If you have a device with only one optical input but you want to connect more than one device to it, you have probably had to go through the hassle of keep switching cables, or put up with only one device connected.

This is especially true with modern home cinema systems which will often normally only have a single optical input, meaning that if you want to connect your PlayStation AND your Wii (or Xbox, Blu-ray, TV etc.) to the system, you are pretty much stuck.

Fortunately, an optical cable switch is here to save the day! These clever gadgets allow you to connect two, and sometimes three or more devices to a single optical input.

How do optical switches work?

The way they work is simple – you take your existing optical cable and connect it from your device (say your PS3) to the switch. Do the same for the other device (say your Nintendo Wii). Then you’ll need to buy an additional optical cable to run from the switch to the main input on say, your home cinema system, and you’re away! The switch will automatically output the correct signal depending on what it detects. It may need to be powered from the mains.

Infographic explaining how optical switches connect

Recommended Optical Cable Switches

There are a number of optical switches available on the market, from the cheap and cheerful to the more robust and high quality.

Image of the Lindy Optical Switch
Lindy Two Way Optical Switch

This Lindy optical switch is a very neat solution to a common problem. It has two inputs, and the single output and comes complete with a power supply unit so you’ll need to plug it into the mains. It comes without any cables included, but does have a two year warranty as standard. Around £35 at Lindy.

Image of the HQ Optical Switch
HQ Three Way Optical Switch

At around 150cm across, this switch from HQ is not quite as neat as the one from Lindy, but as they are mostly hidden away this shouldn’t matter too much. This unit is a three-way one so you get an additional input, but it does have to manually rotated in order to switch to the next input. It is a very cheap solution though at around £5 at Amazon.co.uk.

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