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help with TOSLink

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I need a clear understanding of TOSLink as it relates to minidisc, specifically the MZ-NF610 and MZ-NHF800.

The TOSLink cable I own has two ends, one with a male/bayonet connector, and the other with a square connector.

My first question is whether this is a uni or bidirectional cable.

The answer to that should resolve my second question, which is whether the female ports on both of the minidisc units mentioned above are i/o or input only.

My third question is which pc sound card has a native (not requiring an adapter) TOSLink port.

My final question is whether using an SPDIF/coax connector changes the data from digital to analog.


All wisdom gratefully accepted.

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1. Yes the cable is bidirectional. But not for you.
2. You cannot transfer data FROM a portable minidisc player under any circumstances. Only INTO the MD. (Some) Decks have optical output.
3. Lots of sound cards have TOSlink or Coax (both are S/PDIF) or both. My favourite is the Terratec series. But you have to be careful. ONLY 32, 44.1 and 48 kHz are acceptable to the MD. Higher or lower rates will not work.
4. You can plug an ANALOG metal connector into the portable. But that portable will look only for optical signal, never coax digital. Decks, sure. Portables, no.

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to sfbp:
so for the decks with optical output, can I copy from a minidisc into another device, as in a computer ?
when you mention the sound cards and their frequency tolerance, is that only in terms of signal going from the card to the player, or is that true in both directions ?
what is the name of the analog metal connector you mention, and from what port would that be coming on the other side of that cable ?
if the portable is expecting optical signal, what is the point of providing analog signal ? 
to PhillippeC:
are you saying that digital signal can be recorded from the player to a computer ?

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As Stephen (sfbp) has not the exclusivity to answer (thank you Stephen), let me answer to all the question also if you don't mind.

Yes you can copy from a minidisc into another device, as in a computer. Note than if you do so with another minidisc the quality downgrade (1st Atrac compression + 2d Atrac compression). This optical out, my personal view, is to allow a connexion with a digital amplificator (like a receiver 2.0 ---> 5.1) or an external DAC (then an analog amplificator).

For a digital recording from a DAC (or an internal PC DAC), you must have 48kHz at a maximum frequency. This can simply set with the sound icon in the taskbar (sound device priorities, sample rate to used when running in shared mode = 24bit-48kHz). The external DAC being used as a DAC this time for the listening accept naturally the digital sound of the MD unit, being fixed anyway at 44,1kHz if I am right. 

Analog cable : 2 RCA to mini-jack or mini-jack to mini-jack. To be plug in the Line-in entry, as well the digital Toslink mini-jack. You must use the analog signal if the source does not have a digital output (or only the coax digital), e.g.. an analog vintage radio. Nowadays it is very useful with a Hi-Res source like a SACD (or a PC & Hi-Res DAC). Note that Hi-Res does not mean High-end. There are a lot of affordable Hi-Res DAC as the hi-RES quality start with 16bit-48kHz (common cheap DACs are 24bit-192kHz). If you record form a Hi-Res source, the source itself must be set to 48kHz out (easy with a PC, sound settings) but this setting has no importance (and cannot be fixed) with an analog recording (test the difference, digital fixed at 48kHz or SACD analog quality). When I said player about the PC, I was speaking about he software which read the music tracks. You can also put a CD in the DVD-tray and record it through the PC sound card (but the quality remain at 16bit-44,1kHz). Hi-Res quality music can be downrecord it through the PC sound card (but the quality remain at 16bit-44,1kHz). Hi-Res quality music can be downloaded form the ww Net.


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Philippe, he was asking about portables. You CANNOT get optical signal out from a portable. Only from a deck.

The analog connx is a standard headphone-fitting 3.5 mm Stereo Jack. For input it plugs into the same physical socket as the TOSLink. For output you can use the headphone socket (with or without the MD remote).

Finally if you have something you want to record on MD using TOSLink), strongly recommend you first downsample it to 44.1, not to 48, since the MD circuit now has to resample the 48->44.1, which is kinda messy.

PS if you have a Coax source you have two choices: a. buy a MD deck that has a Coax digital socket for input b. buy a S/PDIF Coax to Optical converter (or make one yourself, it's not that complicated) for $20.

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Sure, only the very first MD has an optical out. And yes the MD circuit has to resample the 48->44.1 and it could be kinda messy as it is not a simple maths like 88,2 kHz to 44,1kHz or 96 kHz to 48kHz.  We enter there in technical specifications that are simply difficult to appreciate but there is an universal law, if you make a clean signal (not messy one) , better the recording. E.g. buying a good external DAC for the digital real time recordings or using a good quality analog source. I will add a third solution to Stephen"s ending point, using a  DAC or receiver (both having a coax in) with an external Toslink digital out, and to rejoin Stephen advise, fixing everything at 44,1kHz (if a sampling conversion is needed, it is better at an upper level of the chain before the MD unit).

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