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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dipstef

New Member
Nov 16, 2019
3
4
3
39
There has been a lot of mentions to the EdgeRouter X-SFP, I eventually got one and it's a great little device!

I'd just be curious to know if anyone has tried higher Ubiquity router models like EdgeRouter 12 with 2 SFP ports or have similar recommendations.

In the spirt as @nenon great post: #245

I wanted to try something along these lines, In order to isolate both home and audio networks through optical connections:


Cable Modem -> EdgeRouter 12 -> (SFP) -> EtherRegen (Audio Network)
******************************** |-> (SFP) EdgeRouter X-SFP (Home Network, WIFI)

Assuming that EdgeRouter12 could be also fed with a 12v power supply (I use Hynes SR4 for all three network components in the audio chain) and similar noise levels as the X-SFP I believe this solution should suits me well for the time being.

Another solution I had in mind would be to have the EdgeRouter X-SFP connected to the modem and have an intermediate switch (as the Buffalo BS-GS2016 mentioned above), while not excited to increase the box and LPS count by 1, I can consider it there's reasonable gains.

Let me know if you have any thoughts/suggestions
 
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ray-dude

Active Member
Dec 8, 2019
51
103
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I started with EdgeRouter 10x (to get more ports for my home network) and was very happy with the result. Following the experience of @nenon and others, I returned that to Amazon and got 2 ERX SFPs. That was a step up still, as I was able to use a short optical run between the SFP ports to optically isolate the second ERX from my audio ERX (I run the second ERX as a simple switch, with my home ethernet network and home WiFi)

I did experiment with ERX SFP to SFP on my Extreme, with copper connecting the cascaded ERX's, but I prefered optically isolating the ERX's, and using a Sonore opticalModule to connect via fiber to my Extreme.
 
Mar 31, 2019
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I use Edgerouter 4x
which I feed with a Sbooster 12v,
Has removed the internal switched power supply,
Easy to do,
Can say that it is a clear improvement over the internal switched PS

The big advantage of x4 is that it is a pure router without a built-in switch

Have previously tried the smaller ERX -SFP but then thought it sounded thin,
But most of all, the performance was too weak,
 

FredM

New Member
Dec 28, 2019
15
9
3
There has been a lot of mentions to the EdgeRouter X-SFP, I eventually got one and it's a great little device!

I'd just be curious to know if anyone has tried higher Ubiquity router models like EdgeRouter 12 with 2 SFP ports or have similar recommendations.

In the spirt as @nenon great post: #245

I wanted to try something along these lines, In order to isolate both home and audio networks through optical connections:


Cable Modem -> EdgeRouter 12 -> (SFP) -> EtherRegen (Audio Network)
******************************** |-> (SFP) EdgeRouter X-SFP (Home Network, WIFI)

Assuming that EdgeRouter12 could be also fed with a 12v power supply (I use Hynes SR4 for all three network components in the audio chain) and similar noise levels as the X-SFP I believe this solution should suits me well for the time being.

Another solution I had in mind would be to have the EdgeRouter X-SFP connected to the modem and have an intermediate switch (as the Buffalo BS-GS2016 mentioned above), while not excited to increase the box and LPS count by 1, I can consider it there's reasonable gains.

Let me know if you have any thoughts/suggestions
As an alternative for the ER12, perhaps you could have a look at the Juniper SRX300. This is a router which uses the same chip as in the Buffalo GS20xx switches / Melco switch (all credits for @seeteeyou for finding this).

Besides the router function and ‘magic’ switch chip there are SRX models with 2 SFP ports and DC input. So optical separation as you mention should possible. Next to the Juniper the revision C1 of D-Link DGS-1210 series also contain the specific chip, but I’m not sure about the router function.

https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/...eaming/page/665/?tab=comments#comment-1058809

Unclear (for me):
- both the Juniper and D-Link models are introduced about 5 years ago, don’t know if this could be a concern.
- the switch end could be good, but what about the router end (compared with EdgeR?)
- Juniper is a professional brand, for professional users. Are novice/amateur users able to configure the device.
 
Likes: dipstef
Jul 22, 2020
2
2
3
48
Hi everyone, thought I'd drop in my 2 cents worth. As my username implies, I am an audio dealer and no I'm not here to sell you anything. :) Just want to participate in intelligent discussions and offer some of my expertise if/when it's useful.

This topic is one of my recent favourites and it's been so much fun watching customer's eyes almost pop out of their head in disbelief when it was demonstrated at what kind of an improvement a network switch can make in a hifi system. We recently discovered Ansuz PowerSwitch network switches and have not looked back since.

So how can a network switch improve the sound of a system? The answer is simple - noise. Imagine how many miles of wire and how many servers/switches a signal has to pass through after it leaves Tidal or Qobuz before arriving at your home. Then it goes into your router which has a noisy power supply, then it goes through a basic network switch which has a noisy power supply and finally it makes its way into your pristine network audio player with low noise power supply, custom motherboard, hand selected ram, etc. All these great steps that the manufacturer of your player took to give you the best possible sound but the source you feed into it is riddled with noise. Ansuz switches use various technologies to dissipate noise and give your network player a much cleaner signal to work with. It's basically a line conditioner for your network. For any IT specialists reading this and saying "BS, a network will always deliver the data perfectly each time," you are 100% correct. A network, with its built in error correction, will deliver a bit perfect signal but what it will not do is manage the noise that comes along with that signal, and it has been proven that in a digital system, noise is the enemy of good sound.

If anyone reading this has an Ansuz dealer nearby, I would highly recommend you contact them and ask to borrow a PowerSwitch. There are 4 models to choose from and the dealer will help you decide which one makes sense for your system. I recently lent one to a customer who said it made a bigger improvement in his system than when he upgraded preamps. Another customer said it was as big of an improvement as when he upgraded DAC's. Results will vary by system and my suggestion is don't start with the lowest model PowerSwitch. It's good but when you get the next one up is when things really start to shine.
 
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Blackmorec

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2019
331
420
68
67
Hi everyone, thought I'd drop in my 2 cents worth. As my username implies, I am an audio dealer and no I'm not here to sell you anything. :) Just want to participate in intelligent discussions and offer some of my expertise if/when it's useful.

This topic is one of my recent favourites and it's been so much fun watching customer's eyes almost pop out of their head in disbelief when it was demonstrated at what kind of an improvement a network switch can make in a hifi system. We recently discovered Ansuz PowerSwitch network switches and have not looked back since.

So how can a network switch improve the sound of a system? The answer is simple - noise. Imagine how many miles of wire and how many servers/switches a signal has to pass through after it leaves Tidal or Qobuz before arriving at your home. Then it goes into your router which has a noisy power supply, then it goes through a basic network switch which has a noisy power supply and finally it makes its way into your pristine network audio player with low noise power supply, custom motherboard, hand selected ram, etc. All these great steps that the manufacturer of your player took to give you the best possible sound but the source you feed into it is riddled with noise. Ansuz switches use various technologies to dissipate noise and give your network player a much cleaner signal to work with. It's basically a line conditioner for your network. For any IT specialists reading this and saying "BS, a network will always deliver the data perfectly each time," you are 100% correct. A network, with its built in error correction, will deliver a bit perfect signal but what it will not do is manage the noise that comes along with that signal, and it has been proven that in a digital system, noise is the enemy of good sound.

If anyone reading this has an Ansuz dealer nearby, I would highly recommend you contact them and ask to borrow a PowerSwitch. There are 4 models to choose from and the dealer will help you decide which one makes sense for your system. I recently lent one to a customer who said it made a bigger improvement in his system than when he upgraded preamps. Another customer said it was as big of an improvement as when he upgraded DAC's. Results will vary by system and my suggestion is don't start with the lowest model PowerSwitch. It's good but when you get the next one up is when things really start to shine.
For the past 2 years I’ve been putting together a digital system and refining its network supply. Initially I used an AQVox SE network switch with Its own specially developed wall-wart SMPS, which brought a reasonable improvement in line with the unit’s €800 price tag. AQVox included a leaflet with their unit stating that it was futile to try and upgrade the power supply, which had been specifically engineered to optimally power their switch. They specifically stated that even connecting their very best linear power supply caused degradation to sound quality. In the meantime I was messing around with USB reclocking & clean-up devices and during that process discovered that adding SMPS on the same electrical supply as my HI-Fi really robbed the system of some magic. So I tried an alternative linear power supply on the AQVox SE, a DC-2 made by Sean Jacobs, who was responsible for the power supply designs in my Innuos Zenith SE. Well the DC2 didn’t stay in my system for very long, just long enough in fact to run-in before it got traded. For a DC3 with Mundorf capacitor upgrade. The difference in sound quality was so profound I realised that using anything but the best LPS to power my AQVox was leaving a great deal of performance unrealised. The DC3 duly arrived and a further huge uplift in SQ performance resulted. I’m about to upgrade my DC3s (I now have them supplying my whole network) but have been wondering if I shouldn’t first upgrade the actual switch. Since I implemented the AQVox SE several top notch switches have been released that supposedly outperform the AQVox with its standard supply, so I’ve been watching the space, knowing that I can probably do better than the AQVox SE. I’ve followed the reviews of SoTM, Melco, Telegartner Gold, Buffalo and gangs of up to 4 switches in series but so far haven’t been convinced enough to swap out my DC3 AQVox combo which sounds ridiculously better than the standard AQVox.
Given the above, I read your recent post about Ansuz switches with a great deal of interest and felt it was worth investigating, so asked Google for some reviews, which I found on the German website Hifistatement.net. The reviews include specs, prices and some internal photos. I read a review of the A2 (€3,200) and the D-TC Supreme (€12,000). Not cheap, by any means, but hey, the Supreme is trimmed in real hand stitched leather, so it must be high quality. The internal photos were really interesting. Both units are mains powered, with an IEC socket, so each unit has a built-in power supply. Again given my history, I was interested to see the kind of innovative, low noise, high quality supply that Ansuz would build into their units. The first photo had a really nice picture of the back of the IEC switch, showing power cables connected to the onboard supply, a universal 85-305Volt unit supplying 15V and 1.4A. The manufacturer’s labels were clear to read. The power supplies for both units were the same, a matchbox sized Mean Well Enterprises IRM-20-15 from China costing the princely sum of £8.28 if you buy 1 and £7.05 if you buy >100. I was surprised, so I’m wondering if I have hold of the wrong end of the stick. Here is a link to the DT-C Supreme review and you’ll find the A2 review linked at the conclusion of the D-TC review. You may not read German but the photos are self explanatory.
https://www.hifistatement.net/tests/item/2761-ansuz-powerswitch-d-tc-supreme
Can you take a look and tell me if I’m correct or not or better still, open up a unit and report back on the power supply that’s been utilised. Thanks in advance for your time and effort.
 
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XCop5089

Well-Known Member
Sep 5, 2015
95
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Winchester, UK

justubes

Well-Known Member
Aug 10, 2015
152
72
113
Given the above, I read your recent post about Ansuz switches with a great deal of interest and felt it was worth investigating, so asked Google for some reviews, which I found on the German website Hifistatement.net. The reviews include specs, prices and some internal photos. I read a review of the A2 (€3,200) and the D-TC Supreme (€12,000). Not cheap, by any means, but hey, the Supreme is trimmed in real hand stitched leather, so it must be high quality. The internal photos were really interesting. Both units are mains powered, with an IEC socket, so each unit has a built-in power supply. Again given my history, I was interested to see the kind of innovative, low noise, high quality supply that Ansuz would build into their units. The first photo had a really nice picture of the back of the IEC switch, showing power cables connected to the onboard supply, a universal 85-305Volt unit supplying 15V and 1.4A. The manufacturer’s labels were clear to read. The power supplies for both units were the same, a matchbox sized Mean Well Enterprises IRM-20-15 from China costing the princely sum of £8.28 if you buy 1 and £7.05 if you buy >100. I was surprised, so I’m wondering if I have hold of the wrong end of the stick. Here is a link to the DT-C Supreme review and you’ll find the A2 review linked at the conclusion of the D-TC review. You may not read German but the photos are self explanatory.
https://www.hifistatement.net/tests/item/2761-ansuz-powerswitch-d-tc-supreme
Can you take a look and tell me if I’m correct or not or better still, open up a unit and report back on the power supply that’s been utilised. Thanks in advance for your time and effort.


I was just readng it last night, in Mandarin Google translated.

There are a few review installments, navigate the site.

https://feature.u-audio.com.tw/featuredetail.asp?featureid=1179
 
Last edited:
Jul 22, 2020
2
2
3
48
For the past 2 years I’ve been putting together a digital system and refining its network supply. Initially I used an AQVox SE network switch with Its own specially developed wall-wart SMPS, which brought a reasonable improvement in line with the unit’s €800 price tag. AQVox included a leaflet with their unit stating that it was futile to try and upgrade the power supply, which had been specifically engineered to optimally power their switch. They specifically stated that even connecting their very best linear power supply caused degradation to sound quality. In the meantime I was messing around with USB reclocking & clean-up devices and during that process discovered that adding SMPS on the same electrical supply as my HI-Fi really robbed the system of some magic. So I tried an alternative linear power supply on the AQVox SE, a DC-2 made by Sean Jacobs, who was responsible for the power supply designs in my Innuos Zenith SE. Well the DC2 didn’t stay in my system for very long, just long enough in fact to run-in before it got traded. For a DC3 with Mundorf capacitor upgrade. The difference in sound quality was so profound I realised that using anything but the best LPS to power my AQVox was leaving a great deal of performance unrealised. The DC3 duly arrived and a further huge uplift in SQ performance resulted. I’m about to upgrade my DC3s (I now have them supplying my whole network) but have been wondering if I shouldn’t first upgrade the actual switch. Since I implemented the AQVox SE several top notch switches have been released that supposedly outperform the AQVox with its standard supply, so I’ve been watching the space, knowing that I can probably do better than the AQVox SE. I’ve followed the reviews of SoTM, Melco, Telegartner Gold, Buffalo and gangs of up to 4 switches in series but so far haven’t been convinced enough to swap out my DC3 AQVox combo which sounds ridiculously better than the standard AQVox.
Given the above, I read your recent post about Ansuz switches with a great deal of interest and felt it was worth investigating, so asked Google for some reviews, which I found on the German website Hifistatement.net. The reviews include specs, prices and some internal photos. I read a review of the A2 (€3,200) and the D-TC Supreme (€12,000). Not cheap, by any means, but hey, the Supreme is trimmed in real hand stitched leather, so it must be high quality. The internal photos were really interesting. Both units are mains powered, with an IEC socket, so each unit has a built-in power supply. Again given my history, I was interested to see the kind of innovative, low noise, high quality supply that Ansuz would build into their units. The first photo had a really nice picture of the back of the IEC switch, showing power cables connected to the onboard supply, a universal 85-305Volt unit supplying 15V and 1.4A. The manufacturer’s labels were clear to read. The power supplies for both units were the same, a matchbox sized Mean Well Enterprises IRM-20-15 from China costing the princely sum of £8.28 if you buy 1 and £7.05 if you buy >100. I was surprised, so I’m wondering if I have hold of the wrong end of the stick. Here is a link to the DT-C Supreme review and you’ll find the A2 review linked at the conclusion of the D-TC review. You may not read German but the photos are self explanatory.
https://www.hifistatement.net/tests/item/2761-ansuz-powerswitch-d-tc-supreme
Can you take a look and tell me if I’m correct or not or better still, open up a unit and report back on the power supply that’s been utilised. Thanks in advance for your time and effort.
I have read those reviews and to be honest I was not paying too much attention to the components inside. Over the years I have seen some shady characters put other brand's components in their casework and call it their own and I have seen all sorts of suspicious parts being used. However, in all those cases, the results were so predictable and obvious that it didn't matter what was inside. With Ansuz, before any investigation, I simply plugged in the product to see what sort of results I would achieve. The results were eye opening and that's when I let several customers try the switch and they came back with the same results. This leads me to believe that regardless of what type of parts Ansuz is using in their switches, they are re onto something. It might very well be that they're using an inexpensive power supply but then they do something unique to manage noise further down the chain. Maybe they felt that because of their technology, a high end PS wasn't necessary. What I see too often is a discovery made by one person on a topic then assuming that this discovery applies everywhere and that's simply not the case. For example: Many audiophiles praise Class A amplifiers with some claiming that anything less than Class A is a waste of time. I have heard plenty of Class A amps that were a complete waste of time. Does that mean Class A is good or bad? It means neither, because the implementation of the technology is often more important than the technology itself. Another example is saying 24 bit files sound superior to 16 bit files. That may be the case in some circumstances but in others I have heard the opposite. So while I appreciate the curiosity of trying to decipher what's inside a box, I would encourage you to take one home and check it out for yourself because if it improves your system, who cares what's inside right?
 
Likes: scottrogers

Marcin_gps

VIP Donor/Industry Expert
Jun 24, 2015
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adamaley

Well-Known Member
Apr 15, 2016
421
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Congrats, Marcin.
 
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Ricardo007

Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2015
38
2
88
Nos ancêtres les Gaullois
I also configured a dedicated VLAN for my audio, but that's a topic for another post.
Hello Nenon
I have similar network configuration with edge router 6P.
For isolating Ubiquiti Unify AP from router I used 2 Cisco 2960 I had and linked them with fiber. So one of them is connected to router and the other to the access point, unmodded Ciscos though with remaining potential pollution of AC with their SMPS (I was thinking using an isolation transformer?).What you think?
Another upgrade could be using as you did the SFP on router and adding a sonore optical module with LPS?
Also interested on how you configured a dedicated VPN for the audio part (I have also 2 sources linked to the router one is for TV with nvidia shield (powered by Farad super 3) and 2 etherregen behind master clocked by sotm and a TXusb to terminator DAC; the second digital source is a double PC configuration). Should a VPN be created for each of the 2 (TV source, you tube etc... / double PC)? Any significant sound improvment by VPN?
 
Mar 2, 2020
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@Ricardo007 this is from Ubiquiti homepage.

"Offloading is used to execute functions of the router using the hardware directly, instead of a process of software functions. The benefit of offloading in EdgeOS is increased performance and throughput by not depending on the CPU for forwarding decisions. There are many processes/features that can take advantage of the offloading engine. One of the most basic examples is IPv4 traffic forwarding. Without offloading enabled, IPv4 traffic will be routed via the CPU and will be limited to around 300Mbps on the EdgeRouter Lite (ERLite-3). With offloading enabled, the throughput will be about 950Mbps."

If it will contribute to better sound quality I dont know.
 

nenon

Active Member
Jan 29, 2020
49
194
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Hello Nenon
I have similar network configuration with edge router 6P.
For isolating Ubiquiti Unify AP from router I used 2 Cisco 2960 I had and linked them with fiber. So one of them is connected to router and the other to the access point, unmodded Ciscos though with remaining potential pollution of AC with their SMPS (I was thinking using an isolation transformer?).What you think?
Another upgrade could be using as you did the SFP on router and adding a sonore optical module with LPS?
When you use fiber in the streaming path, it changes the sound. In some cases it is better, in other cases it is worse... it's a personal preference I guess. Transceivers also play a significant role in the sound signature. My approach has been the following:
1. Isolate my home network from the streaming path. There is a physical isolation and logical isolation. For physical isolation I use a fiber optic connection to galvanically isolate devices like my WiFi, smartTV, etc. from audio network. For logical isolation I use a seperate VLAN to restrict broadcast packets from my home network to my music network.
2. Everything in the streaming path is treated like an audiophile device. My streaming path typically looks like this: cable modem --> Ubiquiti router --> audiophile switches --> server. By giving it an audiophile treatment, I mean that I use a good quality LPS for each of these devices, the best DC power cable (all my favorite silver/gold wire in my system), vibration treatment, really good ethernet cables, clean AC power, good power cords, etc.
3. Once all that is done I then play with adding fiber somewhere in the streaming path. That is a personal taste and can be tweaked with different transceivers or not done at all.

Also interested on how you configured a dedicated VPN for the audio part (I have also 2 sources linked to the router one is for TV with nvidia shield (powered by Farad super 3) and 2 etherregen behind master clocked by sotm and a TXusb to terminator DAC; the second digital source is a double PC configuration). Should a VPN be created for each of the 2 (TV source, you tube etc... / double PC)? Any significant sound improvment by VPN?
I suppose you mean VLAN, not VPN? By isolating the music server / streamer to a dedicated VLAN you are isolating it in a separate broadcast domain, so broadcast packets from other devices would not reach to it. That reduces the network traffic your server / streamer needs to process, which in many cases helps with sound quality.
If you use a one box solution (i.e. server and streamer running on the same box) I don't think isolating other devices in their own VLANs would have any sound quality benefits.

What is the purpose of this feature on the edgerouter? whay does it contribute to sound quality?
The feature moves some of the processing from software to hardware. The processor on those devices does not have enough power to process 1 Gbps. I believe the EdgeRouter X SFP can only do something like 400 Mbps. By moving the processing from software to hardware you increase the throughput, decrease the latency, keep the parts inside cooler, etc. Those are all good things for audio. I am not interested in doing A/B comparison but am 100% convinced that hardware acceleration is the way to go.
 
May 12, 2018
61
21
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Perth, WA
Forgive my ignorance but once "Offloading" has been configure, is there a way to confirm on the web interface that it is activated and working?

G
 

Ricardo007

Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2015
38
2
88
Nos ancêtres les Gaullois
By isolating the music server / streamer to a dedicated VLAN you are isolating it in a separate broadcast domain, so broadcast packets from other devices would not reach to it. That reduces the network traffic your server / streamer needs to process, which in many cases helps with sound quality.
Thanks Nenon
What is the difference between creating a separate VLAN for audio and creating a separate subnet? Any advantages of the second option?
 

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