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

kswanson27

Active Member
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?
 

Thuan

New Member
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:)
 
May 12, 2018
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Hi All,

For those that have implemented a VLAN for streaming, can you please share what the benefit/improvements are?

Thanks in advance.

Geoff
 

altsouza

Well-Known Member
Dec 9, 2014
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0
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Brazil
Hello people,

I recently made some improvements to my Roon Server. I installed Audiolinux, which gave an excellent improvement in Sound, and I also installed a 400w Dc-Atx HDplex in conjunction with Dell's 330w SMPS. I also installed a Ladaptor LPS on the Allo USB Signature Streamer.

The Roon Server is made up of >>> Gigabyte B360n MOBO / 8gbRam / i5 processor / 4tb Hdd.

The Network Chain is: Fiber ISP Modem >> 20m Cat6 >> Tplink Archer 3200 wifi Router >> 20m Cat6 >> Regular Switch (with Lps) >> Roon Server and Allo USBSig. I use Tidal with Roon

Following guidelines of this topic, I will make the following improvements in the Chain, in order of priority.
Any help or opinion in changing the order of priority or changing the components is very welcome:

1) Buy a "Hdplex 300w" (4 rail Lps) for the Roon Server and eventually use a rail for the Allo USB Sig and another rail for upcoming Uptone etherRegen.
2) Buy Uptone ether Regen for Roon Server and Allo USB Sig
3) Include a Jcat net board in Roon Server
4) Replace Allo USB with the new Jcat usb xe, and make the Roon Server an All in one Server/end point unit.

During the upgrade process, I can also bring the ISP Modem near to the Roon Server, to avoid long cables, and I can also use a Hdplex rail to power it. But this modification, despite being free, will give me a lot of work to do.

Any help is welcome.

Thanks

Antonio
 

idesign

New Member
Jul 6, 2020
1
0
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One other switch to consider is the Melco S100 as reported on by @hols and @CKKeung and others. This is the final switch I have been interested in auditioning and I have it now:




This switch actually belongs to @seeteeyou and is the same switch that @hols, @austinpop, @nenon, and perhaps others have evaluated and so this switch is well traveled from Japan to Hong Kong, Chicago, Austin (Texas), and now the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California. This switch can tell some stories, lol.



I actually have a second Melco switch (a Buffalo that uses the exact same board as the Melco that was modded by @nenon) that was sent to me courtesy of @austinpop which has allowed me to evaluate the impact of 2 of these switches. While there are subtle differences between the 2, for my practical purposes, I find them to be equivalent and so I will refer to them as one in this report.

I also presently have a Sonore opticalModule on loan:



I decided to also try an alternative SFP, this time a wide-temperature 10G model from Finisar to compare against the MGB-TLX SFP from planetechusa.com that has been my reference since early February:



I currently have 6 switches on hand in addition to the EdgeRouter and SB8200 modem (and so 8 network devices). Powering each one properly was a challenge but I managed to apply either an SR7 or SR4 rail to each device. In each instance, a better power supply made a significant difference, much larger than differences between Ethernet cabling.

As for the impact of 6 network switches, through repeated addition and subtraction of each switch, it was easy to hear each switch's individual impact. Much has been said about applying your best switch last (closest to your server) but to my ears, the impact of the 1st switch is no less than the impact of the last switch. It's as if the character imposed by the switch on the signal is forever embedded into the signature and this signature can be modulated in some way by subsequent switches but not removed. I'm confident that if I had 10 or 20 switches in series, they would each contribute something. In my case, combining all 6 switches did not provide a net positive.

Is the contribution of a good switch just "isolation?" I'm not so sure. I think each switch is probably offering some isolation but then also imprinting its own noise signature that can either be positive or negative and this new signature becomes embedded to the new signal. With the etherRegen, for example, there is this famous moat that is advertised but once you cross the moat, the output stage of this switch will have its own signature based on the properties of the chipset, clock, resistors, capacitors, PCB traces, dielectric coefficient of the PCB, etc. It turns out network equipment is also prone to considerable EMI emissions that if not properly contained, can significantly impact surrounding components (i.e. other switches and worse, your DAC). As a proof of concept, I entered the "B" side of the eR so as to utilize its moat. I then connected the SFP side of the eR to the SFP side of the Melco. If the eR's moat already is providing supreme isolation, then why is the Melco altering the sound further (and for the better)? This is why I say each switch must be imprinting its own signature and that if you decide to place even 100 switches in your chain, each switch will continue to alter the sound.

I presently do not have the M12 Gold in my possession but I will have it again soon. That switch is just too good not to own and I really miss it. Presently, I have the equivalent of 2 Melco S100s, 2 SOtM sNH-10Gs, an etherRegen, and an oM. To my ears, it almost doesn't matter what order you have them in. If I have the sNH-10G in the first position or the last, I can hear it's qualities quite easily. It offers the best depth of any of the switches I have heard but it also imparts a certain thinness. This thinness was never a problem with my previous servers but it is not a quality I can accept with the Extreme and so I will be moving on from it. For some time now, the etherRegen has been functioning as an FMC in my system as I do not prefer its "B" side with the Extreme. I believe many Extreme owners feel the same way. The eR provides nice body and when powered well, excellent dynamics and liveliness, especially with the MGB-TLX SFPs from planetechusa.com. The oM performs similarly, maybe slightly better and for less money but ultimately, what either the eR or oM offers pale in comparison to what the Melco S100 offers and do not offer the resolution of the Melco. The Melco S100 is very obviously the superior switch to my ears and while this is mostly likely system dependent, dual Melco S100s are even better and so I see my final network configuration finally starting to take shape.

What the Melco S100 offers that no other switch can offer to the same degree is sound staging, dynamics, and fullness. While I do not presently have the M12 Gold in my possession, there is no doubt in my mind it cannot compete with the Melco when it comes to these qualities. With 2 of them in series and when powered by SR7 rails, even at low listening volumes, the dynamics and fullness of the midbass and midrange are just incredible. They are behaving literally like active gain stages but in the digital domain. Moreover, it's not "one note" bass, it's very well defined bass with excellent bass texture that is especially appreciated when listening to a solo cello or double bass. The sound stage and air is also beyond any switch I have heard. With complex large orchestral music, you really get a better sense of the dimensions of the venue. The SOtM comes close and provides better depth and detail delicacy but again sounds thin. In comparison, the eR and oM sound flat and add nothing to what the S100 already brings. My eR will now be retired as well.

Based on the balance of qualities I seek, for now, my anticipated network will look as follows:

SB8200 modem > copper > EdgeRouter > copper > Melco/Buffalo > copper > M12 Gold > copper > Melco/Buffalo > fiber > Extreme.

For my preferences, fiber needs to be somewhere and I prefer it straight to the Extreme and yes, the quality of copper Ethernet cabling still makes a significant difference. As for the SFPs, the more expensive Finisars did not sound as good as the MBG-TLX from planetechusa.com.

Consider the above as one person's perspective. Obviously, YMMV.
I see the EdgeRouter X SFP has been very popular among audiophiles. Can anyone offer thoughts about the EdgeRouters versus a higher end option like the Cisco RV345P?
 

petavgeris

New Member
Apr 16, 2019
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Regarding the above-mentioned comment, I could add my own results here. Short description in a few lines only.

I had been playing around with the Buffalo switches before they got discontinued and before the stock was depleted. All I can write is that I fully agree to the above-mentioned comments. I had also the chance to compare heads-up the Buffalo BS-GS2008 against the Melco S100 switch, which is actually a Buffalo BS-GS2016 with external power supply. Both switches were running with Linear Power Supply. The Buffalos had been slightly modded in terms of software parameters. Factory supplied hardware. All their ports besides two only, were suspended.
In careful listening comparisons they were found to play 100% of what the original Melco does. Two BS-GS2008 were compared against two S100 with same power supplies and same Ethernet cables. After several backs and forths, I can conclude that they have the same sonic flavor and character (or maybe lack of...). Very big soundstage with exceptional layering, air and definition. Mid to bass authority was amazing and for sure it's their biggest benefit. The Buffalos had undergone some software optimization while the Melcos were in original mode. The Buffalos were very slightly more open and 'light' in a way that impacted the overall result slightly less, in a way that 'less is more'.

Some audiophiles had evaluated the Buffalo BS-GS2016 against the Melco S100 and the Buffalo BS-GS2024. They were also found to be the same.

As a conclusion, I would like to double underline in this forum that if you are looking for a top performing network switch, go for any of the Buffalo BS-GS2008, 2016 & 2024 switch that you can find. Without hesitation. Without delays. Stock has almost completely been depleted worldwide but chances are that you will still find some units around. Go and get anything that you can find at any price, it is going to be much less than the price for one Melco S100.

Now, the final aspect...
Inserting one Buffalo switch in your chain leads to a very noticeable, undeniable improvement in SQ.
Inserting two Buffalos in the chain lifts the SQ to completely different, higher levels.
But for the most demanding music aficionados who don't care for cost but only for the results, inserting four Buffalos leads to a completely undiscovered world. To uncharted territories. The difference can be characterized as 'unbelievable', 'enormous'. The sound quality after the insertion of four of any of the BS-GS2008, 16 or 24 models climbs to stratospheric levels that is impossible to reach without the addition of these miracle switches.
Any exception? Well, maybe the M12 Gold switch in quad combo. I haven't listened to this one so far, wish to experience this some day before I leave this mighty world...
 
Likes: IOANNIS

Abyss Man

Active Member
Jun 17, 2019
141
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Regarding the above-mentioned comment, I could add my own results here. Short description in a few lines only.

I had been playing around with the Buffalo switches before they got discontinued and before the stock was depleted. All I can write is that I fully agree to the above-mentioned comments. I had also the chance to compare heads-up the Buffalo BS-GS2008 against the Melco S100 switch, which is actually a Buffalo BS-GS2016 with external power supply. Both switches were running with Linear Power Supply. The Buffalos had been slightly modded in terms of software parameters. Factory supplied hardware. All their ports besides two only, were suspended.
In careful listening comparisons they were found to play 100% of what the original Melco does. Two BS-GS2008 were compared against two S100 with same power supplies and same Ethernet cables. After several backs and forths, I can conclude that they have the same sonic flavor and character (or maybe lack of...). Very big soundstage with exceptional layering, air and definition. Mid to bass authority was amazing and for sure it's their biggest benefit. The Buffalos had undergone some software optimization while the Melcos were in original mode. The Buffalos were very slightly more open and 'light' in a way that impacted the overall result slightly less, in a way that 'less is more'.

Some audiophiles had evaluated the Buffalo BS-GS2016 against the Melco S100 and the Buffalo BS-GS2024. They were also found to be the same.

As a conclusion, I would like to double underline in this forum that if you are looking for a top performing network switch, go for any of the Buffalo BS-GS2008, 2016 & 2024 switch that you can find. Without hesitation. Without delays. Stock has almost completely been depleted worldwide but chances are that you will still find some units around. Go and get anything that you can find at any price, it is going to be much less than the price for one Melco S100.

Now, the final aspect...
Inserting one Buffalo switch in your chain leads to a very noticeable, undeniable improvement in SQ.
Inserting two Buffalos in the chain lifts the SQ to completely different, higher levels.
But for the most demanding music aficionados who don't care for cost but only for the results, inserting four Buffalos leads to a completely undiscovered world. To uncharted territories. The difference can be characterized as 'unbelievable', 'enormous'. The sound quality after the insertion of four of any of the BS-GS2008, 16 or 24 models climbs to stratospheric levels that is impossible to reach without the addition of these miracle switches.
Any exception? Well, maybe the M12 Gold switch in quad combo. I haven't listened to this one so far, wish to experience this some day before I leave this mighty world...
Hi,
I'm already using 2 x soTm switches, do you think it's wise to add a Buffalo GS2008 into the chain? I want to give it a try in all honesty. Do I need to configure the Buffalo switch or is it just plug and play like the soTm switch. I'm not really all that tech savvy especially with switch re-configuration. Thank you Peta.
 
Likes: petavgeris

sale

Well-Known Member
Dec 16, 2014
22
1
53
Toronto
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.
Can you translate tgat into w diagram?
 

rDin

Member
Oct 28, 2019
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It stretching credulity that a never ending number of switches is needed to get to the holy grail of sound. Somebody needs to figure out what is going on here and solve the problem with ONE unit...

I'm using two SoTM each supplied by Farad Super3. Each addition brings clearly higher sound quality, so it seems plausible that another switch or two might indeed raise the bar even higher, but I simply cannot bring myself to go any further down this route...
 

Blackmorec

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2019
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It stretching credulity that a never ending number of switches is needed to get to the holy grail of sound. Somebody needs to figure out what is going on here and solve the problem with ONE unit...

I'm using two SoTM each supplied by Farad Super3. Each addition brings clearly higher sound quality, so it seems plausible that another switch or two might indeed raise the bar even higher, but I simply cannot bring myself to go any further down this route...
i started out with adding a single AQVox SE which for the purpose of illustration lets say brought a 10% SQ improvement when placed in line. Not a huge improvement but easy to hear and well worth the money. Replacing it‘s wallwart SMPS with a Sean Jacobs DC2 added another 15%. Stepping that up to a DC3 with Mundorfs added a further 15-20%. Upgrading the DC cable to a Ghent Audio made Neotech 7N JSSG360 added a further 10% and stepping that up to one of Nenon’s Mundorf Silver/Gold JSSG360 DC cables added yet another 15%. My next step is to upgrade the DC3 with ’Statement‘ transformer, ~Mundorf Silver/Gold wiring, DC4 regulators and DC4 footers.
To put multiple switches in perspective, i would be well satisfied if the addition of switches...2, 3 and 4 brought the same relative level of upgrade as I’ve achieved by upgrading the DC supply. No conclusion....just FYI ~~
 

Abyss Man

Active Member
Jun 17, 2019
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The Mundorf Silver/Gold hook up wire is really a gem. I’m using them too on my 2 units of Farad 3. ( 2 more are arriving hopefully on Tuesday). Mundorf cables are already on standby. LOL. They do take a Long time to break in though. Mine are still breaking in and it’s a hit sometimes and sometimes a miss. It just keeps evolving. Gotta be patient. I was using Neotech Silver solid core cables but this is definitely on another level.
 
Likes: Blackmorec

gipe

New Member
Oct 15, 2019
16
1
3
France
Hello,

Could someone please tell me if the BUFFALO BS-GSP Series BS-GS2008P is a comparable improvement to the models listed above in the Buffalo BS-GS switch list?

Thank you
 
Apr 16, 2019
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Hi,
I'm already using 2 x soTm switches, do you think it's wise to add a Buffalo GS2008 into the chain? I want to give it a try in all honesty. Do I need to configure the Buffalo switch or is it just plug and play like the soTm switch. I'm not really all that tech savvy especially with switch re-configuration. Thank you Peta.
SotM switches are for sure top performers. No doubts.
I have been contacted by one of the greatest network 'gurus' in Greece that switches for audio applications need to be paired for reasons that relate to noise rejection.
So as soon as you have 2x SotMs I can find no reason not to add another pair like the Buffalos. Configuration is not that difficult. Actually it is very easy. They take the IP address 192.168.1.254 if I am right. You can visit their web site, they have full description. So easy.
 
Likes: Abyss Man
Apr 16, 2019
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@petavgeris
Have you any opinion about
ubiquiti edgerouter instead of Buffalo switch?
Have you tried a combo with ubiquiti?
Another two guys that have tried the Ubiquiti switches on another forum, have found them to perform way worse than the Buffalo / Melco switches. They were found to sound a lot more harsh. I tried to listen to them for a while, soundstage of Buffalos was way wider and sound of Ubiquiti was way more thin and bright.
 

kswanson27

Active Member
Nov 22, 2018
119
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Another two guys that have tried the Ubiquiti switches on another forum, have found them to perform way worse than the Buffalo / Melco switches. They were found to sound a lot more harsh. I tried to listen to them for a while, soundstage of Buffalos was way wider and sound of Ubiquiti was way more thin and bright.
Are you talking about the EdgeRouterX set as a switch or a Ubquiti pure switch?
 

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