SPDIF - Digital Audio Format for Consumers
by Will Spencer
SPDIF, otherwise known as IEC 958 type II, or Sony/Philips Digital Interconnect Format is an audio and digital format that has been designed to transport digital stereo signals on your computer's audio cards. SPDIF also works on your CD or DVD players, your car's audio or stereo system. This format will work on any other system that uses digital stereo audio.
The two said companies, Sony and Philips, designed this format within or part of the IEC standard. SPDIF is primarily designed for consumer use, which would eventually mean ready to use hardware or equipment that would remain inexpensive. This eventually would mean more equipment or audio systems that are affordable and are portable from one device to another.
The Uses of SPDIF
Since SPDIF also transmits compressed data, one common use for this format is to carry digital audio from one device to another. An example of which would be transporting audio from your DVD player to your TV room's home theater. Your home theater should support either DTS surround sound or Dolby Digital Sound.
This format also uses uncompressed digital data, which allows transporting digital signals to other devices as well. With this audio format, it is possible to transmit digital signals from your CD player to other receivers. It can also be used on a PC that is equipped with its interface. Connectors can either be coaxial cables or optical cables. Any DTS or Dolby capable receivers can make use of such connectors.
The Switch from Professional Format to Commercial Format
We can say that SPDIF owes its beginnings from the field of professional audio along with its said standards and uses. Its predecessor is known as AES/EBU, which used primarily to transmit digital audio among various professional audio devices. SPDIF is almost similar to AES/EBU as far as protocol is concerned.
However, the difference is that the Sony/Philips format uses connectors that are less expensive and are a lot easier for consumers to use. The coaxial or optical cables used in this format are quite common and more readily available.
Advantages of the Sony/Philips Format
Other than the fact that this format allows utilization of inexpensive equipment, it also has several other advantages for the home user. It also has noise reduction or immunity features not found in analog transmissions.
This means cleaner sounds coming from your CD ROM drive on your computer. To make your audio completely noise proof, hardware using this digital format can opt for an optical fiber connection. With all these features, we can see that this digital format was designed with the household end user in mind.
About the Author
Will Spencer is a computer specialist and tecnology consultant who has written many articles such as Understanding SPDIF and SPDIF Info for System Disc and Rolo web sites. Visit SPDIF - Digital Audio Format for Consumers.