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What Does TOSLINK Mean?

TOSLINK is a standardized optical fiber structure originally developed by Toshiba Corporation. It utilizes a fiber optic cable for the transmission of audio signals in the form of pulses of light.


TOSLINK was originally created to connect compact disc (CD) players to receivers for pulse code modulation (PCM) audio streams using the S/PDIF standard digital audio interconnect. A single TOSLINK cable can be used to transmit stereo, mono and surround sound signals. It carries a digital audio stream from components like Digital Video Disc (DVD) players, the MiniDisc, Digital Audio Tape (DAT) recorders, Dolby Digital/DTS decoders, newer video game consoles and computers to an audio-video (AV) receiver. The AV receiver decodes the stream of output and audio through a set of electroacoustic transducers or loudspeakers.

TOSLINK supports a diversity of physical standards and media formats. The most common digital audio connection is the Electronic Industries Association of Japan/ Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (EIAJ/JEITA) RC-5720 connector, also known as JIS C5974-1993 F05 (JIS F05) and CP-1201. The EIAJ/JEITA has a peak wavelength of 650 nanometer (nm) with an optical red light.

Techopedia Explains TOSLINK

A TOSLINK is a standardized optical fiber connection for transmitting audio signals in the form of pulses of light. It supports the same digital audio data as the Sony/Philips Digital Interface (S/PDIF) data link layer protocol but does not use electrical current to transmit data. The connection is resistant to magnetic and electrical interference and provides a data rate from 125 megabits per second (Mbps) to 1.2 gigabits per second (Gbps).

The TOSLINK is often found next to an RCA socket used for digital audio connections on audio-video (A/V) receivers. The TOSLINK is used for fiber cable optical options and the RCA socket is for the electrical correspondent over coaxial cable.

There are various types of fibers used for a TOSLINK such as multi-strand plastic optical fibers, quartz glass optical fibers and 1-millimeter plastic optical fibers. Generally, the TOSLINK is 5 meters in length with a maximum standard at 10 meters without using a signal booster. Newer TOSLINKs can run over 30 meters with an optical wavelength of 650 nm (~461.2 THz).

Some problems that may be encountered with TOSLINK are jitter which is the fluctuation or flicker in transmission signals. Jitter is usually caused by limited bandwidth of the digital signal. TOSLINKs can also fail or be permanently impaired if the cable is firmly bent.

There is also a standard mini-TOSLINK that is smaller than the standard square TOSLINK connector which is often used in bigger consumer audio components, Apple computers and portable devices like notebook computers.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.