The No-Compromise Optical Cable for Audio Applications
Two years in the making, Pangea Audio's Premier SE Fiber Optic Digital Audio Cable is vastly superior to typical off-the-shelf fiber optic cables. Premier SE uses a premium Multi-Core Plastic Optical Fiber (POF). It also boasts superior termination for best optical transparency. The end result is a high-performance optical cable that's ideal for audiophile applications, because of its significantly better sound quality.
The Problem with Most Optical Cables
The vast majority of fiber optic cables on the market use a single Multi-Mode Plastic Optical Fiber (POF) rather than a group of smaller optical fibers. This single-core optical fiber is used by cable manufacturers for reasons of economy. But if you are looking for a no-compromise optical cable, it isn't an ideal solution. Here's why.
The single Multi-Mode Plastic Optical Fiber is composed of a cylindrical "core" surrounded by a "clad" layer. Due to its large core, some of the light rays that make up the digital pulse may travel a direct route, whereas others zigzag as they bounce off the cladding. These alternate paths cause the different groups of light rays, referred to as modes, to arrive separately at the receiving point.
"The pulse, an aggregate of different modes, begins to spread out, losing its well-defined shape. The need to leave spacing between pulses to prevent overlapping limits the amount of information that can be sent," notes legendary cable designer Jay Victor. "This is the primary drawback of single-core POF cables, and I believe the various modes and conversion processes can cause jitter."
The Multi-Core Solution for Best Sound
To overcome the scattering effect (modes) of the light waves in a single-core POF cable, a multi-core POF is the solution. The Pangea Premier SE optical cable utilizes this technology to produce a superior grade optical cable. The difference is that instead of a single optical fiber, a group of smaller optical fibers are used.
"In listening to both single POF, and multi-core POF cables, I have always found that the multi-core cables sound significantly better," notes Jay Victor. "There is definitely less transmission loss, but I believe there is also a minimization of timing errors, and a faster, more accurate detection of light pulses, which can ultimately reduce jitter."
Superior Termination for Optimal Optical Transparency
Another critical factor in optical cable performance is how the fiber is terminated. Most optical cables are "hot plate terminated", which is exactly what it sounds like. The end is simply pressed up against a hot steel plate to hopefully create a flat surface. However, this is not really the best way to ensure an optically transparent termination, which is desirable for obvious reasons. A better termination, results in less loss.
For this reason, the Pangea Premier SE optical cable has a polished termination, which is far superior in optical transparency, results in less loss, and is seldom used in any single POF cables because of cost. Essentially, the termination is polished mechanically, using a very fine grit abrasive material to end up with a very fine, optically transparent end. This is an expensive method, but, if the best performance is desired, this is the method to use.