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Connectors

There are a wide range of connectors in both the audio world and the computer world. The list that follows makes no attempt to be an exhaustive list; rather this list will attempt to identify the various connectors that the average minidisc user is likely to encounter when attempting to record to minidisc. 

Connectors mentioned on this page:

Digital DIN RCA
Game port TOSLINK
MIDI port USB
Miniplug

 

.Digital DIN ...

Digital DIN

Some soundcards include a jack called "Digital DIN". This is a special connector which allows the computer to be connected with a surround sound audio system, which includes a subwoofer. This is becoming more and more popular as more consumers are becoming aware of "environmental audio". However, this is related to speakers and sound reproduction, and beyond the scope of this website. Wherever a digital DIN exists in an illustration, it will be mentioned but not discussed.
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.Game port  
Game port In addition to audio, most soundcards also have a game port, like the one pictured here. This web page does not attempt to talk about game ports or games, which would be a topic that could occupy several web pages in itself. Therefore, whenever there is a game port shown in one of the illustrations on this site, it will be mentioned but not discussed in detail.
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.MIDI
MIDI In/Out Some high-end soundcards have Midi in/out jacks, like the ones pictured here. "Midi" means "Musical Instrument Digital Interface" and is beyond the scope of this website. Therefore when any illustrations in this site include Midi connectors, they are labeled but not discussed.
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.Miniplug  
Miniplug jack

Miniplug

Probably the most commonly seen connector, this is the most difficult type of connector to define because there are actually several different types of miniplugs but they all look the same to the untrained eye. Miniplug connectors are used in all kinds of applications. In general, the exterior of the miniplug is a small hole that looks the same as a headphone jack. Essentially it IS a headphone jack that is also being used for other purposes. Miniplugs can be used for any of the following:

  • Coaxial digital (SP/DIF) in jack
  • Coaxial digital (SP/DIF) out jack
  • Headphone jack
  • Line-in jack
  • Line-out jack
  • Microphone jack
  • Optical digital (SP/DIF) in jack
  • Optical digital (SP/DIF) out jack
  • Speaker jack (on computers)
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.RCA Jack  
RCA jack

RCA plug

The RCA jack is the single most common connector in the world of home audio; however it is far less common in computer audio (mostly due to its size). Like the 1/8-inch miniplug, it has a variety of applications, including:

  • Coaxial digital (SP/DIF) in jack
  • Coaxial digital (SP/DIF) out jack
  • Line-in jack
  • Line-out jack
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.TOSLINK  
TOSLINK jack

TOSLINK jack

TOSLINK plug

The TOSLINK connector is a relatively new entry into both the world of computer audio and the home hi-fi arena. Developed by Toshiba for the purpose of transmitting digital audio signals, it has become the standard for digital input into portable minidisc recorders. (Unfortunately, it has not also become a standard for digital output from those same recorders!) TOSLINK jacks are covered with a small plastic cap; removing the cap exposes the TOSLINK optical connector inside. A TOSLINK output will glow bright red when it is being powered, and likewise TOSLINK cables also glow bright red at their tip when they are in use. TOSLINK cables are not made of wire but rather a piece of fiber optic cable -- that is, a very thin thread of glass. All TOSLINK connectors conform to the SP/DIF (Sony Philips Digital Interface) standard, a digital protocol designed to ensure compatibility between home digital audio devices.

Unfortunately, portable minidisc recorders are not fitted with a TOSLINK plug, so a special TOSLINK-to-miniplug cable is needed in order to use TOSLINK with a minidisc recorder. See the section on cables for further details on this.

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.USB port  
USB port The USB port is a standard computer connector designed for many computer uses; the fact that it can be used for computer audio is just one of the USB port's many uses. The USB port, when used in computer audio is used only as an audio out, although there are professional audio devices that can also use it as a line "in". It can be used as either analog or digital optical, depending on the equipment that is connected to it.
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