I have perfected my network for the nth time


This is the complete summation of my efforts to optimize my network for streaming music. I started out with a combination of wired ethernet and fiber optic and ended with a completely wired network with passive filtration. This article represents only one of the myriad ways that exist to set up a network around myriad component choices. Your network will be a variation on mine as all systems are ultimately unique. It also represents a “no stone unturned” effort around the realization that “everything matters.” As such, I hope it will be a reference to those newly starting out, or to those currently in the process of searching for the best sound.

Let me humbly share my journey of tweaking my streaming network that I built around a Small Green Computer bundle. Back when I initially set up this configuration I modeled it exactly after Michael Lavorgna’s recommendations, now of Twittering Machines. It was stated that wired ethernet contains a multitude of music destroying noises that must be dealt with. Who was I to argue. At the time I didn’t even know what an ethernet switch was (a free- lance musician and private music teacher leading a sheltered existence) .

The bold type face in the following diagrams indicate elements that will be changed and explained as you progress through the text:

FO through wall > ONT,smps > 8tac tenrehte > router,smps > cat 8 > $15 switch,smps > cat 8 > i5 Transporter,smps.

Same switch > cat 8 > FMC,smps > Fiber optic > FMC,smps > cat 8 > ultraRendu with LPS > Pangea Audio Premier SE MKII USB Cable > Benchmark DAC3B.

I had completely solved all power problems in my system to achieve a superior black background. The above still had grunge :

1. I added a LPS with a Y adapter to power both FMC = better

2. I added a LPS to the Transporter = better

3. I replaced the LPS power chords with Pangea Audio AC-14SE MkII = better

4. I wrapped my fiber optical cable in bubble wrap. It seems they are sensitive to vibrations. = better

5. I replaced the 3 post switch cat8 ethernet cables with Pangea Premier SE = way way way better, but STILL some remaining niggly grunge!

6. I had not bought into the $700-$10,000+ ethernet switch mania. I had bought my $15 plastic covered switch from Home Depot. I did try a more expensive switch and sent it back because I could hear no improvement. I rewired post switch and removed the FMCs. LISTENED. Then I added the FMCs back in. They were definitely improving the sound, by a lot!

I ordered a iFi iPower X Ultra Low Noise AC/DC Power Supply for the switch. I took out the FMCs again and installed the new PS. WHAM!! The sound came into complete focus. I reinstalled the FMCs and now a huge amount of grunge had disappeared.

7. The new Pangea Audio Premier XL MKII USB Cable came on the market, which separates out the 5v current wire from the signal wires. Because my Benchmark DAC was using the 5v current, I replaced my previous Pangea Audio Premier SE MKII USB Cable (same wire and connectors) and wiped another smear of noise from the window. This is the single biggest improvement of all these suggestions.

8. Shutting the WIFI off in my primary router and using a wireless access point to regain WIFI for the house. It has resulted principally in opening up the sound-stage : width, depth, with clearer separation. This was the elephant masking the remaining network problems. I subsequently had to go back into my router when I realized I also had to disable the broadcasting of the router name and also disable the WAN feature to get the complete quiet I was looking for. The result was truly  startling.

9. I lived with this WIFI tweak for two weeks and I gradually became aware of a persistent coloration that I eventually came to realize was masking the harmonic structure of the music. Once I defined the problem there was no ignoring it. The problem had to be solved.

I started digesting the suggestions in this thread for optimizing an optical filter as I watched the $$$ mount while listing things to buy. I remembered that Mr. Lavorgna moved on by replacing his optical filter with a GigaFOIL. I found a thread on this very subject from that time period. Some level-headed fellow suggested removing the filter for a listen before proceeding. He had become unconvinced of the need for filtering. It was simple to connect an ethernet cable directly from my switch to the Sonore ultraRendu. I pushed play on Qobuz not knowing what to expect. Not only was the coloration banished, but the musicians exploded into the room, the result of expanded dynamic freedom . I was sitting there like a one-year-old that had seen his first Jack-in-the-Box! I stayed up late last evening listening to favorites with profound new revelations at every turn of phrase.

I decided to redo the test I had done previously comparing Dudamel conducting Ives Symphony 2 : Qobuz 24/96 vs CD 16/44.1. The first time I reported that they sounded identical. Now they did not. The Qobuz sounded like a SACD and the CD sounded like a CD, which is how it should sound when comparing different resolutions. The CD sounded like the colored generic-optical stream and the all-wired stream of Qobuz sounded much more open and revealing of a multitude of detail.

My network is now simplified being all wired ethernet with no optical:

FO through wall > ONT,smps > 8tac tenrehte > router,smps > cat 8 > $15 switch with iFi PS > Pangea ethernet > i5 Transporter with LPS

Same switch > Pangea ethernet > ultraRendu with LPS > Pangea Audio Premier XL MKII USB Cable > Benchmark DAC3B.

 

10. Let’s do some testing. I stumbled on this looking for other advice. It was reported that the ethernet cable direction makes a difference. My findings: definitely!!!!!

Test piece : Qobuz stream 16/44.1 : Elliott Carter "Horn Concerto" which is a highly detailed and dramatic work sure to reveal any differences.

First, I reversed cat8 between ONT and router and a veil was removed!!

Second, I reversed Pangea ethernet between switch and Sonore ultraRendu, and I had it right the first time.

Third, I reversed Pangea between switch and Transporter i5 resulting in severe sonic degradation. Back to the way it was originally.

I don’t have the courage to reverse the 50’ cat8 running under my floor and suspended with cable ties, but extrapolating from what I heard, I think I got it right(grin).

Three out of four isn't bad, but that one reversal has taken things to a new level of dynamic freedom and sonic clarity.

I was grateful for this new discovery because it gave me a foundation to further explore ethernet cabling in my system. Initially I researched out an inexpensive Chinese brand of cat8 that had excellent published specs and just went with it. When I substituted Pangea cables post switch (Every component in my system has to be best value for the dollar, systematically synergistic, and musical sounding. No budget busting or retirement account draining devices allowed!) I got a nice jump in clarity and left it at that. Now, when I had just removed the optical filter from my network, I had an extra Pangea and decided to try it between my ONT and router.

This involved some work as the cable was short necessitating me moving my router much closer to the ONT. I removed the Ethernet cable whose direction had been determined, with a cable whose direction was not determined. I had to try it both ways and then go back and forth between cables a couple of times, and the Pangea won. The Chinese cable sounds wonderful but just a little smooth and a little less open on the top. This is subtle but clear to me, and the more open cable leads to less fatigue in longer listening sessions.

This suggests that the remaining 50' Chinese cable MAY need to be replaced and I ordered a 20m Supra cat8 and Linkup cat8.

11. Ladies and Gentlemen : the results of The Great Ethernet Cable Shootout. The contenders:

a. Pangea Premier SE cat8 26awg Cardas Grade One silver-coated copper, audiophile claims .6m (Audio Advisor)

b. Gigaware cat6 24awg 15m (Radio Shack)

c. Chinese No-name cat8 26awg 15m published specs (Amazon)

d. Linkup cat8 22awg 15m published specs (Amazon)

e. Supra cat8+ 26awg 20m audiophile claims, published specs (ebay)

All cables were individually listening tested for directionality. It was conclusively unanimous, all of the ethernet cables sounded better one way than the other. When installed backwards the principal result was a shrinking of the sound-stage. It seemed the longer the cable the more dramatic the effect. Since none of the cables had marked arrows, the chances of correct installation when testing a new cable was 50%, and that is what I achieved. With a little experience I could hear the narrow sound-stage in less than a minute. These results are corroborated in Audio Quests ethernet cable literature :

Directionality
All audio cables are directional. The correct direction is determined by listening to every batch of metal conductors used in every AudioQuest audio cable. Arrows are clearly marked on the connectors to ensure superior sound quality. For best results, have the arrow pointing in the direction of the flow of music. For example, NAS to Router, Router to Network Player.

After I had corrected the reversed cable in my network, and replaced the short Chinese cat8 with Pangea, the sonic improvements led me to suspect the 15m Chinese cat8 as a potential bottleneck in my network.

ONT > Pangea > router > WINNER of the Shootout > switch > Pangea > Sonore ultraRendu

A. I installed the Gigaware cat6 that I used when I first started to experiment with streaming years ago. The sound was horrible. It reduced the sound of $$$$ equipment to the sound of $$ equipment.

B. The Chinese cat8 was good sounding and I could get Qobuz 24/96 tracks to sound like SACD. When after weeks of reading this thread and working on my network I listened to silver discs again, I found a subtle difference which I felt I needed to pursue, leading to this test.

C. The Linkup cat8 is an industrial strength cable, unusually thick and stiff. My initial impression was it is going to need significant break in time. After 24 hours it sounded better but in no way settled. My impression was that it is a system dependent cable. I am pretty sure it will never be the right fit for me.

D. The SLAM-DUNK WINNER is SUPRA 8. When I dropped this into my system the instincts leading to this test were completely justified. Indeed, the Chinese cable was holding the sound hostage. The sound-stage opened to new unheard of width and depth. The dynamics were so free and the musicians were so present, I wondered why I could not smell their sweat. I did not think to look at my speakers because it was obvious there was no music was emanating from them!

Upon reflection there is a synergy between the Pangea and Supra, a perfect marriage. Each allow the other complete freedom to do its thing. Since I will never hear a complete loom of either Pangea or Supra, I cannot conjecture what they would sound like. I don’t care, because when you have found the love of your life, you will only confuse yourself or do harm by continuing to play the field.

There are so many other brands/models to choose from. Many of you have your favorites. For me the above setup is a cost-effective value-for-performance solution that I always search for.

While I was testing, it was easy to run each ethernet cable to my new wireless access point and stream music to my laptop > iFi usb filter > AudioQuest Dragonfly Red > headphones. In each case, the sonic signature of the cables described above was broadcast over WIFI. This suggests there is no free lunch and a quality cable is needed.

 

12. I gathered the pieces to replace the smps for my ISP ONT and router:

a. iFi elite 12v 4a PS

b. DC cable Y adapter 18awg

c. Pangea 14awg PC

d. Brickwall surge protector

The installation of them opened the soundstage to cavernous dimensions, brought unbelievable separation to complex music, and a wonderfully beautiful tonality.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I declare my network optimized!

 

  1. I am back. After getting through #12 above, I was a tired and worn out audiophile and needed to return to being a melomaniac, my chief feature. After three months of joyfully listening to music on LPs, silver discs, and Qobuz, the audiophile lights started to flash into my attention. I was listening to a CD of Brahm’s Symhony 2, Dohnanyi, Cleveland Orchestra on London. The performance was immersive and the sound was definably solid in audiophile terms. I wondered how it would compare to the streamed 16/44.1 version. Here we go down the rabbit hole. There was no favorable comparison. The streamed sound was bleached and the dynamics impeded. Could this be be the “ethernet noise” that I had so far been unable to quantify? Could I do a quick test on my hypothesis that did not use fiber optics?

 My network with possible filtration points: 1,2 etc.

ONT > cat 8 > (5) router (4) > cat 8 > $15 switch > cat 8 > (3) i5 Transporter

Same switch > cat 8 > (2) ultraRendu (1) > USB cable > DAC

I remembered that I had an iFi iSilencer USB noise filter that I had purchased to use with my Audio Quest Dragonfly Red DAC some years ago. I had considered trying it in the big rig several times but considered it unworthy due to prejudice (no one is immune). When I tried it in position 1 above there was a definite improvement. iFi has a new version called iFi iSilencer+, which I ordered and was rewarded with another big step in enhanced performance.

Was I done? I noticed iFi had an iFi LAN iSilencer in their catalogue. I reached out to Ifi support and asked what I could expect if I piggy-backed these in the same network. I got an immediate, thoroughly helpful, and cheerful reply stating I would probably experience “diminishing returns”, but you never really know until you try for yourself. Off went the order. I tried it in position 2 and it was not optimal to have two filters on the in and out of the same device. There was a slight but discernable squashing of the sound-stage. When I moved the LAN filter to position 3 I got a huge improvement that was additive. I moved it from position 3 to 4 and heard a new kind of good while sacrificing the previous good. I ordered a second LAN filter.

Trying LAN filters in positions 3 and 4 and the USB filter in position 1, I was rewarded with an other additive upgrade in performance! I moved one filter from position 4 to 5 and it just sounded wrong.  Back to 4 and I was done filtering for $250 plus tax and no new boxes, PS, PC, etc.

  1. While I was waiting for the various filters to arrive I realized I had not yet experimented with mechanical isolation with my router, PS, surge protector (12 above). I bought another bag of hockey pucks and used stacks of 2 under devices until they were stable and achieved another huge improvement! I also tested elevating the PCs and 20m Supra CAT 8+ ethernet cable from the floors around the router and in the listening room. I was rewarded again. DO IT!

When you are working on your network and pondering your progress, be sure to compare “apples to apples” or CD verses 16/44.1 as your principle test. When they match you have truly achieved something. There are many files on the streaming services that are not the same as the CD so you have to use your experience to make sure you are on the right track. I am now getting as close to equality comparing CD to streaming 16/44.1 as I am likely to get and have probably achieved parity. The improvements I have brought to CD level streaming have scaled nicely to higher resolution streams, opening up sonic vistas that were subtly masked before and now stunning to witness. After all, what is a direct comparison to these resolutions? My streaming has become a truly satisfying experience.

Ladies and Gentlemen, for the second time, I declare my network optimized (until the audiophile lights start flashing)!

 

Now I am going to jump into the weeds and try to draw some conclusions :

a. There are two (three) ways to skin this network cat : All wired or conversion to all optical, both can sound equally good, although I personally have not heard optimized optical. (In addition there probably are those who have optimized WIFI setups.)

b. I think another reason for my success with all wired ethernet is the installation of a whole-house surge protector. This not only has lowered the line voltage from 126v to around 122v, but also seriously lowered the electrical noise floor. This has benefits for a network being installed in multiple rooms and on different electrical legs.

c. I am sensing that before the WIFI tweak (ref 6 above), the optical filter could remove some, but not all of the upstream noise, suggesting a confirmation of the original poster’s assertion of signal damage. This could and should be investigated by someone with the right equipment and expertise. What happens to the square wave when subjected to intense RFI in these router combos?

d. Wired network optimization now consists of the tried and true audiophile tweaks of quality cabling, ALL THINGS POWER, mechanical isolation, and passive filtering. In addition optical network optimization needs the highest quality converters with additional LPS and PCs, transceivers, and optical cable. This can be effective, but is it necessary? It surely is expensive. (Again, BOTH need to use a separate Wireless-Access-Point.)

e. IMHO, for those newly setting up their network, I highly recommend all Pangea digital cables, the highest model only, available with a 30 day return. Give them a listen against the mega-buck cables or the cheapies you may be using and see what you think.

This post reveals that I make no changes in my system unless I have clearly defined a problem that needs a solution. I listen to music with my trained and experienced musician’s ears. Problems always surface when I get frustrated trying to parse more meaning out of the performance/sound. My system has been meticulously tweaked. When one first starts tweaking, the sonic changes are minute because there are still so many problems masking clarity. However, as you get to the end, each new tweak is a revelation/game-changer. They are harder to find but Oh!-so-rewarding. If I can find anything new I’ll report back.

This was a four year journey. I have learned a ton along the way. I hope it is helpful to someone else.

singingg

Wow, I truly appreciate you taking one for the team and contributing your research. I got nothing to share re: network improvement. I was able to improve my streaming experience by using a Sony TAZH1-ES DAC to remaster everything in DSD. I am sure if I upgrade the signal being sent to the DAC using your info will improve even further. Plus this should improve my video streams as well.

Hello @singingg ,  Wow.

We have done many similar things in our network optimization.  I never tried optical though, and probably won't.  One thing I have not done is upgrade the power supply to my ONT terminal in my garage.  I also have one long run of Verizon's cat 6 from ONT into my office.  From there I am highly optimized:

Supra Cat 8 > Verizon Modem Gateway G3100.  Wifi is disabled.  The imbedded switch in the G3100 feeds non audio (TV's and Eero Pro 6 wifi routers) 

It also feeds my JCAT m12 gold switch with Sean Jacobs DC4 -AR6 power supply.  This M12 switch then feeds my two audio streamers.  It formerly also fed my Roon Nucleus, which is now gone.  All cables in and out of the JCAT m12 Gold switch are JCAT cables.  The one meter JCAT cables then connect to longer runs of Supra with the JCAT Net Isolators.  This is cleansing and also avoids any cheap wall plates or couplers.

At the stereo system, the Supra again uses a JCAT Net Isolator to connect to my passive Network Acoustics Muon Pro filters.  The filters have NA cables on both ends, running into my Grimm MU1 streamer.  This (Grimm) is now where my Roon Core lives, so that simplifies things.

I am going to look into upgrading the power supply on the ONT and also eventually replacing the long run of Cat 6 with Supra.

You mentioned:

I had not bought into the $700-$10,000+ ethernet switch mania. I had bought my $15 plastic covered switch from Home Depot. I did try a more expensive switch and sent it back because I could hear no improvement. 

I agree with that on my first attempt.  I replaced my Netgear cheap switch with a English Electric Bonn 8.  I could not hear a difference, but felt better for having it!

Then I got the M12 Gold from Marcin at JCAT.  Easily heard the upgrade in clarity. When I added a JCAT Optimor 3 Duo power supply the improvement doubled!  Now I am using the Sean Jacobs AR6 to power the switch and better still.  Maybe I will repurpose the JCAT Optimo 3 for the ONT!  Anyway, with all you have done, you should get your hands on a M12 switch and I think you will appreciate it!

You know we are never done, right!  :)

Add my Wow! to the list. That is a thorough analysis and gives me a lot to ponder on my system.  I'm currently running optical from the router to the streamer to replace a 50 foot run of ethernet which made a huge difference.

Ugh.  My head hurts now, but thanks a lot for all the good and helpful experience/info!

Thank you so much for sharing your journey. Wow, you are a man dedicated to the cause. Incredible dedication to doing what you did.

 

Just a note to those just joining in on streaming. You can achieve outstanding sound quality by two routes: enormous effort into cleaning up and optimizing your whole network or buying a better streamer that will isolate and provide outstanding sound quality. I think we all have tremendous respect for those that want to use their dedication and problems solving skills to optimize the network. But for most of us, we would rather just plunk down a box and use it.

Is there a big difference in cost? I will be honest, I am not sure. The cost of exploring both options would be costly in both money and time. But it would be interesting to know. But typically one takes one route and not both.

I must be lucky. Mine has always sounded great since day one years ago. Streamer, software and DAC combo combined with practical isolation methods determines most of end results in my findings.

@ghdprentice I tend to want to do both!  Optimize the network then add a very good streamer!  I currently have a JCAT XACT S1 Streamer on trial from Marcin at JCAT.   It is sounding amazing.  It runs JPLAY, Marcin's proprietary software.  It does not run Roon, due to sound optimization.  I am still listening and comparing.  I would say the S-1 is maybe 5% better than the Grimm MU1 in sound quality.  But I miss Roon. I remember when I did not know what Roon was, now I miss it? :)

I must be lucky. Mine has always sounded great since day one years ago.

Same here. I'd have never pursued streaming if it required this amount of effort to get great results.

I hate to have to say it but show me something other than words to convince me how all that makes  a clear difference.

I would be curious if you would hear a difference if blind tested.  If I had a $1 million system maybe it would be worth looking into.  

@fastfreight

I appreciate you for sharing your impressions. Would you say S1 is the best you’ve heard so far? I loved my trial with JPLAY app. Its seamless integration with Qobuz and uncomplicated layout impressed me. Can’t quite comment on SQ cause I didn’t tried with a bonafide streamer like S1. I wish Marcin thought of including an external clock input on S1. Having heard, N20 with external master clock, I am now spoiled. It is very unlikely, I would consider another server or streamer without external master clock provision.

It don’t mean a thing when the ISP goes out. In that case you are out of the streaming business. Better hang a tape.

An external clock only matters with certain or old DACs.

Thanks so much for sharing @singingg ! Hopefully this is helpful to someone. Obviously other than ASR crowd.

 

Speaking of which:

mapman's avatar

mapman

21,251 posts

 

I hate to have to say it but show me something other than words to convince me how all that makes  a clear difference.

Like what? What proof do you seek? Also, why does anyone, anybody, any person, any human being, has to convince YOU? Who are YOU? People share their personal experiences. If it does not matter to you, move on. Read something else. Like ASR.

 

 

Hello @lalitk, I have not heard the top Aurender models.  but the S1 is easily better than the Aries G2.0 and sounds slightly better than the MU1.  I am still a Roon fan.  I have two systems and two additional (bedroom / bathroom) endpoints so I enjoy the ability to link them with Roon.  I wish the S1 did Roon, but I understand that sound quality drove this decision for Marcin.  Aurender seems to be bending this consideration, and as I am still searching for a second streamer, I would be interested in hearing a new Aurender Roon certified Streamer.  Grimm is also to be updating their software so a MU1 can be endpoint only vs Roon core as default.

I am trying not to like the S1 more than the Grimm but this is not proving easy!

@mapman ​​​​@larry5729 , all that matters to me and my money is what I hear.  Sorry, words don't do that.  No offense if it is not for you.  I cannot unhear improvements in sound.  It is no different than upgrading any other component in the chain; would you argue about words explaining one amplifier sounding better than another?

@ghdprentice I have tried, for example, removing the Muon filter prior to my Grimm MU1.  While the difference is not as large as without this 'quality streamer', it is still an improvement (to me). Marcin (JCAT XACT) has stated his S1 was developed to sound amazing without fancy switches or network tweaks.  But keep reading, he also states that using an quality switch (in his case another S1 in switch mode) sounds even better.

 

 

Well done. I do master clock, ethernet switch, optical, quality power, ethernet and interconnect cables and a decent streamer over 5k. None of that seems like money wasted in my house of stereo. I somehow don"t even look for ways to improve my qobuz experience any longer.  

Oh Jeezze!  And I just bought my first dedicated streamer box and think it sounds great.🤨  WIIM Pro

Ok I’ll settle for some pictures and a description of the entire system used.  I’m assuming there is an amp and speakers in there somewhere?  Maybe I missed it.  Details, details.  

mapman's avatar

mapman

21,252 posts

 

Ok I’ll settle for some pictures and a description of the entire system used.  I’m assuming there is an amp and speakers in there somewhere?  Maybe I missed it.  Details, details.  

Let’s start with you. Over 21,000 posts here and I fail to see your stereo under “systems” here. In Audiogon. If you post a link to your “system” in ASR that’s fine too. Graphs are fine too

 

@thyname not that I owe you any response but with all due respect I am not the one making any claims in this thread so there is nothing for me to prove. Btw my system has largely changed but I did have it posted here for quite a long time. Posting personal information on unsecured public sites is not a good idea in general so I stopped doing it. But I am glad to answer any specific questions and even offer a listen if ever in the area.

 

The premise of saying all claims must be followed up by proof has been beaten  like a dead horse. No one is under any obligation to do so. It's not some kind of unspoken law around these parts, try as some may to make it so.

All the best,
Nonoise

@mapman :

I am not the one making any claims in this thread so there is nothing for me to prove. 

With outmost due respect, what are you actually saying? You asked for proof. No? Copy / paste:

mapman's avatar

mapman

21,253 posts

 

I hate to have to say it but show me something other than words to convince me how all that makes  a clear difference.

So why are you twisting it?

I simply asked you “what proof do you ask for?”. Who asked YOU for proof? What am I missing here with your logic?

Here is my post:

 

Speaking of which:

mapman's avatar

mapman

21,251 posts

 

I hate to have to say it but show me something other than words to convince me how all that makes  a clear difference.

Like what? What proof do you seek? Also, why does anyone, anybody, any person, any human being, has to convince YOU? Who are YOU? People share their personal experiences. If it does not matter to you, move on. Read something else. Like ASR.

If you think the dudes are all stupid here, you are grossly mistaken. Being of ASR doesn’t make you any smarter 🤯


Btw my system has largely changed but I did have it posted here for quite a long time. Posting personal information on unsecured public sites is not a good idea in general so I stopped doing it. But I am glad to answer any specific questions and even offer a listen if ever in the area.

And yet you asked the dude the following point blank:

mapman's avatar

mapman

21,253 posts

 

Ok I’ll settle for some pictures and a description of the entire system used.

So it’s OK for demanding others post their system but you are immune to posting yours? Again, I fail to see your logic. Unless you think people here are stupid. You are mistaken. Being of ASR doesn’t make you any smarter.
 
May I kindly ask you post your system in words , bullet points is fine. Just asking very politely what you demanded others do

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nobody is obligated to offer any proof or even evidence of anything.

Accordingly of course nobody is obligated to either accept or reject claims asserted.   That’s each persons choice. If someone wants to believe I have no problem with that. But apparently some have a problem when other’s opinion differs. Oh well, that’s life.

Apparently ASR is living rent free in some heads. What’s up with that? I have 21k+ posts here so I am entitled to post anywhere else I please don’t you think?

BTW just so happens I have never posted on ASR and have no desire to do so. Go figure!

 

 

 

 


What’s up with that? I have 21k+ posts here so I am entitled to post anywhere else I please

I am sorry to say this does not prove you are smarter. It only proves you spent a lot of time here. For what? I am not 🤔 sure

 

No @thyname I did not ask for proof nor “demand” anything. That was your interpretation. Also not interested in pi—ing contests. So over and out. I’ll stay tuned and see if anything more of interest or value should pop up. Why? Because I like to learn and you never know where something useful might pop up.

 

You got ASR living rent free in your head. Maybe see a doctor about that.

Great post!  
 

Thank you. 
 

Annoying parts for you is, this story is “to be continued.”

Technology always be a changing,,,,

 

@larry5729 

"I would be curious if you would hear a difference if blind tested.  If I had a $1 million system maybe it would be worth looking into. "

Ditto!

I have been in IT since the early 1990's.  I just can't jump on board here although I appreciate the tenacity of the OP 

@mapman :

Why? Because I like to learn

My friend, if you think you can learn by debunking internet threads via posting 22,000+ times you are grossly mistaken I am afraid

 

I have been in IT since the early 1990’s. I just can’t jump on board here although I appreciate the tenacity of the OP

 

Ditto. Op mentioned a house wide surge protector. I also have one of those. Highly recommended.

DAC and software used for streaming matter the most IMHO. No hardware can make up for poor quality streaming software. I am a Roon fan and Roon took my streaming to a higher level. Not the easiest to get one’s arms around but worth the effort.

I appreciate that Roon tells me each digital signal processing step along the way from source resolution to digital output resolution. This clearly enables one to better understand what one is hearing and the DSP performed to produce it.  Very cool!

 

I stream mostly cd res files in my music library and Qobuz hi res up to 192 kHz and 24 bits as I recall.

 

I use only very strong wireless WiFi connections. Very simple and sounds simply fabulous.

 

I’ve heard it all over the years to compare with. Is my streaming the best? Don’t know. But it is very good and definitely in the game. I believe I have a pretty discerning ear and it definitely meets my expectations.

 

All my wires are connected properly TTBOMK. I have no inclination whatsoever to fiddle with those at this point. I chose my wires pretty well I think and they are all pretty cost effective especially by high end standards.

I'm glad I just hook up my equipment and enjoy listening to music.  My Bluesound Node connected to my Dennis Had LP3.1 Tube Preamp into my Dennis Had Inspire 45 Tube amp to my Klipsch Forte speakers.

 

I guess I'm a "Simple Simon".  Tip of the cap for all your work.

I run Roon endpoint software on 5 different devices currently. My two “hifi” streamers are Cambridge Audio Units. Nothing fancy….just well executed and pretty reliable. Roon itself is reliable most of the time but is subject to occasional glitches usually fixed by a restart.

 

One of my Cambridge units is an all in one so guess what? The only wires are to the speakers. It connects to my Roon core over WiFi so no wire there either. As simple as could be. Maybe that’s one reason why it sounds so good?

Congratulations on wasting a ton of time and money on this useless experiment!

the only thing you did of real value was to turn off Wifi on your router, which can interfere with lower end equipment, the rest is useless and it is physically impossible for it to make a difference. 
 

and Ethernet is absolutely not directional, it is a two way communication street at all times, anyone telling you otherwise is selling you snake oil. 

 

 

@nonoise you are, of course, wrong again. Someone saying that Ethernet is directional as an example is absolutely ridiculous without any type of evidence showing that at 50 year old network protocol autonomously changed how it works with the swap of a cable. As just one example. 

I have been streaming music on my hifi rig for just over two years now. Since I am retired I get to listen to music pretty regularly. I have a killer analog rig and CD transport but I am streaming about 90% of the time now. It sounds great and I can explore Qobuz sitting on my couch with my iPad. Like everyone here, streaming music is a journey and I want to share what I have found sounds best for my rig. From what I have read on these forums, not surprisingly, everyone gets differing results and that there are many paths to musical oneness- ie. connecting to the music. This is my path.

1) An audio grade network switch between router and music server significantly improves the sound. The soundstage grows, bass is cleaner, highs are cleaner and the images are more dimensional. I was using a fiber optic link between the router and music server. This is the biggest bang for the buck for streaming. I found the LHY-8 network switch steps up the streaming performance a little more. As a stereo component the LHY-8 is relatively cheap but still, it costs 20x more than a basic network switch with a wall wart. For audio the difference between a computer grade cheap switch and the LHY-8 is no comparison. Don’t know if audio grade switches costing many times more than the LHY-8 would perform better- don’t care. This one works for me.

2) Silver plated copper wire ethernet cables are a must. These don’t have to be super expensive. I found silver plated copper wire ethernet cables for 5x-10x the cost of basic $10, 1/2meter ethernet cables do the job very well.

3) I stream PCM using a ROON based music server. I started with streaming DSD. Tried several different filter configurations. In the end I found it better to let my DAC do all the work and take the load off of the processor in my music server. That gives the best sound for me. My DAC can upsample. Depending on my mood I go NOS most of the time but I try upsampling now and then.

4) 96 kHz/24 bit files sound the best. This applies to downloaded files and streaming. I noticed this early on but was able to confirm it several times now because I have found some albums on Qobuz offered in multiple formats. I have a few albums on CD that are offered on Qobuz in 44.1/16, 96/24 and 192/24. I did some informal trials and concluded that 96/24 sounds the best to me.

That’s where I am today. I have my own modem and ifi 12 volt low noise power supplies on the modem and router. Can’t say I heard much of a difference with those upgrades- but they didn’t hurt. The other big benefit is that I ran an ethernet cable from the LHY-8 to my TV. Wow! what a difference in the picture that made- and it is not even a silver plated wire ethernet cable. (It is 75 feet long) If there are audio skeptics out there regarding an audio grade switch, then seeing is believing.

@markprice   +1

 

I could be cruel and mention that the one tweak the OP doesn’t mention is getting his OCD medication dose adjusted properly, but I won’t go there.

  This site gets a lot of people who are new to streaming and are afraid of potential complexities.  Hopefully they won’t stumble on to this thread or they might run away.

  However, in all seriousness to the OP, I note that more than a few times you say a change resulted in the elimination of a “huge amount of grunge” or something similar.  Really?  How bad was the original setup?  We can’t quantify grunge, it is a subjective term, but surely the original setup you describe must have given some satisfaction?  To your credit you seem to have rejected some solutions, such as Uber expensive switches, so you have done some critical listening and not just thrown money at the system.

  I started streaming, as many others have, with a Mac n DAC, using a program such as Audirvana Plus on the computer to maximize the sound quality.  And it was a pretty satisfying way to go for several years.  Eventually I got tired of having a computer in the system and then started with streamers.  There are improvements as I go up the ladder, but in terms of SQ,, the original MacnDAC got me about 90% there.  The rest has been incremental improvements, and about 2 years ago I called it quits and just sit back and enjoy what I have

Let me add my WOW to all the other Wow's. I did not realize the I was dropping a neutrino-bomb on the forum. I think the dust has settled sufficiently for me to respond.

 

First of all I am making no claims that necessitate belief. This is just my journey that I took, not by plan, but with open minded curiosity. Many times along the way I would question a tweak but always went ahead because “ you never know until you try.”

 

My original post is very long and contains much information. I spent many hours collating these experiences  and writing them into a literate article. Much time was spent in making the best word and grammar choices. However I am sure a professional editor could suggest many improvements to my writing.

 

In writing my first and last two paragraphs I tried to proceed with all humility. I do not expect anyone to believe me about any of the points discussed. As a matter of fact I would be chagrined if anyone did. The topics discussed are meant to be a stepping off point for your own experiments in your own system, when and if you feel the need and have the time and inclination to experiment. If not, I am sure you are happy where you are at, which is nothing I would ever judge. As stated, I only proceeded when I heard a potential problem that I thought had a solution. I was rewarded many times and learned a lot. I am still going to stick with the $15 ethernet switch, as I have not yet heard a reason to replace it.

 

Here is an informal outline of the topics discussed in my original post. I spent more time discussing some because they are still new ideas to the community. Many may find it helpful to print out my OP and reread it at your leisure because of the density of ideas. That will allow you to use it as a guide over time and to make notes as you experiment:

 

Power supplies

Power cords brands and models

Optical conversion

Cable directionality

Ethernet cable brands and models

USB cable brands and models

Ethernet switches

Wifi/router and wifi access point

Passive filtration

Mechanical isolation

Cable elevation

Surge protection

 

If any of those topics are not in your “belief system” I am not going to psychoanalyze you. I do not find any of these tweaks to be fringe or controversial because I have done the work. It is up to you to investigate when you are ready. Please do your own due diligence.

 

Let us take one example. Every network has at least one ethernet cable. How hard is it to unclick both ends and reverse it while listening critically and while sober? Do it a couple of times. If you hear some difference then you learned something, if not, then be happy where you are! For heavens sake, don’t be too lazy to try!!  

 

Here is tweaking story. Around 2000 I learned about the “fanatical” art of tweaking through Jonathan Scull’s excellent column in Stereophile  Fine Tunes. I read that first when a new issue arrive and tried all of the suggestions. It was suggested that an audio grade outlet mattered. Well I found the $50 at the time, swallowed and placed the order. Still highly skeptical, I installed it, and since I was just beginning to seriously tweak my very good system, I heard just the most minor improvement that can be heard. I shrugged and kept it in my system. A couple of years later I was investigating plugging various amps and other components directly into the wall. I needed more outlets, so I had to remove the audio outlet and temporarily hard wired a star wired outlet box to complete my experiments. When I completed the study, along with many other enhancing tweaks, I realized I could go back to the audio outlet. This time there was a jaw dropping day-and-night difference because all my improvements had lifted so many veils. The difference was the same both times but much more discernible the second. Live and learn!

 

One last point. My hopefully completely tweaked streaming network is incorporated into my equally fully tweaked amplification system in my fully tweaked room. (yes that took a lot of meds and a couple of bottles of single malt, chuckle) The synergy has made my system sound like a million bucks. I/me/myself are happy where we am!

 

 I don’t want to go back to 1968 when one plugged the captive generic PC of the receiver into the most convenient ungrounded outlet, used the red and white tin plated IC supplied with the turntable and tape deck, and using the zip-cord wire to the speakers that the dealer threw into the package @ 5 cents/foot ( How many feet do you need? No charge!) Oh, those were the days, not like the civilized times we now live in. My current system now sounds a little more refined, I think.

 

@fredrik222 That's quite the leap of logic you take to try to insult me. Out looking for revenge for your kaleidoscopic blunder from that other thread? I said no one's under any obligation to prove something they say they can hear. 

Speaking of taking leaps...

All the best,
Nonoise

@nonoise lol, you really think that highly of yourself? I certainly didn’t do any blunders in the previous thread, but your ignorance was on full display. And of course you want no part of actual facts, because then everyone would see you for the noise you are.

if someone claims that an Ethernet is directional, clearly they attributing mind ghosts to system performance improvements, as that is simply impossible. So, you are, as usual, wrong.

Post removed 

@fredrik222 You've turned into quite the sad, little man...haven't you?

All the best,
Nonoise

Let me reiterate : You either do or you don’t, or you are too lazy to try. I will not be further baited on the subject. Have a nice day.

@singingg Lol, yeah, facts don't play well on this forum, people can't handle when they are challenged by basic facts. 

End of story - Ethernet is not directional, it is two way communication with equal speed and other performance metrics in both directions. 

Here's one link: https://arstechnica.com/staff/2015/02/to-the-audiophile-this-10000-ethernet-cable-apparently-makes-sense/

 

@nonoise  I'm pretty happy in general, so I would disagree, and I certainly have some sort of knowledge, and do not resort to personal attacks. So, there is that. Enjoy your noisy day.

Based on responses here and other threads, most folks are quite content with their basic streaming setup. Almost all budget streamers or even laptops are capable of “The sound quality is good enough” premise. So when someone with their basic setup like Node 2, see someone like OP jumping through hoops to optimize SQ, they don’t quite grasp what is happening. Streaming after all, is plug n play 😉

I hear a difference based on Ethernet cable orientation in my system. It is easily detectable. I had the Pangea SE premier Ag plated Cu wire ethernet cables. They are not marked. I had to let them break in first for 48 hours and then I could tell which direction worked best. The AQ ethernet cable direction is marked. One thing I haven’t tried is reversing the AQ ethernet cables. Would be an interesting experiment...

I even reversed the ethernet cable live while streaming.  I could swap it around fast enough and not interrupt the music.  A few moments after swapping directions I could hear the sound change.  

 

Agree on the “directional Ethernet” topic.   Removing that from the assessment would be addition by subtraction.  Otherwise I just don’t have the time or will to address such a large dissertation further.  People can take what they like from it. 
 

Of course making changes can matter.    There are big ones and little ones.  “Tweaks” tend to refer to the lesser ones.  
 

It’s ok to focus on just tweaks when posting but my practical advice would be tackle the big items first before getting to the little ones.   That’s kind of hard to dispute, right?   
 

Surge protection is a good precaution to take and I second that wholeheartedly.   Does it make my streaming sound better?   Does not matter.   Fact is it sounds grade A+++ to me and that’s all that matters to each in the end.  
 

If someone is new to streaming, chances are there are improvements that can be made    But the devil is always in the details and  some tweaks might play a role .  Have fun whatever turns you on.  

 

Very useful thread and post thanks...

 I did not use streaming myself but others did...