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Digital audio playlist

01 Introduction - what is digital audio?

02 Binary and digital data

03 Data size, data capacity and data rate

04 The six physical forms of digital data

05 What is an analogue to digital audio converter?

06 Analogue to digital audio conversion - The 2 primary parameters

07 Analogue to digital audio conversion - Sample rate

08 Analogue to digital audio conversion - Nyquist theory

09 Analogue to digital audio conversion - Aliasing

10 Analogue to digital audio conversion - Word length and quantisation

11 Analogue to digital audio conversion - Common word lengths

12 Analogue to digital audio conversion - Setting record levels

13 Down sampling and dither

14 Uncompressed digital audio file formats

15 Compressed digital audio file formats

16 Digital audio interconnection signal types

17 Digital audio synchronisation

18 Connecting audio devices with Toslink leads

19 Connecting audio devices with AES3 or SPDIF coaxial leads

20 Latency

Digital audio 18
Connecting audio devices with Toslink leads

Level of challenge Easy


Welcome to this tutorial on connecting devices with Toslink leads.


Free from ground loop or RF interference issues, fibre optic connections are among the best ways to connect devices. The only disadvantage is that leads are limited to a maximum distance of approximately 10m. The 2 primary signal formats that Toslink leads are used for in the home and project studio are SPDIF stereo and ADAT 8 channel.


The optical signal takes the form of red light, so it easy to see if a signal is present simply by looking at connectors or sockets. As leads can only send signals in one direction, and 2 leads are required for send and return connections, you can connect leads easily without having to label them.


Leads are delicate so its is important to take care and not kink or bend them. It may be a good idea to run them in a plastic conduit if you think they could be vulnerable.


Caption - Connecting devices with Toslink leads

Connecting devices with Toslink leads requires 2 distinct processes ..

  1. physically connecting the leads
  2. configuring the digital synchronisation word clock, which may involve connecting a BNC word clock lead

Also, if one of the device is the software environment of a DAW you will need to create an configure an i/o mixer channel for it.


Caption - Integrating an outboard hardware effect processor with a DAW using a Toslink leads (SPDIF optical)

Demonstration Follow this procedure ..

  1. Turn down the monitoring system
  2. Nominate the device which will operate as the word clock master, either the DAW, audio interface, or effect processor
  3. Turn on the effect processor
  4. Set the sample rate of the effect processor to match that of the word clock master device
  5. Set the i/o of the effect processor to optical or Toslink
  6. Set the word clock sync of the effect processor to synchronise to the embedded word clock signal within the SPDIF/Toslink signal.
  7. Whilst observing the red light signal in the lead connectors and sockets, connect 2 Toslink leads between the effects processor and the audio interface. You may find you will need to remove ports and connector covers first.
  8. Create a stereo axillary channel object in your DAW, insert an i/o utility into it and set its outputs and inputs to the physical i/o ports the effect processor is connected to on the DAWs audio interface
  9. Whilst observing the meters on the effect processor, ping the connection to allow the DAW to determine the required latency compensation
  10. Send a signal to the aux and check it is getting to and returning from the effect processor
  11. Raise your monitor level

Caption - Don't forget to subscribe

The script for this tutorial, with accompanying screenshots, can be found at 


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