Maplin Optical Cable vs Chord Shawline Digital

I have been using my NDX 2 as a simple DAC; the streaming functions being performed by a Lindemann Limetree Bridge.

I had the Limetree connected to the NDX 2 over a (not inexpensive) Chord Shawline Digital cable. The other night, I replaced that connection with a cheapo optical cable purchased from the local Maplin store (when such stores still existed).

Astonishing improvement in sound quality! Transients are much faster with crisper trebles, more metallic zing to cymbal rimshots and bass is also noticeably tighter.

Is this a known benefit of optical? That cable must have cost me all of 3.99 and I definitely wasted a lot more than that on the Chord Shawline

Optical spdfs are prone to far less…if no…electrical noise.
They cannot take max bit rates though… someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

I am happy to report that my humble 3.99 optical cable delivers a 192 kHz signal from the Limetree to the NDX 2 with no issues.

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Back in the day it was generally felt that coaxial was the better transmission method. If I remember right the chap who designs Chord DACs (different company from the cable manufacturer obviously…) recommends optical as there is complete galvanic isolation between components.

I found a shawline was bettered by a £20 Belden 4974R 12G video cable by quite some margin. £20 that is if you ignore the postage and import duty from bluejeans in the US but it was still a bargain in comparison.

My first tentative foray into computer audio involved using an optical cable from a headless MacMini into my nDAC. Even just playing a ripped CD in iTunes, it edged ahead of my CD5XS into the nDAC, though I did use an expensive Wireworld Supernova glass fibre cable. So I’m not entirely surprised by your conclusion @EnglishRogue.


I use a similar belden co-ax cable with canare rca connectors purchased from an e-bay seller for 21.00 approx. It’s gives superb SQ through my freesat player into MF V90 dac. I think blue jeans use this exact same digital cable and there’s a ytube video showing how it’s constructed. I’m very impressed with the way it’s built mostly using swiss made machinery and then finally crimped. It’s very simply put together but using ingenious methods which must give a very high quality control in the final product.

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