Network Improvements and their Impact on Sound Quality

The goal of this thread is to share experiences with the Network environment associated with streamed digital music. The hypothesis is that just like other areas of audio, improvements to and optimization of the quality of the network used to stream digital music can have a very positive impact on sound quality. While the underlying principals are relatively straightforward, networking, by virtue of the huge number of variables, is a very complex field. There are many ways to set up a perfectly functioning network and a huge variety of devices that can be employed....i would hope that through this thread and the experience and experimentation of key contributors, we may be able to narrow down the number of devices that are proven to work well for audio applications and develop a few networking concepts that function particularly well for the reproduction of music.
My own personal experience in optimizing my network has led to a number of very positive surprises....
  • large improvements in sound quality do not necessarily require large financial investments...in fact, many times the opposite holds true
  • standard 16/44.1 Redbook format files can sound incredibly good and highly satisfying, musically.....jaw droppingly so
  • internet radio at 128kbps can be hugely entertaining and a brilliant source of new music
  • some of the biggest improvements lie in the most unexpected of places
  • the law of diminishing returns doesn’t seem to operate the same way as classic audio...from a network standpoint, the better and more revealing your system becomes, the greater the impact of future network improvements
  • you may really need to rethink/revise your value scales....for example buying a $500 silver/gold DC cable for a $200 router may be an entirely sound decision (s’cuse the pun)
  • the efficacy of a device is highly dependent on the environment in which it‘s used. Because a device works well in one installation doesn’t necessarily mean it will work well in all installations...there are simply too many variables
  • careful implementation of a network will often achieve superior results compared to chasing the most highly reviewed hi-fi components and installing them in an less than optimum network environment
For the above reasons, I am keen to share networking experiences...I’m looking forward to benefitting from the wealth of knowledge and expertise of this forum’s participants.
 
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Comments

CKKeung

Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2011
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Hong Kong
It's the final sonic performance which we hear being most important.
I always keep my mind open.
But my motto is : no try no buy.
By doing so there will be zero risk.
:)
 
It's the final sonic performance which we hear being most important.
I always keep my mind open.
But my motto is : no try no buy.
By doing so there will be zero risk.
:)
CK - What have you had the chance to audition and settle-on?

I settled on a SOtM switch with upgrades powered by my Dynamo LPS driving a SOtM Ethernet cable with filter. I also use the switch to drive my Smart TV with good results. Kamal at SOtM USA is a friend and lives not too far away.

The Router that drives the SOtM switch is also modded and powered from a Dynamo LPS. Cables from Rouiter to switch are my initial picks: Wireworld platinum .5m Ethernet cable to an isolator and then 2M WW Platinum cable to the SOtM switch. I've tried substituting and rearranging all of the cables and the isolator, but this seems to yield the best result. Not quite as good as my XMOS galvanically isolated USB, but very close.
 

sbo6

Well-Known Member
May 19, 2014
983
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Round Rock, TX
There are literally hundreds of posts on this forum and on Audiophile Style, including evaluations of all the most popular switches and their effect on sound quality.
if you are interested in researching the subject there‘s enough information on these 2 sites to keep you busy for weeks. What do switches do? They clean up your audio stream of HF noise and jitter essentially by resynthesizing the data stream. In addition, depending on the format used they may provide isolation from other network traffic and/or galvanic isolation from the network’s hardware borne noise. The cleaner the incoming stream the more accurate the resynthesis so chaining these devices is essentially a series refinement process. The people posting about these switches are mainly reporting the results of their implementation, so most of the reports have a before and after format. A few expert posters have actually compared a variety of different switches and evaluated their efficacy both alone and in various combinations, so their reports are particularly helpful in knowing what to expect from a given unit. Of course you can set up a digital chain with no clean up devices, but then miss out on one of digital‘s biggest advantages over analog...namely the ability to purify and recondition the data stream.
You are incorrect in what switches' primary functions is, as you put it, "What switches do?" Switches, similar to hubs act as a consolidation point for multiple network connections. So - called smart switches have management capabilities (VLAN,) and other functions such as traffic control, etc.. Due to the common designs implementing transformers they may clean up noise but that's not their primary purpose. If it was I'd shut my mouth and nod my head. As such, it's an additive component and adding something can do good and / or bad. That's my point and petervergeris' point. We're asking about the other side of the coin - who has quantifiably compared direct connecting versus adding switch(es). I'd think it would warrant at least as much attention, but IMO I think people like to try the latest gadget rather than implementing KISS, I could be wrong. Either way no argument, interesting input and as someone above maybe this is a topic for another thread. Apologies for any derailing, Happy Listening and peace and love!
 
Likes: petavgeris
Apr 16, 2019
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You can go which ever route you choose. No one is suggesting other wise. In this thread no one is saying do this or do that. We are sharing our experiences so that others that would like to experiment might have some sign posts from those who have gone before.

Enjoy whichever route you might choose. Do what works for you and allows you to enjoy your music. But please don't disparage all of us who have found wonders of upticks in performance on the network side of the equation and especially from this thread.
Hello and thanks for your comment.
Maybe the keyboard is not the best way of expressing what I would like to write.
The original thought is what should I benefit as soon as my components are in series one after the other.
The router/switch is way back in the beginning of the signal. What I do not understand correctly is the following:
Should I benefit in case I am not connecting the components directly one after the other but making each connection through a network switch? Just asking for opinions because I am inexperienced in this thing, nothing else...
I think that I now have some more clues here.
Thanks a lot. I will try next week.
Thanks again!
 
Apr 16, 2019
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Peter, if you did a test and listen what the m12 switch gold does in a system that plays local files, you wouldn't be posting this. The advantage is clear after 5 seconds.

And I came all the way from direct Ethernet connection in JPLAY dual PC mode since in was introduced in 2012, through developing the NET Card FEMTO and improving Ethernet cables.

Sure, direct Ethernet connection, without the switch, sounds nice. But as soon as you connect the switch, you realize the sound you were gettning before was flat.
I have read that the switch M12 is a stellar performer. No question about it.
My point is how could my system benefit of this switch? I have 2 systems, going back and forth. Now I am playing with Euphony in dual pc set up, at home I have a new dual pc setup under development, where I will be using Windows/Jplay. In both cases I am using a serial connection. Without a switch. The primary usage of a switch is to distribute packets, but here we have only one source and one end point each time. Where should a switch be installed? At the beginning of the signal? If my NAS and the control pc was on the switch, of course things would be different, but now where should I try a switch?
Thank you in advance.
 

Blackmorec

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2019
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You are incorrect in what switches' primary functions is, as you put it, "What switches do?" Switches, similar to hubs act as a consolidation point for multiple network connections. So - called smart switches have management capabilities (VLAN,) and other functions such as traffic control, etc.. Due to the common designs implementing transformers they may clean up noise but that's not their primary purpose. If it was I'd shut my mouth and nod my head. As such, it's an additive component and adding something can do good and / or bad. That's my point and petervergeris' point. We're asking about the other side of the coin - who has quantifiably compared direct connecting versus adding switch(es). I'd think it would warrant at least as much attention, but IMO I think people like to try the latest gadget rather than implementing KISS, I could be wrong. Either way no argument, interesting input and as someone above maybe this is a topic for another thread. Apologies for any derailing, Happy Listening and peace and love!
As a first port of call may i suggest you take a look at the EtherRegen from Uptone Audio. Its designer John Swenson has written a number of very interesting articles about network noise, jitter and phase noise that are well worth reading.
Regarding your question about direct connection i would guess that most of the people posting on this site about switches started out with direct connections and discovered the benefits of network-optimization-for-audio by trialling and evaluating various switches, modems and power supplies in their Individual systems.
The thing about networking is that there are a fairly large number of different ways to achieve the same goal. What most people here are concerned with is finding the way that results in the best sound quality from their audio system, to an often quite obsessive degree. Many started the journey by implementing a particular Cisco switch, which was really the first switch where the vast majority of audiophiles who tried it reporting hearing significant SQ improvements. In the interim many switches designed specifically for audio have come to market. One point to bear in mind....there are probably hundreds of different network switches on the market but only a few specifically designed to improve the SQ of audio systems. The first of the ‘audiophile’ switches were nothing more than modified consumer networking switches, but since then several ‘purpose built designs‘ have been released. In my post above its this additional, audiophile relevant functionality I mentioned....to quote from Martin Colloms review of the AQVox SE’
“Particular features of the modified AqVox switch include special filtering, and internal RF
noise suppression. Waveform shaping was used to optimise data transfer by reducing reflections. AqVox also suggested I should try fitting a 1mm single strand ground cable, from the switch box rear screw to a local power plug ground connection, which could lower the already low noise floor. Modifications were encapsulated in a resin. Our SE version has a phase corrector, and an optimised clock that is said to have lowered jitter.“
So its these additional features that are of interest to audiophiles, not just the basic network functionality, which is very often not even technically required, especially when switches are ganged together. In fact, in a large number of installations only 2 ports are used, the incoming and outgoing audio stream.
 
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Jan 16, 2013
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Hello and thanks for your comment.
Maybe the keyboard is not the best way of expressing what I would like to write.
The original thought is what should I benefit as soon as my components are in series one after the other.
The router/switch is way back in the beginning of the signal. What I do not understand correctly is the following:
Should I benefit in case I am not connecting the components directly one after the other but making each connection through a network switch? Just asking for opinions because I am inexperienced in this thing, nothing else...
I think that I now have some more clues here.
Thanks a lot. I will try next week.
Thanks again!
Hi Petav,

I have a VERY strong opinion on this. That is I would have no idea other than if I was in your space and tried it. There are certain switches and LPSs that have had very many people try them in their networks with outstanding upticks in sonic quality. Although I think it depends on the entire network, your power (clean/dirty), the rest of your system, even your room and especially YOUR ears.

There is just no way of knowing how much of a benefit and exactly what sonic benefit that you will/might derive from a certain switch, cable or LPS and where they are inserted in your chain.

This is just my two cents and I have no idea of the results you might reap, but if possible it can't hurt to give it a try and then you will know one way or the other.

All the best!

Bob
 
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Likes: petavgeris

Blackmorec

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2019
268
326
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It's the final sonic performance which we hear being most important.
I always keep my mind open.
But my motto is : no try no buy.
By doing so there will be zero risk.
:)
I completely agree. As networks become more fully evolved, not every recommended device will bring improvements in every single network.
In my case I use an AQVox SE to which I have added a highly upgraded Linear Power Supply, specialist earth, specialist DC cable, an ethernet cable that is part of a complete loom and vibration control. The resulting sound is light years away from the original OEM switch and PS. Before I move to a different switch.....`Melco or M12 Gold for example I‘d need to try them in comparison to what I already have. Also, upgrading the LPS to something like a Sean Jacobs DC4 may bring greater benefits than an upgraded switch, even though the upgraded switch may be superior to the AQVox. With networks its the ‘sum-of-the-parts‘ that is the sound quality determining factor. Simply jumping to the flavour-of-the-day component is certainly no guarantee of achieving the optimum SQ.
 
Apr 16, 2019
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Hi guys.
I apologize for my new post, but I really can't get it.
Please take into account that I have nothing against anybody here. I have nothing against routers, switches, ultra expensive cables, insanely expensive streamers, etc. Really nothing. I am trying to do my best to ask for help, to ask for a hint, in the most simple and understandable way. Whatever I am asking for, the reply is always out of subject. Either to evaluate switch A or B, or a reply something like 'my LPS lifted the sound to higher levels', etc. When somebody asks me the simplest question of all "how's my system going to benefit of your Single Ended Triode Preamplifier or Power Amplifier", I am always trying to express the details in no more than 30 seconds. Clear, understandable, simple, honest and straightforward reply that would make him understand what's going on without hesitation. Here I am asking for the most simple of all but still I have yet to receive something as described above. Again: I am not asking which switch should I buy, if LPS do make a positive difference, etc.
I am asking for simplest thing of all:
I am using my current system not to stream but to listen only locally through my NAS. The current situation is linear:

Router > copper > NAS (bridged NICs) > copper > Music server (bridged NICs) > copper > Music Endpoint > Pink Faun I2s > DAC.

The question is should I benefit of going the other way as described below? If yes, then an additional 'perhaps due to factor #1, factor #2' would be so grateful, not deep explanations, just 1-2 simple words.
Please try to send me a very quick reply. Even a simple 'Yes' might be more than enough!

I thank you in advance.
Peter
 

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Blackmorec

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2019
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Hi guys.
I apologize for my new post, but I really can't get it.
Please take into account that I have nothing against anybody here. I have nothing against routers, switches, ultra expensive cables, insanely expensive streamers, etc. Really nothing. I am trying to do my best to ask for help, to ask for a hint, in the most simple and understandable way. Whatever I am asking for, the reply is always out of subject. Either to evaluate switch A or B, or a reply something like 'my LPS lifted the sound to higher levels', etc. When somebody asks me the simplest question of all "how's my system going to benefit of your Single Ended Triode Preamplifier or Power Amplifier", I am always trying to express the details in no more than 30 seconds. Clear, understandable, simple, honest and straightforward reply that would make him understand what's going on without hesitation. Here I am asking for the most simple of all but still I have yet to receive something as described above. Again: I am not asking which switch should I buy, if LPS do make a positive difference, etc.
I am asking for simplest thing of all:
I am using my current system not to stream but to listen only locally through my NAS. The current situation is linear:

Router > copper > NAS (bridged NICs) > copper > Music server (bridged NICs) > copper > Music Endpoint > Pink Faun I2s > DAC.

The question is should I benefit of going the other way as described below? If yes, then an additional 'perhaps due to factor #1, factor #2' would be so grateful, not deep explanations, just 1-2 simple words.
Please try to send me a very quick reply. Even a simple 'Yes' might be more than enough!

I thank you in advance.
Peter
Hi Peter,
If that was my system, I would send a message to Superdad at the Uptone Audio Forum on Audiophile Style and ask him how best to implement an EtherRegeN in your specific environment. Why this route?
  • The EtherRegen is one of the best value for money devices on the market today
  • Its reported as being extremely effective by the majority of audiophiles who‘ve tried it
  • Its simple and easy to use, has a small footprint and comes with its own PS.
  • I believe it comes with a 30 day trial period....money back if not satisfied (check the terms with Superdad)
Whether you find the EtherRegen beneficial or not depends entirely on how much noise and jitter your system is picking up and generating internally.
Get an EtherRegen, implement it following Superdad’s recommendations and get back to us on how you find it. I would be very surprised if you didn’t hear a fairly major improvement, given the ubiquitous nature of EMI and RFI and the fact that most network devices generate noise, but there are cases where no improvement was noted, so in the end, only you can say, after you’ve tried it ;)
Hope this answers your question.

FYI I have absolutely nothing to do with Uptone Audio....its just what I’d do in your situation
 
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Hi guys.
I apologize for my new post, but I really can't get it.
Please take into account that I have nothing against anybody here. I have nothing against routers, switches, ultra expensive cables, insanely expensive streamers, etc. Really nothing. I am trying to do my best to ask for help, to ask for a hint, in the most simple and understandable way. Whatever I am asking for, the reply is always out of subject. Either to evaluate switch A or B, or a reply something like 'my LPS lifted the sound to higher levels', etc. When somebody asks me the simplest question of all "how's my system going to benefit of your Single Ended Triode Preamplifier or Power Amplifier", I am always trying to express the details in no more than 30 seconds. Clear, understandable, simple, honest and straightforward reply that would make him understand what's going on without hesitation. Here I am asking for the most simple of all but still I have yet to receive something as described above. Again: I am not asking which switch should I buy, if LPS do make a positive difference, etc.
I am asking for simplest thing of all:
I am using my current system not to stream but to listen only locally through my NAS. The current situation is linear:

Router > copper > NAS (bridged NICs) > copper > Music server (bridged NICs) > copper > Music Endpoint > Pink Faun I2s > DAC.

The question is should I benefit of going the other way as described below? If yes, then an additional 'perhaps due to factor #1, factor #2' would be so grateful, not deep explanations, just 1-2 simple words.
Please try to send me a very quick reply. Even a simple 'Yes' might be more than enough!

I thank you in advance.
Peter
Using the Switch to Renderer/Endpoint is preferred over the Server to Endpoint. This is most the critical connection. If you are using a good audiophile switch, this should be better.
 

Thuan

New Member
Apr 20, 2020
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5
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Hi guys.
I apologize for my new post, but I really can't get it.
Please take into account that I have nothing against anybody here. I have nothing against routers, switches, ultra expensive cables, insanely expensive streamers, etc. Really nothing. I am trying to do my best to ask for help, to ask for a hint, in the most simple and understandable way. Whatever I am asking for, the reply is always out of subject. Either to evaluate switch A or B, or a reply something like 'my LPS lifted the sound to higher levels', etc. When somebody asks me the simplest question of all "how's my system going to benefit of your Single Ended Triode Preamplifier or Power Amplifier", I am always trying to express the details in no more than 30 seconds. Clear, understandable, simple, honest and straightforward reply that would make him understand what's going on without hesitation. Here I am asking for the most simple of all but still I have yet to receive something as described above. Again: I am not asking which switch should I buy, if LPS do make a positive difference, etc.
I am asking for simplest thing of all:
I am using my current system not to stream but to listen only locally through my NAS. The current situation is linear:

Router > copper > NAS (bridged NICs) > copper > Music server (bridged NICs) > copper > Music Endpoint > Pink Faun I2s > DAC.

The question is should I benefit of going the other way as described below? If yes, then an additional 'perhaps due to factor #1, factor #2' would be so grateful, not deep explanations, just 1-2 simple words.
Please try to send me a very quick reply. Even a simple 'Yes' might be more than enough!

I thank you in advance.
Peter
Here's a humble experience from a newbie to this forum. I play local files exclusively. DualPC, each having a JCAT FEMTO netcard connected directly to each other. The controlPC's second network adapter, OCXO clocked, is connected to home network so I can use wifi tablet to control playback. Moving wifi access point downstairs, separated by FMCS, improved the SQ noticeably. Putting an OCXO clocked dual switch in front if the server (controlPC), another OCXO clocked switch after firewall, all powered by LPSUs, and lately replacing Comcast all in one model/router with Arris SB8200, made me oh so happy.

In one word: TRY.
 

brad225

VIP/Donor
Nov 22, 2012
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Can one of you make a recommendation for a high quality RG6 to use as a main run to my listening room. It will be replacing a basic Home Depot RG6. installing good terminations myself is not a problem.
 

sbo6

Well-Known Member
May 19, 2014
983
103
105
Round Rock, TX
Regarding your question about direct connection i would guess that most of the people posting on this site about switches started out with direct connections and discovered the benefits of network-optimization-for-audio by trialling and evaluating various switches, modems and power supplies in their Individual systems.
From what I've read in CA and here, the opposite is true. Most folks likely don't even know that direct connect is even possible since no-one direct connects (other than the occasional older IT pro which years back required a patch cable, I date myself, I know). Everyone expects to use a switch so that becomes the defacto setup. I will say the ether regen is intriguing as is the Aqua Audio LINQ which has a switch built into the streaming device.
 
Likes: petavgeris
Jan 16, 2013
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Hi, I don't. Because when I got the SGC that I first used it had a bunch of adapters and I just took off the one that fit, but the sizes were not marked.
 

2ndLiner

Active Member
Dec 16, 2015
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I am having ATT install fibre optic cable this weekend. For streaming I've been using DSL with an inexpensive modem and router which actually has been sounding very good. For the ONT, ATT gives you either a Pace 5268 or an Arris BGW 210-700. Does anyone have experience with either one of these models or have any suggestions regarding using fibre optics for audio. I'm definitely a neophyte in this area. Thanks!
 
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audiopie

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