I’m probably in need of more expert advice from @haggis. But the powered TOSLINK splitter works GREAT! The Samsung Blu-ray player is set to produce lossless PCM sound that can be automatically downsampled and is produced in Surround Compatible format. The Yamaha amplifier says it’s getting 6 channel sound from it’s TOSLINK branch and I’m getting great, VERY clear stereo from the ReSound TV Streamer 2 getting the other branch of the TOSLINK feed from the splitter.
The puzzle where Haggis might weigh in is the speech coming out of the Yamaha speakers is now clearer than ever. Not very careful, controlled experimentation here but two unsubstantiated thoughts come to mind. One is that I must have at least 10 to 12 feet of TOSLINK cable that I used originally to hook the Yamaha amplifier up to the digital audio out of the TV. And I never dusted the cable ends before. So now I have hooked this humongous length of cable from the TV up to the splitter, which is essentially a repeater and reamplifies the signal, I presume. And also on the cable end taken out of the amplifier, I blew it with compressed gas to chase away any fine dust that might have leaked into the connection over the past 11 years it was plugged into the amplifier (I also air-dusted off the TOSLINK port doors before making any new connection).
I read what Haggis said about digital transmission being all or none (same as over-the-air digital TV reception - a lot less sensitive to noise than good ol’ analog broadcasts). But I’m wondering whether the incredibly better sound that I’m getting now out of the amplifier and the speakers isn’t the result of the amping repeater function of the splitter and/or me dusting off the connector ends. Any advice from anyone on the care and feeding of optical connections is welcome.
Since all this “careful” experimentation is just based on watching the opening scenes of An Officer and a Gentleman (Blu-ray version), I probably should watch a bunch of other Netflix disc movies before I get too excited about the results. But so far, I’m really glad that I got the ReSound TV Streamer 2, the powered TOSLINK splitter, and actually went to the trouble of checking in what format the Samsung Blu-ray player was set to produce digital audio!
Edit_Update: What may be involved with the improved sound is the BEND RADIUS of my original very long TOSLINK cable. I didn’t pay attention to how and if I bent the cable to any significant extent (too much bending in the extreme can break the fiber optical path). When I pushed the amplifier back into its shelf, I may have caused the fiber to bend in a pretty abrupt 90 degree turn as the amplifier pushed up against the rear wall of the cabinet. Similarly with coiling up the rest of the excess cable behind the TV stand, there may have been one or two relatively abrupt U-turn bends, curved but of a relatively short turning radius. Reading blogs, depending on the nature of the (usually) plastic optic fiber in the TOSLINK cable, each cable has a “certified” bend radius, below which there is likely to be transmission loss internally as you try to reflect light around a bend while bouncing off the interior “walls” of the fiber. What I’ve read says that the allowable bend radius is usually > 1 to 1.5 inches. So now, rather than having any relatively abrupt bends, I have my excess cable length looped in big circles - I probably should get a much shorter length cable that can run relatively straight from TV to TOSLINK splitter. Again, what I’ve been reading agrees with Haggis’ pronouncement that transmission is usually ALL or NONE but perhaps with my previous cable kinks, I was closer to none than to all. And repeaters (such as the TOSLINK splitter has) are suggested as a fix for transmission problems over distance. So in setting up my TV streamer, I lucked out in buying a repeater to boost signal strength and I greatly unbent a much too long TOSLINK cable that I had unthinkingly twisted this way and that to stuff into a narrow space.
Another interesting tidbit that I read is that if there is transmission loss in Dolby Digital 5.1, transmission will shut down to protect your amplifier and speakers from reading corrupted data that is interpreted as “turn up the volume to the max.” But DD 5.1 is the low man on the codec quality totem pole. I wonder if PCM transmission shuts down in the same way from some internal checksum or such? My previous signal certainly sounded a bit degraded to what I hear now so I doubt PCM safeguards the audio setup in the same way that DD 5.1 is supposed to.
The following site has some pretty good, thorough explanations of Home Audio that might help other beginners like me: PCM Audio in Home Theater (see further topics at bottom of article, for example).