Distance from Core to Endpoint

Hello all, I’d love to ask a few questions…

I have a dedicated music room that is next to a storage closet (they share a wall in the next room). The closet houses my modem, NAS and router. I have a gaming PC (i7, 32GB RAM, 240 SSD) that houses my Roon Core (and is used for no other purposes) about 75 ethernet feet away (and a few rooms over) from the music room/storage closet. My endpoint is a Lumin D1 and is connected to the router via Cat7. My NAS and modem are Cat7 too.

Question 1) Does the machine that the Roon Core is on affect sound quality?

So the gaming PC is loud, but is 3 rooms away. Does the gaming PC, with its 7 fans and liquid cooled GPU affect sound quality in a negative way? If yes, then I assume a NUC/Rock would solve that problem. If no, then my next questions has to do with Distance.

Question 2) Does having the Roon Core 75 feet (CAT6) away from the router negatively affect sound quality?

I am exploring a few options:

  1. Move the gaming PC to my storage closet so it can be within 6 feet of the modem, NAS and Router. This is still in the next room, but the longest Cat7 cable would be 15 feet. I am not sure if I am solving a problem that doesnt exist, ergo, does the distance of the ethernet cable degrade sound quality.

  2. Purchase a NUC and place it in the storage closet so it is less noisy than the gaming PC and closer to the router.

Would love to hear some thoughts. Sorry if this was tough to follow.

May answer to both your questions is No. Cat 6 is rated up to 100 metres so you are well within spec.

Agreed. Any EMF or other interference / electrical (or mechanical for that matter) concerns should be dealt with by using the ethernet interface between your core and your endpoint. So if you cannot hear (i.e. from down the hallway) your gaming PC’s fans, then there’s no problem. There is another thread about “audiophile ethernet cables” (I am not a believer) and some language in there about proper grounding of your router, so you can look at that to see if it generates any concerns for you. But no, I think you are fine with this setup.

The length of ethernet cable should be no problem. You’d likely be seeing error messages if it was a problem. But ethernet is good for waaaaaay more than 75 feet.

That said, I always support the purchase of more gear. Even if it’s redundant :slight_smile:

Adam, My roon Core, an i7 NUC Rock, is also near my router, is also 75 feet away from my DigiOne endpoint. And with Cat7 cable in between. I have a fast router and switch between the endpoint and Rock.

I have had no discernible SQ problems Whatsoever. That said, I am hardly an audiophile, and I didn’t do any A/B testing. I have reasonable-quality stuff, maybe borderline-audiophile-grade. But that setup handles things without lag, fuss, or bother.

UNLESS you put your tiny defenseless DigiOne endpoint on top of a super-heated, always-on Yggy DAC. In that case, you are likely to experience cranky behavior from the endpoint. :flushed:

Seriously, that’s all the problems I’ve had in two months of operation. VERY happy. I’d go with option 2

Do it! And tell us how it works. Good luck! John

Thanks for the replies, I am curious if anyone has done any testing to prove this out? I know there are people who think that Ethernet cables don’t have any impact on sonics, and others will vehemently disagree.

Hi Adam, it sounds like quite a beast of a gaming PC there. I’ve tinkered a lot with different Roon Cores - powerful PC’s, NAS’s, dedicated linux based Cores (fanless sonicTransporter, ROCK).

I’ve only heard a SQ difference when I had them inside the listening room and with a direct USB connection to the USB DAC - only in this case, did I hear a difference, in favour of the dedicated fanless Cores. Using a linear PSU helped too but again, only with the direct connection to the USB DAC.

But once I moved the Core to the opposite side of the house, any perceived differences between Core and PSU’s disappeared.

I think you’ve done the perfect thing keeping it far away and personally I wouldn’t be bring it closer to your listening room.

A NUC/ROCK solution is cool because you don’t need to have your beast powered on for music listening.

Even with the ROCK solution, I wouldn’t be bring it closer to your listening room.

From personal experience, further away is better.

If I were advising a friend, I wouldn’t recommend either of these above. The NUC in the same room as your gaming PC (75 feet away) would be my recommendation, if you didn’t want the gaming PC running just for music listening.

None of the above is based on scientific evidence on my part - just highly subjective personal experiences from a fellow tinkerer :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the input, very helpful.

They can make things worse if they are shielded and the shield is connected to the end metal connectors and you can have a path for ground / leakage current loops via the shield - depending on the rest of the system components of course and these potential interactions.

I think most of the Roon Team just use bog standard Cat 5e UTP patch cables.

Unshielded BJC Cat 6 (based on Belden 10GX series) is what I use, just because I wanted to be a little fancy - not because it’s required.

If you REALLY wanted to have shielded cables for whatever reason, the BJC Cat 6A (based on Belden 10GX series) has a floating shield design, meaning no ground / leakage current loops via the shield.

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Awesome, i’ll check them out.

If the Core machine is directly connected to a DAC (USB or SPDIF) then yes, electrical noise can propagate over those galvanic connections. The PCM or DSD signal is also potentially subject to timing irregularities.

But where the Core machine is connected to an endpoint over Ethernet using an asymmetric TC/IP or UDP protocol (as it is here) then the information could (in theory) reach the endpoint equally effectively by smoke signal or carrier pigeon without degrading the SQ. At this point all that is being transferred is a computer file. There is some capacity for electrical noise on an earth wire to propagate over Ethernet, but this may only be an issue if you use shielded cables.

Acoustic noise is not an issue once it is out of earshot.

I can’t think of any way that it would, that is well within the spec.

Hey Andy, can you expand on this a little more?

Try this KB article that describes the aims of RAAT, then have a read of this recent post by Brian:

Oh ok, I thought you were getting/hinting at something else - my bad.

Those are good reading, for sure.

You could use Toslink if it was available, :wink:

Having read that technical article by the Roon’s CTO Brian, I am left with several conclusions. Based on an architecture that utilizes RAAT from Core to Endpoint, it should not matter in the least what Ethernet cable (or WiFi for that matter) is being used. it is just passing a file and the clock in the streamer/DAC are what is affecting sound quality. So, for those that claim their Synergistic Research or AudioQuest or Wireworld Ethernet cables impact sound quality in this topology must be hearing things. Yes?

Well not really as those cables might for example be better at filtering out RF / EMI which could be detrimental to the analogue section within the DAC.

That said a well designed DAC should guard against such ingress.

Personally I use networked connected DAC’s and sleep easy.

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It’s a sensitive topic for some reason. But audiophile cables are often shielded with the shield connected to the end metal connectors. This can potentially be a path for ground / leakage current loops, for example, as mentioned earlier.

From my learnings from some clever people, leakage currents can lead to increased RF pickup by the cable, potentially getting into the DAC (depending on the overall chain components). This can lead to what some people think is more ‘detail’ in the SQ but this may just be the effects of RFI.

Some people like a brighter / livelier sound and automatically think this better. Nothing wrong with this either - life is too short to treat this hobby too seriously worrying about if everything is right/wrong. Trust your ears and enjoy the music. Having said that I do like to tinker a little and learn along the way :slight_smile:

From some of Rob Watts (Chord) public postings:

“the warmer, smoother or softer sounding is the more transparent, as the mechanism for changing the sound is RF noise creating noise floor modulation - and more noise modulation always sounds brighter. Moreover, it’s very easy to confuse a bright sound with more transparency.”

Some other learnings from Rob on RFI:

  1. “no ground loops, so no current flow into the ground planes, then no RF noise pick-up in the DAC and so no problem…”

  2. “As to external RF, it only matters if there is a ground loop, so battery operation should mean no currents flowing into the DAC ground plane…”

  3. “We need current through the ground plane to set up voltages - and it is these voltages that the analogue electronics pick up. So no current, no voltage on the ground plane, no pick-up… The common mode noise, won’t affect the analogue electronics at all.”

So I guess these are some of the extra benefits of blocking ground loops and leakage current loops, via the DAC anyway. And how shielded ethernet cables feeding a DAC can potentially do harm, depending on what the DAC is connected to (i.e. how it forms part of a ‘loop’)

There’s plenty of his thoughts on RFI all over the Head-Fi forums: