Networking infrastructure and Roon

The interesting question this discussion poses for me is to what degree do you really want a high speed data-centric network to also function as your pristine noise-free audio network. In my case, i was able to run simultaneous Ethernet and fiber runs in conduit through the house during construction. This allows me to focus on particular connections and eliminate as much noise as possible in those runs (particularly the pathway from the computer that hosts Roon and HQ Player to my NAA/DAC which I have done largely in fiber. But I have kept a combination of high-speed gigabit routers and mixed Cat 6a and Cat 7 wiring in place to run Internet connections and data backups. Ultimate noise reduction also suggests cleaner power supplies for all of the electronics along the “music” path (although there are those in the “bits are bits” camp who argue that noise cannot travel along Ethernet connections).

Craig: Given the complexity of your network, I’m surprised that you aren’t using more than one high speed data connection to the Internet (thereby separating secure data from entertainment). Was that something you considered?

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More accurately, packets are packets. It will either work or it won’t.

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But what’s frustrating is the ready conflation of packet jitter and interface borne jitter between a (mechanical )transport and DAC. They aren’t comparable.

TCP packets contain no timing information and the network transport layer has built-in buffering to ensure reliable transmission. A lot of audiophiles forget that at this stage these are DATA packets.

The traditional audiophile hand-wringing over jitter doesn’t apply here. It’s only at the point of D/A conversion - either on-board or via an external convertor - that interface borne jitter applies to the bitstream.

tl:dr - Ethernet jitter is a complete red herring.


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@moderators -

all these arguments about SQ, jitter, packets, etc. don’t really belong here,

this should be a controversy free zone.


Good point. I will delete my posts

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Indeed, I totally lost track of the thread we’re in!

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Not necessary to delete anything; the mods will split it off. the discussion was worthwhile, just not here.

I’m not Craig but I may be able to offer some guidance. Multiple high speed network availability usually isn’t available for most homeowners. If you’re lucky, you may have two vendors to choose from but more likely than not, it’s just a single high speed vendor. And if you do have a single vendor, most SOHO routers (which for home owners are usually just residential Wifi routers or vendor provided modems) don’t have the capability of programming to handle this. Craig’s network with a Unifi router backbone can likely do multiple paths to the outside world. But when you design this, the secondary connection is usually just a fall back in case the other one fails.

Three years ago I helped a medical practice in my town upgrade their network capabilities and do better links to their satellite offices. We switched vendors to high speed connections from a well known national provider (Level 3) and we kept Comcast Business as a fall back on the main router if Level 3 was unavailable. It was not used as a subset of their traffic. Could you do static routing to do that? Sure, but it’s something you have to maintain yourself and you never know if someone upstream is going to change the path.

I don’t know if Craig designed his own network or brought someone in but it’s clear that whoever did it knew what they were doing and planned for the future. Are some parts of it overkill? Probably. But his provided schematic is sound…I have a lower powered version of it myself. I’m just doing gigabit Ethernet on a Netgear GS116 16 port switch with 8 and 5 port Netgear gigabit switches in other places in my home (home theater, office, etc). I have Comcast Gigabit as well. Wifi is a hodge podge of Apple devices and one Netgear R8000 (which I later realized cannot saturate gigabit Ethernet so it’s not central to my network anymore) I also have about 50 TB of storage available for media, just with two Drobos, one old (Gen 2, firewire), one new (5D3, USB3) hooked up to an elderly 2008 Mac Pro for file, Plex, Roon and HQPlayer service. Would I like some upgrades? Sure. But for now, this gets the job done largely.

The biggest strain on my network is 4K streaming to two different LG OLED TVs from the outside world or from ripped 4K Blu Rays on the Plex server. But wired gigabit Ethernet works very well and I’ve tested it running multiple high quality streams to every TV, laptop, and iOS device simultaneously. It’s unclear how close I am to saturation on my switches since everything is unmanaged right now. But so far, it all works.

And for the sake of staying on topic, I have three Roon zones matching my three music zones.

Home theater (multichannel):
Oppo 205
2009 Macbook running Windows 10 (Roon + HQPlayer NAA) feeding Oppo 205 via USB
Marantz 7703 (Oppo has HDMI and analog connections to it)
Amps are too embarrassing to mention :slight_smile:

Living Room (2 channel):
Oppo HA-2 portable DAC (if an Oppo 205 frees up on the final list, I’m buying one for this spot)
2008 iMac running Windows 10 (Roon + HQPlayer NAA) feeding Oppo HA-2 via USB. This is a music kiosk machine for the room
Audible Illusions Modulus 3 tube pre-amp
Parasound HCA-2200 two channel amp

Sun Room listening area (multichannel):
Denon X2000 receiver
2010 Mac Mini hacked to run macos Mojave beta (Roon) feeding the Denon via HDMI

2008 Mac Pro High Sierra w/Drobo Gen 2 (10 TB effective space) + Drobo 5D3 (40 TB effective space) running Roon Core, Plex, iTunes, file share, DNS, HQPlayer for Home Theater
2006 Mac Pro El Capitan (HQPlayer for Living Room)
2008 Dell Poweredge 2900 (Windows Server 2012 R2 file service)

As you can see, a lot of my enterprise is done on the cheap with aging equipment often repurposed in ways not normally supported (Windows 10 on unsupported Macs for example mainly for ASIO USB support). But with a solid wired network, it’s all pretty good. The Sunroom doesn’t have a proper outbound DAC but with an old Mac with HDMI and a receiver, I can make do and even do multichannel music through Roon.


Catching up on the network discussion…

In general – @Sevenfeet has it exactly right.

Where I live, Comcast is the only provider with decent speed. I could have a fallback provider and could tackle that and further network optimization like segmentation (putting things like video cameras and other IOT devices on their own vlan) but I haven’t gotten around to it. I may tackle it in the future when I have time. I am a CEO by profession by day and only a wanna-be IT expert at night :slight_smile:

But this discussion does bring up another couple of points about why I invested in this level of network infrastructure. So many of the problems in digital music tech are tied to network issues so I believe that it’s important to have a solid network infrastructure and if the device your connecting is important, hardwire it. You will save a lot of time an frustration IMHO if you do this.

Additionally, by investing in what would be called enterprise class equipment I can manage everything – switches and APs – with a single graphical user interface which Unifi has (no CISCO command line configuration for this guy). I can quickly check if all network gear is running properly, configure new gear or change the configuration of existing gear, address issues and automatically take care of firmware updates. Here’s one example of this – with a couple of button pushes, I can rescan my house and property for all competing wifi signals from neighbors that can interfere with my wifi and reconfigure my APs to optimal channels to avoid it. This is the kind of thing you can do with enterprise equip. If you have any network complexity at all that saves me a boatload of time and eliminates more pain. Making an investment in great networking infrastructure in the same way everyone here invests in audio gear will pay off IMHO…

PS. I made a few updates to my diagram to reflect some equip I left out in the first version…

For network security, I suggest something like this running pfSense.

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Comcast does have their 2 gbit service in a few markets. They have it here in Nashville where I live and my neighborhood was recently upgraded to offer it. I have a friend who has had it for nearly three years and raves about it. But he got it for an introductory price of about $160 a month. Comcast now wants $300 a month (not including $1000 for the install) which is too rich for me and I’ve told them that. If you get it, you’ll need 10gb/sec infrastructure on your LAN to take advantage of it.

Craig is very correct on investing in managed network services. For years I’ve run unmanaged and I can’t remember all of the hours I’ve wasted trying to troubleshoot a network problem. One time I had an old TiVo that had a bad Ethernet port and was occasionally spewing garbage on the network, disrupting everything on my LAN. It took me weeks to isolate the bad actor and retire it from the media shelf. A managed switch could have told me the problem and device was responsible immediately.

Of course, managed switches cost more but have been coming down in price in recent years. I was casually looking at some potential upgrades that were 10g capable and Craig’s setup is giving me some ideas I hadn’t considered, like using Unifi gear. Their marketing is pretty silly but they make nice stuff at very competitive prices.

The prebuilt pfSense box is pretty interesting for a router…way better network security than your garden variety WiFi router with all the things you need prebuilt. It’s not the same as getting a Cisco or Unifi router but at $320 (not including RAM and storage), it’s a great deal.

One addon comment to Richard’s last post. Before I invested in Unifi, I had managed netgear routers, but I still had to go to one box at a time to configure and manage. You need something to tie all your managed gear into a single UI. Unifi does this via the installation of their SDN controller software on a windows/mac/linux computer or by buying a “cloud key” - a small IOT device that plugs into your network and runs the controller software. Once setup you can link your configuration to their cloud which provides the ability to view/manage your network remotely from a browser if your out of the house. And as @Sevenfeet notes, prices for this type of gear has come down substantially over the years and is pretty competitive now.

This conversation about enterprise networking in the home stuns me.
I know enterprise IT, I spent 45 years on it, and I don’t want it at home.

Yeah but I don’t want to.
I had a lot of networking gear, not as neat as Craig’s, it was a mess to manage, but I went the other way. I threw it all out and got an Eero mesh. The best thing with it is that you can’t manage it at all, it has no management functions or UI, it just works.

It also

The beauty of life. To each their own…

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That is absolutely the right attitude for this hobby! :smiley:

Given the response that some of these networking discussions have generated, i almost do wonder whether it is worth splitting this thread in two: one part eye candy - pictures of the full range of systems that Roon users are enjoying life with and one part system diagrams - showing how users are trying to optimize their Roon network setup (different kind of eye candy).

There is a similar thread over at Computer Audiophile “A Novel Way to Massively Improve the SQ of Computer Audio Streaming” that is now at 359 pages and gets into levels of detail far beyond me. My guess is that a Roon specific version might be a bit more down to earth…

Lastly, I considered the Unify/Ubiquity system as a replacement for my Cisco enterprise equipment, but was actually concerned that the simplicity of the software configuration overlay (as compared to the more manual box by box configuration) might ultimately lead to an easier one stop access point for hackers – any thoughts on that?

maybe it´s the USB- or network-interface which is the weak point/problem?!

some years ago I had the pleasure of an evening @Craig_Palmer’s place, and can say the estate is worthy of its network.

so is the wine cellar.

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@moderators -

Again, while this discussion is worthwhile, does it belong here?

The longer it goes without being split, to be continued elsewhere, the more off track the thread becomes.