Who has better sound quality, HDMI or optical?

When you need to connect the SoundBar or AV receiver you just bought to your home equipment, you will definitely face two main audio cable connection methods: HDMI and optical. Perhaps for most users, HDMI is actually the easiest choice, but if you understand the characteristics of the optical audio cable, it may not be simple to choose the HDMI method of connection. In a nutshell, both HDMI and optical audio connection methods have their own advantages and disadvantages.

HDMI and optical audio connection cable are both methods of transmission between devices, and both are more advanced than the traditional red and white analog signal transmission method, and support multi-channel sound transmission like Dolby Digital Stereo. In addition, both HDMI and optical audio cables are very inexpensive to build.

The biggest difference between the two is that HDMI audio cables can transmit higher quality sound, including Blu-ray audio, Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio audio encoding. And these formats of audio can not be transmitted on the optical cable. In addition, HDMI can also directly transmit video signals. So in short, if you want to deliver all your content over a single cable, then HDMI is the best choice.

However, depending on everyone's different equipment, HDMI is sometimes not the best choice. If your home has a certain age of equipment and you just need to connect a simple sound output device like a Sound Bar to your TV, then optical audio is a good connection. In this case, it is sometimes the only option without worrying too much about HDMI. for most simple sound devices, optical and HDMI are actually the same in terms of effectiveness.

In one case, if you have a Sound Bar device that supports surround sound like the Sonos Playbar or Vizio S4251w-B, then there is no way to connect directly to the TV via an optical audio cable. But usually these Sound Bars mostly don't have HDMI ports, so the best way is to connect the TV audio source directly to the Sound Bar with optical and skip the TV.

But no matter which device you use, as described above, optical audio cables are unable to transmit high-quality sound such as Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio. But the difference in sound quality between the two is not as pronounced as you might think. Although HDMI can transmit better sound, but we also need a certain quality of speakers, amplifier equipment function cooperation to work. And simply rely only on HDMI cables to improve the quality of the effect is not obvious.

Overall, the use of HDMI method is not only inexpensive, but also can be a multi-purpose cable, while passing video and sound signals. But if your older equipment does not support HDMI interface, while your audio source is not as high as Blu-ray and other relatively high requirements, then optical audio cable can also meet the needs of the same. In addition, even if you use HDMI connection, but the quality of other devices did not keep up, then even Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio such as audio sources, the same will not be significantly improved.

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