What Is S/PDIF? A Basic Definition

(Image credit: asadykov/Shutterstock)

S/PDIF stands for Sony/Philips Digital Interface. In the photo above, the S/PDIF port is on the right side.

S/PDIF is an optical audio cable format that allows the transfer of digital audio signals from device to device without needing to convert to an analog signal first. This is beneficial since such a conversion can hurt audio quality.

S/PDIF ports are included on some motherboards, particularly a lot of high-end motherboards, although they are rarely used. You can also find them on certain laptops and desktop gaming PCs, sometimes in the same jack as the headphone jack.

This article is part of the Tom's Hardware Glossary.

Further reading:

Scharon Harding

Scharon Harding has a special affinity for gaming peripherals (especially monitors), laptops and virtual reality. Previously, she covered business technology, including hardware, software, cyber security, cloud and other IT happenings, at Channelnomics, with bylines at CRN UK.

  • milosz
    S/PDIF or SPDIF is NOT only optical. And electrical form of SPDIF also exists, usually carried by an RCA socket marked "Digital" or "SPDIF COAX"
  • maxh22
    Have you completely forgotten that there is a SPDIF Toslink output you totally neglected to mention?
  • serfonteinandre
    and on the board shown here, it is actually the port above the display ports