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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Rhapsody

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you do realize that if you keep on this path, you'll have the musicians in your room with you and you'll be in violation of social distancing rules, particularly with big band and orchestral music
I just thew Louie Armstrong out the window, he was eating my Doritos:)
 

Rhapsody

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I have concrete floor and they are vibrating. More so than when I run two REL212 SE's, but the growling low bass is very controlled. It definitely has a grip on the room.

With this crazy bass performance everything is very relaxed and from the midrange on up everything is floating. JUST like a great tube system, except I am using all SS.
 

wil

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Bob, I think you need to stop. If your sound keeps getting better at this current rate, I'm afraid your ears are going to go up in flames! Keep the fire extinguisher handy.
 

Rhapsody

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Bob, I think you need to stop. If your sound keeps getting better at this current rate, I'm afraid your ears are going to go up in flames! Keep the fire extinguisher handy.
Yes a pyrophoric reaction is possible:) Actually I have been looking at the speakers at times wondering if they literally can handle it.

It just goes to show how important the source is.

Whenever I try ic's, sp. cables, power cord, equipment racks, platforms, grounding devices etc. I always have to listen for a bit and many times go back and forth and even wait a week to see how I feel about the sound. Is there a difference, is it better? Or is it just different.

This has been different. EACH TIME I have inserted either the dedicated router/switch, which happened to be an Edge, the two JCAT switches and the Optimo PS it was so noticeable literally in 5 seconds. Just BOOM. No question about it. It's not kind of thing that is debatable as to whether it is better or just different. It's BOOM. Incredible and very instantly noticeable bass performance, from 20 HZ up to the midrange. The bass and the note density. With each additive the note density became stronger and the bass excelled.

Looking forward as to when the lockdown situation is over so I can have visitors so that they can give their observations.
 
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Johnny Moondog

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I just connected the second switch with it's SMPS and connected the two Gold switches with the supplied M12/RF45 connectors with the net isolator in between.
I have an M12 Gold Switch on it's way.

It 's been exciting to read about the results you've achieved! Now with this second Gold switch, could you refresh my mental image of what's going on in your network? What do you have connected to Gold switch 1 and then Gold switch 2?

Thank you!
 

Rhapsody

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I have an M12 Gold Switch on it's way.

It 's been exciting to read about the results you've achieved! Now with this second Gold switch, could you refresh my mental image of what's going on in your network? What do you have connected to Gold switch 1 and then Gold switch 2?

Thank you!
Hey Johnny,

Sure.

Verizon Gpon>>>Verizon Router>>>Edge Router/switch (Optimo PS)>>>JCAT Gold Sw (Optimo PS)>>> JCAT net isolator (RJ45/RJ45).>>>JCAT Gold SW>>>Extreme.

All copper other than Verizon Fios is FO coming into their GPON/Modem.

I am using all of the JCAT lan cables. I connect from the Edge router (configured as a switch) to the first Gold switch with a M12/J45 cable.

I connect from the first M12 switch to the net isolator with a M12/J45 cable, then out of the net isolator to the second JCAT Switch with with another RJ45/M12 cable.

I would have liked to have an M12/M12 cable to connect the two switches but I also wanted to add in the net isolator and I had the M12/J45 cables so for now, that's how it is set up.

All of this cost less than a set of high priced 1M set of ICs.....go figure.

It is the best investment after the Extreme that I have ever encountered in the digital side of audio.....by far.

Next week I will have the second Optimo PS that will be used with the second Gold switch as well as the Verizon router. Both are currently installed with the standard SMPSs.
 
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Johnny Moondog

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“Excellent. Thank you!”

Man grabs large notepad, pen, turns a page, and begins to re-draw his Network Master Plan.

CUT TO:

Next scene...
 
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Rhapsody

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Hey Johnny,

Sure.

Verizon Gpon>>>Verizon Router>>>Edge Router/switch (Optimo PS)>>>JCAT Gold Sw (Optimo PS)>>> JCAT net isolator (RJ45/RJ45).>>>JCAT Gold SW>>>Extreme.

All copper other than Verizon Fios is FO coming into their GPON/Modem.

I am using all of the JCAT lan cables. I connect from the Edge router (configured as a switch) to the first Gold switch with a M12/J45 cable.

I connect from the first M12 switch to the net isolator with a M12/J45 cable, then out of the net isolator to the second JCAT Switch with with another RJ45/M12 cable.

I would have liked to have an M12/M12 cable to connect the two switches but I also wanted to add in the net isolator and I had the M12/J45 cables so for now, that's how it is set up.

All of this cost less than a set of high priced 1M set of ICs.....go figure.

It is the best investment after the Extreme that I have ever encountered in the digital side of audio.....by far.

Next week I will have the second Optimo PS that will be used with the second Gold switch as well as the Verizon router. Both are currently installed with the standard SMPSs.
I really appreciate your feedback and I'm really happy to know that you enjoyed more with your second M12 Gold Switch.

And please keep posting whenever you got an update in sound.

Since you will receive ER to experiment with it with different allocation, I'm thinking why not use it in your current path instead of the net isolator and see what it will be going on with the sound.

I was thinking of an additional Edge Router instead of net isolator but I think you can't do that since the Edge Router needs to assign it IP address unless you can bypass the IP from its settings but I'm not sure.
 

Rhapsody

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I really appreciate your feedback and I'm really happy to know that you enjoyed more with your second M12 Gold Switch.

And please keep posting whenever you got an update in sound.

Since you will receive ER to experiment with it with different allocation, I'm thinking why not use it in your current path instead of the net isolator and see what it will be going on with the sound.

I was thinking of an additional Edge Router instead of net isolator but I think you can't do that since the Edge Router needs to assign it IP address unless you can bypass the IP from its settings but I'm not sure.
My gut says this "experimentation" will continue for quite a while....until I hit a wall and it hasn't happened yet.

Looking forward to the second PS, then eventually it would be fun to try the ER. It boggles my mind that you can keep throwing these devices into the signal path and the sound keeps improving. It's like a new set of rules for me. On the other side of the dac I have a pretty good idea of possibilities. I definitely don't have a handle on all that is going on from the Extreme on back to the Verizon Modem.

Eventually I will figure out what and why things are reacting the way they are. Right now I'm too busy connecting new devices....sort of blows my mind.
 
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Rhapsody

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wil

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My gut says this "experimentation" will continue for quite a while....until I hit a wall and it hasn't happened yet.

Looking forward to the second PS, then eventually it would be fun to try the ER. It boggles my mind that you can keep throwing these devices into the signal path and the sound keeps improving. It's like a new set of rules for me. On the other side of the dac I have a pretty good idea of possibilities. I definitely don't have a handle on all that is going on from the Extreme on back to the Verizon Modem.

Eventually I will figure out what and why things are reacting the way they are. Right now I'm too busy connecting new devices....sort of blows my mind.
When I hear about these network experiments, I'm always curious why they would make a difference. Can anyone who understands this stuff propose explanations for:

-- Why would two M12's have a significant net sq improvement over one? And if going from one to two makes a large difference, as Bob reports, wouldn't it make sense to try 3,4,5 to see where it stops? (maybe when Bob's ears burst into flames?)

-- Given that, as I understand and have experienced, the EtherRegen doesn't bring anything special to a setup with the Extreme because of the 100 MBS speed, why would adding an eR into the M12 parade have any theoretical benefit?
 
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matthias

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-- Given that, as I understand and have experienced, the EtherRegen doesn't bring anything special to a setup with the Extreme because of the 100 MBS speed, why would adding an eR into the M12 parade have any theoretical benefit?
wil,
AFAIK, all Extreme owners so far reported improvements with the ER when using it as a 1000Mbps switch (A-side only).
You have NO speed restrictions when you do NOT cross the moat.

Matt
 
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Blackmorec

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When I hear about these network experiments, I'm always curious why they would make a difference. Can anyone who understands this stuff propose explanations for:

-- Why would two M12's have a significant net sq improvement over one? And if going from one to two makes a large difference, as Bob reports, wouldn't it make sense to try 3,4,5 to see where it stops? (maybe when Bob's ears burst into flames?)

-- Given that, as I understand and have experienced, the EtherRegen doesn't bring anything special to a setup with the Extreme because of the 100 MBS speed, why would adding an eR into the M12 parade have any theoretical benefit?
In terms of hi-fi reproduction there’s a fundamental difference between analog and digital. In analog you start with the recording and everything that happens downstream, be it addition (of noise) or loss (of detail or resolution) cannot be distinguished from the original signal and is therefore played along with the signal. So if you start with the original performance at 100%, you lose detail and resolution and add noise at each step of the way to the final replay, so you start with 100% and maybe end up with say 50%. All you can do by upgrading your system is to minimize losses in components and cables so instead of 50% you get say 60%. Digital is different. While the actual signal is analog (voltages) the signal’s format is digital...so anything that’s added in the analog domain can be adjusted or removed, as long as the digital format is preserved.
Along the digital audio chain, analog HF noise may be introduced and timing errors (jitter) may occur that cause phase noise but as long as the digital format is preserved, we can add boxes in the chain to ‘recondition’ the analog side of the digital signal. Noise can be differentiated and removed, signals can be resynthesised and jitter and phase noise removed etc. What this means is that losses through things like digital streaming can be rectified and noise through RFI and EMI removed to ensure that the analog building blocks of the digital format are close to perfect. Remember that when a digital signal arrives at a switch its in fact a digitally formatted analog signal, the analog piece including noise and timing inaccuracies picked up along its journey. The switch uses the digital format of that signal to modulate the switch’s DC supply to construct a fresh analog signal following the same digital format. The cleaner the signal arriving at the switch, the more accurately it can modulate the DC into a new signal. When you cascade switches, all you’re doing is essentially passing the next switch a cleaner template to use in its synthesis.
So essentially the difference between analog and digital is that in analog, you can minimize downstream losses, whereas in digital you correct many upstream losses as well as minimising AND further correcting downstream losses.
The conclusion I would reach from the above is that its very likely indeed that excellent digital will end up outperforming excellent analog based entirely on our ability to correct faults and restore perfection from both upstream and downstream signals
 
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Rhapsody

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(maybe when Bob's ears burst into flames?)
Quite the contrary Wil, my ears are being soothed with each addition that I have reported.

Trust me, I am NOT making this stuff up. Eventually when the lockdown lifts there will be visitors that will confirm what I have experienced. The results are not debatable. I know that for sure. 100%.

The sound has become MUCH more powerful but more relaxed, things have spread out, with gentle air around each voice and instrument. Much more presence of everything on the soundstage.

Voices way on the left and right of center or tiny notes way left and right that were barely noticeable now show the full instrument, flute for example, with air and space around it. As much as in a live performance.
 

Rhapsody

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Wil, I also know that you were not questioning my experience, you were asking why is this happening. I believe that Blackmorec gave as good of an answer as I have ever heard. Thx for asking the question!!!!
 
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Kingsrule

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Why the net isolator between the 2 Gold switches? Is it just for the connection or sonics?

IME isolators sound bad....
 

Rhapsody

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Why the net isolator between the 2 Gold switches? Is it just for the connection or sonics?

IME isolators sound bad....
Only for connection reasons at the moment. The only cables I had were M12/RJ45. I need a M12/M12 cable which will eventually get, but I can say that it definitely does not sound bad at the moment BUT of course it could sound better without the isolator. Eventually I will try it.
 

wil

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wil,
AFAIK, all Extreme owners so far reported improvements with the ER when using it as a 1000Mbps switch (A-side only).
You have NO speed restrictions when you do NOT cross the moat.

Matt
OK, thanks for correcting me on that. But it does seem that the eR's tech, by necessity, is being greatly under-used with the Extreme.
 

matthias

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But it does seem that the eR's tech, by necessity, is being greatly under-used with the Extreme.
Yes, but this unused tech(B-side) is actually reducing SQ and the ER is anyway one of the least expensive "audiophile" switches around. The SotM, Melco and Telegartner are much more expensive.

Matt
 
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