Ethernet Cable or Not?

Hey everybody,

Thanks in advance for your guidance.

I use an inexpensive WiFi receiver to send a signal to a Schiit Dac, then to my Integrated.

The wireless signal never lags/buffers, but sometimes music sounds better to me than others. Very well could be in my head, tinnitus intensity, etc.

Line of sight to my router is approximately seven feet, and a ten foot cable would do the job and for the most part be hidden.

Is a wired connection between a router and WiFi receiver the way to go if one is possible? Or if I’m not having buffering should I let it be? (I don’t own a cable to try but can pick one up if it’s likely to help of course.)

Thanks for the help!
Based on past discussions I’ve seen involving similar questions I would expect that a significant majority of the responses you will receive will favor using an ethernet cable. And doing so is certainly likely to provide fine results, although not necessarily better than what you are presently obtaining.

However given that your wifi link appears to be working reliably, depending on the specific equipment and setup you have it is conceivable that results with an ethernet connection could be worse than what you presently have. For example, in the following thread ...

... I said as follows in one of my posts:

Ethernet connected devices can couple digital noise into an audio system via the wired connection itself, via the power wiring, and via the air. And the noise produced by digital circuits, being much lower in frequency than the 2.4 gHz or 5 gHz frequencies that are used by wifi, as well as potentially coupling at much greater amplitudes, stands a greater chance of affecting the sonics of the audio system than wifi signals.

My comments were met with some disagreement, and you may find the subsequent discussion to be of interest.

The bottom line would seem to be that as is often the case in audio the only way to know for sure is to try it both ways **with your specific equipment.**

Good luck. Regards,
-- Al

Wired is always preferred.
Some manufacturers use CAT6+ for isolation.
WiFi Router creates a Bubble with range in wireless area.
So strength Yeah.
Ringing in a system could be from any number of sources.
Also consult with a GP for health related concerns...

Excellent post, as always, from @almarg 

More specifics on your front end and any connections will be helpful.

Thanks, here goes, 

WiFi ——Tunebox 2, TB20 (Budget WiFi receiver) —- generic coax out to a Schiit Modi Multibit—— Morrow Level 4 RCAs —— Anthem Integrated 225.

I’m pretty content, but I perceive the quality varies at times, That’s why I’m curious about a hard wired connection to my router.

Other things it could be;

i plug my equipment directly into a wall outlet, so my power quality may vary. 

My Tinnitus varies in intensity. (Three cicadas out of five currently.)

May be all in my head/mood. 

All in all I’m content, but willing to try some simple measures. 

@almarg Thanks, as always for your thoughtful counsel, I’ll pick up a decent Ethernet cable and experiment.

@rego Good point.I’ll gut check my hearing with my GP and follow your cable advice. 



Solid advise so far, I would recommend Supra CAT 8 cable for your trial. Based on my experience, wired connection should yield improved SQ and stability in your system.
@uncledemp Thanks for the information and additional details.

If I have the correct unit (Tunebox 2 TB20), it appears to be powered by a wall wart via a micro USB cable and is rated at 5V/0.5A

My advice is to invest in a Linear Power Supply (there are many affordable options with cabling included).

I believe you will obtain far better results doing this than parsing the differences between WiFi vs. a LAN cable, in your setup.
In either case Wi-Fi or Ethernet you deliver exactly the same data.  Wi-Fi might have advantage here, separating electrically noisy computer from the DAC, but the question is what happens with the received Wi-Fi data?  When your receiver converts it to S/Pdif serial stream adding timing it also adds jitter (instability of this timing), that might affect timing of the D/A converter (that is often based on the timing of the incoming stream) resulting in basically added noise (jitter=noise).   Coax, that you mentioned might also add to timing instability (affecting shape of transitions).  I don't know how jittery is output of your receiver or how sensitive to jitter is your DAC.  My Wi-Fi receiver (Airport Express) produces small amount of jitter (280ps) but my DAC (Benchmark DAC3) is jitter suppressing.  It seems that Ethernet or USB might be better since DAC clock is independent of incoming data timing, but they tend to, as Al mentioned, inject electrical noise into the DAC, indirectly inducing timing instability of D/A conversions (noisy clock=jitter).  I use WiFi (5GHz) across the room because I don't have any way to run Ethernet cable.  If both sound the same to you - go with Ethernet to avoid possible signal dropouts.  Get shielded Ethernet cable.  If you decide to go with Wi-Fi get dual band router and 5GHz receiver if possible.  Lower band has only 3 independent channels, since each channel is almost 4 channels wide.  5GHz has more channels and less traffic.

Thanks for your feedback, I’ll check out these options. 

Hope everybody has a great weekend!
If you go the Linear Power Supply route, I encourage you to consider a LPS that offers multiple power outputs.

You did not specify your ’router’ (I’m assuming it is both a modem and router)... it is likely also DC powered.

A LPS, when used to power BOTH the ’router’ and your "WiFi Receiver" (Tunebox), will only add to the upsides with respect to performance and sound quality!

It appears your ’router’ is near enough (7 ft) to allow for one LPS to power both ’components.’ If not, and you like what a single LPS does for your system (with the Tunebox), simply add a second LPS to power your ’router’ at a later date.

All the best. Report back on the route you choose and the results.
Additional clarifying points.

1. You are already isolating your ’router’ from your "WiFi receiver" by using WiFi. This is a good thing.

In this scenario, a single LPS to your "WiFi receiver" is a good first step.

2. IF you choose to run ’wire,’ i.e. the LAN cable from your ’router’ to the "WiFi receiver"....

Then, powering your ’router’ with an LPS becomes more critical...for the reasons @almarg highlighted in his post.

Having a LPS that can power both is ideal and also allows you to test cable vs WiFi (to determine which one you prefer).
Uncle D, if you are going to try a quality ethernet cable I suggest an Audioquest Cinammon. It's not real expensive and it made a noticeable difference to me (over generic) that I liked.

Quality of cable is important but remember that you are working with 1000baseT, not 10GbaseT. That means you can achieve perfectly good results with well-made cabling that is rated for 1000baseT, which CAT5 (not even CAT5e) is rated for. The benefits of higher category cables are lower near-end crosstalk and (in certain categories) better common mode interference rejection and lower loss due to capacitive coupling between pairs. CAT6a (augmented) is called for on restricted runs for 10GbaseT, so forget about anything beyond CAT5, 5e and 6.  Buy factory made patch cables that have been certified by well-regarded manufacturers such as Leviton and Hubbell. Above all, don’t waste your money on “audiophile grade”  network cables - they are overpriced and may be lacking in quality and longevity, especially if they are made of solid core cable, which does not accept crimped RJ45 plugs very well. 
A big advantage of Audioquest Ethernet cables is they honor the inherent directionality in wires just like Audioquest speaker cables, power cords and HDMI cables. Not to mention they employ high silver content connectors. In other words they’re a couple paradigm shifts ahead of the commercial grade stuff.
Thanks again, very good points!

I’ve looked at some LPS options and they can get pricey. Please recommend a cost effective option if you know of one, I may be overthinking this.

Also, If I upgrade my WiFi receiver to a Blusound Node2 would that be a big step up, or would the LPS still be needed?

Thanks and regards-
Geoffy, how would you advise a cable manufacturer to determine the directionality of a piece of cable?
@sleepwalker65, you were right the first time re "advise" and "advice."  

My perception over the years, btw, has been that on a percentage basis what might possibly be the most common linguistic error made in posts here is substitution of "advise" for "advice." For example, people asking for "advise" rather than "advice." But in this case you used "advise" correctly.

-- Al
Are you sure advize is not correct? I really think advize is correct. 
My advice is to learn the difference between advice and advise. As such, I advise that this advice be adhered to when advising others or providing advice as an advisor 
My advice is to learn the difference between advice and advise. As such, I advise that this advice be adhered to when advising others or providing advice as an advisor. Failing this, lets just agree to use “advisce” for everything.
I’ve looked at some LPS options and they can get pricey.

Many options under USD $200. Single output units under $100.

You can go with an iFi switch mode wall wart for $49 to see if it beats the stock wall wart. Returnable, therefore minimal risk.
Post removed 
“If I upgrade my WiFi receiver to a Blusound Node2 would that be a big step up, or would the LPS still be needed?”

Node2 have been widely praised for its performance so I would say yes to better performance over your TB20. No LPS needed with Node 2, however upgrade from its stock PC is recommended. 

Something like this .....

If you choose to go Node 2 route, don’t forget the Supra Ethernet CAT8 Cable. 

Geoffy, how would you advise a cable manufacturer to determine the directionality of a piece of cable?

>>>>Well, Sleepy, there are two ways to do it. The easiest way is to cut a section of WIRE off the spool - mark the section of wire to keep track of how it came off the spool - and measure the resistance both ways from end to end. The WIRE direction that has the least resistance is the proper direction. Then you know how to construct the cable. The other way is to make up an audio cable - marking how the WIRE came of the spool - and listen the cable both directions. The direction that sounds the best is the proper direction. Then you will know how to keep track of the wire as it comes off the spool. That how you control directionality of any cable or power cord or HDMI cable or Ethernet cable.
Okie dokie Geoffy, but what about cables that are used for bi-directional signals?
What about this? What about that? The audio and video signals are not bidirectional. We don’t care about signals that are bidirectional. Hel-loo!
Ahhh, bok! You finally admit that we don’t care about directionality because it is a fictional concept. 
Wire is directional in DC circuits and AC circuits. It’s not really rocket science, Sleepy. Wake up and smell the coffee. ☕️

My setup seems most similar to yours. I run a chromecast audio via optical into a peachtree decco65. I had a 50’ cat 7 cable, so I figured I’d buy $12 ethernet adapter and connect the cable to the chromecast. This tweak made the least difference in all the tweaks I’ve tried so far. I think I can point to a difference in a specific song, but the difference was very minimal--about 99.9% on my setup.

Like you, I’m entirely plugged into the wall. Besides a LPS, the improvement I’m eyeing is the iFi SPIDF reclocker for $150. It purports to isolate the upstream noise, is powered by it’s own low noise power supply, and reclocks the stream. For our low budget streamers, the iFi reclocker seems like a better choice then a LPS for the streamer. At our price range, I wonder whether LPS’s for the streamer and router would make a difference after the iFi reclocker were introduced.


Adding tweaks to Chromecast is like installing performance tires on a Smart car. If you’re eyeing on better streaming SQ, upgrade to a decent streamer like Bluesound Node 2i.

If you choose to add iFi reclocker to Chromecast, please do post your results.

Thanks for the feedback.

What music service are you using?

Are you using an outboard Dac? I use a Schiit Modi Multibit.

Fwiw, I’m using Amazon Music HD. Before, I was streaming from the standard service. The upgrade made a world of difference. I’m very content.

Please let us know how the reclocker works-