A Digital Optical cable (also known as a Toslink cable) is a fibre optic cable for transmitting multi channel audio data from your DVD Player or Blu-ray Player or Sky box to your home cinema amplifier so you can get the full benefit of digital surround sound.
Optical cables are easy to connect and use, and because they transmit light data rather than an electrical signal they are less prone to electrical interference than other cables such as a digital coaxial. An optical cable will have a plug on each end of the cable to prevent dirt and dust getting into it, which needs to be removed before use, and replaced when not in use. The socket on your player or amplifier will normally have a spring operated gate that automatically opens when the plug is inserted and closes when the cable is removed.
Which cable to buy?
Like all home cinema cables it is best to go for the most robust cable you can, and this is especially true with optical cables that tend to be thinner than most other cables because of the fibre optic cable inside. Choose the length that is most suitable for your particular requirements but remember to add extra length if you will need to pull your equipment out to gain access to the rear, but not so long that you will have to coil it up at the back. Optical cables are less prone to signal degradation than other cables so you can safely use up to about 3m before any potential signal deterioration may start occurring.
A digital coaxial cable is an alternative cable choice as it performs the same job as a digital optical cable. The difference between the two types of cable is negligible and in most cases you will not notice any difference in sound quality, but there are some advantages that an optical cable will offer over a digital coaxial which may be important to you:
Where to buy Digital Optical Cables
Digital Optical Cables are available from a number of online retailers including:
Also read our Digital Coaxial Cable Buyers Guide for more information on an alternative audio cable.