Directional ethernet cables and Nucleus

My Nucleus and my streamer/DAC are both connected to the same switch, using ethernet cables.

As the cable is “directional” (indicated by an arrow on the cable), I was wondering which is the best direction, as Tidal or Qobuz data streams seem to go in both directions (from the switch into Nucleus and form there back into the streamer/DAC passing the switch again).

At present I have it connected “data stream Nucleus out”.

Any thoughts, or is there some stupid thing I misunderstand?

Thanks in advance and enjoy good music!

Directional ethernet cables? I suspect someone is pulling your leg (or charging you for the privilege)…


Are only the cables with an arrow on it directional?

Lifted ground at one end design require the cable to follow a direction. The shield connection is terminated at only one end and usualy that should be used at the souce. It doesn’t apply to cables with no need for a shield (speaker, power).

Now, i have no idea what kind of cable you are using, but if it’s made like this it may be a good thing since the general agreement is that for conecting the audio gear to the network an unshilded network cable is better (this way you’ll have a shilded cable which doesn’t carry the ground connection between the source and the destination).

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As you have noticed, data signals flow both ways over Ethernet cables. Ethernet is also full duplex, meaning data can flow in both directions at the same time.

At a physical level the Ethernet standard requires magnetic coupling, meaning there are small transformers before each Ethernet socket. Transformers only work with AC current, which flows in one direction and then the other, changing direction at a rate known as the frequency. DC current does not have a frequency. The frequencies used for Ethernet typically extend up to 100 MHz or higher.

The only directionality I can think of with Ethernet is with a lifted shield, as @anon82498359 has pointed out above. In that case you would connect the end where the shield is connected (the unlifted end) to the equipment with the most robust ground connection.

I think pretty much all ‘streaming’ cables from audio manufacturers are directional (Chord, Audioquest etc.) They are called streaming cables because they do not, in many cases, conform to any standard that allows them to be called Ethernet or Cat… Make of that what you will.
These manufacturers also tend to sell their analogue interconnects and speaker cables as directional, but I have yet to see a technical explanation from any if them.

You always point your cables into your devices. If you follow that convention you can’t go wrong.


Ethernet is balanced. You do not need a ground.

Then someone says “hey, you need a ground”… you get a ground loop, so someone else says “lift the ground, but only at one end”. Now we have a fix for a fix that wasn’t needed, and a boutique Ethernet cable that wasn’t required, probably costing silly money, and possibly even dangerous.

Moral: use a standard Ethernet cable :slightly_smiling_face:


A good quality CAT 5e, imho, is the only thing 99.99% of most home networks need.


Dangerous? Do tell!

Potential differences can lead to sparks :joy:


Removal of safety ground connections to equipment in an effort to eliminate ground loops also eliminates the protection the safety ground connection is intended to provide.

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Maybe I am a complete peasant, but I just use the cheap amazon basics ethernet cables for pretty much everything…

Same with HDMI cables that people go an about as well.

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Completely normal I think you mean.
However, this belief in the golden ethernet cable does tie in nicely in why it’s called ethernet, named after a non existant medium. Aether.

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Monoprice has made quality cables. Amazon basics is not bad either. I do use Blue Jean cables for my speakers, more so, because I can specify exact length and end connectors, saving myself time and effort.

I really hate extra cabling lying around, and I’ve done enough crimping network cables to last multiple lifetimes. So, I’m more than willing to pass any cable mod job off to a good company using quality materials.

When I had a working studio in my house I worked out one day I had nearly 1.5km of cabling in and between the various equipment rack, synths etc - most of which I cut and assembled from numerous reels of van damme balanced mic cable and neutrik connectors by the box load - urgh!

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