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This review first appeared in the March 2014 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of Wireworld
in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Wireworld- Ed.

Reviewer: Ralph Werner
Sources: Luxman D-05, Logitech Touch, Readynas Duo NAS-Server, HP Notebook, M2Tech Hiface,
Benchmark DAC1 USB
Amplification: Octave HP300 preamp, Musical Fidelity M8 700m power amp, Denon PMA-2010AE integrated
Loudspeakers: Dynamikks Monitor 8.12, Thiel SCS4
Rack: Creaktiv Trend 3
Power delivery: fis Audio
Cables: Ascendo tri-wire, Dynamikks Speakerlink, Ecosse ES 2.3, Zu Audio Libtec; Ecosse, Vovox, Mundorf Cable and other interconnects
Review component pricing: Toslink Nova €49, Toslink Supernova 7 €199; coax Silver Starlight 7 €249, Gold Starlight 7 €499; USB Starlight 7 €199, Silver Starlight €299, Platinum Starlight €600

Wikipedia's graphic represents time-shifted jitter during digital transmissions (the soft yellow blur)

“Oy. Another cable review. And on digital cables!” I can hear it already, the forum action. To season this spicy stew, we’ll even include optical cables. Take that misters just zeros and ones. Off you go. Cheerio.

Though those folks do have a point. Digital signal is about zeroes and ones. In theory. In practice these two states are represented by voltages. With coaxial S/PDIF they aren’t that big, around 0.5V. With the globally most supported AES/EBU studio standard, that’s about 10 times higher. Its symmetrical operation also means higher immunity to external influences though in a domestic environment our shorter lengths probably don’t benefit. In… er short, digital data are represented and transported in the analog domain. That’s hifi 101. From this follows very logically that the change between the two voltage states occurs very quickly but not infinitely so as the mathematical ideal would have it. The transition between zero and one has some ‘analog head room’ or better put, it occurs over time. Now the question becomes, how long does a one remain a one and no longer a zero? The higher the transmission bandwidth, the steeper the edges of the square waves representing the digital ones and zeroes can rise and fall to shrink the ‘in-between’ down time. The low bandwidth of ‘just’ 6MHz for Toslink gets routinely invoked to explain its inferior performance versus electrical transmissions which can reach 500MHz.


The issue thus aren’t errors with ones and zeroes. Those usually arrive correctly as themselves. The issue is whether they arrive on time or not. As Wireworld put it whose cables are the topic of today, computers can transfer digital data without losses since they send them in robust chunks which don’t rely on specific timing between sender and receiver. Digital audio signal meanwhile are constant data streams that are highly exposed to interference. To avoid losses the digital processor must handle the signal perfectly synchronously. Variances of the desired clocking frequency can cause sonically detrimental jitter. This can have numerous sources. One of those is the transmission medium aka the digital cable with its connections, impedance variations, potential signal reflections et al. That’s the going explanation on why those cables can sound different.