How to Install Optical Audio Cables

By Stan Mack

Most audio cables use a wire to transmit electrical signals. But optical audio cables use fiber optic communications to transmit light. This makes them immune to the electrical interference that typical cables are subject to. Optical audio cables (also called TOSLINK or EIAJ optical cables) are a high-quality and affordable alternative to standard audio cables. Plus, they are easy to install. Because optical audio cables transmit digital data, they are most often used for connecting digital audio source devices (such as DVD players) to home theater systems. Generally, optical audio cables use the S/PDIF protocol (Sony/Philips Digital Interconnect Format), which is a communication format for digital signals.

Things You'll Need

  • Digital source device
  • Digital receiving device
  • Optical audio cable

Step 1

Check that each device accepts optical audio cables. The connection port is usually labeled "Optical," but it may say "Digital" instead. In either case, the connection port must be square with a rounded bottom if optical audio cables are to be used.

Step 2

Remove and save the plastic protective covers from each end of the optical audio cable.

Step 3

Connect one end of the optical audio cable to the port marked "Optical In" (or "Digital In") on the receiving device. The plug will click to let you know it is fastened securely.

Step 4

Connect the other end of the optical audio cable to the port marked "Optical Out" (or "Digital Out") on the source device. The plug will click to let you know it is fastened securely.

Step 5

Turn on both devices if they are not already on.

Step 6

Test the connection by operating both your devices normally to ensure the cables have been installed correctly.

Tips & Warnings

  • Replace the plastic protective caps on your optical audio cable when you disconnect the cable. This will keep dust from ruining the optical cable's ability to transmit light.
  • Do not bend the optical audio cables; doing so will inhibit light transmission.