Preventing Audio Cut Outs Over Optical Cable (Quick Ways)

Have you ever been in the middle of an intense movie scene or jamming out to your favorite music album, only to have the audio suddenly cut out? It’s beyond frustrating, right? 

If you’ve been experiencing this issue with your optical cable (also known as SPDIF) and it’s cutting out on your TV while using it with your soundbar, home theatre, audio receivers, etc, you’re not alone. 

When I encountered the same issue with my TV connected to my soundbar via optical cable, I kept trying different things to find the cause and discovered that many other users were also experiencing the same issue.

In this guide, I will explain why your TV audio cuts out on optical cable and what you can do to fix it as well as prevent it.

Why My Audio Cuts Out Over Optical Cable / SPDIF?

When using an optical cable, there are a few things that could cause your audio to cut out.

One possible culprit is debris in the receptacles on your TV or receiver. It might sound silly, but sometimes a bit of dust or lint can cause issues with the proper audio transmission. 

Another possible cause is a faulty or damaged optical cable. As optical cables are delicate, even a small kink or bend can cause issues. 

It’s also possible that the TV’s HDMI to SPDIF conversion could be causing issues. If you’ve tried a different optical cable and cleaned the receptacles, it might be worth going into your TV’s settings and changing the optical output from Dolby Digital to PCM. 

Finally, there could be compatibility issues with certain audio formats. For example, optical cables can not pass through Dolby Digital Plus audio (If you are trying to play content with Dolby Digital Plus Audio format).

Note: “PCM stereo” and “Compressed 5.1 Dolby Digital” or DTS audio are the only audio formats supported by optical audio connections.

Listed below are all possible causes for intermittent audio on optical cables:

  • Incorrect TV audio settings
  • Faulty or damaged optical cable
  • Debris in the receptacles on the TV or receiver
  • TV’s HDMI to SPDIF conversion causing issues
  • Compatibility issues with certain audio formats, such as Dolby Digital Plus

How To Fix Sound Cut Out On Optical Cable / SPDIF?

So, what can you do if you’re experiencing audio cutting out with an optical cable? Here are the solutions:

  1. Tweak audio settings on your TV as well as the receiver.
  2. Check and clean the receptacles on the TV and receiver. A quick cleaning could solve the problem.
  3. Try using a different optical cable. As mentioned, these cables can be delicate, and it’s possible that yours has become damaged.
  4. Go into your TV’s settings and change the optical output from PCM to Dolby Digital or vice versa. This has worked for some people, so it’s worth a try.
  5. If possible, try running the audio directly from the source into the receiver using the optical cable. This will help you determine whether the TV is causing the issue.

How To Hook Up Your TV With Reciever (Soundbar, Home Theater) Using Optical Cable?

Just for reference in case you might not be aware of the proper process, here’s the proper way to connect your TV with audio receivers using an Optical Cable (Toslink):

  1. Locate the optical output on the back of your TV, which is typically labeled “optical out” or “audio out.
  2. Remove the plastic covers on the ends of the optical cable.
  3. Connect one end of the optical cable to the optical output on your TV.
  4. Locate the audio input or optical input on your soundbar.
  5. Connect the other end of the optical cable to the audio input on your soundbar.
  6. Plug in the power cord for your soundbar and turn it on.
  7. Turn on your TV.
  8. Go to the audio or sound settings in your TV’s menu system.
  9. Turn off the TV speakers and send the sound through the optical output.


I hope these suggestions have helped shed some light on potential causes and solutions for audio cutting out with an optical cable on your TV. 

Once you make sure all mentioned things have been considered and the setup is clean and complete, you should be able to get your audio running smoothly again in no time.


Do optical audio cables wear out?

Yes, it is possible for optical audio cables to wear out. Like any other piece of technology, although they have many years of lifespan they can still be damaged or stop functioning properly over time. 

This can be due to a variety of factors, such as wear and tear from being plugged in and unplugged, exposure to heat or moisture, or simply age.

How do I know if my optical cable is bad?

There are a few signs that your optical cable may be bad or not functioning properly. These include:

Audio cutouts or interruptions: If you’re experiencing audio cutouts or interruptions when using the cable, it may be a sign that the cable is damaged or not working properly.
Poor sound quality: If the audio coming through the cable sounds distorted, choppy, or otherwise poor quality, it could be a sign that the cable is faulty.
Physical damage: If you notice any visible damage to the cable, such as frayed strands or broken connectors, it could indicate that the cable is no longer working properly.

Is it better to use HDMI or optical for audio?

Both HDMI and optical cables can be used to transmit audio, but there are some differences between the two that may make one a better choice for your specific setup.

In general, HDMI is considered the better choice for audio because it can transmit higher-quality audio, including newer formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. It’s also a single cable solution, which means you can use it to transmit both audio and video signals.

Optical cables, on the other hand, are limited to transmitting basic audio formats like Dolby Digital and PCM. They are also limited in terms of the distance they can transmit audio – typically around 15 feet. However, they have often been considered a more reliable option because they are not as susceptible to interference as HDMI cables.

Does the length of the optical cable affect quality?

It’s worth noting that optical cables are typically limited in terms of the distance they can transmit audio, typically around 15 feet. If you’re using a cable that is much longer than this, it’s possible that the audio quality could be affected.

It’s also worth considering the quality of the cable itself. Higher-quality cables are more reliable and able to transmit audio over long distances without experiencing issues.

On the other hand, lower-quality cables are more prone to issues like audio cutouts or poor sound quality, especially over longer distances.