Relationship between Ethernet Switch and SQ

This one will probably invite some withering mockery, but I will ask....

I only stream, and my streamer (Bryston BDP) is fed with an ethernet cable that runs back to my router.  Literally back to my router; there are enough output jacks on the router that I have a long run to the streamer and no ethernet switch in the chain (or the house system for that matter).   (There is an Eno filter right before the streamer).

I happen to OWN a nice LHY ethernet switch.  I am assuming that there is no reason to use it in this configuration, that is, assuming there are noisier switches, and less noisy switches, there is still no net benefit of adding any switch to this chain.  But maybe, just maybe, in the metaphysics of electrons that I do not understand, there is some reason why a nice switch prior to the streamer accomplishes something (in theory...I get that I can A/B test and try to fool myself whether I can hear a difference).  For the first person with a correct answer, I will mail a nice $600 switch to the address you specify! (JK)


My LHY switch up and died on me a some weeks back.  It was 10 months old at the time so still under warranty.  With help from Singapore, I diagnosed the problem- shorted circuit on the ethernet card.  They sent me a replacement board and it is back up and running.  Meanwhile, I couldn’t be without music and I could definitely hear a difference without the LHY so I bought the English Electric 8 switch.  I like the sound of it a little better than the LHY.  Now I am keeping the EE8 in my audio system.  

My plan was to sell the LHY after a month or two, to insure the repair held; but I inserted it at the TV end of my long ethernet cable from the EE8 to the TV.  Surprisingly, it made an already great TV picture even better.  So the LHY is staying.  

I have no doubts now that these audio grade switches matter just as much as a DAC or an amp.  I hope I never hear a $3000 switch in my system.  That’s the thing about audio- our systems sound great, until we hear something better. 

More info:  I ran what it supposed to be a 75 foot (maybe it is a 100ft cable), CAT7 ethernet cable from the Audio grade network switch to my Apple TV box.  That was a major improvement in the streaming picture on my OLED TV.  The fact that putting the LHY switch- a second audio grade network switch downstream of this long cable run making the picture even better tells me these ethernet cables still pick up some level of noise.  

Also, I tried my fiber optic link with LPS powered FMC’s and that added some graininess to the TV picture.  So overall, I find the Audio grade switches to be the best option for music and video.


Thanks for the update. IME, ROON implementation is one of the main reason why end user would experience inconsistency in SQ. Every manufacturer or designer doing their best to integrate ROON and tweak their hardware for best possible outcome. As @audphile1 pointed out, ROON SQ greatly varies due to the approach in the implementation by each manufacturer. Some manufacturers excelling and others couldn’t care less as long as they are meeting the ‘ROON endpoint’ specifications. 

Coming back to your system, If I may make a suggestion to strategically introduce each change one at a time. Starting with LinkUp cable, let it break-in for atleast 250 hours before you introduce next upgrade, i.e. LHY switch. Once all the components are fully broken-in, then reverse the process for A/B comparison. Listen for extended periods, especially LAN cable. Streamers typically buffers or cache incoming bitstream so swapping LAN cables on short intervals may not allow you to discern any differences.

Good luck and have fun!

Good points made by @lalitk. Just a small detail to add - when swapping Ethernet cables, power down your streamer (not in standby, but actually powered off). I found, with several streamers, swapping Ethernet cables while the unit is on results in sound degradation. Same applies to USB cables. This has been my experience. And in general, swapping any cables while the components are on, be it the interconnects or speaker cables, is just not worth the risk. 

@lalitk I appreciate your guidance and agree with your methodology....but you have unrealistic assumptions about my capacity for discipline and focus. 😂  I'm also getting closer to understanding why streamers can be $20K or why people could spend $4k on a switch or $2k on a filter.  Dorothy, we're a long way from "bits is bits"!

I want to double-click on what @tonywinga said, which countered my intuition, which is that adding another audiophile switch improved SQ.  How can that be?  I was assuming that any additional component that has a power cord can only be a net negative (even if miniscule, in the case of $4k switches).  Unless good switches also ....filter ...or "regenerate" the signal, or have some property similar to impedence matching.  I'm not arguing that something heard was not real, just trying to understand the theoretical basis.