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Fiber Optic Instrument Cables

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Double E, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. Double E

    Double E I ain't got no time to play... Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2005
    Northeast Ohio
    Iconic Sound Announces “Light Lead” Optical Analog Instrument Cable

    Seems unlikely to catch on but hey, someones pushing the envelope at least.

    Me? I'd do away with the batteries by using a power supply and running conductors in the cable to power the end opposite the power supply.

    There is conspicuously no cost estimates in the articles I've read.



  2. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science! Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    Hmmm,... Not sure if this is gonna catch on unless it is surprisingly inexpensive. A buffer/preamp pretty much solves any capacitance issues already without those bulky connectors.

    Seems like a more complex solution to a problem than necessary? I suppose typical 9 or 18volt buffers wouldn't drive hundreds of feet of cable as well as this optical system, but who wants hundreds of feet of cable?
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yep. Seems like driving a tack with a sledge hammer. Perhaps the designers could get a job "solving" problems for the federal government? It would be their most profitable move too.
  4. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    Seems overly complicated and unnecessary in a world of good quality cable where the highest frequency of concern is around 8 kHz. It swaps the possible (in a cheap cable) HF rolloff for other issues in the circuitry at each end of the cable.

    How accurate is their engineering of the audio<>optical conversion ?
    What do you do if you need to make the cable longer for a gig?
    Ooops - I kinked the cable, now what do I do?
    Batteries to be changed regularly and to fail when least expected.

    Active basses already eliminate the capacitance problem - is there a huge sound difference?
  5. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Or cutting butter with a chain saw.
  6. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Or killing mosquitos with a shotgun.
  7. -Kramer-


    Dec 9, 2003
    Charlotte, NC
    Dang, all of those sound like a lot of fun!

    Back on topic: I could see the "I paid $400 for a power cable" crowd going for something like this.
  8. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    Analog Fiber Optic????
    What the hell is that?

    How does this work without an A/D and then a D/A converter?

    Or is there a converter in each of the jacks? (The accuracy and sound quality of any A/D/A is always a point of contention and debate.)

    This seems like a great idea if you are playing a show where the FOH mixer is in another building in a different city in another state. Then you could convert to digital right at your output and send a digital signal to the sound-guy 5000 miles away for him to mix.

    What a revolution.
  9. Only problem I can forsee would be flexibility and durability. Instead of bending thin strands of metal, you're now trying to bend mircrosopic strands of glass. Although, for stationary cables in hifi situations, they would work better. Even if you can fix the capacitance issue in a normal cable, you still have inductance to worry about causing phase delays. Whereas light won't have that issues. Plus, you could theoretically run hundreds of signals through a single fiber-optic cable without crosstalk or degredation. Try making a 100-conductor cable or running 50 stereo cables without fiber-optics. But then you'd just be using it to network sound between stationary machines, like dsl.

    Any corrections?
  10. A ( probably ) expensive solution to exactly what problem?
  11. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I can't see how these would be durable in the real world. Those ends look super cheap and easy to break. Fiber can be fairly durable but I don't know how many times one could step on a cable like this before you crush the glass.

    Meh, no thanks.
  12. But that would make for an interesting light show onstage... Until people start leaving because they can't hear you anymore.
  13. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Most of the problems that the product claims to address are already solved by either an active buffer on the guitar, or balanced low impedance cabling.

    I await specs, most importantly signal-to-noise.
  14. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    An LED can be driven with a linear signal (light intensity roughly proportional to current) and picked up at the other end with a linear detector. I've developed such systems, but not for guitar signal transmission.
  15. But even if the led is driven into nonlinearity, as long as the detector has the same nonlinear response, the output should be linear, right? Kinda like if you sum two signals, A and B, A being the carrier, you get C. Then subtract A and C, you get right back to B. Now, that's not considering both sum and difference signals, and their sum and difference signals, and etc., plus all of the harmonics. But I'm not going into that as I'm not a teacher, plus I'm a little rusty when it comes to rf electronics. It's bad enough that some nights my breadboards will sometimes pick up a football game on AM or an AM spanish music station.
  16. ShoeManiac


    Jan 19, 2006
    New Jersey
    This screams of an instance of engineers doing something just because they can.

    I work in a field that deals with transmission of video and audio signals. We use fiber optic cable on a daily basis, but for specific applications where you need signal fidelity over long distances. As for this application? It seems like it might be bordering on overkill. And the potential for failure seems significant given the delicate nature of fiber compared with conventional instrument cable.

    Add in the whole encoding and decoding process at each connector? And you're adding TWO potential points of failure.

    It'll be interesting to see if this catches on at all. But given the wear and tear that musical gear seems to take, I can't see fiber optic instrument cable holding up.
  17. Meh. Call me when they come out with a wireless version.
  18. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Yup. In fact here's an example where they use an identical photodiode in the feedback loop to cancel the nonlinearity:


    From 1976.
  19. Neat, but useless, not to mention expensive as well as fragile.
    Oops! I stepped on my 200$ fiber optic cable and the strands broke!