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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Jan 16, 2013
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#2
Thank you Blackmorec!!! Excellent. It will be interesting to see if the "network interest" from members can transfer over to this thread. Hope so.

I will share where I am with my network discoveries a little later today. I'm very interested in ANY ideas or pointers from those, like yourself, that are further down the road than myself with extracting further sonic performance from my Verizon GPON/modem all the way through to the server. I use the Extreme as my server, BUT also have a Rockna, SGC and Aurender servers as well.

The cool thing is that is if network optimization is found it pretty much (there are probably exceptions) should benefit any server.

Again, thx for starting this thread!
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#3
So, in the UK we have our domestic BT router/modem in the lounge, and a seperate multi socket install from where Cat6 wiring goes to most rooms, incl the audio space upstairs.

Currently our only internet use is my mobile phone, Ra's laptop. Not using, and never likely to use, any of those hardwired Cat6 sockets, other than to the audio space.

Is that considered low or medium risk re hash in the EM æther?

So, add an LPS to domestic router I get.
Audiophile switch at that point?
Hardwire 50' of pricey ethernet cbl to bypass stock?
Or cheaper fibre?
Or go wireless?
A second switch up there?
LPS on both switches?

Is this the right thread for these Qs?
 
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Jan 16, 2013
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#4
So, in the UK we have our domestic BT router/modem in the lounge, and a seperate multi socket install from where Cat6 wiring goes to most rooms, incl the audio space upstairs.

Currently our only internet use is my mobile phone, Ra's laptop. Not using, and never likely to use, any of those hardwired Cat6 sockets, other than to the audio space.

Is that considered low or medium risk re hash in the EM æther?

So, add an LPS to domestic router I get.
Audiophile switch at that point?
Plus one upstairs?
Hardwire 50' of pricey ethernet cbl to bypass stock?
Or cheaper fibre?
Or go wireless?
A second switch up there?
LPS on both switches?

Is this the right thread for these Qs?
Howdy Marc, Well I think yes this is the right thread. The question is will anyone here have the answers.

My brief experience is that there is good/bad news. Bad news- I have found the only way to know what something, really with anything, is to try it. Good news- The network devices OTHER than the JCAT Gold switch are fairly inexpensive to purchase and try. Here you can order from Amazon and if you don' t like it send it back.

I will let a more experienced network person answer some of your specific questions. I would say that adding ANY LPS to any device that comes with those small ps, should make a sonic difference.

If I had a long ethernet run I would do Fiber instead of the 50' lan cable, BUT I don't think you would know what each sounded like unless you tried. I did in my experiments try a cheap 50' lan cable vs. the fiber and I was VERY surprised that they sounded different and I preferred the sound of the cheap 50' lan cable. The sound was more dynamic. I subsequently moved my modern closer to the server and used a short good quality lan cable. Eventually I am going to try a short Fiber set up in place of the short lan cable to see if there is a sonic difference and which I prefer.

NOT sure about the wireless. Emile said he might investigate that further. Again, I don't think you know what it would sound like unless you try it.

I have found adding the switch made a noticeable and to my liking positive sonic difference. My gut says that by adding a switch is not going to make it sound bad, BUT the only way to know is try.

You will probably get better answers than these, but it's a start.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#5
Appreciated Bob. I remain perplexed that
1- multiple switches, one after the other, get rave reviews. Paul Pang does a quad switch.
2- adding so many boxes, each one needing an LPS, pwr cord, IC/DC lead, doesn't lead to additional issues re EM miasma
3- people are certain that they're not colouring the sound rather than liberating it
With the whole craze for external clocks, you can be looking at over a dozen new boxes and similar number of cbls, need for footers etc.
 
Jan 16, 2013
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#6
Appreciated Bob. I remain perplexed that
1- multiple switches, one after the other, get rave reviews. Paul Pang does a quad switch.
2- adding so many boxes, each one needing an LPS, pwr cord, IC/DC lead, doesn't lead to additional issues re EM miasma
3- people are certain that they're not colouring the sound rather than liberating it
With the whole craze for external clocks, you can be looking at over a dozen new boxes and similar number of cbls, need for footers etc.
I have slim experience with switches....actually 125 hours with one switch:) But that brief experience gave my system(s) a BIG sonic boost.

I think the additional LPS benefits outweigh the EM issues, BUT who knows, that why you have to try them and just listen to what it sounds like.

In my case it was not just coloring or changing the sound. My room encompassment became un-worldy positive with adding the switch.

What the Switch did for my sound gave SO MUCH air and space around the instruments and voices/bodies. When there is say two or three guitars a singer, drums all playing each instrument is spread out 1M or 2M away from each other, horizontally but also depth wise. There is the guitar for instance, but there is air and space around the guitar like there would be if there was a real guitar playing in the room.

Since adding the switch the sound became MUCH more relaxed. I was playing at 20 or 21 on my vol control. Now I am playing at 24 or 25. Last night I was listening and I was sure I was playing at 100db levels as the room was so filled and alive and breathing. I took out a db meter and I was at 85db with 90db peaks.

I had similar sound prior to adding the switch but the switch took these attributes to a higher level.
 
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nonesup

Well-Known Member
Feb 16, 2017
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#7
My configuration is:
Modem-Router (supplied by the ISP) to which fiber optics (600 Mb) / Ethernet Cable to the EtherREGEN Switch / Ethernet Cable to the Melco Server.

EtherREGEN has LPS and is connected to Shunyata Denali
Modem-Router has LPS and is connected to a dirty line in the kitchen.

CHANGE:
I brought the Modem-Router to the living room (longer fiber cable) and connected its LPS to Shunyata Denali.

OUTCOME:
The largest increase in SQ in the last twelve months.

Note. And no, it's not a different flavor, when I hear more detail coupled with an astonishing decrease in digital stress on the trebels.
 
Jan 16, 2013
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#8
My configuration is:
Modem-Router (supplied by the ISP) to which fiber optics (600 Mb) / Ethernet Cable to the EtherREGEN Switch / Ethernet Cable to the Melco Server.

EtherREGEN has LPS and is connected to Shunyata Denali
Modem-Router has LPS and is connected to a dirty line in the kitchen.

CHANGE:
I brought the Modem-Router to the living room (longer fiber cable) and connected its LPS to Shunyata Denali.

OUTCOME:
The largest increase in SQ in the last twelve months.

Note. And no, it's not a different flavor, when I hear more detail coupled with an astonishing decrease in digital stress on the trebels.
BINGO!:) That's what first happened to me. I got rid of 50' of lan or Fiber cable down to a few feet and there was a big uplift.

It seems like those long runs that work fine for tv's/phone/video etc, definitely have an effect on sound quality.

I was surprised as when I took the similar step that you did it a sonic upgrade and literally cost nothing other than moving things around.

Very cool.
 

nonesup

Well-Known Member
Feb 16, 2017
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#9
I think the SQ increase was due to the connection to Denali. The decreases in cable length in my case were not significant.
 
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Jan 16, 2013
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#10
I think the SQ increase was due to the connection to Denali. The decreases in cable length in my case were not significant.
Aahhhh. Got it. Thx and interesting.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#11
So, w my router/modem 50' away from audio room?
 

nonesup

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Feb 16, 2017
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#12
It is true that being modem-Router and EtherREGEN closer I have been able to go from connecting them with an Audioquest Cinnamon to doing it with an Audioquest Diamond, but the improvement was already evident even keeping the Cinnamon.
 
Jan 16, 2013
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So, w my router/modem 50' away from audio room?
I would probably try fiber at this point if I was running 50', BUT I did test 50' of fiber that I had been running to 50' of copper and MUCH to my surprise I liked the sound of the copper and it was a cheap copper lan cable. That's why I have learned that I need to try "whatever" to see what it sounds like and if I like it.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
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#14
No consensus on Wifi yet?
 
Jan 16, 2013
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#15
No consensus on Wifi yet?
Great question. I know Emile is going to investigate as he has said. Steve uses it and loves it. I have not tried it. Someone else here may have some experience.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#16
Also Bob, I think in UK we're gonna struggle to switch router/modem from stock provided by telecomms/broadband supplier
For us, we do not have multiple things plugged into the router
Just our tv "DigiBox", and Wifi to my mobile and Ra's laptop
 
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Jan 16, 2013
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#17
Also Bob, I think in UK we're gonna struggle to switch router/modem from stock provided by telecomms/broadband supplier
For us, we do not have multiple things plugged into the router
Just our tv "DigiBox", and Wifi to my mobile and Ra's laptop
Even here different ISPs provide challenges. With my ISP, Verizon I pretty much have to use the Verizon Router. So, I just added another router (Edge) to the Verizon Router.

I think all of these conversations and suggestions are great, it gives one "ideas", BUT then the individual has to take this knowledge and start experimenting wit their network cables and devices.

I think as either Romaz or Blackmorec have mentioned in the past that the switches or routers can be quantified as one is better than the other. BUT with the cables set ups (distances, fiber vs copper) I think they may react differently in different applications. The only way is to experiment. BUT it doesn't cost a fortune to do the experimentation vs trying new amps or $20K speakers cables.
 
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#18
This is how I have setup my network and the rest of my system..

Flödesschema dCS NB.png

DC cables from HD Plex to network equipment is Ghent audio Canare 4S6 with Oyiade DC contacts and Neutrik XLR.

https://www.ghentaudio.com/part/dc30.html

CAT6 LAN cables is Ghent audio ET01 (dont think this is available today and replaced with ET11) exept one cable from B-side on eR.

https://www.ghentaudio.com/pc/et11.html

From etherRegen to dCS NB is a DIY CAT7A cable with Telegärtner MFP8.1 connectors.

SFP modules is from FS.com.

https://www.fs.com/products/75326.html

Fiber cable from router to eR is a Corning clear curve.
 
Jan 16, 2013
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#19
This is how I have setup my network and the rest of my system..

View attachment 63985

DC cables from HD Plex to network equipment is Ghent audio Canare 4S6 with Oyiade DC contacts and Neutrik XLR.

https://www.ghentaudio.com/part/dc30.html

CAT6 LAN cables is Ghent audio ET01 (dont think this is available today and replaced with ET11) exept one cable from B-side on eR.

https://www.ghentaudio.com/pc/et11.html

From etherRegen to dCS NB is a DIY CAT7A cable with Telegärtner MFP8.1 connectors.

SFP modules is from FS.com.

https://www.fs.com/products/75326.html

Fiber cable from router to eR is a Corning clear curve.
That is an awesome set up for both systems!!! Did you find that as you built up the network portions of the overall system that when you added different devices and cables that were upticks in sonic performance?
 

XCop5089

Well-Known Member
Sep 5, 2015
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#20
Most of the reading that I have done on What's Best forums and links to computer audiophile forums have concentrated on US-based, or home networks in other parts of the world.

As a UK-based, network novice, like Marc (spiritofmusic), my steps have been very much constrained by being a BT Infinity 2 Broadband customer, with the supplied BT Smart Hub 2.

About a year ago, I started to modify my network, to improve the quality of music streamed from Qobuz Studio, to my dCS Vivaldi Upsampler/DAC, which represents the server/end point in my hifi system. I also have a Melco N1ZH/60.2, but to my eternal shame, I have never worked out how to stream to it, so it remains a music HD, connected via USB to my dCS Vivaldi Upsampler/stack, with control from a Linn Kazoo App, on an Apple iPad2.

My early experiments involved grounding my BT Smart Hub 2 to an Entreq Silver Minimus, via an unused USB port on the router and replacing the BT-supplied SMPS wall-wart, with a Chinese 12v LPSU, heavily modified internally, by Tony Sallis of Coherent Systems UK, to a respectable level. From the BT Smart Hub 2, I use a 7m run of MeiCord Opal ethernet cable to the LAN input on the dCS Vivaldi Upsampler. Control provided by iPad2 and courtesy of the dCS Mosaic App and, hey presto, music streaming from Qobuz Studio in HiRes, as well as internet radio stations.

About a month ago, as a result of much research, I decided to take a punt on an Uptone Audio EtherRegen and 2 X 1m Sablon Audio Panatela Reserva LAN cables, with a Sablon Audio 2020 USB cable for good measure! This has provided me with an incredible uptick in performance for under £1900 (EtherRegen + Sablon ethernet/USB cables).

My home network now consists of BT Smart Hub 2 > MeiCord Opal LAN cable (7m) > 'A' side of Uptone Audio EtherRegen (power provided by a second 12v LPSU instead of the Uptone supplied SMPS) > 'B' side of EtherRegen connected to dCS Vivaldi Upsampler/DAC LAN input, with Sablon Audio Panatela Reserva 1m ethernet cable. I use a second Sablon Audio 1m ethernet cable from the 'A' side of the EtherRegen to the LAN input on the Melco N1ZH/60.2 for control from the iPad2.

The icing on the cake is provided by "reclocking" the EtherRegen, with a 10MHz clock signal from my Mutec Ref10 (recently upgraded to 120SE oscillator by Mutec).

Listening to Qobuz Studio today, was very satisfying, with a smooth but highly detailed presentation, with a wide and deep soundstage and very low system noise floor!

My thoughts are now turning to replacing the BT supplied Smart Hub 2, with an all-in-one TP-Link AC2800 (£149) which appears easily configurable to the incoming BT Infinity 2 broadband and has a low jitter dual Broadcom chipset.

The alternative, but for a novice like me, more complicated approach, would be to follow the advice gleaned from the Taiko Extreme thread and buy a separate modem and switch with WiFi access point (Ubiquiti Edge Router X)

Throw into the mix, fibre or copper cable runs and it gets interesting.

Because I have a separate BT broadband wall panel behind my hifi system, I do have the option of connecting either the BT Smart Hub 2 or replacement TP-Link modem/router, near the system and using a 1m Sablon LAN cable from router to EtherRegen switch and a second 1m Sablon Lan cable to the dCS Vivaldi Upsampler.

Any thoughts would be most welcome!
 

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