The digital music world is awash in bad-sounding Toslink cables and pitifully few that sound even acceptable by Mapleshade standards.
When we found ourselves in serious need of a really good Toslink connection for our studio, we embarked on a lengthy set of listening experiments
to develop an optical cable that could live up to our demanding expectations. Several hundred tests later, we arrived at the Clearlink Optical design
which we guarantee to sound better than any high end Toslink available today — regardless of price. 30-Day Money Back|
In addition to components where Toslink is the only connection option, we recommend the Clearlink Optical in the following applications:
1. Use the Clearlink Optical to carry digital audio from your cable box to receiver to get sound significantly better than HDMI audio or coax
(analog) audio—and particularly so for long runs.
2. Connecting your Apple TV audio using the Clearlink Optical instead of HDMI or WiFi wireless will be a major upgrade in sound quality for
home theater or two channel.
3. The Clearlink Optical carrying digital music streams from your Mac desktop, laptop, iMac or Mac Mini to a DAC sounds even better than using
any USB cables (even our Clearlink USB) and way better than the analog Headphone Out jack on Macs. NOTE: unbeknownst to many Mac owners,
every Mac Headphone Out doubles as a digital SPDIF Out connection for your DAC or receiver, requiring only that you insert a Mini Toslink plug
rather than the standard, larger Toslink termination (we offer a Mini Toslink option); the computer recognizes the mini Toslink and turns on the
4. In situations where our Digital Ribbon Interconnects
are too delicate or shorter-than-needed, the Clearlink Optical is an exceptional-sounding alternative. Though our Toslink cable is very thin,
it is robustly contructed. You can walk on the cable if necessary and it is nearly cat-proof.
Design Concept & Performance
Our very careful controlled listening tests on widely varying designs of Toslink cables found that the conventional audiophile “wisdom” in the optical
arena is largely wrong. Our tests proved the following:
1. Large diameter optical cables are not better than small diameter ones.
2. Optical cables are as directional as metallic conductor wires, if not more so.
3. Glass fiber cables with more strands are not better than ones with fewer strand. Thinner polymer cables sound better than fatter ones.
4. High transmissivity cable does not sound better than moderate transmissivity (exactly analogous to our old research finding that the lowest
resistance, fattest copper conductors sound worse than thinner conductors of moderate resistance).
5. Glass fiber generally sounds better than almost all polymer cables, but the very best polymers sound better than the best glass (perhaps because
the polymers are single strand while glass is necessarily multi-stranded for flexibility).
6. Terminations make a big difference. The best ones sound seriously better but can only be selected by ear--no engineering parameter is a useful
predictor of good terminations.
7. Optical cable sound quality is very length sensitive. Just as we found with digital coaxial (SPDIF) cables, speaker cables and AC power cables,
shorter Toslinks are most definitely not better—and being on the short side of the optimum is much worse than being on the long side.
Putting all these findings together resulted in our unique Clearlink Optical. It features:
• The very best optical polymer material we tested
• Ultra-small diameter and single strand optical fiber
• Tested and marked for best direction
• The best-sounding terminations we could find
• An optimum length of 14’, easily coiled down to 1½’.
This final design delivers sonic quality far better than we ever hoped for using a Toslink cable. Specifically, we guarantee our Clearlink Optical
offers obviously better sound quality than any USB connection and outdoes glass and polymer high end Toslinks such as the Wireworld, Kimber,
Analysis Plus, MIT, Van den Hul, Synergistic Research, Chord and at least up to the $489 Audioquest Diamond and beyond.
For high resolution DACs that accept both optical and RCA digital inputs, our Clearlink Optical sounds better than the vast majority of high end
digital RCA coax interconnects. In fact, the Clearlink Optical comes very close to (though not quite as good as) the performance of our coax
Clearview Excalibur Digital Ribbon — bearing in mind that the Excalibur Digital coax is so good we guarantee it to outperform any competing digital RCA
||Ditto Scotts Review
|Decided to compare various big name brand Toslink cables against each other as well my current name brand XLR and RCA digital cables. This is being used between my Primare CD21 transport and PS Audio DirectStream DAC. Quite surprisingly, my experiences with the Mapleshades mirror Scotts. So they are a keeper for me.|
|- Del, WA|
||Better Sound Clarity and Dynamics
|I have experimented with different Toslink optical cables with a lot of varied results. The Mapleshade cable has the best dynamics, clarity and sound stage I have found in my five years of experimentation. I use on a Digital TV tuner/ DVR output to a DAC. This is a true quality cable that is well worth the price!|
|- Scott Hays, CA|