Let’s say you purchase a large 65-inch digital TV that only offers digital audio out connection. However, you want to send that audio signal to go to your speakers. In this case, you will need to convert the optical connection from digital to AUX analog if your speaker uses an AUX input.
Optical output (Toslink) is a type of digital audio connection and 3.5mm AUX is an analog connection. Both are commonly used with speakers and other audio devices even though they work differently. Optical (Toslink) is digital, while its AUX counterpart is analog.
To convert Toslink digital optical; audio output to AUX, you need a DAC. Connect the Toslink cable from the source to the digital in on DAC and then connect the 3.5mm cable from the speakers to the AUX out on the DAC.
So, depending on your requirements, you may need to convert your Toslink connection to AUX. Keep reading for a full in-depth informational guide on how to do this and more.
How To Convert Optical Audio Output to Aux
There are several ways to go about converting your digital audio output into AUX. Here are the most common ones that are easy to follow, and you will most likely find helpful:
Method 1: Use a Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC)
Using a DAC is the most common way to convert digital audio to AUX. Most DAC’s have both the Toslink ins and outs, so you can get the suitable one in the market with ease.
All you need is a Toslink digital out cable as well as your 3.5 mm cable connected to your device (e.g speakers). Here is the process:
1. Power the DAC: Most DACs can be powered with USB and you can normally use the USB connection on your TV for this purpose.
2. Connect the digital audio cable to the TV: Locate the digital audio out port on the TV. It is a square port that is normally marked digital audio out. Connect the Toslink cable to it.
3. Connect the Toslink to your DAC: Now simply connect the digital output cable from the TV to the digital in or Toslink in on the DAC.
4. Use a 3.5 mm AUX cable to connect your DCA to your speakers: Now, just connect the 3.5 mm cable from the speakers to your 3.5mm output jack on the DAC.
If you decide to use this method, a simple and inexpensive DAC that will work great is the PROZOR DAC (amazon link).
Method 2: Use An External Soundcard
If you want to connect to a PC, you can use a soundcard. This is considered another convenient option since most soundcards have Toslink output.
You can then run the digital audio from your computer and then out to your DAC. The procedure would be similar to the steps followed above.
What are the Key Differences Between Optical and AUX?
Why Use AUX Connections?
If you understand how optical audio output and AUX compare to each other, you are more likely going appreciate how these technologies interface.
In general, AUX experiences more interference and line loss. This should not come by surprise since it is by nature analog.
When you use AUX, wayward electrical fields form things like the mains power or any other electrical source can distort your signals. So, you are more at risk of experiencing things like speaker buzz, which is one of the most common signs of interference.
The good news is that you can solve this problem with some relative ease. Once you route the AUX cables far from the mains, for example, that will highly likely help you increase your sound clarity.
Another effective way you can minimize interference is by using high-quality AUX cables that are better shielded.
Why Use Optical Connections?
So, of course, optical connections are far less prone to interference than analog. However, digital audio can still lose some data.
When you use longer cables, you are most likely going to experience this at some point. However, digital cables can transmit data needed for a wide variety of proprietary digital processing functions.
The fact is, neither of these options is issue-free. However, there are good reasons you can opt for aux over optical.
Pros of AUX Over Optical
- Well-shielded and routed aux experiences limited interference
- Cheaper than optical
- More versatile
- Multiple aux cables routed to many speakers deliver excellent sound quality
- Common on modern devices
- Can connect with any device with an AUX out/AUX in
- Can convert optical to AUX
Cons of AUX
We have mentioned that AUX has several drawbacks as well. These are:
- Low-quality aux cables are highly prone to interference
- They can lose data
- Can’t transmit digital data
- Difficult to route numerous aux cables to multiple speakers
Which One Should I Choose, AUX or Optical?
From the list above, we have seen that both AUX and optical are widely used connection types in the radio world.
Of course, you will likely agree that you get better quality sound from the optical line.
However, the one you choose will always depend on what you want to do and the devices you were working with.
Remember, differences in sound quality depend on several other things. Some of these are:
- Quality of speakers
- Length of cable
- Source of recording
- Listening ability and interest in the content
So, before you judge the performance of AUX vs optical audio, you ought to be sure you have the ideal setup.
It would be best if you also overlooked all the chatter out there since everyone has unique expectations and systems. In other words, you are better placed if you try them out yourself before deciding on the one to use.
Will Optical or Aux Be in Demand for Longer?
The humble AUX emerged in the global market in the 1960s for the first time. That seems a long time, given how advancements in technology are making older innovations obsolete.
Many devices do not last for more than a year before they lose usefulness and the trust of consumers.
Optical audio, which is also called “Toslink” was created in the 1980s. It uses fiber optics or laser light to send information. The older format used electrical waves.
While we still find both of these options useful, recent developments suggest AUX and optical are on their way out of the market.
Currently, we have HDMI and USB 3.1. They may define the future, given their higher degree of efficiency. Moreover, they are digital formats and can do more than optical does.
Does this mean we should ignore digital audio and AUX? Of course, not, AUX has been on the market for over 60 years, and it is an incredibly humble option. However, it remains common in many households.
As such, the introduction of more advanced options will not automatically make the older solution immediately obsolete.
Nonetheless, since the current generation prefers highly efficient technology, they are likely to disappear completely some years from now.
It is rather easy to convert digital topical or Toslink to AUX. All you need to do is to connect the Toslink from the digital out on the TV to the digital in on a DAC and then connect the 3.5 mm cable from the speakers to the AUX out jack on the DAC. You can do the same with a PC soundcard if you are using a PC and not a TV.