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Ethernet Cables and Switches


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I’m going to post this and then go and hide behind the sofa..... :minikev:

Simple question, as I’m now all digital, Auralic Altair hard wired to an old, cheap gigabit switch, I’m thinking about the quality of those connections. From experience, is there any value placed on better quality ethernet cable and switches?

I’m thinking along the lines of interference / shielding etc....

I’m certainly not going to be paying £100’s for foo cables but wouldn’t dismiss spending a few quid on cables and switches of better quality than your standard fare??

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I’m using cat 6 cable and 24 port network switch and patch panel. Makes sense to use decent cable like cat 6 but no need to go over the top.

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What switch are you using ? I used a very cheap TSPLink one and sadly after 18 months it died. I bought a used Cisco one which is much better built and works spot on . I would recommend one as a top class buy for under £60 . Cat 8 cables are not that expensive and will be as good as you need.

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1 hour ago, robbie010 said:

I’m going to post this and then go and hide behind the sofa..... :minikev:

Simple question, as I’m now all digital, Auralic Altair hard wired to an old, cheap gigabit switch, I’m thinking about the quality of those connections. From experience, is there any value placed on better quality ethernet cable and switches?

I’m thinking along the lines of interference / shielding etc....

I’m certainly not going to be paying £100’s for foo cables but wouldn’t dismiss spending a few quid on cables and switches of better quality than your standard fare??

What sort of length are you talking about? I would suggest trying some Supra cat8 from somewhere like Futureshop - if you find it makes no difference, send it back. MH

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Look on eBay for an HP procurve gigabit switch, built like tanks and super reliable. HP sold these originally with lifetime guarantees. I bought a 24 port unmanaged for under £25 delivered. Any cat 5e or cat 6 cable from a reputable supplier will suffice, you don’t need screened cable in your home - maybe if you have a 10Gb network and a huge inductive motor or 300 fluorescent lights in your house but otherwise not needed.

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1 hour ago, robbie010 said:

I’m going to post this and then go and hide behind the sofa..... :minikev:

Simple question, as I’m now all digital, Auralic Altair hard wired to an old, cheap gigabit switch, I’m thinking about the quality of those connections. From experience, is there any value placed on better quality ethernet cable and switches?

I’m thinking along the lines of interference / shielding etc....

I’m certainly not going to be paying £100’s for foo cables but wouldn’t dismiss spending a few quid on cables and switches of better quality than your standard fare??

I foumd a noticable improvement when I connected my cheap cisco network switch to a LPSU instead of the stock smps.

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I use a Cisco2960G switch bought for around £50 on eBay, Farnels Cat 8 Ethernet cable and Cat 6 from the wall socket to router. All low cost and making a significant difference.

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Through god knows how many miles of network cable, routers, fibre cable, crappy old telephone network copper cable, umpteen pieces of electronics, beamed to satellites and back to earth, through a myriad of connector connections and the quality of music from Tidal/Spotify/Qobiz is going to be affected by the last few meters of network cable you have in your house? Who'd have thought it.

I've tried all sorts of cables (cat 6, 7, 8 all borrowed from work and all bought from reputable sources). I even used a 100m run of 5E cable from my router to my switch and then another 100m run of 5E cable to my raspberry pi LMS server and then another 100m run of 5E cable to my Digione streamer and it didn't make a blind bit of difference to what I heard coming out my speakers. Of course, some will disagree and claim they hear bewildering improvements with a 2m network cable they've just plugged in, and that is their prerogative.

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I use the English Electric switch. All I will say is I prefer the sound with it connected. My Linn kit doesn’t have WiFi so the only way to connect is Ethernet but here is the catch...I have to route through mains using network adapters. Placing the switch between the last connection and my Exakt Hub made a considerable improvement. It was sent on on demo and I was convinced on the first track played. In my setup it really is a must have.

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13 hours ago, robbie010 said:

Simple question, as I’m now all digital, Auralic Altair hard wired to an old, cheap gigabit switch, I’m thinking about the quality of those connections. From experience, is there any value placed on better quality ethernet cable and switches?

The effect of the network on sound quality is system dependent. Effects are second order i.e. noise from upstream PSUs or digital devices being carried into the DAC. 

I've tried almost all the wired network tweaks, my conclusion is to not use a network at all for "serious" listening and to use WiFi for "casual" (90%+) listening (fewer boxes and cheaper).

For wired networks, the most important thing I found was the quality of the power supply to the last network device before the streamer/DAC. Then the switch itself (and of course the streamer/DAC...how much is it "affected" by noise from the network).

Some of the gear I use/used:
PSU: Farad Super 3, (Paul Hynes and SBooster would be other options but I didn't try these), cheaper options "medical grade" SMPS such as Meanwell etc.
Router: Ubiquity Edgerouter X SFP
Switch: QNap 2.5G switch
Wireless Access Points: Ubiquity AP-Lite, Aruba 12, Zyxel (new WiFi 6)
Modem: ISP router in bridge mode

I never heard much difference with cables. Many "technical" folks advise unshielded, but I found cat 8 cables (with Telegartner-style plugs and solid core wire) seemed to have a slight edge over most unshielded cat 5e or shielded cat 6 I tried (Link Up yellow ones from Amazon etc, or Hagibis from China via AliExpress http://www.hagibis.com.cn/cat8-ethernet-cable-p00163p1.html).

Also, if you have a ton of other devices on your network, it's good practice to create a separate subnet for audio. If you don't know what this means, just ignore it.

Overall, the effects of network tweaking seems to be at, or even below, the level of mains cables.

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I took a step by step approach to this and ignored all those who think they know exactly what the problem is, from a technical perspective.

I use a wired ethernet connection. 

First step: introduce a basic Netgear unmanaged switch; result - small, but noticeable improvement.

2nd step: introduce an English Electric switch; result - much more noticeable improvement and very worthwhile.

3rd step: experiment with ethernet cable from switch to Aries; result - moderate, but very worthwhile improvement in sound quality (much to my surprise, to be honest)

I verified the above by reverting back to how it was before. Easily discernible degradation in SQ. Overall result of 'improving' the ethernet chain - equivalent to a component level upgrade.

I find, as in much else hifi related, that the measurists and networking 'experts' must be measuring the wrong things. There are clearly gains to be made; differences are easy to hear for me, in my system, etc. Once lockdown eases I'd be more than happy to demonstrate this.

Each to their own, of course, and if readers don't want to even entertain the possibility of the ethernet chain making a difference then fair play. But to those reading; don't be put off trying for yourself by the noise from the nay sayers here & elsewhere, however well intentioned they may be.

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I know nothing so please excuse if any of this is daft.

my Gato DIA400s NMP is an amp, DAC and streamer all in one the only other thing attached to that is a Pioneer Blu-ray player which is used as a transport for CD and of course for DVD and Blu-ray playback 

I have the Gato hard wired to my router via cat6 cable.

 I also have my PC as my Roon core and my old CD collection on a 2tb HD both are streamed wirelessly  to the Gato.

Is there a better ( sound quality ) way to do this and is a switch needed in this set up?
If so where and how is it connected?

cheers 

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Ron it may not make much difference if you use wireless but if you want to have a look out for some used Cisco switches on ebay they should be about maximum fifty quid . These ones do not have a power supply but have inbuilt power so just connect to the mains. You wire the switch from your router and then everything else wired goes to the switch . In some systems this reduces noises and in my system stopped persistent drop outs . My Cisco is the slower variety and works really well for music and streaming 4K  material on my TV . The quicker switches may be needed if you use your network for speed intensive tasks.

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I noticed that the English Electric ethernet switch is available for £449 in shops ... one of the shops is called "Hi Fi Madness". How appropriate :D

YMMV ... try one and see if it works for you. 

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