Value of a premium Ethernet cable

In my current setup, digital music from a Roon ROCK NUC server travels through an Uptone Audio EtherRegen and a short link of fiber, thence to a long stretch of ordinary contractor-grade Cat 5a cable, and finally to a dCS Bartók streaming DAC.


At substantial effort and expense, I could rearrange things so the final length of Ethernet would be replaced by a single run of something like an Audioquest Vodka Ethernet cable. I'm wondering if anyone has experience of whether this is worth the trouble and expense. Well mostly the expense; the "trouble" is the hobby part of it.



in brief, premium upgrade cable shielding matters most in the first part , and then to a lesser degree, the connectors and metal materials ( eg silver vs copper Vs hybrid) have their own lesser effects comparatively.

= Short answer : yup …. You betcha …. BUT ….the degree of improvement is entirely dependent on the quality and resolution capabilities of the rest of your system. In fairness, the following is observed on my $50K system.

I too was a premium Ethernet cable upgrade naysayer first opting for the uber cheap cost and build) common junk too . The forum hyperbole and pontificating dissing them was intoxicating from a budget perspective and easily convince myself to follow the herd blindly to start. With a new MOON 280D streamer/DAC upgrade over my prior fine BRYSTON stack, both my audio buddies and the dealer recommended to just filter out all the skeptic noise , pontification, and hyperbole , and actually do my in-house test myself with my own ears .

So….I recently did that cable direct bakeoff myself, and the audio improvements were immediate . The audio step-up differences with the premium quality build (and price) Ethernet cable options have high-end connectors and especially premium high-end cable shielding as the most important to reduce and eliminate the unwanted digital noise ….something totally absent in the crap build uber- cheap options.


(1) if you read the fine print tech detail posted in numerous articles and reviews, you may read also that most of the bottom end “30 buck” cheap China crap options sold on Amazon and the big box stores are just very cheaply built units that don’t even meet their published minimum specs, regardless of what they publish. For audio they unfortunately can act as unwanted antennas and contemporaneously trigger a lot more large digital noise instead of rejecting it. They work fine for your PC network printer …but for your audio system …. Not so much. 

(2) I also experienced what many of the reviewers recommendations to insert a quality external power supply ( think iFI POWER X) upgrade to your Ethernet switch . The eithernet switch insertion between your router and your source was somehow also a key improvement… go figger ( it’s beyond my pay grade to explain it…) . If so, you will now need another high-end cables …sure

It was an immediate audio performance upgrade Instead of me currently dropping the La-Ching! $600+ on one of the “exotic audiophile” esoteric Ethernet switch units, The latter options certainly do work ( think Silent Angel or EtherRegen …sure) but the latter are big $$$ outlay for a benefit that can be proxied to a large degree at a very modest fraction price with an iFi external power. I also saw tgstv. Inserting it for powering up the usual $30. Buck odd “common household” CISCO or like Ethernet switch achieved a significant chunk of audio performance step-up. It was a bakeoff also witnessed by my buddy … the audio performance step-up was not subtle. Go figger? Who knew?

Online review Previously posted : REVIEW:What causes audible differences in network cables ... erkkabels/


“ …. We round off our little investigation into network cables with a listening test and a clear conclusion. As promised we subjected the network plugs to a listening test and listened to three different configurations: shielding fixed on one side, shielding fixed on two sides and double shielded (and both sides connected). Do we hear differences? Well…. yes…!

Let’s clear up one myth: there is NO audible difference in network plugs. There is a difference in build quality, price and ease of installation. In short: it does make sense to invest in a good plug.

But let’s continue with the sound reproduction: as you know, we have installed everything from standard plugs to expensive Telegärtners. We tried all cables on the same switch (with an IFI power supply) and listened to the same system:

We did not notice any difference between the connectors. Sometimes we thought we heard something (think of a louder or sharper S-sound), but when we went back to the other connector, there was no difference. It is sometimes very complex to listen to this properly and to judge it honestly. But after hours of switching back and forth, we dare say that there is no difference in reproduction. In any case, we do not dare to take a bet in a blind test…

But where we do hear immediate differences – and continue to hear differences even when going back and forth – is the method of shielding.

We made three cables for this purpose: one cable with DeLock plugs and shielding fixed at one end. One cable with Delock plugs with the shielding fixed at both ends and finally the double shielded version with the nice sleeve. Also with the shielding on both sides (and Delock plugs).

What we observe almost immediately is that the version with the shielding fixed on both sides focuses better. The version with shielding on one side seems to play a bit larger, but that is not true: the effects in the song Perfect Life by Steven wilson are placed at the same spot in the room, but are more tightly framed with the cable where the shielding is fixed on both sides.

With voices, the same is true: it’s tighter in focus and also more stable between the speakers (if we move our heads back and forth, the voice stays in place better very odd).

Going to the double shielding we make another step. Again a bit more tightly focused, again a bit better framed. And with that a bit more calmness in the reproduction allowing details to surface a bit easier.

Clearly, fo us it is clear where the differences come from: shielding, shielding, shielding.

And that is quite logical if you consider that a network cable is included in a digital chain. A chain that relies on clean energy to keep everything clocked tight. A chain that works with noise-levels of -140dB. A chain where small deviations are immediately audible in staging, focus and smoothness.

This also explains why fiber networks work so well as a first upgrade: you immediately shut out a lot of misery by creating a barrier through which electrical energy cannot pass. And thus no electrical noise (common mode in particular).

To conclude…

Can you hear differences between network cables? Yes… definitely. Our samples have shown that. And about the real cables you can buy at the store… pay particular attention to what the manufacturer has done in terms of shielding. We would still leave the unshielded versions. Especially after this experience. But anyway: try it yourself at home! …”

FWIW ….Carry on.

@akg_ca ”…So….I recently did that cable direct bakeoff myself, and the audio improvements were immediate .”… 


@ghdprentice can you share more details on what you baked and how they tastes differed?  Thanks 👨‍🍳 

The part I can agree with is "try it yourself at home"

If you think you are getting noise into your analog system via the Ethernet, I suggest you have a crappy Ethernet NIC so you are expecting magic cables to fix a bad design.  If you tested you would probably find a lot more garbage is from the processors in the router and switches and not RFI. If your receiving device does not take care of it, it was not correctly designed to work in the intended environment. Blame your box, not the cable.  As far as which cable it is possible to transfer this noise, it is only the last link as the signal is reconstructed in the router and any switch. 

If you believe, so be it. 

What you hear is what your brain says, not the actual sound.  -140dB noise flor? Well that is truly fantastic so quite a great system. Not sure how you get that as even a Bryston amp has about a 114 dB SNR. -140 is pushing Johnson noise. With what source material? A CD with 110 dB dynamic range compressed to maybe 40 to make it loud?   A super great LP direct to disk that maybe has 65dB?  Or do you have some first generation  24/192  digital files before mastering?  I bet what you are actually hearing is more like -80 dB if it is actual physical, not perceived. 


Oh, yea, guess I'd agree a lot of big box cables and hubs are junk. So junky I only get 360 Mbs on my computer with Amazon cable, self terminations, Netgear dumb hubs and the supplied Spectrum router and Modem.    Not saying Belden is the only or the best but if you buy their wire, it will meet spec.  I have had no problems with Netgear hubs.  Instead of expensive linear supplies, I just put a ferrite on the wall wart cable. 



If you think you are getting noise into your analog system via the Ethernet, I suggest you have a crappy Ethernet NIC so you are expecting magic cables to fix a bad design.

I’m sure I was getting noise from my Panoramic modem that the streamer is plugged into directly.

The magic Ethernet cable cost $130, came with a 60 day no questions asked return policy and absolutely sounded better than the $20 Belden cable.

No placebo effect, and my bias was in fact against the magic cable - I wanted to send it back.

Tomorrow I will be trying out a black-magic Ethernet cable to compare with the magic cable, also returnable.

Either way this was a low cost solution that didn’t require another powered device that I have no room and no spare outlets for.

Yes, there is abundance of snake oil in this industry but there are also plenty of really effective reasonably priced products.