Wireless vs. Ethernet for Streaming

We live out in the country and we have just recently been able to upgrade our wireless service to something approaching "civilized."  (Our speed tests range from 70-300 Mbps, from a TMobile cell tower via the ether.) Our house is rather long and spread out, so I installed a Google Nest mesh network, and we now have a strong wifi signal, even in the far corners of the house.

I want to start streaming high resolution music from Qobuzz.  I have measured the latency of my wifi signal and it's strong--latency runs between 6 and 12 ms at my stereo.  But everything I read online says that streaming requires an ethernet connection.  Unfortunately ethernet is problematic here, simply because it would require a run of 140' from my main router. (The mesh nodes do not have an ethernet port.)

My current digital setup consists of a Bryston BDP-2 that feeds digits to a Bryston BDA-2 D/A converter.  I have ripped all of my cds onto a hard drive that is connected to the BDP-2 via a USB port.  I control the BDP-2 with my laptop via a Bryston wifi USB dongle.

If I can indeed use wifi to harvest digits from the ether I am tempted to purchase Bryston's new(ish) BR-20 preamp/DAC/digital source combo.  They recommend ethernet for streaming but offer several accessory USB ports.

What is your experience/opinion regarding wifi vs. ethernet?  How would a long run of ethernet compare to our wifi setup? Is it even realistic to expect to play high resolution music over wifi?

Thanks in advance for any replies.


Hey there.  Latency doesn't matter.  Bandwidth, signal strength and reliability matter.

They make wifi analyzers for Windows, Android and iOS.  I suggest you get one if you'd like and make sure your destination has a strong signal.


My experience varies based on location.  In apartments you usually find a lot of signal contention for your wifi channels, so Ethernet is really important for reliable video or music. In your average suburban home you won't have nearly as much signal contention and a high quality mesh router will be just fine.


Since you've built out a new mesh network and confirmed strong signal distribution, Wi-Fi will work just fine for you. It's the older protocol versions (particularly before 802.11ac in ~2013)  or if you have signal reliability issues that could create issues versus Ethernet.

I've set up multiple streamers, including Bryston streamers, with Wi-Fi to Ethernet adapters and they've all worked great as long as the signal was strong. The Wi-Fi SweetSpots app on iOS can be used for rough testing of signal strength.

Just keep in mind that for high-resolution Qobuz streaming to the Bryston BR-20, you will need to use the Manic Moose web-based interface. This is generally the case with other streamer hardware as well. When Roon certification is completed, then that would be another option for high-resolution Qobuz streaming to the BR-20.

Assuming your network stack is properly configured and the implementation of both wired and wireless is within spec and competent (that means competent digital noise control, etc.) in the streamer, both should sound the same.

Just remember, all network packets should be checked for error and any packet with errors will be resent by the server. This is the checksum protocol - both the sender and the streamer perform a computation on the data using the same formula and both must get the same answer. Any error is known as a checksum error and the packet is resent.

Hope this helps.

I’ve been using WiFi in my HeadFi rig through my iDevices using Qobuz and was happy until I brought my CD transport up from my big rig to spin some discs not available for streaming.  I was very disappointed to hear the CD transport sounded better than streaming through WiFi, and the feedback I got was that going wired to a decent streamer will close the gap, so that’s my next move.  So, in my situation I found WiFi to be compromised.  Hope this helps and best of luck. 

There is nothing inherently wrong with good dependable WIFI wrt to streaming. As long as the bits get there fast enough, it doesn’t matter. Good dependable WIFI can be more than fast enough to handle streaming 4K video.

Due to the logistics of my home, my only option for my streamer is WIFI. I use a relatively inexpensive TP-Link WIFI extender connecting over my 5G network. It has a wired ethernet port for my streamer. I get a dependable 150Mbps with this connection, which is plenty to feed my Hi-res Tidal/Qoboz audio needs, AND a 4K television AND my computers with video conferencing (sometimes simultaneously). There are likely lots of folks reading this who don't get 150Mbps with their wired connections.

A poor WIFI connection for whatever reason (poor coverage, contention from neighbors, etc.) would obviously be another story.

wifi works perfectly well for streamed music, if it works well... if you follow me

lots of people, places have wifi that is not implemented well, too much traffic etc etc

modern mesh networks, as @nekoaudio says, solves alot of the past problems with wifi

My 2 cents:

When you are using the internet, you have to make sure you aren't pushing up against the limits of data transfer.

I have Verizon Fios Gigabit. It works fine. But, if there is a lot of traffic/demand, I can have Qobuz/Roon hiccup.

Nothing major, but it has happened when I am playing music and other bandwidth demanding services are in use at the same time.

As others have said, wired connection is the safest/most stable way to connect, but if there are no other demands, and you have a good connection, wireless is just as good.


I would place the mesh node close to the system and plug in Then turn on and tune out..

I use a wifi extender (wall wart… $69) next to my system and plug my Ethernet cable into that. I have a very good streamer and it buffers and presents fantastic music regardless of the current status of my internet provider or the wifi.

I have a good mesh wifi system.  It works well.  I stream qobuz over roon.  I consider it an interim measure until I can figure out how to run an ethernet wire across two doorways and around an exposed corner.

I do get occasionally (perhaps once a week) a blip where Roon will skip to the end of a song and start playing the next one which I attribute to ethernet bottlenecking. 


Thank you very much for your helpful replies, especially erik_squires, nekoaudio, and nosualc.  I hadn't considered the idea of using a wifi to ethernet adapter. Does anyone have any experience using Google Chromecast with Roon and going through a HDMI port?

My DSL wire enters my tri level house on one end and my main rig is on the other.  I got mesh nodes that have ethernet ports.   I hard wire one Mesh node to the DSL box. The 2nd node is placed in direct eye shot of the first but all the way at the other end of the house.  3rd node is at the rig and hard wired to my Sonic Transport Roon server which is then hard wired (Ethernet) to my Bryston BDP.  Before I got Roon I had the 3rd node ethernet to the BDP.   Its been purdy solid with only the occasional network reboot required. SQ is right at the door of CD/File/Vinyl sources.

My router is upstairs and connected to a Google MESH network that services an Ayre QX-5 Twenty upstairs and an ultraRendu downstairs that sends USB to an Ayre QB-9 DSD. The QB-9 displays 192 for files that Roon shows as 192/24. I’ll be connecting the QX-5 directly to Ethernet by replacing the MESH node with an Ethernet switch, but I don’t expect to hear any difference.


I've got just a regular old Comcast Modem/Streamer and I use it for streaming music and video into my system in the next room - I live in an apartment building downtown and I've not had issues with any kind of streaming through that; the signal does not have drop-outs.  I'm still interested in upgrading to a better quality streamer, though...

I have posted a question in a Google Nest forum asking if it's possible to add a second router to a mesh network.  My current network consists of one Nest router (placed at the incoming internet box) and two Nest points.  If I can add another Nest Router I think I can use it's ethernet port to feed the streamer.

Question: is going hardwired from a mesh extender somehow better than using WiFi through an iPad/iPhone?  

If your device supports WIFI, I don't know that it would be any better.

Some devices don't support WIFI (Lumin streamers, for example).

I suppose it's also possible that a WIFI extender might have a better receiver than a particular device, making a marginal signal into a usable one. 

I have a remote home on a small island. I get internet via radio receivers that ping signals between 50 user members from a very small local internet company. I stream most content just fine but hi res albums via Qobuz will hiccup. 

@discus99 It sounds like you've done your homework!  Your setup looks like it will support wireless music streaming, 70mbs should be more than enough to stream hi-rez selections.

I’ve not seen anyone say that Wifi sounds BETTER than ethernet in any circumstance - does anyone have that experience? So long as all the bits get there, I would think that wifi should "cleanse" any noise riding on the wires, similar to inserting an optical patch in the chain?