How to Connect an Optical Cable

By Wes Walcott

Optical cables transmit data through a fiber-optic cable in the form of a beam of light. Because they send a clear digital audio signal that is unfettered by electrical noise and radio frequency interference, optical cables are commonly used in home theater systems to provide 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound from DVD and Blu-Ray players. In many cases, installing optical cables is a simple plug-and-play procedure.

Things You'll Need

  • Digital receiving device
  • Digital source device

Step 1

Plug one end of the optical cable into the optical cable port of the receiving device you are using. Optical cable ports are often marked by a "Digital" or "Optical" label. If there are no labels, the port can be identified by its square top and round bottom.

Step 2

Plug the other end of the optical cable into the optical cable port of the source device you are using.

Step 3

Turn on both the receiving device and the source device.

Step 4

Operate the devices as you would normally to test the audio quality. Depending on the devices you are using, additional configuratiosn might be needed to allow them to output an optical audio signal.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consult the user guides for the devices if you are unable to get audio output.
  • Optical cable extenders are available if your setup requires a longer cable.
  • Prevent the optical cable from getting bent. Sharp bends in the cable restrict the transmission of light and reduce the signal strength.