A fiber-optic audio cable is a digital cable that is used to transmit information between different audio devices, such as digital versatile disc (DVD) players and sound systems. This type of cable is often used in conjunction with fiber-optic visual cable, which allows the enjoyment of high-quality digital entertainment. Though the technology has been around since the 1970s, it was only in the 2000s that it became affordable enough to begin taking the place of electric audio cables.
As with other types of fiber-optic cable, fiber-optic audio cable transmits information in the form of pulses of light. These pulses are interpreted by a computer processor as binary code, as the light is either on or off. Certain electronic devices are able to interpret the binary code as an audio signal, which can be reconstructed as sound, such as music or dialogue, once the signal reaches its destination.
It is possible to send optical information a great distance through a fiber-optic audio cable. Some cables are even able to transmit information for a distance up to several miles. These types of fiber-optic cables are used to transmit information from relay stations to devices within a home or business.
The center a fiber-optic audio cable is made from a high quality glass, often silica, that a wave of light travels down until it reaches the end of the cable. The glass is extremely thin and flexible and can transmit the light pulse for a long way before the signal becomes so faint that it cannot be be read. There are also fiber-optic audio cables that use plastic fibers, though the light does not travel as far in this type of cable.
The quality of the signal remains relatively stable in fiber-optic audio cable. This means that a high quality audio signal can be transmitted through a fiber-optic audio cable to other audio devices with very little degradation. These cables offer an improvement over electrical cables, which often lose a great deal of signal over a short distance. Audio signals also travel much faster down a fiber-optic audio cable than down an electrical cable. The move to digital has made this type of cable preferable to electrical cables, while the decrease in cost of fiber-optic audio cable has made them more popular for government, business, and personal use.