Home Blog Coaxial vs optical vs HDMI — which is the best audio connection to use?

Digital revolutions have brought us a huge list of devices and connection options. Here we will take a look at some of the most popular ones. HDMI ARC, optical cables, and coaxial audio connections are all excellent but which should you choose?


HDMI is considered to be the best solution for the set boxes, Blu-ray players, and gaming consoles. The abbreviation stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface. It is great for transmitting lossless audio and video signals. The mentioned technology can provide uncompressed signals in up to 8 channels. One more interesting feature that makes HDMI a good an attractive option is transmitting 3D and 4K content very efficiently.

Among the benefits of HDMI, you can add support for ARC — reverse audio channel. It is important for some home multimedia systems. This connection method is constantly getting improved. The latest versions of HDMI ARC allow operating with such formats as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Among the disadvantages of HDMI is the limited cable length. When wiring from 2 meters, the high-resolution signal may already be partially lost.


Speaking of optical connection, it uses the light as the medium for transmitting sound signals. The best thing about this technology is that it does not allow the noise to pass through to the DAC circuitry. The optical connection is perfectly suitable for transmitting compressed Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound options.

The point is the cable is able to operate only with optical signals. Considering this fact, we can conclude that you will have to convert the electrical signals into an optical signal before sending them to the device. This is the biggest disadvantage of this type of connection, while its main benefit is the optical cable is not affected in any manner by RFI or EMI or similar to another sort of interference. You will find the performance better on the optical digital wires when compared to the coaxial cables.


When it comes to coaxial cables, they are incredibly popular nowadays, as they offer you a 5.1 channel surround sound option just the way. This type of connection should be chosen for subwoofers and audio receivers. Coaxial cable connection is greatly secure and reliable. With regard to its construction, the wire is made in the form of shielded copper wire. Surprisingly, there is no difference what end of the cable you use for what jack since both ends are identical. It makes the audio sound better than the optical digital cables to a greater extent. This cable also has better bandwidth than the optical cable and offers support for up to 192 kHz, whilst the optical one can only support up to 96 kHz.

Which one should you choose?

There is no right answer to this question. If you are trying to make a choice between an optical and coaxial cable, the second one is better since it provides higher audio quality. If you aim to get the maximum convenience and enhanced performance, it is an awesome option to check out HDMI or HDMI ARC connectivity. A single wire communication makes this kind of connection super easy and problem-free. One more advantage of HDMI is that it supports almost all audio formats which makes this type of connection versatile.

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