Network optimization for serious streamers


In my ongoing experiments, now going on seven years, with network optimization for streaming I've discovered a number of optimizations that should work with any ethernet ISP.

 

I've tried a variety of ethernet cables, modems, routers, switches, FMC, ethernet filters, the following is what I've found to be most effective optimizations.

 

I'll start with ISP quality and speed. Recently I discovered 500mbps to be preferable to 300mbps. Along with upgrade in speed, modem capable of 1gb service replaced 600mbps, both have Broadcom chips and powered by same lps. Can't say which more responsible for improvement, speed or modem, presume speed has at least some role in ping time. As for ISP, there is importance in ISP server geographic location to you, shorter distances  means lower ping time. For information as to how ping time affects jitter-https://www.fusionconnect.com/speed-test-plus/ping-jitter-test

 

Now for modems,  modem close to audio system is most favorable, extending coax cable preferable to long ethernet cable. Coax more resistant to rfi and closer positioning to system means one can more easily afford top quality ethernet cable for modem to router connection. The modem should use Broadcom chipset vs. inferior Intel Puma, Broadcom chipset has lower jitter vs the Intel. Modem should be powered via external lps using quality DC and AC cables, lps to power conditioner for ultimate performance.

 

Following close positioning of modem to audio system, router should also be placed near modem in service of same advantage of making highest quality ethernet cable more affordable, in this case, modem to router and router to switches, streamers and NAS. Router should be powered with lps, this lps should be able to provide more amps than router requires in service of providing greater reliability, having lps with reserves of amperage means lps runs cooler, heat is enemy of reliability, longevity. As with modem, quality dc, ac cables and connection to power conditioner.

 

The next finding is new to me, provides very meaningful upgrade to streaming sound quality. Noise from wifi, injected both internally to router and externally with routers sitting close to audio systems has long been a concern to me. I have quality Trifield meter which measures rfi, router with operational wifi manufacture obscenely high levels of rfi, rfi is noise, noise is enemy of streaming at level we're talking about here. And its very likely the more wifi devices one has in home the higher the levels of rfi produced. This noise is then injected into following cables and streaming equipment. One may convince themselves FMC totally isolates this noise, and while correct, it doesn't mitigate the noise and masking going on within router. The only way to eliminate this noise is turning off wifi. And then, how to provide wifi for the many  wifi devices we have at home? The answer is to connect a second router to the primary router. The primary router will only provide ethernet for streamers, switches and/or NAS in audio system, also for the second router.  Second router provides wifi for the home, this scheme keeps vast majority of rfi out of audio system streaming chain. My own measurements find rfi significantly diminished in primary router, more than mulitiples of ten times lower vs wifi enabled. This was seamless install with the Netgear routers I'm using. There may also be value in provisioning higher quality routers. My new primary router, Netgear XR1000 is marketed as a gamer router, claims of lower ping time, latency, jitter vs other routers. Since my old router, Netgear RS7000 didn't have means to monitor ping time I can't provide evidence of this claim. Whatever the case, my XR1000 ping time test measurements are as follows, 25.35ms highest, 16.50ms lowest, this is A+ measurements against objective criteria. Ping time under load is download 25.93ms, upload 37.34ms, idle 17.31ms, this rates as A. My speed of 565gbps rates B grade, likely need 1gb service to get A here. At to how this all pertains to sound quality, adding up the upgrade in ISP speed and the off loading of wifi is without a doubt one of the most substantial, if not most substantial network upgrades I've experienced. While I  long considered my setup as having a vanishing low noise floor, with this setup I heard a new level of vanishing if such a thing is possible. Even more astounding was a more analog like presentation, while I wasn't aware of even the slightest digital presentation prior, this upgrade certainly exposed it was indeed there. It seems logical to conclude there has been some lowering of jitter here.

 

And then we come to the ethernet filter. I suppose audiophile switches can be considered as one, then we have actual filters such as Network Acoustics Muon, my JCAT Net XE and others. I continue to believe these necessary even with the all measures above.

 

Optical conversion is also valid approach post router. While I found generic FMC somewhat effective, at this point I prefer ethernet. On the other hand I've not yet tried optimizing a fiber solution, for example two Sonore OpticalModules, both powered by lps, further upgraded with Finisar optical transceivers.

 

Assuming one has high resolving audio and streaming systems the above network optimizations should provide for substantial sound quality improvements. In my system, perception of performers in room has been taken to a new level of intimacy, meaning a more emotional connection to the performers and performance.

 

At this point, I consider network has been fully optimized, the only upgrade I'm aware of would be ISP upgrade to 1gb.

sns

Hmm. I think the most important thing is minimizing latency within your network in order to avoid dropouts and/or delays. Given how error-resistant TCP is, and how jitter is effectively impossible over Ethernet, and everything is buffered anyways, seems like those are good places to start. Many have good luck with Unifi to achieve the above goals plus readily manageable guest networks, solid roaming, etc. Wish you luck. 

Thanks for sharing your experience and all the great info!  Running a secondary router makes intuitive sense, but I would’ve never thought to do that. 
 

I think the most important thing is minimizing latency within your network in order to avoid dropouts and/or delays. Given how error-resistant TCP is, and how jitter is effectively impossible over Ethernet, and everything is buffered anyways, seems like those are good places to start. 

@johnnnyoooops Not sure I agree with your thought on jitter, which is always a concern in a digital source setup whether streaming or not.  @sns Any thoughts on this?

 

If jitter didn't exist on networks,it wouldn't be detectable by measuring devices. The question is at what level is jitter heard, some may theorize there is a certain level.

 

Jitter is extremely important for precision manufacturing with computers,  for various measurement devices where precision needed, gaming, and music streaming it seems. Manufacturing and measuring industries are leading on addressing jitter and latency over networks. Music streaming way behind in concern for this, many assume any old network fine as long as no drop outs.

My overall score was EXCELLENT!

Your connection and line quality is

Excellent

 

Thanks for this detailed report

very helpful for those of us learning about ways to optimize our home networks for streaming.

I know very little about Ethernet and networking…..Curious if instead of using 2 routers as you described, could a quality switch be used after the modem and then the house router could be run off of that switch in another room? Then, another line off the switch would feed a network filter and on to the streamer.

JS

 

 

Great post! My score is also excellent.  I will check my modem for the aspects you listed as important in the design.  Thank you! 

@j_andrews You need to connect router to modem, routers supply needed IP addresses for network components, switches don't supply IP addresses. What many do is have switch connected to router, switch connects to the audio streaming components. Most do this as they have need to connect more ethernet devices than available ethernet ports on router. Some also use audiophile switches to act as a filter and clocking device for their audio streaming components. This doesn't negate the contamination of router further up chain.

 

In nearly  all cases one would need second router in order to supply IP addresses and/or the needed wifi signal to all other network devices in house.

 

There exist managed routers without wifi capability that can then be connected to wifi capable router, these require much deeper knowledge of networking to configure in this manner.

 

Bottom line is any router in chain of audio network needs optimization referred to in OP. The second router feeding house doesn't need any optimization.

One thing I neglected to mention. Some claim telephony creates noise in modems, in other words phone service connected to modem results in diminished sound quality. I have phone plan with my Spectrum service, did not activate phone service in new modem, can't say if this has any bearing on my sound quality. ISP supposedly offer phone only modems if one needs the phone service.

Thank you fire sharing. This is very helpful. I think my modem is still the weak point in my digital chain. Is there any specific model you recommend?

Network and Telephony (VoIP) engineer by trade. 

1. Ping times can be impacted by traffic but mostly by physical distance between you requesting a stream and the provider replying with the data

2, RFI/EMI is bad, which is why good ethernet and thick net (coax) is shielded (shielded twisted pair for ethernet) versus everyday inexpensive ethernet cable which is UTP (unshielded twisted pair)

3. Jitter is directly related to network traffic, both on your LAN as well as overall congestion between your modem and the source(and if you are using proxy service, your ISP, the source and your modem)

4. For the ultimate in noise rejection, use fiber optic cable, but be prepared to spend some coin to get fiber optic switches, transceivers  and cables

5. you can always approximate ping time, for windows : pull up the command prompt, from the prompt type : ping www.<streaming service name>.com you should get something that looks like this (as long as the service provider is not blocking ICMP queries):

jkbyr>ping www.quboz.com

Pinging www.quboz.com [81.171.28.44] with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from 81.171.28.44: bytes=32 time=123ms TTL=48
Reply from 81.171.28.44: bytes=32 time=123ms TTL=48
Reply from 81.171.28.44: bytes=32 time=123ms TTL=48
Reply from 81.171.28.44: bytes=32 time=124ms TTL=48

Ping statistics for 81.171.28.44:
    Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
    Minimum = 123ms, Maximum = 124ms, Average = 123ms

Anything below 300 ms (300 ms breaks VoIP which may or may not be equitable with RTSP) is going to be acceptable, since your streamer is caching the stream

IMO the best critical listening with a streamer is listening to high quality rips from  local storage on the device (SSD installed directly on the device)

@mournbladeiv you need to explain to these non technical people why you need shielding to a certain point or they will go crazy like they always do. 
 

And of course, keep in mind that streaming services is not a continuous stream, is burst traffic downloading the song you want to play and typically the next as fast as possible to a buffer, so jitter isn’t particularly relevant. 

Why do you need a modem? I have 5G fiber straight into my router.

It looks like you're using your ISP's hardware, in which case its router also includes a modem. You'd probably get better performance if you bought your own devices, and you'd save on the ISP's monthly rental fee.

@arafiq Since I'm well acquainted with Netgear interface and already have 12V lps Netgear XR1000 was my choice. The second router feeding house wifi can be any old cheap thing, in my case already had Netgear RS7000 which serves the purpose.

 

In any case, these are relatively cheap streaming upgrades, some totally free or less costly than what one may be using at present.  For instance, @mournbladeiv  mentioned issue of coax vs ethernet, lengthening my coax, minimizing ethernet was extremely effective in lowering noise floor in my setup.

 

I've tried a number of far more expensive 'upgrades' further downstream, none made as much difference as getting modem, router issues squared away. Linn philosophy of first link in chain being the most important, in this case makes total sense since many using really noisy solutions early in chain.

 

Still waiting for my idea of choice solution for routing. This would be managed router with plug n play instructions for integrating into audio systems and off loading wifi for rest of house. This router would also have first rate power supplies, filtering and clocking. Why one hasn't been developed is beyond me. Perhaps no market up to now as people assume present early chain setups sufficient.

What is the best way to couple coax to coax to lengthen the cable coming into the home? Would a simple coax coupler suffice or are there benefits to using some kind of buffer ?

JS

In my case coax cable was already long enough to bring close to audio setup. Assume there would be some losses via coupler, enough to discern in regard to sound quality?

For the naysayers. the whole point of this is the listening! Why I started post with serious streamers, if streaming only for convenience or background who cares. If, on the other hand you want streaming sound quality to be your one and only reference quality source and/or compete with best vinyl setups this all matters.

 

Go over to audiophilestyle and whatsbest forums and you'll find streamers taking far more extensive measures to minimize noise, jitter. Some of these streamers have best of best setups, including Taiko Extremes, Wadax, not to mention their extreme high end  non streaming portions. These are valid experiences vs those with NO experience with network optimizations.

The effects of network congestion displayed below. Nothing changed, other than re-running the test,

1/16/2023 9:47:3

925.74 Mbps

946.40 Mbps

3 ms

1 ms

45.27.165.105

Excellent

 

1/16/2023 9:46:18

381.85 Mbps

366.22 Mbps

3 ms

48 ms

45.27.165.105

Excellent

 

@sns Thanks for the streaming advice. I got a new DAC which has built-in SFP input. I am testing it out with the EtherRegen in B > A and then into the DAC. This is likely the way to go. However, I need to get an additional set of SFP and another FMC for this new DAC. My Mustec 005 DAC will be using the eR in my office.

Which way would you go?

  • EtherRegen B > A | Small Green Computer (sgc) Finisar+ x 2 | sgc Fibre cable
  • sgc Optical Module Deluxe | sgc Finisar+ x 2 | sgc Fibre cable
  • After Dark SFP+ and RJ45 and Fibre cable | 2nd EtherRegen

BTW - I have 3 OpticalRendu’s throughout the house and the streaming sounds excellent. I currently use only 1 FMC in the older 3 DAC’s. My other FMC’s kept failing so I tossed them out. Now I go direct from 2 network switches to 2 DACs in the non-eR setup. It can sound better but it is good enough for those 2 DACs.

@sns Just curious, are you measuring this lower background noise level and if so, could you please explain how? If not, and these are listening tests, would you mind sharing what the ambient noise level in your listening room is so we can compare with our own? This can be easily done using a smart phone and an app such as Sound tools.

As an experiment try this:

With a functional streaming setup, listen to some music for a minute or two, then disconnect your streamer from the internet.

In my setup, the music continues to play for just under 120 seconds before it stops.

That tells me that my streamer has enough buffer to hold 120 seconds of the stream (at whatever bit rate the source demands) before it is starved of new data. It also tells me that my streamer can receive data far faster than it can consume (play) it.

Using a buffer in a streaming environment is certainly not a sophisticated technique. I would be shocked if any streaming implementation (regardless of cost) didn’t have at least some buffering.

I’m not trying to pick a fight here, but can somebody explain to me how internet jitter or latency (at reasonable levels) is possibly affecting playback in a buffered situation such as this? The data is not being played in real time, the data is just sitting there waiting.

While I laud the efforts to maximize your network efficiency, at some point I think you’re chasing imaginary dragons.

@sns does connecting a second router to a modem require subscription to a second service from the ISP or is it permitted on a single subscription?

... does connecting a second router to a modem require subscription to a second service from the ISP ...

No.

@sns You've been experimenting lots. You asked for router suggestions where the routing/firewall component is separated from the wifi access point component. You will find separates in networking once you leave the consumer realm and look at enterprise solutions. The best enterprise solutions for home use are the UniFi Ubiquity and TP-Link Omada lines. With these, you can have your router next do your stereo, but the wifi access points will be on the ceiling. These ought to be cleaner solutions that risking having multiple levels of routers (look up Double NAT) or having to put some routers in bridge mode and turning off the wifi on your main router. 

@nosualc I hear you on buffer. But I converted my ethernet line to fiber right before the line enters the streamer, and it made a giant difference. I don't understand how converting to fiber made such a big difference. I went back to ethernet-only for Q4 of 2022, and I only recently plugged the fiber converters back into the chain. The benefits to the fiber conversion are ridiculous in my system. For $100 in networking gear, it's worth a shot. Besides the fiber converters, I haven't heard benefits with other equipment upstream from the streamer. But, I'll continue to try things now-and-then. 

@classdstreamer The notion that an internet connection (and everything connected to it) is potentially a source of electronic noise is a possible way to explain audible differences some people report when they experiment with fiber, power supplies, cabling, and other bespoke networking devices.

However, I cannot understand how network latency and jitter (again at reasonable levels) upstream of a streamer’s buffering could affect anything.

FWIW, I use a direct fiber connection to my streamer (from a relatively inexpensive switch with an sfp slot). While my results weren’t as dramatic as what you report, it remains.

@yyzsantabarbara I've never used the Etherregen so have no opinion. I will soon be experimenting with Finisar FTLX1475D33BTL optical transceivers in OpticalModule and Optical Rendu. Again, measure lower in jitter vs garden variety transceivers. These seem hard to get these days, most outlets have no stock. The few that do are charging arm and leg, I've seen $300 apiece . I came by these and custom build Owens Corning optical cable at After Dark. I'll be experimenting with these downstream side of my custom build streamer. Based on research I've undertaken, these transceivers will work with SGC equipment. Seem to remember someone trying with EtherRegen, can't recall outcome, also questionable if it would work with your dac.

 

In general terms I can't say improvements I'm hearing are mostly jitter or lower noise floor. Most noticeable improvement has been lower noise floor with these optimizations. I'm assuming jitter is issue based on more analog like sound quality I've attained. Ed Meitner of EMM  claims jitter heard as smaller sound stage and more nervous quality, or what most interpret as digititus. A large measure of improvement in digital components has been due to ever increasing immunity to jitter. The question is at what level does jitter cease to be perceived by humans. Are excellent or A+ grades for ping time as good as its gets, or are there perceptible differences within these grading levels?

 

@classdstreamer I'm aware of the Ubiquity products, some claim using them in series provides even greater benefits. I do have an enterprise level router sans wifi in house, MikroTik CCR1036=8G-2S. integrating this into system will come in time.

 

No doubt fiber may be good solution, I've preferred ethernet over fiber pre server, fiber post streamer. This preference has continued, whether this is due to superiority of usb rendering via OpticalRendu vs motherboard usb in streamer is the question. When I install JCAT usb XE in streamer I'll determine whether any optical remains in my setup.

 

Again, all the above upgrades can be done with little financial outlay vs. the huge amount some of us spend on streamers, dacs, rest of system. People can determine for themselves whether these upgrades effective or not. The consumer grade products are both less costly and simpler for those without great knowledge of networking, good place to start.

@sns Thanks for posting your thoughts and impressions of your ongoing network optimizations. Improving the network pre-server is a task I will be handling once my DIY server is complete. The great variety of streaming setups out there makes finding a unified reference difficult. Many people find UTP into the server preferable to fiber into the server. Fiber pre-router/switch is more agreed upon as netting positive results.

To complicate things on my end, Taiko has made their network card available to non-Extreme owners. This presents another option vs the Startech or Xilinx network cards I am considering.

If I had fiber ISP I'd at least try optimized fiber setup pre streamer vs ethernet conversion, who knows what my new Finisar transceivers bring to the table.

 

@bruce19 Missed your post on ambient noise levels. And yes, this has long been concern of mine, even started thread on this some time ago. I only listen evenings when ambient noise levels lower vs day, besides I have other activities for daytime. Anyway, daytime ambient noise levels are typically in 40 to 50db, at night they more typically in 30's, can drop down as low as high 20's. I turn off most noise makers in house, including refrigerator, kitchen adjoins listening room, storm windows down in winter, little traffic or wind noise outside is prime. So yeah, ambient noise level is absolutely critical for detecting lowest noise floors from our audio systems!

 

Also, for those attempting the two router setup, my original router which became my secondary router was already set up for network access, therefore, when used as secondary or whole house wifi router, all my wifi devices still saw that network connection point, manually clicked on it, voila, instant internet access. Believe I had to reboot some devices. Also to eliminate IP address conflicts I reserved/assigned IP addresses to my audio network devices, therefore, streamer, NAS and Sonore OpticalRendu, also this for my RS7000 or secondary router.

 

I understand there has been some conversation about jitter and it's impact on networks and/or our ability to hear it. I will have to admit that some part of what I'm hearing as more analog presentation may be due in part to burn in of various devices and parts more recently installed. This includes Duelund Cast coupling caps in 300B amps, JCAT Optimo S ATX linear power supply for custom streamer, tons of parts to burn in for 3 rail, 30amp capable power supply, and perhaps to lesser extent, the OpticalModule. No doubt some of the blooming lends itself to perception of more analog like presentation. Still, I hear and have heard improvements in flow and timing over the years with  network upgrades, so this implies jitter may impact sound quality.

Is it preferable to have 2 switches in the chain? For example I have my Spectrum Modem connected to a Linksys router then connected to a cheap 5 port Switch. The Cat 8 ethernet cable is 35 feet long and connects to another LHY high quality switch which I have a good .5 meter silver Ethernet cable connected to my Enos filter connected to the streamer. I could go back and directly connect the long run ethernet cable directly to a port on the Linksys router and eliminate the first switch for streaming. Would that be a benefit? (I know I can try it myself, just asking)

 

BTW, my upstairs Apple Air Port router is connected to the cheap switch to run the upstairs PC, TV, HT stuff. So my dedicated 2 channel listening room has it's own dedicated connection as stated.

My jitter is less than 1 with bargain optical solutions. Then again my modem measure between 1 and 2 jitter. 

I’m sold on the benefits of network optimization.

I’ve added boxes to the Arris cable modem supplied by my ISP, including of course a router (TP-Link AX50), used Cisco 2960 switch bought on Amazon for $25 (wow), fiber out from the switch to an EtherRegen, ethernet to an Allo DigiOne Signature streamer, then SPDIF coax to my Schiit Bifrost multibit DAC.

An HDPlex 300W linear power supply powers the modem, router, Cisco switch, and Intel NUC running ROON (I modded the Cisco to bypass the native switchmode power supply, not hard to do).

I also have DX Engineering Iso-Plus ethernet filter pairs everywhere there is ethernet cable, except after the EtherRegen (sounded worse).

I guess in order of most improvement, I’d put the EtherRegen, DX Engineering filters, then the linear power supply. A bit of a bump with the four Canare 4S6 DC XLR-to barrel plug power cables I soldered up myself.

So a somewhat similar journey to the OP’s.

What’s left is offboarding the wifi on the router to another machine.

Can someone verify that a wifi access point like this one will do the job?

TL-WA3001 | AX3000 Gigabit Wi-Fi 6 Access Point | TP-Link

I’ve run into that double-NAT problem mentioned earlier by daisy-chaining routers in an earlier life and it seems like just using the access point for all the other wifi units in the house, turning off wifi in the router, and connecting only the audio system to it will do the trick.

Really appreciate the wisdom that you can’t fix pollution from the first box later and resolving noisy wifi in routers seems like an important step here.

Post removed 

My system is a reverse of the OP’s two router set-up. I’m using a Fidelizer-Audio WiFi Airstream as the 2nd router.  It’s connected to the initial router, a Netgear Nighthawk 1750ac. All of the household WiFi devices are operating from the Nighthawk. Only the audio is from the AirStream.  Keetakawee @Fidelizer programmed it so that the AirStream functions as an access point.   I haven't experimented with swapping router positions since I don't want to take a chance of screwing up the firmware settings. 

The chain is tricked out with quality cabling, power conditioning and LPS’s. A USBe Perfect has been added to the back of the WiFi streamer. (More refinement.) It sounds pretty good. Black backround. It’s a good thing that the modem & routers are hidden away in the laundry room. What a mess!

@steakster That defeats the whole purpose of eliminating the wifi,rfi noise. I don't see why you'd have issues with swapping as long as you don't have conflicting ip addresses, this shouldn't affect the firmware unless you manually make changes to it. The other issue I see with your setup is modem and router are in laundry room, unless your audio system is in laundry room you're running long ethernet cable to system, not good!

 

 

For everyone, the only issue is one has to have internet access setup on both machines. I did this by having original router as access point, when I changed it to secondary router, this original access point was available to all devices connected to it. I had to manually connect first time, set for auto connect, no issues at all.

 

The primary router will see secondary router as unidentified device, doesn't know its router. I reserved/assigned IP address to this router so there would continue to be static or consistent communication between that router and wifi or ethernet connected devices. What this does is mirror image of primary routers, for instance primary router always assigned 192.168.1.1 by ISP, for instance one could assign 192.168.1.10 or some other last number in sequence as long as that address doesn't conflict with another reserved or dynamically assigned IP address. I like all my audio devices and secondary router connected to primary router to have reserved IP address, the secondary router can assign dynamically.

 

@fthompson251 I predict you can do much better, I see no benefit of two cheap switches, or even a single switch vs optimized router direct into streamer. I tried a $1K audiophile switch, nice lps and oxco clock, result was diminished sound vs optimized router. Cheap routers only have lousy power supply, lots of noise, poor clocking, jitter, at least an audiophile switch improves greatly on this. I do see a possible benefit with audiphile switch used as ethernet filter, still, I'd get only the filter, lets say Network Acoustics Muon and forget about the switch. Yours is another setup that would benefit greatly from much shorter ethernet cable.

 

@agirard I don't see having an issue with that router. My routers both Netgear, assume different brand routers would work together, don't see why not. Again, the only possible issue I can see is having devices connected to secondary router not seeing it as internet access point if it wasn't used as access point previously. Doubt it would show up in list of possible internet access points, not hundred percent sure about this, but I didn't see any new access point that would conform to secondary router, the original named access point was on list.

This post is perfect timing for me as I investigate the further refinement of my streaming setup.

I have learned much from others experience and gradually tested and implemented all the currently recognized solutions for eliminating noise. Please refer to my post on 3/29/2022 for my upgrade process used in my Sonore system.

I have an additional discovery to report. The only way to get the signal from the ultraRendu to my DAC is using a USB cable. What is the problem with such cables is they have a power wire integrated with the signal wires. This new cable came on the market recently, Pangea Audio Premier XL MKII USB Cable, and it tweaked my interest as a potential solution to a noise problem. I was not expecting much, but when installed, it made the single most profound blackening of the background of any tweak so far reveling hidden details by the bushel. Bravo! Genius! How ironic to scrub ethernet of noise pre-renderer and then reintroduce it post-renderer with a USB cable!?! Of course, after reaching this new sonic level, I cannot imagine further refinement possible.

Back to this post. Is the wifi corrupting the ethernet signal in my router? Is the 50’ of Cat8 cable running from router to switch picking up RFI? I will mull this over and find a path forward in the coming weeks because Everything Matters. I eagerly await the findings of those who implement your tweak of two routers. Thanks for the creative suggestion.

@dinov I've tried this both pre and post server, continue to use post server with OpticalModule and OpticalRendu. Pre server found optical conversion inferior to ethernet, this with generic FMC, both powered via lps. No doubt low noise floor with the FMC, but slightly thinner, less analog like sound quality vs present ethernet setup. With two OpticalModule with stock or upgraded Finisar transceivers the equation may change.  Its likely I'll try this at some point, but certainly possible to achieve very nice outcome with FMC pre streamer. The other possibility is router with optical out capability with a single OpticalModule.

@sns I’m using a generic tx and rx fiber converter, (cheap from large online retailer) 15 ft of multi mode cable, and bluesound node with a linear power supply upgrade, wireword Ethernet cables on node end and from Qnap NAS and getting outstanding results. Huge soundstage, depth, smooth as silk and ultra quiet. I can’t believe I got these results for such a small investment. Good luck to you, don’t over do it perhaps. 

@singingg This limitation is known, any number of manufacturers offer usb without the 5v power cable. The other method for regular usb is to tape over the 5v power leg within the connector. Some dacs require the 5v power, some need it for handshake, for the rest tape or purchase usb cable minus the power leg.

 

The wifi is absolutely creating noise, whole point of isolating wifi to second router. As pointed out in an earlier post, another scheme being used is the managed router, popular move is the Ubiquity router. If one really wants to get into weeds on going down this path, whatsbestforum has in depth threads speaking to this. Keep in mind managed routers not exactly for the novice, requires some knowledge of how networks operate.

 

The issue with quality ethernet cable is not so much with the cable itself, assuming one is using CAT7, rather it is the connectors where RFI enters. Rich Truss of Network Acoustics, John Swenson of Uptone are just two of many experts who've reported on this. This leakage is why users of optical devices and cables and/or ethernet filters such as the NA Muon report positive results.

 

The issue with filters and such is you're ONLY CLEANING up corruption/noise further up chain. Point of this entire thread is to try to AVOID the need to CLEAN up that noise, this is only band aid covering up the wound. YOU CAN'T GET BACK WHATS BEEN LOST PRIOR IN CHAIN! Any noise corrupting the signal is lost information/resolution. Assuming one's system and streaming is sufficiently resolving I guarantee these optimizations will lower one's noise floor to level easily heard. I began with a number of these upgrades years ago when my streaming setup was far more modest. I was using modified Mac Minis, variety of usb filters and Auralic Vega when I moved modem close to audio system, replacing 25' of ethernet with coax. I was amazed by the lowered noise floor even with this more modest system, another great benefit is cost of this virtually nothing.

 

The fact is add all these upgrades together, you'll never find a greater bargain in high end audio, this is like crossing all the T's, dotting all the I's, tidy up your network! Spending thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands and having crap network is absolutely ridiculous. People spend so much time researching equipment, can't understand so little attention paid to network.

Great thread and helpful for streamers. @sns applaud your sincerity in gathering your experience. I concur with your observations and advice.

Everyone's input here is valuable and I want to add couple of things from my own experience:

Consider replacing router with any of the firewall pcs or any minipc to run Pfsense or similar routing software. Example: Protectli, but anything small, no more than 2 cores will do. In comparison to the home router setup that I tried (netgear, tplink, ubiquiti) this gave the best sound. 

Wifi separation is necessary and I use an access point. The biggest improvement I found was to separate the wifi from main chain using fiber. I dropped the second network after fiber isolation.

One of the hidden and most surprising gain I experienced in network improvement is from Clocking. I use an EtherRegen and regardless of its intended function, what I want to add for everyone here, is that it allows the addition of external clocks into the network. This is by far the best correction for network quality and in turn, audio. In my experience, once a clock connects to a network it affects the entire network. Since I am not that knowledgeable on this topic, I can only share the experiential aspect.

For power supply enhancements, even with LPS, what I thought was good quality improved even further once I used a balanced isolation transformer. This removed the common mode noise from the chain and what you think is quiet noise floor, will become hugely improved.

Everything I read here is good information and stands on its own, as each of us is experiencing those things due to our unique setup. 

 

@sns  When I was considering the Pangea USB cable, I called Benchmark to inquire if their DAC3B needed the 5v signal over USB. They assured me that it did. They are working on a new design that does not, but it is not on the market yet. Therefore the Pangea offered an elegant solution.

So, if I understand you correctly, the 50’ CAT8 run is not an issue per se, because I will get the same potential RFI leakage through the connectors with say a 3’ run from router to switch? Thanks as this idea is new to me.

@wvbossfan I agree 100% on the fiber recommendation. I’ve got fantastic results with that. Also if you look at some of the high end streamers like Lumin, they do fiber internally in the component. This is what reduces the network noise which gives you outstanding results. 

@wvbossfan Some good info here, will have to check into this!

 

@singingg I believe running that 50' of cat 8 less than optimal on a number of counts. One is there is possible loss of signal with that long of run of ethernet. two, I believe Cat 8 grounded at both ends (cat 7 best for shielding), any noise riding on grounds is riding directly into next component in chain, three, part of the improvement from moving modem near system is it makes higher quality ethernet cabling affordable. I know some don't believe ethernet cabling doesn't make a difference, I and many others beg to differ. I've used generic cat 6,7, Supra, and a number of varieties of AudioQuest. Presently use AQ Vodka, made a sound qualitative difference for me, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

@sns  I did a little research :

 Cat 7 & Cat 8 require that all equipment and hardware in the system support a contiguous ground, or there will be no performance benefit to Cat 7/Cat 8 over previous standards such as Cat 6.

It seems the best solution is to wire your house with Ethernet ports, then turn wireless off permanently in the modem/router no?

@singingg The contiguous ground is what passes noise down the chain from one component to the next. For the purposes of audiophile streaming this is one ‘performance benefit’ you don’t want.