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

Nov 22, 2018
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You're absolutely right, we all need Wifi to use a control point such as iPad or android tablet for remote or headless playback. What others tried to convey here, to my understanding, is to separate the Wifi functionality from your audio handling router. Let some other device such as another Wifi capable router or an Access Point do that exact task: Access Point. That's what they mean by suggesting you turn off Wifi on your router.

Here's what I'd do, to put it in a simplistic way: connect a non Wifi router to custom switch. If cable lenghth is an issue, consider FMCs. Also to the switch I'd connect a Wifi access point. The custom switch will "buffer" your router from Wifi, I'd get better SQ that way.

Similarly, I've got better SQ when replacing ISP supplied all in one cable modem/wifi router with a pure modem such as SB8200, connecting its output to a pure router, connecting the router to a custom switch, etc. You get the picture.
And what do you use for a source? A dedicated cable service?
 
Apr 20, 2020
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I've tried but eventually didn't subscribe to Qobuz. Instead, I'm running a dualPC setup, streaming local music files from controlPC (Streamer) onto audioPC (endpoint) via copper Ethernet cable. ControlPC is also connected to home router via audio switch and OpticalModule so I can access controlPC via Wifi.
 
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Jan 16, 2013
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Hi Rob,

I appreciate the problem with the changing baseline.:p

Would it be convenient enough to just connect Extreme to the Waversa W Router directly; bypassing the two M12's to see if there's a profound drop-off in SQ?

I think the two M12's made a huge improvement in your previous setup especially with the Optimo 3 Duo PS.

Geoff

ps. is the Verizon router still in play?
Hi Geoff,

The Verizon router is no longer in play. I go from the Verizon Fios ONT (optical network terminal) with a lan cable into the Waversa W router and then to the switches.

The M12's made an improvement for sure, but adding the LPSs to the switches was either more profound.

I can't get myself to bypass the two M12 switches/dual LPSs and try the Waversa by itself. I will I'm just not ready. Like standing on the diving board not quite ready to jump yet:)
 
Likes: heebrog

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