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.

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Tvrgeek, practice what you preach man. It’s clear you do not understand fully how the ethernet works. Otherwise, instead of denying people’s actual experiences with better cables and network switches you would look into how and why it is possible. Discovery and an open mind is the first step to learning.

I encourage folks here to do a little research on their own and understand how Ethernet works and how the IP stack works.  As one member suggests, GOOGLE can be your friend.  Things work the way they do, not by some made up rules because someone wants them to work differently. 

Folks  may also be interested in the iFi "better" wall warts if you think switch power noise is causing you an issue. 


Stupidity. So you are calling people on this forum stupid and they are now enlightened by your presence. All praise the audio messiah.  Who says they are wrong? You? And where is your IEEE papers saying this is fiction, validating your claims. Who asked for your opinions? Do not see people clamoring for your facts Freddy 2. Take your crusade and move along Mr @tvrgeek 

I really do not care as my entire house and our community is 100% fiber. Has been for 20 years. I have 12 inches of HQ Cat6 going from my media converter to my Innuos Zenith. That is it. 

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Another Freddy. @tvrgeek just let people do what they want to do. Why do you have to piss in everyone's Wheaties?  

No one has eluded because in truth, CAT-3 is more than what is needed.  This is just another "reaching for magic" topic by well meaning folks who do not understand how Ethernet works.  That extends to a lot of equipment makers apparently. 

Cost has come down, so no harm in running 6a if it makes you feel good and future proofs you. 

So far, no one has alluded on which type of Ethernet cable is better than others for high end audio.

Jussi Laako - the owner of Signalyst (HQPlayer - a product that I like) has done a lot of research on the pre-DAC part of the signal and signal transfer.

He recommends using CAT6 / 6A U/UTP (plastic connector ends. No shielded cables like STP or F/FTP).

@macg19 try giving a value Amazon optical set up a try.  Under $100 without LPS. Couple hundred with an LPS. Some like it others don’t and it’s returnable.  Worked wonders for me. Set up is  router-ethernet cable- FMC-Optical cable- 2nd Fmc - best ethernet cable- streamer. 

FMC Need 2:  

Optical cable Need 1:
LPS Optional but worth it , powers 2 FMC’s need 2 cords.



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.


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. 


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

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



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.


Extraordinary claims need extraordinary proof ... This is why correctly designed cables have a bypass cap connecting the shield to complete the circuit for RF but not for hum. We learn these things in first semester electronics.

My reporting on the value of using an interconnect that has a shield attached at end only is hardly an "extraordinary claim." As I mentioned, it’s a shielding method used by many manufacturers and users. So it’s rather odd that you demand proof, and then reject it with a wave of the hand.

In any event, no one here owes you anything at all, including scientific "proof." This is a hobbyist’s group, not a science forum.

We learn these things in first semester electronics.

I don’t think you learned everything that you thought you did.

Extraordinary claims need extraordinary proof.  If something does not follow the laws of physics in this universe, I suggest extraordinary claims are required. 

Bad engineering and advertising does not solve other bad engineering.  Maybe you can avoid hum be reducing the ground paths, but the shield is no longer a shield and you now are subject to interference.  This is why correctly designed cables have a bypass cap connecting the shield to complete the circuit for RF but not for hum.    We learn these things in first semester electronics. 



A shield connected on one end without a bypass cap is called an "antenna."

It's very commonly used in interconnect cables. In fact, with my active crossover and servo woofers, such cables are the only way I can avoid hum. And yes, the direction very much matters. You are simply wrong.

Many single ended cables are in fact, snake oil. 

That's a tired refrain. But here's the good news for you: Stephen Tuttle created a template that you can use to expose this fraud. As I'm sure you know, audio cables is a sizeable industry, so you can get rich and serve your fellow audiophile, too. Here are some details to get you started:

You Can Get Rich From 'Snake Oil'!

A shield connected on one end without a bypass cap is called an "antenna."  You could help yourself and invest in a little time taking an on-line free course in basic electronics. 

Many single ended cables are in fact, snake oil.  I can't separate reality from belief, you will have to do that yourself. 



The ONLY cables that are in fact directional are either balanced cables with a isolated shield/cap bypass which can be used as a band aid for ground loop problems, or pure snake oil.

You are mistaken. Many single-ended interconnects use shielding that is connected only on the source end. It's a very effective technique and certainly not "snake oil."

@tvrgeek I think you may be getting too much of your information from those Youtube "experts."

Value Sonically:  ZERO. CAT-3 will do just fine. You almost can't get it so CAT-5 or 5+.  CAT 6 is what was 5+. 7 or 8 are marketing BS)  5+ has a specific bonding between pairs to keep their impedance consistent for 10G. Do you need 10G for audio?   Ethernet it packet based. Errors are fixed in the IP stack. Magic is not needed. 

Value for placebo satisfaction: Very high to some. If you believe, go for it. If it is real to you, great. 

Value for the economy: Makes someone else a lot of money and uses up what you should spend on speakers. 

Side note:    The ONLY cables that are in fact directional are either balanced cables with a isolated shield/cap bypass which can be used as a band aid for ground loop problems, or pure snake oil.  Directional? Audio is AC!

@lalitk No, thank you!

I'm not willing to spend a lot on digital at the moment after buying new speakers and amp in the last 2 months so to end up with a nice sonic upgrade for $130 is indeed a great outcome. 

@tksteingraber I’ve got a good DAC and entry level streamer and I am going straight from a Cox Panoramic modem.

An optical switch or other audio-grade switch/filter and/or a very good streamer might render the Ethernet cable less important.


@macg19 interesting how cables perform differently in different systems.  I compared Amazon cat 8 generic, BJ, Pangea SE and AQ Cin and could hear no discernible difference.  Returned them all kept Amazon. I have a Bricasti M5 network streamer with an  optical set up that might be the reason.  I did hear a difference between Wifi and cabled on my prior set up.  To each his own…

From Pangea

Any of our cables that have directional requirements have an arrow on one of the terminations pieces. That one is the side for output. If there’s no arrow, there’s no direction.


Congratulations are in order but you also have my condolences as you go deeper down the rabbit hole.  Actually it can save you money in the long run   Streaming sounds so good now I don’t need to always buy the record or CD- or download  

I always hope to be able to send back some new cable or component.   It doesn’t happen often. 

Cables just work.  The cable makers know something but they hold their cards pretty close to their vest. They don’t give away much about how their cables work. 

@lollipopguild @tonywinga @deep_333 

I tried the Pangea Premier SE and the AQ Cinnamon this weekend. I was using a Blue Jeans (Belken) Cat 6 ($20).

I also had a closer listen to WiFi.

I REALLY wanted to send the AQ  back, so if there was any bias...

  • The SE was a minor improvement over the BJ, hard to qualify that statement in any detail but I guess a little more "presence". There was no difference in directionality and I could find no documentation that this cable is directional.
  • WiFi and the BJ were about the same (compared directly to the AQ cable)
  • The AQ surprised me; I liked the bass response better, it was fuller (I thought I read in the EtherRegen white paper or the video, that some of the issues with interference are more likely to effect lower frequencies?) and overall I thought the music had a bit more "sparkle" (detail?).

The AQ Cinnamon is staying.

So, I definitely learned something from this thread; that everything matters EVEN ethernet cables and you don't have to have a $10K+ digital front end to hear it. 

But no, I will not be trying the AQ Diamond.

@macg19 I can highly recommend the EtherRegen. Version 1 of it has just been made available again for a limited run. You'll have to move quickly to grab one. 

Version 2 is still work in progress

Don't dismiss the LHY SW-8 or their new SW-6 Network Switch.  Very good performance for the money.  The SW-8 was a step up from using a fiber optic link for me.  The fiber optic link was a big step up from a direct ethernet connection from router to music server/streamer.  Not only that but I found the SW-8 does wonders for streaming video on my TV.  The picture looks like a photograph in motion.

The silver plated wire in the AQ Cinnamon and the Pangea SE ethernet cables make a difference too.  The Pangea and the AQ Cinnamon Ethernet cables were very close to my ears.  The Pangea are directional too but are not marked.  In one direction the highs were harsh and unpleasant but in the other direction the cables sound good.  It was not a subtle difference.  With the Pangea SE connected backwards, a $5 ethernet cable will outperform it.  I am not overstating that.

@lollipopguild Interesting video and I read the white paper, thanks for sharing.

I am not one that believes digital music is just 1s and 0s arriving at the DAC. As an example, my BS Node 130 sounded obviously better with an LPS upgrade, which is actually discussed in the video (AC leakage). I use a Zavfino PC for my DAC, Zavfino interconnects and USB cable. The USB cable sounded much better than a pricey SPIDF cable. The DAC is on Symposium Roller Blocks and a Svelte base.

The etherREGEN device looks interesting.

@deep_333 I didn't hear any obvious difference streaming over WiFi vs. ethernet, but I will a/b test this more closely for fun. 

I have ordered an AQ Cinnamon ethernet cable. I'll compare it with my Blue Jeans Belden cable and report back. I can return it if I don't hear any difference.   

I accept that many believe digital music is 1s and 0s arriving at the DAC.

This hasn't been anywhere near my experience.  The best explainer I've found which can explain the impact of noise, jitter and phase noise on digital signals is this Hans Beekhuyzen video:


The difference between a trash amazon ethernet cable and a Audioquest Cinnamon is substantial.

The difference between a Cinnamon and a Diamond Audioquest on my rig is not so substantial (quite subtle actually).

Essentially, it comes down to the resolution of you room+rig (the pre-requisite), i.e., how nitpicky you want to be. To improve a room’s resolution, it costs a lot for treatments that actually work. But, the latter tends to trump any gains from the likes of cables by a lot.

a sine wave in a digital file

*the digital representation of a sine wave in a digital file

Well regarded members of this forum have stated adamantly that digital audio is a true stream of data, and not a bit checked/error corrected file sent over TCP/IP in packets.

This confused me so I contacted BlueSound. Digital audio is transmitted over TCP/IP just like an other digital data file.

Errors can and do occur, e.g. the packets can get sent out of order, which can create a slight delay while the processor assembles the file (assuming the transfer is completed) but the file is the identical once it arrives at the transport/streamer no matter whether it is sent over WiFi or a $1K ethernet cable.

That is my only point.

If your new cable, wherever in the chain that is, sounds better, and you are happy with the ROI, great.

But don’t tell me the amplitude over time of a sine wave in a digital file can be altered by an ethernet cable of varying quality.




The interference messes with the shape of the sine wave thereby changing both amplitude and midpoint

This is impossible if we are discussing only the transfer of a digital file from the source (e.g. Qobuz) to the streamer. The digital file cannot be altered prior to it being converted to analogue. 




great post! Actually even easier than using two different cables: insert a LAN isolator ahead of your streamer with whatever cable you use.,Should be enough to convince you that there is more going on than bits are bits…



I don’t think flaming you is appropriate.

‘However, like scientist; observe.

Try a cheap cable like Blue Jeans, a well reviewed $500 cable and a $1,000 one. And despite all the logic they are likely to sound sound very significantly better (depending on the quality of your system). This is the acid test. Then you start working on hypothesis as to why this might be true.

Starting from the logic that it can’t make a difference is a great way to get it all wrong. For the last fifty years of me trying that (to logic it out) and being proven wrong by observation every time has cured me of believing in that approach. Also, I was a scientist for over a decade.




Audioquest vodka is exactly what I am using between my Etherregen and my streamer.  I run a cinnamon 10M cable from my router to my switch.  Both are silver plated.  Excellent results.  Vodka is only .5M long (or so).

I recently swapped the vodka with a german cable of similar price, very similar results.

I recently loaned the ER to a friend for a week and when I got it back i was very happy.  Having the quality cable downstram of it seems to make sense.

Of course your mileage may vary.  In another thread people are posting they can't tell the difference between wifi and wire.  so it depends on your system and your ears.



If you have already done comparison between LAN cables and found no audible differences then it shouldn’t matter what anyone else heard or believes. Just keep in mind, most of us here are only speaking from our experiences in the context of our audio system and listening skills.

Imagine a group of people talking about which airlines have the best 1st Class cabin service, food and seat comfort.  Then someone walks up and says, “You know, the Coach seats arrive at the destination at the exact same time as the 1st Class seats, so why spend the extra money?”

A cave man may not have understood the nature of fire but he learned that striking two hard rocks together made sparks and could start a fire and then he developed  the art of cooking.  I don’t understand the nature of transmitting data via the internet but I know audio.  Me like sound of silver plated Ethernet cables.  Ugh!

Any suggestion what other than a sine wave is being transmitted? The interference messes with the shape of the sine wave thereby changing both amplitude and midpoint; hence my comment on clocking.

@antigrunge2 If you think there is a sine wave in the data being transmitted to the streamer, then go nuts on cables.

I said nothing about clocking.


the bits are bits argument has been roundly defeated. Along with the bits travel ground level and EFI/RFI interferences that wreak havoc with the shape of the sine wave being transmitted leading to serious issues at the D/A conversion stage with deleterious outcomes on SQ. Cables and clocking matter.

I'm sure I'll get flamed, but...the file delivered to your streamer is bit checked and once the streamer has what it needs it plays whatever it was sent, no matter what cable delivered it. 

Cables matter, I am not a cable naysayer, but if you can stream 4K video successfully over wifi, then an audio file is a piece of cake, so a decent quality ethernet cable (I use Blue Jeans) is all you need. 

Power supplies, downstream cables, the DAC etc. all matter - more.



your streamer is good, if you feel like experimenting, get an Lhyaudio SW-6 or Uptone Etherregen in lieu of the second FMC. It MAY, and I don’t say it will - improve SQ through the built in ethernet isolator plus reclocker and thereby make differences more audible.

@antigrunge2 thanks for your insight…my set up is:  mesh router-ethernet-FMC-fiber-FMC-ethernet-Bricasti M5 network streamer-USB-Dac….both FMC’s on LPS and Bricasti has built in LPS.  I have tried different quality ethernet cables within this set up and couldn’t discern any SQ difference.  Is that due to fiber doing it’s job or just my system not up to the task? Thanks


Comparing Ethernet to fibre is not straightforward: much depends on the FMCs and their power supplies. Often fibre is accused of being somewhat bland relative to an optimal ethernet connection; conversely getting an optimal ethernet connection takes a lot more effort. If your streamer accepts it, fibre is the easier, but may not be the better solution. (btw, I do not understand where you use the ethernet connection, I assume from the end post FMC to the streamer?) 

Thought I would repost this from another thread…any insight?

 If you have Fiber optic cable (with LPS on FMC’s) between a mesh router and network streamer will an LPS on the router or high end cables make an improvement?  I have tried several levels of ethernet cables (Audioquest, Pangea, Amazon, blue jeans, Chinese Nordost Odin in copper and silver plated) and have not heard a difference.  Ended up using a copper Cat 8 shielded from amazon and returned or sold the others.  Is it just me and my systems or does it not matter?