIF cables can also include coaxial cables with RCA connectors.

You can also use SPDIF to provide high-quality audio between the input and the output components. Because of their high-fidelity design, SPDIF is one of the best ways to connect home-theaters to receivers.

SPDIF is the ultimate optical sound connection. This cable is also where the majority of high-quality audio format is transmitted with today.


  • Durable Design
  • Outstanding length
  • Very compatible
  • Widely used for audio connections


  • Minimal flexibility
  • Interference is possible.

What Is TOSLINK Cable?


TOSLINK is an acronym for Toshiba Link. It transfers data over optical fiber. This connection is only used for pairing audio devices or media players to receivers.

TOSLINK is a fiber optic cable that can deliver high-quality results. It is also the most common option for transmitting lossless audio between devices and equipment.

A TOSLINK cable transmits digital audio signals from input to output. These cables are quite efficient and offer the best way to deliver high-quality audio.


  • Transmit quality audio
  • Efficiency in performance
  • High reliability
  • High compatibility


  • Fragile Design
  • Short length

TOSLINK vs. SPDIF — A Side-by-Side Comparison

After learning about both cables, now let’s compare SPDIF and TOSLINK.

It’s impossible to do this because TOSLINK is a SPDIF connector, not an alternative cable.

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However, we can make a comparison of the original SPDIF with coaxial and RCA cable connectors, which is a more logical approach.

Here’s everything you need to know about them.

The Look of SPDIF and TOSLINK

It is essential to know how they look. TOSLINK cable is made of fiber optic. Fiber optic is a type of plastic or glass material that transfers data very well. It also doesn’t use electricity. Fiber optic transmits data using light pulses, making it the most efficient method of data transfer.

The TOSLINK cable includes the standard SPDIF connectors (square shape). They support almost every type of audio and some types of video formats.

While the coaxial SPDIF cables have RCA connectors. The coaxial cable is a copper cable that has conductive protection with an insulating layer. It also includes the RCA connector, which is the standard for audio/video. The RCA connector is often a round shape with a short metallic tip.

The distinction here is that the SPDIF with coaxial or RCA is more difficult to handle and has a rough appearance. TOSLINK cables, on the other hand, are more flexible and fragile but easier to use.


SPDIF and TOSLINK cables are used to transmit compressed audio between components. And currently, they are mainly utilized for surround sound and high-quality audio, such as found in audio systems, DVD and Blu-Ray players, gaming consoles, and PCs.

There is, however, a subtle difference between using TOSLINK cables or coaxial SPDIF.

TOSLINK, for instance, is used to connect Dolby digital decoders with audio equipment or computers to AV receivers.

With the TOSLINK cable, the data transfer speed is impressive, and there is almost no noise or interference. TOSLINK is the perfect choice for high-quality editing systems.

On the other hand, the SPDIF cable connects DVD or Blu-ray players with audio receivers.

The primary application of optical SPDIF is for fun, as it provides quick and stable connections while consuming more power than TOSLINK.

Cable Length

Both cables offer the same range of capabilities in terms of their capacity.

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TOSLINK fiber optic cables support up to 16 feet. TOSLINK also uses boosters, repeaters, and additional cables to extend the range. Fiber optic is more fragile and expensive, which reduces its length capability.

On the other hand, the SPDIF cables are stronger and thicker than the standard 16-foot cable and can travel greater distances.

These cables can lose signal over longer distances if they are of poor quality. You might find SPDIF cables of greater length, but at the same time, these coaxial cables are more expensive.

SPDIF and TOSLINK Limitations

The standard TOSLINK cables can handle data well and are durable. They can be fragile when they bend and are therefore not suitable for long distances. These could cause permanent damage to the cables and stop data transfer. It is, therefore, necessary to use boosters and repeaters to extend them.

In contrast, the SPDIF coaxial cables are better suited for longer distances and won’t stop data transfer even if you bend them. They are often durable enough to last decades.

But their weakness is due to their vulnerability to radio frequencies, ground loops, and other electrical issues.

If not properly installed, SPDIF cables equipped with RCA connectors can cause glitches and noise.


Are TOSLINK and SPDIF cables susceptible to interference? The answer is yes.

TOSLINK cables are completely unaffected by electromagnetic interference and other electrical issues because they are made of fiber optics. Because they use light pulses to transmit data, they are much more reliable than other connections and virtually noiseless.

On the other hand, the SPDIFs cables are more vulnerable to interference. They can be affected by an electromagnetic current or short-circuit. Interference or noise can also be caused by overcharging or other electrical issues.

Signal Reliability

We can now compare their signal quality to determine which one has the best audio transmission.

TOSLINK cables are the best for delivering the most consistent, reliable, and strong signal. These cables are great for audio and video, and you can use them with any device or file type.

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However, when it comes to signal quality, SPDIF cables don’t fall far behind. Although SPDIF isn’t as reliable and noise-free, it is still a great option for audio and video. You can use SPDIF to connect devices and produce incredible results.

Which Cable to Choose – SPDIF or TOSLINK?

You are already aware of the differences or similarities between TOSLINK and SPDIF.

To simplify things, TOSLINK refers to a fiber optic SPDIF connector. This means that you can use it in place of the RCA connector on SPDIF cables. However, TOSLINK still offers a better overall experience, thanks to its ease-of-use, reliability, and sound quality.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that the SPDIF cable won’t work well. However, you won’t experience the same level of performance. You can choose what best suits your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Is Toslink the same as Spdif?

TOSLINK is a fiber optic cable that transmits data with pulses of light. In comparison, the SPDIF is a coaxial cable that has RCA connectors. SPDIF cable is made of a copper wire with a conductive shield and insulating layer, and it also includes a standard RCA connector.

  1. Is Spdif better than optical?

Both are fine as long as the SPDIF and optical formats are understood. Optical has eight channels with a frequency of 44.1/48kHz, while SPDIF only has two channels. Since the optical cables are more expensive and you cannot bend or pin them, it might be worth considering coaxial with SPDIF.

  1. Is Toslink same as optical cable?

Yes, TOSLINK is short for Toshiba link, and it’s the official name of the optical audio cable.

  1. Can I connect Spdif out to Optical in?

Yes, SPDIF coaxial can be combined with RCA connectors to convert to optical.

  1. Which optical cable is best?

iVanky Slim Braided Optical Audio Cable is one of the best options, in our opinion.