Optical/Toslink VS RCA how big a diff?

Havent posted in awhile, but i have a chance to grab up some Adcom seperates inexpensively. I was looking because im finally tired of the receiver i use in the one room clipping so often. I can pickup a gsa700, gtp550, and gfa2535 for $200. Thing is tho, one of the main things i will use them for is television, and apparently the 550 doesnt have toslink/optical inputs

Ive been using optical input for a couple of years now, and am wondering: what do you all think will be the big differences between optical and rca..?

PS: no it also doesnt have coax, just regular ol, plain vanilla RCA.

Thanks for any and all input ~!
When I a/b'd a glass (not plastic) toslink against my Stereovox HDVX (with an Assemblage Platinum 2.7 dac,) I didn't think there was much of a difference. When I was really listening for anything perceptible, the Stereovox seemed a smidgen warmer and more open, but I wouldn't want to bet money on a double blind test. The combo of Cambridge 640cd for transport and Assemblage dac was pretty revealing, but not the equal of the the Marantz Sa11S1 I'm using now. I can't say if a more resolving dac/transport combo would reveal a greater difference. In previous discussions of this topic, a lot a listeners felt that glass toslinks performed quite well as I recall.
Toslink/Optical is a digital transmission medium. It transmits a digital bitstream that is decoded by the processor/receiver. RCA is an analog signal.

Do you use your current setup for 2-channel playback of TV sound or multi-channel? If your current setup is two channel, you may not notice much difference.

You need to spend a lot more on a coax cable to equal the performance of an optical cable but... I found the sound to be smoother and warmer (less digital) with a coax than with an optical cable. Go figure, digital is digital, right? but it all depends on your system
Uh, guys, he said the unit does not have a coax input either. It's a 2-channel analog pre-amp, so it doesn't have any on-board processing of digital signals, i.e., no optical or coaxial digital connection.

He's asking if he will hear a difference between what he's experiencing today using an optical connection to a receiver vs. what he may experience with his future system using an analog stereo connection to his pre-amp/amp seperates.

It is hard to say. I once had a Audio Logic DAC that took RCA and XLR inputs. The RCA input sounded more musical then the XLR so you will have to try each to see if there is a difference with your units. I received advice saying that the XLR would most likely sound better but there was one Agon member who had the same DAC and I read his post suggesting this and he was correct.

Can you borrow a few cables form some friends or a local audio store? That would be the best to try it for your self.

Happy Listening.
As an aside, one difference of using an optical vs. a coax cable is that the optical will not cause any grouding issues that a coax may depending on your components and if you have a noise/ground loop issue with that component.

He's not asking about a digital cable (input cable to your DAC). He's asking if he will hear a difference after "upgrading" from a receiver (that accepts digital optical input) to an older higher quality 2-channel analog seperates rig that does not have any digital inputs (no optical, no coax). He wants to connect his TV source using RCA analog connections to the pre-amp.


I did a bit of research to refresh my memory. The 3 Adcom components you list, when added together, basically get you the functionality of an old pro-logic receiver. All combined, they provide Dolby pro-logic processing of an analog signal, 5 channels of amplification, etc.

So, if your goal is to have decent Dolby pro-logic for TV, plus all the other features of an old pro-logic receiver, go for it. However, if it were me, I would pass. This technology has been replaced long ago by better stuff. I would highly recommend that you spend a bit more money on a good current HT receiver. If you insist on the old obsolete Adcom stuff, you might want to consider purchasing the Adcom GDD-1 to add Dolby Digital to the stack of components. However, you would then have a total of 4 components doing the same work as an old, first generation Dolby Digital receiver, and you would have 4 boxes, plus all of the required cabling, added electrical requirements, etc.

Get a new receiver (or even an older 5.1 channel DD receiver). BTW, the new receivers have lots of great features that are worth the money. Specificically, some of the new surround formats are very good, plus auto-calibration/equalization is built into many of them.

THanks all for the responses.

TIC, wanted to let you know, i pretty much agree with what you said. My predicament is this isnt the main home theater that im working on, and right now and for foreseable future it only has two main fronts. Also i play as much music as i do listen to TV with it. ANd my main reason for chaning up from my current 5.1 recvr is the clipping i get when i crank up the tuns, which is often.

So in trying to figure out what to do while i ut the main theater together, which is taking FOREVER, i wanted to just throw somehting together up here that wont drive me nutso. And after taking a look at the 3 Adcoms, i talked to the guy and got the for $180. I mean for that price, i really couldnt go wrong, even if for a temporary system.

The HT im thinking of going with either a Sunfire or Anthem Preamp, and i already have 2 Technics SE-A5 MKII amps, Audio Control Bijou and a new pair Klipschorns waiting.

So this was half about improving stereo sound, half about still having good TV sound, and half about findin a heckuva bargain that would solve my problem even if temporarily for a steal. So as i figure out how ill set it up, im currently 150% happy hehe.

Only weird thing about them i can figure so far is the GSA700 which is a preamp and amp together. Its a, i "guess", 3 channel amp built in, but oddly its not 2 fronts and a center....its 2 REARS and a center, which just has me...confused LOL. I mean i understand it, to a degree, just cant figure out, do i have this right? Why would they do it this way? I suppose so that you can get cleaner power from a seperate dual amp? That plus im trying to figure out how to get the GSA700 and the GTP550 to work nicely together. The 700 likes to act as a preamp, but has no tuner and not as many inputs. It seems like it may have better surround decoding than the GTP550, but i had better hope so because i cant seem to figure out a way to have the 550 act as the main input and preamp. Now im tryin to figure out if i can do a external procc loop, but not sure if the GTP will do it. Grrr
But ill happily play with it for awhile. Like i said at this price it was just to easy to turn up.
Hey heres a question for you all. It used to be that even an integrated receiver had a "pre-out" so that it could be used as just a preamp with an amplifier. Im wondering if theres any reasonably priced (or not) 5.1 or 7.1 receviers that i can also out to a seperate 2 channel amp...so that i dont have to worry so much about clipping when im just doing music in stereo.
If my current 5.1 had that ability, i wouldnt have bothered with any of this. I just woulda used the SE-A5 that im not currently using downstiars temporarily up here.

PS: if you wanna see an ugly system, ill post up what my HT looks like right now..hehe..its a pair of klipschorns hooked up to the one SE-A5 amp, which has one of my computers as its preamp...SCARY ~! but it suffices for now..gotta have music while i work on the room.