Cable vs Fiber Audio Quality

Is there a discernible difference in sound quality between cable or fiber internet service?

I currently have cable at 500M. Recently fiber optic internet was just installed in my neighborhood with an option of either 500M or 800M.

Obviously the fiber shines more light on the music


There shouldn’t be any discernible difference. There are much bigger factors to consider. So long as the provider is a good one you should be good what ever choice you make.


This kind of reaction makes people new to digital audio quickly feel unwelcome here.


Really. I very much doubt there are too many people with such an absence of humour…

To make up for my first post here’s a discussion


After a recent move we had no choice but to migrate from a cable internet service to a fibre internet service. I can say categorically that to my old ears using an identical roon system before and after that there is absolutely no difference whatsoever in sound quality between the two services.

However, the fibre service is more niche than the cable service. The company is much smaller than its cable competitors, the customer service is terrible and fine-tuning the service to work with roon has been quite a trial, which is ongoing. I don’t know if there is something inherent with the higher data rates with fibre that causes the issue with roon or it is teething problems with a smaller operator and generally poorer QA systems with their contractors. For example, we eventually had to have an entire run of fibre recabled as the operators contractors didn’t seem to understand the much lower bending tolerances of fibre compared with coax and had bent the run out of spec.

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Those sort of issues plagued the early installs of fibre in corporate network installs, typical of unskilled installers.

Can you explain what fine tuning you need to do in order to get Roon to work?

I have fiber in my new home, 100Mbit and had 1Gbit in my old home, data rates have nothing to do with Roon working or not.
The only thing impacting Roon or any use of a service over a broadband connection is that is it all has to be installed and configured right.

Networking is no voodoo, it is a trade that requires knowledge and when all is done right, it is dependable and stable.

My new home has no cabled connections yet, i made it all work with wireless and homeplugs over powerline, and it works flawless, no hiccups in audio delivery.
Not ideal, but it has to do until we start rebuilding and modernizing.

TLDR; Roon is just a networked service as any other, it works when your network is connected to the internet in a correct way and have on premises networking done right.

In detail, no I cannot. I am no network specialist, I am just a largely disinterested consumer and can only comment superficially on what I have observed.

There have been numerous interactions with the fibre ISP going back over a year. This has resulted in infrastucture changes both to the original internal fibre cabling (we are in a shared apartment block), the connection point in the street and several ISP supplied router changes (we are now on our 3rd model). It has also involved throttling the fibre connection speeds. Eventually we have bridged the ISP router to our own internal router so that we have more control over network parameters. I have lost count of the configuration changes and although stability has improved roon will typically stay up for only 1.5 hours to 4 hours before dropping connection. I hasten to add I also use convolution and DSP via HQPlayer and no doubt this is all contributing to the stability issues as well. However, we never had any issues with a largely identical configuration with our previous cable supplier.

As far as network stability is concerned, our experience with fibre has been simply terrible and this is an ongoing issue. We would of course have abandoned the service long ago if we had a choice. This does not mean you will have the same experience but from Ged’s comments above our experience with a niche fibre supplier is not unusual.

As far as SQ is concerned, when the service is working I notice absolutely no difference at all to our previous cable service. Indistinguishable to my ears.

Thanks for elaborating Tony.
When you ISP does not know what it is doing, you are out of options other than choosing another if possible.

The type of connection is irrelevant for the SQ other than that it needs to have sufficient bandwidth and quality of service from the endpoint to the source.

Good luck!


That’s where we are at. The problem is we are in a shared apartment block without many moves. So we have three choices. The first is, the building is actually cabled for coax but this was abandoned by the owners association in favor of fibre (no roon users) shortly before we moved in. The fibre operator was aggressively marketing a much cheaper loss-leading package deal which the owners association took. Of course when we arrived everyone quickly found out how this operator could do it so cheaply with incompetent and untrained contractors.

The problem now is that the local cable junction box in the street has since been de-commissioned and the nearest active one is now almost a kilometer away. The local cable supplier will reactivate but it is a per-meter charge and will come in at almost 18,000 euros as they don’t have enough subscribers any more in the area to mutualize the cost. Even if we did that I have to fight the owners association to retain the internal coax cabling as no one else uses it. As far as they are concerned it ruins the lines of the Victorian entrance hall and stairwell of the building as the cable was never chased in and they want it ripped out during planned renovation works this next year. I kind of agree with them if no one is prepared to pay the fortune it would cost to chase the cable into the Victorian plaster work. So all in all this is not a realistic option.

The second option is to move. This is the most realistic option and we are already in the process so it may well come to this. The things we do for this hobby.

The third option is to suck it up with the fibre operator and try and get it working which is where we are at the moment. Doesn’t look promising though.

Roon is just like the other services on the internet.
When the problem is the ISP there should be evidence of others having trouble to.
Even with a â– â– â– â– â– â–  ISP, they should be delivering what they where contracted to deliver, internet access as it should be.

But, what kind of connectivity do you have?

  • the connection works
  • all but Roon works
  • all works but not always
  • ?

Fiber connectivity to the internet is rather trivial when things on layer 1 of the OSI model are okay.
In other words, if fiber is installed correctly it is a very stable connection method and is no different from other methods up the OSI model:

  1. It has to connect correctly on a physical level; meaning all fiber and other equipment is connected correctly with electrics and optics. Here is where fiber lives and can be distinguished from other connection methods.
  2. There has to be an established connection where information can be send between hardware routers and switches.
  3. Here the information will be sorted and send to the right parts of the internet, IPv4 and IPv6.
  4. If everything is okay up to here you very well could be in trouble and your ISP is not.

My recommendation is option 4:
Hire a true networking expert and let them assess the trouble you all experiencing.
Let them write a report on the issue and present it to your ISP and other inhabitants of the building.
State a set of demands according to the issues in the report must be fixed.
You should/must have commitment of the other tenants or their representative that the report will be the bases of further action against the ISP if it should be apparent that the ISP is the problem.

The OSI model, or how networking really works

Thanks, but I think you misunderstand. All issues are resolved as far as the other owners are concerned so there is a limit to what I can do. The contract with the ISP is not with me, it is mutualized with 16 others in the “owners association”. I do have the option of choosing the cheapest option at half the bandwidth of my previous cable supplier and that has helped with the stability. Other than that, now that the only app in the building not really working is roon I have no leverage at all with the ISP. We have been bridged to our own router so they can wash their hands of the matter. I experiment with different parameters but have essentially given up as it is not very interesting and it is diminishing returns. I have other players and my CDs which do work and just use them when I get fed up with the drop outs.

But this was not the point of my post. My point was that “newer” is not necessarily going to be better. In fact when dealing with smaller niche companies without the scale or the resources or processes it might actually be worse. Buyer beware. This is not to say that you will necessarily have the same issues with your fibre operator.

Hi Tony,

I understand, option number 4 is still an option for you.
Have a networking expert to check your connection and infrastructure, if the ISP is to blame, you know where you stand.
IMHO; Roon is just a networked service like all others and if a connection is okay, it should work.

A few weeks ago i moved to a new house and setup my networking the quick and dirty way, but it is all working flawless.
On the left two mac mini’s, one docker server and my Roon Core.
The little black box is the media convertor from my ISP, it converts fiber to ethernet.
On the wall, a fiber termination box, a powerline convertor and a wallwart for the media convertor.
The spaghetti mess is; on the bottom a Cisco Catalyst 3560CG-Poe switch, an Catalyst 2960CG switch and two Mikrotik HexS routers.
Not in the picture on the right is a raspberry pi working as a an application server.
At my desk in the office i have a Cisco Catalyst 2960-CX-Poe, and a Mikrotik hAP ac.
The lot has VLANs so i can connect everything to the right “network”, be it from physical or wlan.

This will all be in a rack but i will wait with that until we finished rebuilding the house next year.

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Music is sent digitally so as long as the bits arrive correctly the quality is the same regardless of fibre or copper.

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Copper wire is subject to picking up environmental noise, which may, or may not, be great enough to affect SQ. That is why USB on a computer based system is potentially more problematic than one using optical. They both transmit the same bits, but the noise that each passes on can differ significantly.

Bits are bits. Your internet cable (or fiber-optics) carries nothing audio. It provides the information for a DAC to “assemble” an analog, audio signal. Those bits, encoded into a recognizable pattern, need to be delivered to the DAC, intact and with no errors. Therefore, actual “sound quality” starts with the DAC. How the bits get to the DAC has no impact on the DAC’s ability to perform. Only the integrity of the bits matters.


I have a home in Brasil with two ISPs–one fibre, one cable. I also have a home in Canada with a fibre provider. There is no difference in sound quality between fibre and non-fibre and, as others have pointed out, no technical reason why there should be.

That makes sense… although there may well be distortion and jitter between a source and audio components and speakers that can affect AQ, which is why high quality copper and insulation is important, any possible environmental distortion along copper internet cable leading to the modem and then to the DAC probably doesn’t affect AQ.

Hahahaha, good one Ged! Even if others don’t think soor choose not to.