A TOSLINK fiber optic audio cable being illuminated on one end
Several types of fiber can be used for TOSLINK: inexpensive 1 mm plastic optical fiber, higher-quality multistrand plastic optical fibers, or quartz glass optical fibers, depending on the desired bandwidth and application. TOSLINK cables are usually limited to 5 meters in length, with a technical maximum of 10 meters, for reliable transmission without the use of a signal booster or a repeater. However, it is very common for interfaces on newer consumer electronics (satellite receivers and PCs with optical outputs) to easily run over 30 meters on even low-cost (0.82 USD/m 2009) TOSLINK cables. TOSLINK transmitters operate at a nominal optical wavelength of 650 nm (~461.2 THz).
A mini-TOSLINK adapter
Mini-TOSLINK is a standardized optical fiber connector smaller than the standard square TOSLINK connector commonly used in larger consumer audio equipment. The plug is almost the same size and shape as the ubiquitous 3.5 mm stereo minijack. Adapters are available to connect a full-size TOSLINK plug to a mini-TOSLINK socket. Combined 3.5 mm jack and mini-TOSLINK sockets exist which can accept a 3.5 mm jack or a mini-TOSLINK plug; mini-TOSLINK plugs are made 0.5 mm longer than electrical jack plugs so that the latter are too short to touch and damage the LED of combined connectors. Many laptop computer and portable digital audio equipment models, such as the Google Chromecast Audio device and Apple AirPort Express and iPod Hi-Fi, use these connectors that allow for the insertion of 3.5 mm analog (electrical) headphone output or microphone input or mini-TOSLINK digital (optical) output.
TOSLINK connector (JIS F05)
Toshiba originally created TOSLINK to connect their CD players to the receivers they manufactured, for PCM audio streams. The software layer is based on the «Sony/Philips Digital Interface» (S/PDIF), while the hardware layer utilizes a fiber optic transmission system, rather than the electrical (copper) hardware layer of S/PDIF. TOSLINK was soon adopted by manufacturers of most CD players. It can often be found on video source (DVD and Blu-ray players, cable boxes and game consoles) to connect the digital audio stream to Dolby Digital/DTS decoders.
The name is a registered trademark of Toshiba, created from TOShiba-LINK. Variations of the name, such as TOSlink, TosLink, and Tos-link, are also seen, while the official generic name for the standard is EIAJ optical.
ADAT Lightpipe or simply ADAT Optical uses an optical transmission system similar to TOSLINK, and is used in the professional music/audio industry. While the ADAT Lightpipe format uses the same JIS F05 connectors as TOSLINK, the ADAT Lightpipe data format is not compatible with S/PDIF.