Cheapest way to enhance SQ with digital streaming

I could not stop but post my observations on remarkable SQ improvement with just a small change. I have been using digital streaming predominantly and have tried many things (cables, conditioner, room treatment). Everything does matter and they all did improve the quality without doubt and are definite investment. But after going through some reviews of fiber optic for Ethernet and their noise reducing properties compared to copper cables, I thought of giving a try. I connected Ethernet cable from router/Ethernet switch to media converter and fiber optic from this media converter (need SFP module) to second media converter (with another SFP module). Then regular Ethernet cable went from this second media converter to server/streamer. Basically the idea is to add fiber optic cable between the router and streamer, which will reduce the noise. But, wow, the difference was huge and amazing. Not sure how to explain the improvement, but the SQ was more fluid, melodious, fast, clean and separation of instruments were clear. The total cost for this was less than 150 (on Amazon). Apparently, as the fiber optic cable conductors are made of glass, they carry less noise compared to copper and also cost very cheap. Compared to money spent on other component in my system (have spent quite a lot), this is the most cost efficient and gave more improvement in the SQ. I am still amazed by this and very happy with what I heard. I feel negligent not to share with my fellow audiophiles, who are trying to get the best out and improve their system, sometime spending quite a bit for small difference. I guess, since the cost of trying this is so cheap (please don’t make me feel guilty for telling 150$ is cheap), try yourself and see the difference. On a different note, have been reading that use of Ethernet switch also does some “saucery” (I am no technical guy, but do read quite a bit of articles on audio) to reduce this noise to improve SQ and combination of fiber optic and the Ethernet switch takes SQ to different level. Will try some audiophile Ethernet switch sometime (may be uptone ethergen or Sotm snh-10g) to try out as I am very intrigued. 

@docknow my Macbook Pro does not have an ethernet port built in.  You have to use either usb or thunderbolt port with a converter/adapter.  This worked fine



+1 for me. Many thanks to both of you for suggesting this cheap but dramatic improvement to my network audio setup. It was so easy to order exactly what was recommended on Amazon. I am thrilled at the sound quality. I switched to playing my local music files from my computer directly to my dac via usb to streaming them via an ethernet lan connection through a dedicated streamer (Zen Stream) about six months ago. I added an inexpensive D-link switch a few weeks ago with excellent results for $25. Adding fibre optics for about $80 has been the icing on the cake. The sound is even more relaxed yet more detailed, dynamic, and three dimensional. If I heard the total improvement from behind a curtain, I would think it was a mega mega buck new setup with state of the art components.

@sns Trying the Opticalrendu would be next, but the expense of it is a deterrent. Thanks for sharing your extensive knowledge and insight.

@dbb I am really glad you tried and worked. Sometimes people are used to digital noise and they might not like it when using fiber optic because of “change” but at least it is least expensive way to try in expensive hobby. Once you get used to noise free digital, it’s hard to go back. 
Another good thing about the fiber optic is that it is made of glass and no amount of purification/ processing will change the character and hence works out cheap, unlike copper or silver cables, where you see the price going Uber high with different manufacturers and how they build it. 

Yes, ethernet vs optical cable cost is important variable to consider. Prior to optical I tried various classes of generic ethernet, worked up through Supra, Wireworld, and various AQ from Cinnamon on up to Vodka. Vodka substantially better from generic, cost becomes consequential when you add up all the individual runs. Optical cable cheap, and more importantly, higher resolving than any ethernet cable due to complete isolation. Per Romney80, noise free cable has a different sound, it is the absent of sound, you're only hearing pure signal.


The only thing that can alter the sound of cable is the converters and power supplies used with them, whereas ethernet cables have sound of their own. Ethernet cables have various shielding schemes and metallurgy, all effect the sound. I'd rather have the zero variable of optical cable.

I just got a streaming system setup and would like to try optical, but streaming is new to me and despite all the specific advice in this thread there is enough jargon that I don’t understand what I need to do.  I have a single Ethernet cable running to an Innuos streamer/server (I don’t even really know what those words mean), then USB to DAC.  There is talk in this thread of so many different pieces of equipment, I basically have one thing, an Innuos.  I do not know what I would need to incorporate optical.