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Return Loss and Digital Audio

Digital audio requires cables made to a specific impedance, 110 ohms for twisted pairs and 75 ohms for coaxial cable. But what happens when cables are the wrong impedance or are damaged or otherwise have their impedance altered? Changes in impedance can affect the signal traveling down a cable and makes a portion of the signal reflect back to the source, called 'return loss'. This paper will show how, and when, return loss can occur, how it is measured, and how it affects digital audio systems. A return loss specification is suggested as a possible addition to the AES specifications for both equipment and cable.

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