I have two components connected directly to my router via ethernet cables; a Lumin D2 streamer and a Nucleus core. I know what I need to know about analog speaker cables and interconnects but my question is about digital cables. I’m currently using two cheapie Cat 7 ethernet cables from Amazon.
Do the more expensive digital ethernet cables make a difference in sound quality? Should I be using some other Cat (whatever that is) number cables? In case you can’t tell, I know nothing about digital cables and could use some guidance.
Any basic, competently constructed ethernet cable is all one needs. The concept of audiophile ethernet cables is actually a bigger joke than almost any audio woo nonsense. Cat 6 is more than fine. Cat 5e is fine. Cat 7 if you have it is fine. Bad ethernet cables will cause problems, but they won’t be subtle “sound quality” changes.
For a more scientific approach to what I’m saying above, see:
Cables like everything can be changed and may or may not give differences in signal… that said a more expensive cable while it could make a difference could be a worse or better difference. Trust your own ears with your equipment. Try before you buy if you can or check return policies.
There is much talk on all this all over Hifi forums. A good cable doesn’t have to be expensive. An expensive cable is not always good.
My advice is stick to your budget and trust your ears. This applies to anything you buy for your listening pleasure.
For some kind of equipment, I would not trust my ears. Our brain is fooling us, finding differences that are not there. If you can’t measure a difference, there is no difference. Ethernet cables are in this category.
$8 or $1600? Price is the only difference. Ok, the $1600 cable looks cool. Important, when you hide it behind a rack.
I’ve said this a 1000 times on many threads in many forums…here included.
“Everyone hears differently.”
I’m also going to go out on a limb and state IMHO that no sound is ever repeated and heard exactly the same either, be it in the same second or the same year for that matter. There are just too many variables. Did anyone teach you how to hear?
Our brains fool us constantly. At the end of the day you have to live with what it’s telling you.
And by trust your own ears I mean in the end its you that is listening in your seat/room/system/space and time etc with your ears. Nobody else can be ion that position ever.
Steve, Barrows from Sonore here. The answer is “maybe”. I prefer to use an optical Network connection (using Sonore products of course) as this eliminates the possibility of noise traveling on Ethernet cables to the audio system.
In any case, i do notice that you mentioned buying Ethernet cables from Amazon. Beware of cheapo, Chinese made Ethernet cables, as many of these do not meet specifications, also, most CAT 7 (maybe all?) Ethernet cables use metal shielded plugs and have shields which are connected to these plugs, for audio I would recommend staying away from any Ethernet cables which have the metal shielded plugs, as these create a ground connection (through the shield) from the router (or switch, whatever) to the Renderer, inviting the possibility of ground loops and ground borne noise. Ethernet is by design isolated, and these ground cables defeat the isolation on the ground.
My recommendation for wired Ethernet (if you do not use optical, which is my top recommendation when properly implemented) is to use CAT 6A cables, and get them from a reliable source. My favorites are from Blue Jeans Cables, they use high quality Belden made cable, and do the terminations themselves, they also measure each cable after termination to make sure it meets spec. These are not expensive, and have guaranteed quality, with no name cables form Chinese suppliers on Amazon you usually have no idea of what you are really getting. As for “audiophile” Ethernet cables, if you want to try some, first make sure you have known quality cables such as what I recommend for comparison, as if you compare against no name Chinese made cables your comparison may be to a cable which does not even meet spec!
I believe cat 6 is the most appropriate spec to use for audio. 6a includes changes meant to solve problems with 10G over longer distances and may be detrimental to the signal at lesser demanding rates. Definitely not any shielded tied at both ends.
I agree with using optical for the last bit when practical.
Unfortunately, It looks as if you’re not on the same page with regard to whether I’d be better off with Cat 6 or Cat 6A cables though. I guess I need to do a little more reading on the subject and will ultimately be buying my cables from Blue Jean.