Audio Optical Cable Vs. HDMI – Which Is Better?


Which is the better of the two – audio optical cable or HDMI? This is the question usually posed by audio freaks. In actuality, both optical cables and HDMI are physical carriers for data and both give fairly good output quality. The output quality generally depends on the signal source and not on the interface cable as such. In this article, we bring you a comparison between audio optical cables vs. HDMI, so that you know which one would work out the best for your audio system.

What is an optical cable?

An optical cable is termed so, as it employs the use of light to transmit the digital audio signal from the source and directs it to the receiver. The receiver in turn starts translating that signal and sends it the information to all the different speakers, as one single stream of information. The final output coming out from the speakers is one clear sound.

Because the sound is digitally manipulated, the sound is evenly balanced and the same uniform sound is distributed to all the speakers. The only condition here is that the cable connection has to be managed properly and the cable itself should be free of hardware issues.

Optical Cable

What is an HDMI connection?

HDMI makes use of a single cable, which is larger and thicker than a regular optical cable. Because of this quality, it can transmit both digital audio and High Definition video at one and the same time.

The fact is that fewer receivers are capable of translating HDMI information. Hence, you may need another source to help pass that information. If you own the latest HD-capable receivers, though, you will be able to use an HDMI connection without any issues and different connections.

Audio optical cables vs. HDMI – the difference

Now that we have known the essential difference between these two types of connections, we try and compare them.

  • Quality-wise

The quality of the audio output finally depends upon the speaker-set that you use around the house. Normally, one would go for 5.1 speakers in order to produce standard household surround sound. Despite the fact that audio optical cables are thinner and use light to transmit information, they are no doubt perfect to come out with kind of sound. But keep in mind that if you need to distribute more sound, you will probably need an HDMI connection.

  • High-definition sound

Though most of your household audio system requirements can be met by an audio optical cable connection, you will definitely need something more for high-definition sound. If you use 7.1 speakers, you would need data at higher speeds. In this case, HDMI is the better choice for you. HDMI allows for different formats like DTS-HD and TrueHD, both available by way of Blu-ray players. HDMI thus does full justice to the audio quality required here.

  • Lossless sound

Most users do not really understand the difference between optical and HDMI quality. For most users, it all boils down to ease of installation and convenience of use of these cable connections. Experienced users, though, will vouch for the fact that HDMI gives you completely lossless output, as compared to any other connection. This ensures that you never lose out on any audio, giving you crystal clear sound all the way through.


While both the audio optical cable and HDMI give you good enough output, the latter is definitely what you need if you are looking for incomparable sound quality. Though HDMI is the more expensive option, it does give far better output and hence, you should probably think of that as your primary option.

HDMI Connection

About Priya Viswanathan

Priya Viswanathan has written 195 post in this blog.

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