I’m thinking of replacing my current CAT5 ethernet cable to CAT7 ethernet cable.
It will be used to connect my Mac Mini running Roon Core and NAS to router.
Just wondering if someone using CAT7 cable and getting improvement when using Roon?
Don’t waste your time and money.
Just my opinion, but Cat 6, Cat 6a is more than adequate for any type of audio use. If you are hard wiring, the higher Category cabling makes some sense due to upgrades in technology, but straight Cat 6 (both in house and individual cables) work great for me.
I replaced some CAT 5 between the Core server and the Router with shielded advertised CAT 7 and didn’t notice any difference in SQ. YMMV.
I think the main difference is that CAT 7 has heavier shielding. That might make a difference with long cable runs in a very RF noisy environment, but in the ordinary home it’s unlikely to matter.
One thing if you do go for shielded cable generally (whether 6, 6a or 7) however, is that the shield can create a galvanic connection between components that can carry noise on an earth into your “clean side” equipment. If you look closely at your MacMini Ethernet socket you may seen some small studs on either side which are intended to form a connection with the shield on a shielded plug and cable. If your Ethernet connector lacks such studs then the shield will not be grounded, meaning it won’t be as effective as a shield but will also not carry noise. If you do see such studs then using a shielded cable may introduce more noise than it shields. Some shielded cables have a floating shield which is disconnected at one end to avoid any galvanic connection.
Furthermore, the Cat7 spec requires the shield to be grounded at each end, so the shield can carry a groundloop - depending on the rest of one’s system.
As Andy hinted above, Blue Jeans Cable Cat6A (based on the Belden 10GX series) has a floating shield design - the shield is not connected to the plugs in any way at each end.
So basically, if your cable has the extra shielding and makes a ground loop connection to your audio equipment, you could potentially be introducing noise to the overall system. But if your RJ-45 connector makes no termination of the shielding to the equipment, you’re fine.
But… The only reason it’s a Cat-6/7 cable in the first place is to provide that extra shielding and its ability to create a ground loop for the purpose of providing up to 40Gbps Ethernet transmission on a 100m cable in noisy RF environments, like data centres with increasingly dense cabling.
So without the need for extra shielding (I think we’re probably at least 5 years away from the introduction of 40Gbps ports on consumer electronics) you’re fine with what you have.
When I question the integrity of an Ethernet connection the first thing I look at is if the interface has transmission or reception errors. On macOS, you can check this by running the command “netstat -in” and observing the values of the “Ierrs” and “Oerrs” columns on the line representing your Ethernet interfaces IP address (it will likely be an “en0” interface on a Mac Mini). Those two values should be zero, or very close to it.
The Blue Jeans Cable Cat6 cable is unshielded (again the Belden 10GX series cable).
This is probably the best “real” Ethernet cable (i.e. not an “audio” Ethernet cable) on the market and will last until the days of twisted-pair Ethernet are dead.
I still contend that as you are only using them as patch leads spending money on upgrades is just wasting it.
Whatever you decide, Blue Jeans Cable is a great source for reliable and reasonably priced cables. My whole setup (minus the in house wiring) is done with BJC Cat 6.
I have Cat5e cable through the house and have no issues. Roon works and sounds great.
Ok maybe I stop thinking about this for now…
Apologies to revive such an old topic but after all my hard work to get a fully wired system in place in an attempt to maximise every last ounce of sound quality out of my system it appears I may have missed a trick with my choice of Ethernet cable.
I only went for this Cat7 because it was flat and well built according to the reviews - expense never came into it as it was relatively cheap for a 15M run. Its running from a wall socket into my USBridge and I wondered if anyone could tell me if it would be making a ‘ground loop connection to my audio equipment’ or how I would tell (preferably with a pic). I can’t say I’m unhappy with the sound but given my outlays over the last couple of months (Intel NUC+ROCK / Netgear Switch / USBridge + searching for a PSU upgrade / Meridian Prime+PSU) to completely decouple my main PC from the audio chain and lower the noise floor as much as possible, this would be a frustrating oversight!
Grateful for any feedback.
Supra CAT8 Ethernet cable. It’s certainly worth it.
Cat8 cable…2 better.
I would suggest re-reading this thread from the top and you will have your answer.
Apologies for reviving an old post but could Andrew / anyone confirm what the ‘studs’ referred to in Andrew’s post look like - I made the mistake of laying cat7 cable under the floors (simply because it was flat) but can’t seem to see anything resembling a stud in my switches, routers or wall sockets, so may have got away with it. Presumably it would be clearly audible if it was forming a galvanic connection and is there any potential over the long-term for damage to my endpoint or DAC if such a connection is being made?
My Cat7 cable (feeding my USBridge) is plugged into a wall socket which is routed to my closet using whatever the builders installed - and for the final route into my switch is connected via cat 6 unshielded cable, so have I inadvertently (and successfully) broken the potential ground loop anyway?
I’m sure you can tell I really don’t have a clue when it comes to this - the more I read the more complicated things seem to get and I seem to keep finding potential problems to achieving Roon’s simple recommended setup which I want to nail before I start tinkering with power treatment…
Grateful for any advice.
Can’t find a pic of the inside of the socket where these studs are. Some Mac sockets have them. This video shows how to connect the outside shield, this guy also calls it a “drain wire”. As you can see that is connected by the foil tape into metal parts of the connector shell. The studs or conductive strips in the socket then connect with the metal parts of the connector shell.
I believe you will hear cable differences better, the better the audioset gets. I changed all my cables to lovecable. What an improvement! It is crazy good and better than the crazy expensive known cables where you pay for the brand name (and the sellers marging). A funny example was when I listened to a Merging Nadac DAC with an SPDIF cable of thousands of euros. I asked if I could hear my cable to compare. The sales person said his cable was so good it would probably be a few steps back with my cable. Within seconds of changing it to my cable he looked at me and asked ‘where did you buy this cable again’? The sounds was so much better. I also own the ethernet cables by love cable and even though the differences with ethernet cables are not huge, I can definitely hear the difference. Just don’t expect the differences you hear with e.g. speaker cables. It’s another link in the chain. Upgrade the rest first and do ethernet cables last. Some switches however can give problems after connecting multiple cat7 cables. I have Ubiquiti switches which are fine for me. Ask if you can test the cable to know if you can hear the differences. Also a good sales person should advice you really well and tell you honestly what you need. Not just want to sell something. I got the advice to start with cables that made a bigger difference.