5 common optical audio cable problems

Owning an optical audio cable, often referred to as a Toslink cable as Toshiba originally developed it, can be a great way to connect components in your system, but it is not always a perfect solution. 

An optical audio cable can be more prone to problems than a coaxial cable, so you need to treat it with care. 

Although it may appear as strong as others, a Toslink cable is actually made up of delicate cables and fibers.

1. Break

One of the most common problems with an optical audio cable is breakage. The tear occurs within the protective sheath and is not easily visible to the naked eye. 

If your cable stops working, chances are high that this is the cause. Unfortunately, the cable can break easily. 

The simple acts of bending, twisting, or even standing on it can cause irreparable damage. When this happens, there is nothing you can do but buy a new cable.

2. Connections

Optical cables use a special connector when used with other components. It is important that you insert them correctly and do not over-tighten them. 

They are much more sensitive than coaxial cables and you will need to apply less pressure. If the connector is not inserted correctly, the components will not connect.

 If the connection is too tight, it is likely to break.

You also need to make sure you have the Toslink cable plugged into the correct connection.

 If there is no sound, for example, you may be connected to the wrong connection. 

This could be something as simple as connecting to an ‘outside’ connection rather than an ‘inside’ connection. 

You should note that the ‘digital output’ and the ‘optical output’ can be exactly the same as long as the special connector fits.

3. Bending

If your audio setup requires you to bend the cables to follow the line of a wall, and your optical audio cable stops working, the bend has likely caused a break in the cable.

4. No light

An optical audio cable should have a red light on each of the connectors when it is in place and working properly. 

If you don’t see the light at either end, the cable is not connected properly, is broken, or you may have a faulty cable. 

The light is an indicator of a problem, rather than the problem itself, unless the component connector is broken.

5. Audio source

Another common problem is that the audio source on the receiver might not be set correctly. 

It will need to be configured as ‘optical input’ or ‘digital input’ for it to work properly.

 If you don’t, even though the connections may be perfectly good, there will be no sound. 

Something similar can happen with computers if the correct audio source is not selected.


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