Is optical mostly a waste of time versus Ethernet?

The only value I see with a fiber optical cable is if you have a long long run.

All the noise coming into an optical fiber is preserved and comes out the other side. I guess there is a value in not creating more noise while it is traveling through the optical cable. But if it's a short run of two Feet then is it really worth it.  Seems a well shielded Ethernet cable would do just as fine without all the hassle of converting to optical which is a pain in the ass.

I always thought there was value with optical but it seems they're really may not be. Maybe I'm wrong.  It seems a switch likely produces a lot of noise and inserting an audio grade switch is very prudent and going optical really doesn't solve switch noise problem.  The benefit of re-clocking offered by a decent switch to clean up the signal is worthwhile.


Perhaps you should try it before you make judgement. With my Lumin X1 the Fiber connection is impressive compared to Ethernet cable.


Optical isolation starts at $200 from Small Green Computer. I found it worthwhile in my system with one caveat the SMPS for the converters should be plugged into a power conditioning unit. I use a Furmann. My other components including high performance network switch, server, nas , streamer and DAC are all on LPS.

Try it.

There was a post regarding these converters,

I'm thinking about giving them a try and would be interested in hearing what others have to say.

I’ll be buying those media converters in three weeks when my DAC arrives. I’ll be using them with an iFi Zen Stream/iFi PS. My primary power conditioner is fully utilized, but I’ll plug these into Panamax conditioner.

Success or failure depends on how much noise is added to the ethernet cable feeding the iFi.

@goofyfoot I installed the GP converters a year ago and they do make a difference in my Moon 680D. Tom is also correct on plugging them into a conditioner and isolated from other components. 

@juanmanuelfangioii A separate power conditioner just for the fiber optic cable converter is impossible for me to do. I can plug the second box into my passive line conditioner since it will be near my stereo but other components use it also. But I believe my receptacles are isolated from each other. Do you have an affordable solution or suggestion?

At Small Green Computer, we have updated our optical isolation bundle to include a linear power supply on the clean end

Based on my experience, optimal implementation of these units is to use lps, best power cords, all plugged into power conditioner, this on both FMC. I've also used portable lithium ion battery pack to power FMC, so that would be option if no power conditioner or power conditioner not reachable. The one thing you don't want to do is plug the switching power supply (wall wart) into same ac line rest of audio system on. All switching power supplies back feed noise into ac lines, no no for audio.

Optical fiber cable doesn’t carry noise like a metallic core Ethernet cable. I switched from Ethernet cable connection between router and my Weiss 501 to dual FMC converter boxes, optical fiber connected and immediately heard more details in the music so I’m guessing the noise floor was lowered. This was a sub $200 experiment that I liked and kept.

@goofyfoot sns stated you do not want wall warts or switching power supplies on the same leg as your system. Look at small conditioning strips. 

@juanmanuelfangioii So what started out as being a very cost effective way of improving sound quality when streaming, is actually another expensive proposal given the need for separate power strips at both ends of the converters. So it looks as though I'll keep relying mainly on my local file sources via my external hard drive, given its vast improvement over streaming. And, I would imagine that within a year, technology will change and some other antidote will present itself and what is considered as a viable option today, will then become antiquated.

@juanmanuelfangioii Yes and I forgot to say thank you, so please forgive me and thank you for clarifying what I didn’t know at the start.

Next years noise dragon slaying… highly unlikely…to be…. FREE….

Maximum optimization not needed initially to hear lower noise floor, at least in some cases. One could use FMC with wall warts straight into wall, still hear improvements. Nice middle ground optimization would be lps only on second in line FMC, wall wart on first in line. High end power cable on lps also not necessary. Just want to remind people this may be nice improvement, even at perhaps $100 total expenditure. I'm just taking things to extreme with the optimization thing.


One thing that's a freebie, always keep switching power supplies off ac line serving rest of system. Switching power supplies inject noise into ac line.

@tomic601 No, if it's dragon slaying technology, then it can't be affordable to at least 90% of the music listening population. Otherwise it's not as great as it claims to be.

@sns I'm thinking of something like a PS Audio duet at the Ethernet switch. And I could run an extension cable from the LPS to the conditioner. I'd hate to get caught up on power conditioners when I could allocate money towards a switch, re-clocker, etc...

You might want to read this article and the other linked articles.

If you are convinced there is low level noise coming over your Ethernet cable, you might try one of a variety of optical isolation devices near your server, such as the converters and fiber cable discussed here, to something like the GigaFOILv4-INLINE Ethernet Filter, which is an optical filter, to something more expensive like the Sonore offerings or maybe the Network Acoustics ENO or Muon, which are unpowered, transformer-based isolation devices. I suspect you only need one of these isolator solutions. The "audiophile" switch thing seems superfluous. I am currently running the GigaFOIL unit powered by a LPS at the end of my Ethernet cable run, close to my server. It seems to sound just as good as it did with all the other stuff connected.

@mitch2 These seem similar to the Uptone Audio EtherRegen and the GigaFOILand the Regen are pretty close in price.

One should also think in terms of PRE server and POST server In order to optimize entire chain. One may in fact benefit from FMC or ethernet filters on both sides of server. At one point I had FMC on both sides, this entailed 4 FMC, all with lps and pretty high end power cables, all connected to AC power conditioner.


The above extreme cleansing experiment, along with prior one with audiophile switch were not successful. My experience illustrates there may be fine line between sufficient and excessive cleansing.


Still much experimenting down road for optical vs ethernet.


In any case, add these devices one at a time, then over time optimize for that device. And do A>B>A comparisons to determine if device is really an improvement. I've been fooled by some devices in short term pre comparison phase.

None of this is "one size fits all."  The results/performance can vary depending on what is being used as a "server."  With my Mojo DejaVu server (and with the Antipodes DX3 I still own), I have the option to output an ethernet cable from the server to a separate Roon endpoint, or renderer, such as the Bricasti M5, Metrum Ambre, Sonnet Hermes, or similar.  In some cases, removing the renderer from the server unit can be sonically beneficial, but not always.    

I also have the option with both of the above servers to output USB directly from the server into my DAC.  In other words, both of those servers can also function as the renderer.  In the case of the DejaVu, the USB output board is the excellent JCAT USB Card XE, which results in the USB output performing at least sonically equal to using a separate renderer (when using the renderers and DACs I have tried in my system).  I suppose, I could try inserting the ENO between the server and the renderer to evaluate whether that makes a sonic difference.  

@mitch2 I'm waiting on completion of Taiko Extreme diy clone to experiment with. Initially, build will only have Jcat ethernet card, so used with streamer. Eventually, Pink Faun or Jcat usb card for rendering within server. Should be interesting.


Eno between server and renderer would be interesting vs. prior, at this point my experience is post server more important than pre. Upcoming Muon trial in pre server position will be my last attempt at pre server upgrades for time being.

The Muon seems reasonably priced if it delivers what it says it will. I've spent three times that on Quad panels over the past couple of years. Anyone have an opinion on the Ether Regen from Uptone Audio? I use their ISO Regen and it improves upon an already well thought of Ayre QB 9 Twenty DAC.

Eno between server and renderer would be interesting

I tried that today - Ethernet from router to switch (located near router) then 45 feet from switch to GigaFOILv4 (located near the server) then short Ethernet to server and short Ethernet from server to ENO then captive Ethernet from ENO into Metrum Ambre renderer.  AES/EBU XLR cable from the Ambre into the Mystique EVO B4B21 DAC.  

Simple without the fiber converters and accompanying power supplies.  It sounds really good.  I don't know why exactly but the sound was full, rich, and musical with a wide range of music from Coltrane to Chili Peppers.  I want to next compare this to the same set-up into the server, but then running a USB cable from the USB output of the server directly into the USB input of the DAC, without using a separate renderer.    

Fundamental problem with optical is you can’t turn light pulses into music, atleast not yet. It to has at some point be converted back into an electronic/ Ethernet signal whether it be with converters outside the streamer or like lumin or other devices that accept a direct fibre, the conversion happens inside the streamer. Obviously if you leave until your inside the streamer, you have no opportunity to intervene to remove this noise. As with any powered device on the network the optical to electronic conversion is likely to create and emit high frequency noise, which left untreated will have a detrimental effect on the performance of the streamer and the onward da conversion. Powered devices like the gigafoil might well clean what’s going in but they will likely add noise in their conversion process to the signal they transmit,  Passive filtering as it stands is the only effective solution as it stands.

There are several power supplies in most people's digital signal chain, including those powering the modem, the router, and any switches, as well as power supplies inside of the servers and DACs that process the digital signal.  Ethernet itself is galvanically isolated but some believe that optical isolation near the endpoint can improve on that wrt noise reduction, which is probably where the idea of using fiber came from.  The Network Acoustics stuff is unpowered and isolates using transformers, which do not break the electrical connection the same as optical.  My Gigafoilv4 is powered by an HDPlex LPS so there are no switching supplies in the chain following the optical isolation offered by the Gigafoilv4.  Using the ENO just before the Ambre endpoint sounded good yesterday so if I switch to using USB directly from the server to DAC, I may try using only the ENO just before the server, and no other boxes needing power supplies.  I guess you just need to try stuff and listen.



Anyone have an opinion on the Ether Regen from Uptone Audio?

Enjoyed my Ether Regen for several years. A really well thought out product: a reasonable audiophile switch with reasonable ethernet "cleansing". Depending on your ethernet chain and its problems, the Regen may be all you need.


DO NOT try the Muon filter or especially in combination with the Muon cable if you are happy with your Regen. Your happiness will promptly wane. The Muon streaming system is exceptional and in conjunction with a well thought out switch, your ethernet feed will no longer be the weak link in a given system. I don't know how much difference it makes to "pump the brakes" on your ethernet speed down to a steady 100mbps but it is quite apparent in my system that everything improved. 

The giga foil filter is about $600.  Isn't a quality switch accomplishing the same thing in a broader more effective way. Giga foil sounds interesting but you can't place it before switch because the switch only introduces lots of noise unless it's designed to prevent the noise.  So the giga foil would seem only usable after a switch.


Fibre Optical is the holy grail of streaming. I have 3 of the Sonore OpticalRendu's and they are fantastic at giving a very clean clear sound from your DAC. 

Putting a FMC in front of the OpticalRendu also improves the stream. However, I had 3 different brands in front of my OpticalRendu's and the only one standing is the EtherRegen. My Sonore OpticalModule is dead and a cheap FMC that was part of the Small Green Computer package is also dead.

For the 2 cases where the FMC's died I take the fibre optical directly from my network switch's. This does not sound as good as adding the FMC in front but it is not that much of a difference and I have moved on to listening to music.



  1. Seems the etherregen is a glorified fiber media converter, which may do a really good job but it's extremely expensive when only used as a fiber media converter Once you use ER as a fmc you can't really use the remaining ethernet ports because it will adversely impact the optical connection what's lots of spillover noise from the other ports. Not sure why ER doesn't do a simple network switch without optical. And not sure their fmc is very good.


Who is small green computer? Kind of a curious company that relies heavily on etherregen. 

I did swap out the wall wart PS on the second converter box as SNS described. I put in an IFi power supply….big and immediate leap in better sonics that I could easily hear, it was not subtle

The OpticalRendu is streamer for optical. It takes place of second in line FMC with streamer and usb output to dac. Advantages include one less conversion to ethernet (FMC only have ethernet outputs), better clock, less noise than generic FMC, very nice streamer with nice clock less noise on usb out, no usb cleansing devices needed. Love my OpticalRendu, one of the largest if not largest streaming upgrade I've experienced.

So it's a streamer and yet it didn't say this when I was trying to figure out what it was. 

That's the beginning of the product description for the opticalRendu on SGC's site.

If that's not clear...<snarky comment of choice here>. 

This is the description from the Sonore website: it is pretty darn confusing for those of us with lower IQs.

Sonore opticalRendu project is an extension of the microRendu and ultraRendu projects that came before it. The design is inspired by audiophile gear and meant to bring grace and simplicity to a microcomputer. The original microRendu was very small and intended to be hidden out of sight behind your other gear. The opticalRendu can be powered by your favorite power supply. The opticalRendu has optical Ethernet input and USB-Audio output with all the connectors located on the rear of the unit for easy cable routing. The opticalRendu utilizes a new proprietary printed circuit board with only the essential components and many updates to match its optical designation. The best way to connect the opticalRendu to a USB device is via your favorite USB cable. The opticalRendu is easy to configure, accepts streams from various sources, and includes our latest version of our operating system Sonicorbiter.


@jumia happy to try to help with that....

Sonore opticalRendu project is an extension of the microRendu and ultraRendu projects that came before it. 

micro & ultra were earlier model streamers that take ethernet as input and output USB to your DAC. opticalRendu came later and added conversion of ethernet-to-optical, followed by conversion from optical-to-USB output to your DAC.

The design is inspired by audiophile gear and meant to bring grace and simplicity to a microcomputer. 

Rendus all follow the high end principle of simpler circuits and better ,quieter parts. Many, including me, find that regular computers with big operating systems(e.g. Windows, Mac) run many tasks unrelated to audio and those add noise. By using a simple Linux OS focused only on doing audio, these(and many other good streamers) eliminate lots of this noise.

The opticalRendu can be powered by your favorite power supply. 

A good quality linear power supply is highly recommended. Costs vary widely.

The opticalRendu has optical Ethernet input and USB-Audio output with all the connectors located on the rear of the unit for easy cable routing. 

Just plug a standard RJ45 ethernet cable coming from your internet router, switch or wifi extender into the Rendu as your input. Standard USB A-B type goes from Rendu output to your DAC input.

The opticalRendu utilizes a new proprietary printed circuit board with only the essential components and many updates to match its optical designation. 

It uses a small number of good parts to sound good.

 The best way to connect the opticalRendu to a USB device is via your favorite USB cable. 

Years ago, USB sucked pretty bad, now it doesn't, if care is taken. Some users used to add converters to instead connect a different digital cable type to their DAC. Since they put lots of effort into making their USB output sound good, you shouldn't bother with any of those converters and instead just connect a USB to your DAC.

The opticalRendu is easy to configure, accepts streams from various sources, and includes our latest version of our operating system Sonicorbiter.

You use your web browser on any device to adjust settings. It's pretty easy. When they do software updates every couple of years, you can buy it for ~$30. They mail you a little micro-SD card, and you just pop it in to replace the old one. Takes 2minutes.

Does that help? Cheers,


By using a simple Linux OS focused only on doing audio, these(and many other good streamers) eliminate lots of this noise.

I believe this to be an important point.  Many of these add-on enhancers originated in response to cleaning up EMI/RFI noise resulting from computer sources.  While today's dedicated servers are essentially still computers, many have been significantly improved by using Linux OS, upgraded power supplies, and improved connection interfaces.  This may be one reason why there is such a wide range of impact and improvements reported by users of these add-on enhancers.   My server uses a Linux OS, choke power supply, and the well-regarded JCAT USB Card XE audio output board, and the changes/improvements I have heard from a variety of this stuff (such as the ENO, Gigafoil, switches, and fiber) have been subtle at most.  

@sbank Good post, one little nit, OpticalRendu requires optical cable input, thus, requires FMC, unless one's router, switch, server has optical output.


And yes, I believe highest quality lps a must to extract max potential from OR. Sonicorbiter OS very easy to navigate, easy to implement OR into streaming system.

Seems router that does optical output would be ideal and why would this not be a great ? 

Router and/or switch with optical out could be contender, one issue could be lack of choices with optical. Some claim audiophile switches superior to generic, don't know of one with optical.


Don't know if I already mentioned in this thread, but thus far I prefer ethernet vs generic FMC going to server, optical post server best for me.

Sns, you wrote about in one of your other posts about using a server with a incoming Port and an outgoing port versus the traditional Single ethernet cable that involves a 2 directional flow. I hope I’m getting that correctly.

I’m trying to understand the flow of your optical versus Ethernet Signal path and all the streaming gear that you have. I also took a look at your system and found it a Little scary because i had trouble following all that’s going on.

But focusing back on the traditional server set up using a single Ethernet Cable it does present an interesting question as to whether there is a better way to do this.

The music data flows into a nucleus and then flows back to the switch and then to the streamer/dac. Not sure if I understand the originating flow of Sonic data as it finds its way into the streamer/dac. It would seem to be a very turbulent journey for all those packets before getting to the comfort offered by a streamer.

Do you really need to run fiber from the router to the server or is an optical isolator (such as Gigafoilv4)  just in front of the server sufficient to clean up any noise on the Ethernet cable?  Is a transformer isolator (such as the NA ENO or Muon) just in front of the server sufficient for the same purpose?  If your only wired connection out of the router is your audio system, why do you even need a switch and how can the switch possibly improve sound quality in that situation?  It does seem that simplifying the digital signal path and removing converters and power supplies should in general reduce noise, unless there is something amiss with the digital signal delivery.

@emergingsoul You have that correct, one ethernet in, one out. Most servers have one ethernet port in which case you bidirectional flow back and forth to router or switch. Doing this I've avoided an extra piece of equipment, in my case server>FMC>OpticalRendu(convert to usb)>dac. Also made sense to me that one would want to avoid the bidirectional flow,


I did try adding an audiophile switch, lesser sound quality than above setup, only makes for an unneeded detour.


@mitch2 Seems logical to me minimizing noise earlier in chain would be more effective than later, in this case optical router would seem preferable. Ethernet  vs optical router, any single ethernet router could create less noise than a certain optical router,  implementation key. If ethernet router superior to optical the isolator may be way to go.


Assuming you're using wifi with all other equipment connected to router, only audio system using ethernet. Router is likely noisiest component in streaming chain, switch is there to minimize noise from router. Now if that router isn't supplying wifi, replacing router with the quieter switch would be way to go, superior clocking and better power supply in audiophile switch a further step up. ;Problem for vast majority of us is we need wifi, have to put up with noisy routers. Nice way to go, have two ethernet services coming into home, one for audio system, other for rest of home (wifi). Audio branch feeds audiophile switch, just got rid of one very noisy component (router). My proposed optimized/simplified streaming chain would be, modem>switch>server ethernet port in>server ethernet port out>streamer>dac. One could substitute all optical for the ethernet, could also take server ethernet/optical out to streamer/dac, could also substitute integrated server/streamer for the separate server and streamer.