KLIAVS 2014: Coax vs Toslink shootout!

By Lam Seng Fatt


Most audiophiles will frown on the usage of Toslink for hi-fi purposes as they opine that it is a lousy connection which does not qualify to be considered of audiophile grade.


This was probably true in the old days when plastic optic fibres were of low quality which limited bandwidth. These days medical-grade plastic fibre optics are used in sensitive medical probes and scanners to detect tumours or abnormalities in your organs. Plastic optic fibre technology has come a long way.


AV2Day recently did a shootout between three cables – the coax, Toslink and AES-EBU. The winner was the Toslink. I had used a glass Toslink for that shootout. click https://www.av2day.com/2014/02/coax-vs-toslink-vs-aes-ebu-pt-1/ and https://www.av2day.com/2014/02/coax-vs-toslink-vs-aes-ebu-pt-ii/


Along the way, we met many people who were surprised that Toslink could sound good and we decided to organise the shootout for next month’s Kuala Lumpur International AV Show.


We contacted some sponsors who readily pledged equipment and cables.


The shootout will be between the QED reference Toslink and the QED reference coax from CMY Audio & Visual.


I will be using my own Roksan M1 CD player as transport and the Wyred4Sound DAC2.

From AV Designs are the Bryston B135 integrated amp and PMC Twenty24 speakers. We will also use AV Designs’ WyWires cabling and AudiophileBASE hi-fi rack. From CMY Audio & Visual will be the MS-HD power strip and, of course, the QED cables.


I expect this system to be fairly transparent enough to reveal the differences between the two connections and you as the keen-eared audiophile would be able to identify the changes in sonic signatures when the cables are switched.


The procedure will be as follows:


1) We will play a simple song using coax and the same song again using the Toslink cable. This is to enable the listeners to familiarise themselves with the sonic signatures and sound quality of the connections. The song will be played for one minute (you should be able to hear the difference within 30 seconds; any longer and the human ear/brain mechanism adapts and makes everything start to sound the same!). This process can be repeated upon request by the participant.


2) We will then play the same song using either the coax and Toslink on a random basis for five times. They will be identified as connection ‘A’ and connection ‘B’. You will have to try to identify if connection ‘A’ or connection ‘B’ is being played each time. If you think connection ‘A’ is coax, mark coax on an entry form which we will provide for you. Just to confuse you a little we may include an option ‘C’ which is ‘not sure’ (just in case you really are not sure!).


3) The person who marks all five tests correctly will be certified a ‘Golden Ear’ and he/she will get a prize.


4) An announcement of all winners will be published on this web site and the winners will be contacted for a prize-giving ceremony, courtesy of CMY Audio & Visual.


5) Terms and conditions may be subjected to change as deemed fit by the organisers.


6) All entry forms and data collected will be treated with the utmost care and confidentiality, and only the “certified” winners will be identified.


Remember, this is all for your personal bragging rights, and glory of recognition from other like-minded peers. However, don’t take this shootout too seriously as it is as much for fun and games as it is for data/statistic collection within the greater audiophile community. After all we are in this hobby to enjoy the music.


C U there!




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