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Broken Optical Output?


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24 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   decubs

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 07:11 AM

Hi all,

I've been having to 'share' my optical (TOSLINK) cable between my new Blu-Ray player and D* box, and I think I may have broken something in the box last night, trying to plug the TOSLINK back in. When I tried to plug the optical back in, it simply would not go, and the input itself looked a bit ragged; I couldn't look further in because of the red laser shooting out of it, but is it possible to damage this input? Realize this sounds like a dumb question, but I seem to remember there being some sort of little flap or gate on the input and wondering if I accidentally snapped it off and got it wedged inside?

Does anyone know if there's a fee or hassle to replace a box for this reason?

Thanks!

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#2 OFFLINE   litzdog911

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 10:02 AM

You should be able to get a replacement if the optical output is broken. It's free if you have DirecTV's Equipment Protection Plan, otherwise it's ~$20 for shipping.
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#3 OFFLINE   MartyS

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 10:07 AM

Hi all,

I've been having to 'share' my optical (TOSLINK) cable between my new Blu-Ray player and D* box, and I think I may have broken something in the box last night, trying to plug the TOSLINK back in. When I tried to plug the optical back in, it simply would not go, and the input itself looked a bit ragged; I couldn't look further in because of the red laser shooting out of it, but is it possible to damage this input? Realize this sounds like a dumb question, but I seem to remember there being some sort of little flap or gate on the input and wondering if I accidentally snapped it off and got it wedged inside?

Does anyone know if there's a fee or hassle to replace a box for this reason?

Thanks!


Did you sign up for the protection plan? If so, and it is not working, they'll most likely replace it. But since you're seeing the laser. it might not be the door stuck in there...

However, they will probably want to send out a tech just to be sure that it's the box. On a lark, have you tried a new TOSLINK cable? I had a problem with a TOSLINK, and when I did some maintenance on my entertainment unit, and plugged back in the cables, the problem started to happen on my DVD. Turned out that somehow I broke the fiber (or whatever) in the cable. Once I put on a new cable, it worked fine.

You also might want to consider an HDMI/OPTICAL switcher. I have the Octava 4 port switch... http://www.octavainc...ort_toslink.htm ...and it works like a charm.
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#4 OFFLINE   beer_geek

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 10:07 AM

The little door broke on mine during initial installation. So I wouldn't be surprised. I was able to get it out and it works just fine.

#5 OFFLINE   CCarncross

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 10:22 AM

Hi all,

I've been having to 'share' my optical (TOSLINK) cable between my new Blu-Ray player and D* box, and I think I may have broken something in the box last night, trying to plug the TOSLINK back in. When I tried to plug the optical back in, it simply would not go, and the input itself looked a bit ragged; I couldn't look further in because of the red laser shooting out of it, but is it possible to damage this input? Realize this sounds like a dumb question, but I seem to remember there being some sort of little flap or gate on the input and wondering if I accidentally snapped it off and got it wedged inside?

Does anyone know if there's a fee or hassle to replace a box for this reason?

Thanks!



Do a menu restart and when all the lights go out, pull the power to the DVR. This way you can work on getting the optical door flap out without the red light blinding you. Also, go buy second optical cable, you can order very good quality ones for under $10 from monoprice.com. That way you arent constantly disconnecting it from the back. Personally, at the very least they should charge you the $20 S&H fee since you broke it from abnormal use. Those types of connections are not meant to be plugged/unplugged alot, they just arent designed for it and you can avoid it for the price of a $10 cable.

#6 OFFLINE   beer_geek

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 10:33 AM

...Those types of connections are not meant to be plugged/unplugged alot, ...



Or, in my case, once.

#7 OFFLINE   mdavej

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 12:55 PM

Decubs,

If one of your devices and your receiver can handle digital coax (looks like an RCA jack), then it'll work just as well as optical and you won't have to swap your toslink cable all the time. You can pick up one for just a couple of bucks at monoprice.com.

In any case, I'd get a needle or something and try to dig out that broken flap first, like beer_geek said, to avoid the hassle of a replacement.

#8 OFFLINE   decubs

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 01:12 PM

Decubs,

If one of your devices and your receiver can handle digital coax (looks like an RCA jack), then it'll work just as well as optical and you won't have to swap your toslink cable all the time. You can pick up one for just a couple of bucks at monoprice.com.

In any case, I'd get a needle or something and try to dig out that broken flap first, like beer_geek said, to avoid the hassle of a replacement.


Thank you all so much. I'll definitely try some surgery before I go and order a new box (especially since there's no other compelling factor to get a new box... yet).

But if that doesn't work, I'll look into digital coax - can it handle 5.1 and all that, just like optical?

#9 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 01:16 PM

The red light that you see is actually just a common red LED, not some sort of high powered laser bent on burning your retinas.

#10 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 01:17 PM

But if that doesn't work, I'll look into digital coax - can it handle 5.1 and all that, just like optical?

Digital coaxial is actually better than optical.

#11 OFFLINE   BattleZone

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 04:10 PM

Digital coaxial is actually better than optical.


Oh, THIS I've got to hear...

#12 OFFLINE   Spanky_Partain

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 04:31 PM

Digital coaxial is actually better than optical.


Why?
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#13 OFFLINE   RobertE

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 04:44 PM

Oh, THIS I've got to hear...


Why?


Maybe the shielding on the coax prevents all the captive 1's & 0's from trying to escape and return to the wild? Or maybe the 1's are straighter and the 0's are rounder or more oval, take your pick. ;) Other than that, I got nothing. :confused::lol:
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#14 OFFLINE   CCarncross

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 06:03 PM

Oh, THIS I've got to hear...


I wasnt going to be the 1st one to call him out, but I called shenanigans as soon as I read that.

#15 OFFLINE   houskamp

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 06:42 PM

I had the door break on one of mine too.. without the door the cable doesn't latch well.. I managed to hold it in place and get the cable in.. still have that dvr.. just been so long I don't remember which one it is anymore :)

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#16 OFFLINE   MartyS

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 04:46 AM

Digital coaxial is actually better than optical.



And, this is true because? Really, man... sometimes you can't just make a statement of "fact" without backing it up with any real facts.

At least point us to a source to support that. If it's so much better, then why does almost any high end receiver have multiple optical inputs and maybe a single digital coax input? Could it be that optical really is better than digital coax? If not, why would respectable manufacturers make high end units that don't give the user the highest quality (per your statement) inputs and advise using digital coax?
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#17 OFFLINE   jeffshoaf

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 07:46 AM

And, this is true because? Really, man... sometimes you can't just make a statement of "fact" without backing it up with any real facts.

At least point us to a source to support that. If it's so much better, then why does almost any high end receiver have multiple optical inputs and maybe a single digital coax input? Could it be that optical really is better than digital coax? If not, why would respectable manufacturers make high end units that don't give the user the highest quality (per your statement) inputs and advise using digital coax?


The optical link requires two additional conversion stages - once to convert the signal to optical, and then another to convert the optical back. Some folks believe any conversion affects the signal, so if you subscribe to that, then you'll think the coax is better.

But I would think that the coax outputs and inputs are buffered to prevent damage if connected to an incorrect source; the buffering could possibly have just as much signal degradation as the optical conversion. If that's so, then it becomes device dependent - does a particular device use a better coax buffer or a better optical converter?

The standard coax cables and connections are a lot more robust than the fiber optic cables and connections; but then again, the optical connections aren't subject to oxidation.

All of that being said, I doubt there's enough degradation of the digital signal using either connection type to have a noticable affect for the viewer/listener. I believe it all comes down to convenience - what inputs/outputs are currently available on your system and what kind of cable do you have handy. ;)

#18 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 08:31 AM

Why?

Greater bandwidth. Think of this in terms of the HDMI cable specs recommended for 7.1 audio. There's also a school of thought that says that "jitter" might be worse in optical cabling. Remember that Toslink is typically not some fancy LASER and optical grade glass fiber affair: Toslink is usually a cheap red LED and some sort of plastic fiber with not-so-sure connectors on it. Toslink is rated for UP TO 10' and beyond that, the light loss and diffusion MAY begin to audibly degrade the signal.

The reason that there used to be fewer coaxial connections was that the devices that you might hook up didn't need the bandwidth for 7.1 channels of audio. If you look at some of the newer gear, the coaxial connection count is significantly higher than it used to be (just as the HDMI input counts run higher now). Yamaha has a coax jack for every optical port these days.

The reason that it doesn't matter in the DIRECTV world is that the audio is at most DD5.1. DIRECTV's receiver feature table clearly states that the SD DVRs don't support DD5.1, but the manuals say otherwise.

#19 OFFLINE   houskamp

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 08:55 AM

Greater bandwidth. Think of this in terms of the HDMI cable specs recommended for 7.1 audio. There's also a school of thought that says that "jitter" might be worse in optical cabling. Remember that Toslink is typically not some fancy LASER and optical grade glass fiber affair: Toslink is usually a cheap red LED and some sort of plastic fiber with not-so-sure connectors on it. Toslink is rated for UP TO 10' and beyond that, the light loss and diffusion MAY begin to audibly degrade the signal.

The reason that there used to be fewer coaxial connections was that the devices that you might hook up didn't need the bandwidth for 7.1 channels of audio. If you look at some of the newer gear, the coaxial connection count is significantly higher than it used to be (just as the HDMI input counts run higher now). Yamaha has a coax jack for every optical port these days.

The reason that it doesn't matter in the DIRECTV world is that the audio is at most DD5.1. DIRECTV's receiver feature table clearly states that the SD DVRs don't support DD5.1, but the manuals say otherwise.

And don't forget those "Monster" cables too... :rolleyes:

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#20 OFFLINE   Spanky_Partain

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 10:19 AM

Greater bandwidth. Think of this in terms of the HDMI cable specs recommended for 7.1 audio. There's also a school of thought that says that "jitter" might be worse in optical cabling. Remember that Toslink is typically not some fancy LASER and optical grade glass fiber affair: Toslink is usually a cheap red LED and some sort of plastic fiber with not-so-sure connectors on it. Toslink is rated for UP TO 10' and beyond that, the light loss and diffusion MAY begin to audibly degrade the signal.

The reason that there used to be fewer coaxial connections was that the devices that you might hook up didn't need the bandwidth for 7.1 channels of audio. If you look at some of the newer gear, the coaxial connection count is significantly higher than it used to be (just as the HDMI input counts run higher now). Yamaha has a coax jack for every optical port these days.

The reason that it doesn't matter in the DIRECTV world is that the audio is at most DD5.1. DIRECTV's receiver feature table clearly states that the SD DVRs don't support DD5.1, but the manuals say otherwise.


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#21 OFFLINE   joed32

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 08:53 AM

Coax is less fragile than optical. I use both and don't hear any difference.

#22 OFFLINE   BattleZone

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 01:03 PM

Greater bandwidth. Think of this in terms of the HDMI cable specs recommended for 7.1 audio.


Actually, even the low-end optical components used for TOSlink are CAPABLE of 7.1 bitrates; it just is not usually implemented in the hardware. And that's primarily because even among the small percentage of people who have ANY surround setup, only small subset have more than a 5.1 setup.

It's only been fairly recently that coax digital audio has supported 7.1 on common consumer devices (and even today the pool of equipment is fairly small), as HDMI has become the connection of choice for HD audio in AV equipment (as lousy a design as the HDMI connector/socket is).

There's also a school of thought that says that "jitter" might be worse in optical cabling.


I agree that in theory that might sometimes be true, but even if/when it is, it is almost never outside of the thresholds that the error-correction can handle.

Remember that Toslink is typically not some fancy LASER and optical grade glass fiber affair: Toslink is usually a cheap red LED and some sort of plastic fiber with not-so-sure connectors on it.


THIS is, IMO, the primary justification for choosing coax: coax can stand up much better to rougher handling. Optical has never been touted for its toughness. But that doesn't have anything to do with sound quality.

Toslink is rated for UP TO 10' and beyond that, the light loss and diffusion MAY begin to audibly degrade the signal.


Very few people need or use longer TOSlink cables, and if the BER (bit error rate) was too high, you'd hear it clearly just as you can hear high BER problems with corrupted audio files (clicks/scratches/screetches).

Bottom line: the vast majority of the time in the real world, coax and optical are functionally identical.

#23 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 01:56 PM

And that's primarily because even among the small percentage of people who have ANY surround setup, only small subset have more than a 5.1 setup.

If you look at the product ranges of the various big-name manufacturers, over half of the equipment that most offer is 7.1 capable.

In my case, as I don't have an easy way to do the extra speakers, I applaud the fact that you can get up to 4 HDMI inputs on 5.1 receivers now. I remain unconvinced that a 7.1 system will function correctly with a 5.1 speaker setup.

#24 OFFLINE   TomCat

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 01:26 AM

...I agree that in theory that might sometimes be true, but even if/when it is, it is almost never outside of the thresholds that the error-correction can handle...

Total horse puckey, I'm afraid. Error correction and concealment in digital audio is about recognizing whether a bit is corrupted and replacing it or reconstructing it from the FEC information. Jitter is about time base error; in other words, jitter is about when the bit arrives in relation to other nearby bits on the timeline, not about whether the bit is corrupted or not.

Error correction does nothing to relieve jitter, because jitter is not involved in whether a bit is corrupted or not. Packet streaming does not imply a fixed time base so a decoder does not expect a protocol rigid enough to be cognizant about jitter. IOW, it can't see it. The algorithm that detects corrupted bits, having no crystal ball or other pre-information, has no earthly idea exactly when the bits are due to arrive so it can't be expected to do anything about jitter, and doesn't. Time base error and bit corruption are two totally separate issues handled by separate systems (assuming jitter is "handled" at all, which it typically isn't in consumer-grade gear that only deals in transporting signals a few meters at the most).

The only thing that can improve a signal plagued by jitter is reclocking to remove the jitter. That's something quite different than what either consumer protocol can deal with. Induced jitter is only a factor of long transport paths, which do not exist in consumer gear, meaning whatever infinitesimal amount of jitter there is is probably not a factor at all, and certainly not more of a factor in glass than in copper or vice versa.

So, bottom line, and to sum up, error correction can't and doesn't fix jitter issues, but induced jitter issues don't really exist in consumer digital audio.

As much as I might have secretly wished to see Harsh hoisted on his own petard here (sorry, pal :grin: ) I already knew this one so I had to wait to see it play out. And he's right. I saw this explained pretty clearly on AVS a long time ago, and though I found it convincing, I can't quite remember exactly why.

As for the matter of extra steps of "conversion", you have to distinguish between conversions that are detrimental and those that are not. If the digital words themselves remain intact even though the method or the medium is changed, then the conversion is benign. A lot of folks hear the word "conversion" and immediately that conjures up images of rounding errors such as in D-to-A, but some conversions imply no math errors at all. This fits that latter category.

IIRC, there is more error correction on coax, too, but maybe I am not remembering it right. Even so, we also have to define "better". If it doesn't need more correction, then both are the same in the end, regardless whether one might be more robust than the other. You can't correct something into a state that is "better" than if it had no errors in the first place.

And while there are a lot of errors and a lot of error correction and concealment at work when reading a CD or a DVD, there are probably very few errors in transporting a digital audio signal a couple of meters, whether glass of copper.

What defines the quality of digital audio (assuming a perfect source) is the sampling rate, the bit rate, and how much corruption ensues that needs correction. If either system transports the signal with minimum corruption and minimum time-base error, neither can be judged "better" than the other, even if one system may be more robust in regards to error correction.

So if we are keeping score here, even if the differences between glass and copper don't matter, it's still:

Harsh -- 1
Everyone else -- 0.

#25 OFFLINE   TomCat

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 01:59 AM

...I remain unconvinced that a 7.1 system will function correctly with a 5.1 speaker setup.

I agree, if you are talking about a 7.1 system outputting 7.1 with only the 5.1 speakers connected (LRS and RRS missing).

But a 7.1 system outputting 5.1 should indeed output it properly whether the LRS and RRS speakers are connected or not, as 5.1 simply ignores those channels altogether, that is unless you set the system to automatically generate the other two channels, which I think is not allowed under the Dolby license for 5.1

Dolby insists that you use PLIIx to create the other two channels for 7.1 content, which is not the same as 5.1 as it matrix-derives all other channels from L and R rather than from L, R, C, LS, and RS. This makes sense, because L and R are not the same in 5.1 as they are in 2.0, and using L and R from 5.1 to derive PLIIx would probably not sound right at all.

But a 5.1 signal hitting the 5.1 speakers in a 7.1 setup is exactly that which would hit them if it were simply a 5.1 setup, because that part of a 5.1 and a 7.1 system is exactly the same. What elevates it to a 7.1 setup is PLIIx, two more channels, and two more speakers.

All of this assumes that we haven't actually been dragged into some ridiculous world yet of actual discrete 7.1 mastering and delivery, of course. In my 7.1 setup, when in 5.1 the other two channels are muted. One would assume they would simply duplicate LS into LRS and RS into RRS and drop all 4 of the surround channels by 3 dB, but they don't, for whatever reason; they mute them instead.

Edited by TomCat, 19 July 2009 - 02:09 AM.





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