Mesh network versus a simple Wi-Fi extender

In anyone’s experience, does implementing a pricier Mesh network yield any sonic advantages to just using a good Wi-Fi extender and running a good Ethernet cable from that?  From people who have very good streamer setups it seems like using a simple but good Wi-Fi extender from TP-Link etc. is more than fine.  Thoughts?



I can’t speak to the improved sound “quality” of streaming but I had previously suffered continuous dropouts and stuttering (for lack of a better description) which was driven by the router. When changing equipment I had been advised to use extenders (Powerline) as opposed to mesh but it was the router that made the real difference (using Amplifi Alien). The extenders have worked out great.

I have heard recommendations against a mesh network for audio, as if the connection switches from one node to another, there could be dropouts. I have no experience with that myself, but it seems plausible. So maybe a WiFi extender would be better. Best, of course, is Ethernet directly to the streamer if possible. That avoids all vagaries of WiFi.

Like @designsfx , I’ve found find the router has a big influence, and some have worked much better than others. Currently, I’m using an ASUS RT-AX86U, not the most expensive, but an outstanding router in reliability, stability, and signal strength. It’s in the basement, and we get good coverage even on the 2nd floor.

Using the RT-AX86U, I’ve run my Auralic Aries G1 on WiFi for a few days, and the connection was rock-solid and not distinguishable from Ethernet. Your setup and results may vary.


I'm using a TP Link  Ethernet over AC adapter .   From that I have a TP Link 10 port switch .   One SFP port goes to a TP Link MC220 fiber optic converter.  This is connected to my Aurender N200 via a short ethernet cable.   I do the same thing out of the switch's SFP 2 port to my Vault 2i.    Works perfectly 

I have heard recommendations against a mesh network for audio, as if the connection switches from one node to another, there could be dropouts.

I’ve got a mesh setup and the connections are stable, i.e. no roaming unless the signal drops below a certain threshold.


This PC Mag article explains the differences - Wi-Fi Range Extender vs. Mesh Network: What’s the Difference?

You almost never move your streamer through your home while playing music, so I don't think switching would be a real problem.  I do believe in keeping things simple though.  Mesh is great for large homes with lots of square feet to cover, including when you are looking for coverage say at the pool and the garage, that sort of thing.

Read the reviews on any extenders carefully too though, as I've had really mixed experiences far worse than audio quality.

You are doing yourself a disservice if you don't find a way to go hardwired to your streamer.  

Me and my neighbor both have ~2500 square feet homes.  We both tried extenders.  He was not  having problems with audio but his PCs dropping off.  I was having audio drop outs.   Both our experiences with extenders sucked.  He went to a mesh network and solved his PC dropouts. I followed suit.   My audio now is for the most part solid 😎.  Having a mesh node sitting near my main rig and hard wiring my streaming server to that solved my stability problems and I did not experience any degradation in SQ.   Note:  My HT, and about half the other devices in the house are hard wired to the base node or the router/modem.  

The mesh pods work much better in our house than the old extenders, which were really hit and miss.  So many drop outs.

Big fan of a mesh system.

I have a main audio system server/streamer hardwired to the base router unit and a streamer endpoint for a second garage/outdoor system hardwired to a mesh node in the garage.  I have not experienced any dropouts or other problems and the three nodes allow me to control either system from my iPad/iPhone anywhere in the house or outdoors.

Extenders failed to provide the solid coverage I required not being able to

hardwire, mesh works excellent for me.

As I don’t have a very big house, at this point I’m thinking using an extender with a good Ethernet cable to my streamer might work fine and is cheaper/simpler than a Mesh setup.  Thanks for sharing all the good thoughts/experience.

Read the reviews on any extenders carefully too though, as I've had really mixed experiences far worse than audio quality.

Years ago, I tried several powerline extenders and none of them was any good at all. I suppose they might work if both ends are on the same AC circuit. How often does that happen, since one needs an extender because of gear in different parts of the house?

I have a pretty big house and use an asus ax 6600 mesh network for my main system.  The system is on the opposite side of the house from the router.  (I have the second system hard wired into my router, which also supplies signal to our computers and our video system).  The main system is dead solid stable and the SQ is excellent.  The only thing plugged into the mesh node is the main system, which theoretically avoids contamination that could be introduced if other items were plugged into the mesh node.     

Night and day friend. I got an extender for the Bluesound in my shed.


Then I got another node for my mesh system for about the same cost

Rock solid.

Both TP-Link. I use the extender now to reach a wifi camera on an ocean porch for spring break.

@soix I use EERO mesh. No drop outs. Zero issues. One EERO access point connected to my Bricasti M3 via Network Acoustics Eno. 
Regular EERO is around $170 for 3 units. You’ll have better coverage throughout your house than you would with extender.

Ok, what I’m getting here is that if distance from the router is involved a Mesh system is the preferred setup. But, in my situation I’ll be fairly close to my router but just not in a way to make it convenient to run hardwired directly from the router. So, in a situation where both an extender or Mesh could provide a solid signal, is one better than the other for sound or are they pretty much identical assuming both extender and Mesh are of comparable quality? Thanks again for all the good info/experience. Most helpful.

An extender is all I need since all I am trying to do is get the best reception in one location only, my listening room. No need to mess around with a mesh network in my case.

I’m using a Netgear Powerline 2000 with a cat 8 cord to and from.

Works great!

NETGEAR Powerline adapter Kit, 2000 Mbps Wall-plug, 2 Gigabit Ethernet Ports with Passthrough + Extra Outlet (PLP2000-100PAS)


I experienced great improvements in sound quality when my Service provider took out the old router from my wifi network and replaced it with  pair of Mesh disc. Its a generic brand. I changed to a better brand eternet cable dont have much differences like changing the old router to these pair of mesh disc. 

Mesh is superb in my experience. But as others have stated, hardwire when possible. 

I'm was using a TP Link  Ethernet over AC adapter. I was having connection issues with my Innuos Zen. I have an Eero Mesh system. I recently placed an Eero mesh in the room and now I don't have connection problems. With both I just ran a ethernet cable from the the TP/Eero to the Innuos.  YMMV, but the Eero was a better solution for me.

As others have said, MESH is the way to go. I have an ASUS RT-AS86U and a pair of RP-AC1900 nodes. The main router is upstairs in my office while I have a node downstairs in the living room and another also downstairs in my wife's office. I originally had just a simple Netgear extender in her office for her VOIP work phone but it didn't provide enough signal to get outside to our gazebo. (In the winters I run my Green Mountain Grill smoker with wifi out there.😉) Hence replacing the extender with the second mesh node.

The node in the living room is across the room from my hi-fi rig due to RF interference with my MC pre-preamp. So I ran Cat8 from the node across the room to my Node2i. No more interference!

The whole thing was really simple to set up and is rock solid. Every few months I check to see if there's updated firmware and upgrade but even that's simple with the ASUS app.

Having a good, solid wifi network is such a convenience and easy to do. That said, to optimize your streaming I do suggest running a cable from either your router or node to your streaming device. I don't understand why it would make a difference, it's airborne 1's and 0's right? But to my ears it did. Worth the $50 for the cable!

Happy listening.


I have the Orbi satellite connecting to the streamer, I never had a drop off. The biggest improvement was from replacing the satellite stocked power supply to a IFI iPower X adapter, and it is plugged into the power generator. This has made a major improvement in streaming in my case. 

It's all comes to one simple  WIFI mistake people make .  they try to save money on the router, and then try to compensate for mediocre  performance with extenders and mesh systems. Buy a good triband router with good coverage, It will cover the hole house. Designate one channel for your streaming needs. and you will be happy forever. Get  ASUS ROG Rapture AX11000 Tri Band Gigabit Wireless Router (GT-AX11000)  if you are tech.savvy . And get NETGEAR Nighthawk Tri-Band AX12 12-Stream Wi-Fi 6 Router RAX200 AX11000  if you don't want to mess around.

Been using a Netgear extender for years. Never had  problems/dropouts. Excellant SQ.  Extender runs from Modem at one end of the house, up one floor to the opposite side of the house to my streamer. Supra ethernet both sides. Over 100 ft. distance   If you're just wiring one component like a streamer, use an extender.  No need for a mesh system.

@designsfx I can’t speak to the improved sound “quality” of streaming but I had previously suffered continuous dropouts and stuttering (for lack of a better description) which was driven by the router. When changing equipment I had been advised to use extenders (Powerline) as opposed to mesh but it was the router that made the real difference (using Amplifi Alien). The extenders have worked out great.

Power lines work for network but doees not fear well for the turntables. I heard quite loud packet clicks through the phono stage. Removing power extender removed the clicks. For streaming I use wireless extender (although it does degrade the wireless network somewhat) connecting it via cable directly to the streamer. Later solution seems to be working better in my case.

@fuzztone Don’t worry about SQ. It’s all about the network.

Not necessarily. Sound does degrade with poor network connection, it is not even a subtle difference. 

That’s the case at my place. I needed a network connection for a music server- the powerline was the easiest method of achieving that.

Range extenders are terrible. Never use an extender using your electric circuits. There are many options on putting in a network in your home. Wired network with switches is the best. If you don’t have or can’t put in a wired network, then a mesh network is your best option. The next option is using multiple routers throughout your home.

There are multiple ways to install a mesh network or a network with multiple routers. I setup my mesh network in a wired bridge configuration using the latest tri-band wifi6e nodes. I tripled my wifi network speeds throughout the home. My music server uses wifi and my dac is connected straight to the router. Since implementing my mesh network, my connections to the server are more reliable and the speed increase is huge.


I don't know if it made an improvement in the sound. I don't listen to digital enough and didn't do a comparison at the the time. It did fix my connection problem.



Did you hear improvements in SQ when you switched to Eero? 

I use an orbi mesh network and love it. For audio, I use a direct connection from the router to my node, broken by a fiber connection, which has a huge impact on audio. As for the wifi, portion it’s rock solid, but all my other nodes connect to the backhaul Ethernet  connections on the satellites. Short answer to your question about audio improvement is yes no dropouts. 

Range extenders worked for a few years, but as more devices use the wifi in my home, I started to have drop outs. TP Link power extenders got that fixed for a few years, while the Internet service went from 10 to 50 to 350 GHz, but drop outs returned.   So I got the  TP Link AV2000 Powerline extenders. Problem solved, for a while I guess.

Concerning sound quality, I hear no difference between Qobuz streaming and same songs locally stored on my Aurender. I also added LHY Switch and DH Ethenet cables. Again, maybe a very small decrease in listening fatigue, but I am not even sure the network is the cause.

I think the Aurender does a great job with network streaming. I don't see any other explanation.

I will take mesh over extender every day 

especially NETGEAR Orbi AX6000 series wifi 6 over everything out there 


Thanks for your reply. I guess the only way to find out is try one of these newer routers/extenders if they make any improvements over my long discontinued Apple Extreme router. I have narrowed down my choices to Netgear Orbi Pro AX6000, Amplifi Alien and eero 6+.


The only thing I can say for sure is my Innuos doesn’t have can’t find server errors anymore. The fix was rebooting everything at least once, which was a real PITA.

The Eero system was very easy to set up for a non-technical person

My NETGEAR RBR50 plus satellites (WiFi 5) was released 6 years ago, which seems like an eternity for this stuff. Firmware is conveniently updated automatically.  I have been and continue to be extremely satisfied with the performance and longevity of the system, which continues to provide very fast and reliable internet throughout the house and outside, for multiple audio/music system, television, and computer streaming/video conferencing. I would not hesitate to upgrade within their line when it comes time.

Anyone, I hear, no pun intended, that 2.4 GHz is preferable to 5.0 or the newer 6? 
Comments please

I tried powerline extenders which worked but were noisy, and then wireless extenders which were unreliable. I installed Google mesh a couple years ago and it fixed my connectivity issues. Not sure of other mesh solutions but Google mesh comes with a simple app that allows you to test, control and also prioritize devices so if you are competing for bandwidth with other devices on your network, you can remove any contention by prioritizing your streamer.

+1 @audphile1 

My son uses the same EERO for his mesh network.  He is not an audiophile...but is a videophile/gamer.  Gaming is severely more intense use of resources and on his 85" Sony top-of-the-line monitor there is never a glitch/dropout nothing and the speed is amazingly fast (as it needs to be for gaming). Kudos to you.





Thanks for posting this question, and thanks for all the answers. I've got to decide on an extender or a mesh for my new house. The answers here are making me lean toward mesh.

Lotsa good info here. Thanks! I found it interesting, although completely common sense, that in addition to longer distances if you have multiple users a Mesh system is probably preferable. Also, the ability to prioritize which node gets preference is significant. I mean, I love my two teenage boys and all, but my audio needs preference to their gaming sometimes. They’ll live (and they also won’t know — heh heh). Us parents still have some power.

That said, I’m still a little iffy on the specific question about the sound quality (not including dropouts or signal strength) in using an extender versus Mesh.  I’ve not heard a pure A/B comparison just on sound quality assuming both generate a sufficiently strong signal.  Sorry if I missed something.  Right now I’m gleaning that absolute sound quality with a wired Ethernet connection from the extender/node to the streamer is similar given a sufficient signal as in both circumstances people seem to be very happy with either.  A direct A/B comparison in good conditions would be most helpful.  Learned a lot of good info here already though!  Keep it coming. 

You just need a strong WiFi signal for smooth performance. Does not matter how you get that. Mesh is typically better if more than two devices needed for that.  If starting from scratch, mesh offers more flexibility to expand over time as needed. 

The purpose of Mesh is seamless transition between wireless routers for mobile devices that are actually moving through the coverage area. I use a higher-end Asus (6 antennas I think) as the master and three Asus AC1900's (Ethernet-connected) 'nodes' to cover an acre (house + yard). I like the Asus routers for their features. One of their capabilities pertinent to this conversation is the ability to 'lock' individual devices to specific routers in the Mesh network (so the device will not get reassigned to another router). Another feature pertinent to audio is their built-in NAS capability. I have a 3TB drive filled with FLAC files on the master router, and use it to stream music to Denon AVR6400H via HEOS in the basement and BluOS devices in the 2-ch stable (BS Node N130, NAD M12, C658, C388), occasionally PC, tablet and phone - works great.


I use a netgear extender for a pretty good hi rez headphone system.  I have for comparison purposes connected my streamer directly to my modem.  In doing so I hear no difference in SQ from the 100ft run in a 2 story house using the extender.  If you're only connecting one component like a router you don't need to invest in a mesh system, imo.  ymmv.

@fuzztone Don’t worry about SQ. It’s all about the network.

I am having difficulty reading this post - what are you saying?


If the network is rock solid, the SQ probably will be fine. If not that is the first thing to improve.

Try cheaters.

I suggest that mesh is the best if you have low interference; things like Microwaves (kitchen) and other devices generate noise and can attribute slow to no network information. Modern equipment falls back to the lowest speed to compensate and, if left to auto for channel selections, will adopt less congested channels.


As for SQ, a packet that arrived is a perfect packet unless it’s not, then it’s sent again till it does arrive perfect, or you get dropouts after X number of retries. It makes no difference in what equipment you choose to use; SQ is the same. As long as the packet arrives...