Some advice re:ethernet cabling please

We are getting our house retrofitted for insulation and doing some structural work while we are at it and this gives me the opportunity to get ethernet cable around the house rather than use ethernet over power as I’m using currently.

My thoughts are to run cables to most room and doubles in some. I will ask for them to be run in trunking to make an upgrade to fibre easier in the future.I’ll get them terminated in a patch panel going into a simple managed switch.

So a few question marks I still have that some of you may be able to help me with.

  1. CAT6 or 6a?
  2. shielded or standard?
  3. What is a good 24 port “smart” managed switch?
  4. is there anything I’m overlooking?

Thanks in advance,


Hey John,

  1. 6a handles high level crosstalk areas better in longer runs. If any run from patch panel to end is greater than 33 meters, I’d go with 6a.

  2. Standard, unless you live in a data center. Some audio equipment do not handle shielded cables well.

  3. If you have a reason for managed, the Cisco SG300-28 L3 is pretty well regarded. Even though I can manage switches quite well, I use un-managed switches at home as I am not doing anything which needs a managed switch, I use either CISCO SYSTEMS SG112-24-NA or a NETGEAR ProSAFE GS116NA

  4. Well, if you were thinking of POE (power over ethernet) then you need to make sure the cabling and switch can accomodate.

I"m sure other will weigh in with suggestions


I did this 15 years ago when we redid the whole house. In those days Cat 5E was standard but Cat6A sounds sensible.

The only thing I regret now is not running Ethernet cable to every room in the house. There are some rooms we didn’t do it due to “cost”, and it’s cost me significantly more in money and time over those years experimenting with homeplugs etc than we’d have spent doing it properly to start with.

As far as switches are concerned I have a Netgear GS724T (can’t remember which version) that I bought cheap on eBay that’s as solid as a rock. You don’t need the latest and greatest as you’ll only have a simple network so using eBay for a switch may help defray some of the installation cost.

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One of the perks in the house I bought is that the builder had set up conduit between a central wiring closet and all the rooms of the house. That way I can replace/all/upgrade wires easily.

+1 for conduit and don’t forget the draw wire.



Unless you have a real need for managed switches I would strongly advise against using them. There’s no performance benefit and the additional work they do to manage multicast traffic often results in problems with applications like Roon and UPnP. If you use Sonos then absolutely do not attempt to use a managed switch! I’ve had good results with the Cisco SG100 series.

I run managed switches at home as I did have a need at one point. Now that the need is gone they are far more trouble than they are worth!

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Put more in that you think you’ll need, and think about how to then get patch cables from there to devices - depending on fireplaces/doors etc you might want some extra ones.

I put two minimum in every room when we refurbished, plus more in the office, and lounge, but have since moved things around and now the office is the babies room I wished I had more elsewhere. You’ll never regret putting in too many!

I barely had one device attached at the start, now four years later I have two switches, and its chocka in there!. I hard-wire everything if I can… I out some in the loft too and thats useful for adding in wifi access points hard wired back to the network.

I’m sure you’ve thought about where to bring all the wires back to, and a patch panel. It makes sense to buy the best performance/cost ratio cable you can get, although I still went 5e even though at the time could have gone 6 - the reality is it really doesn’t matter that much in a home environment.

I use two netgear switches now. One recently acquired ‘smart’ switch GS116Ev2 at the patch panel (smart, just because I was interested to see some of the data rather than use VLAN or anything like that), and its predecessor an 8 port ‘dumb’ GS308. Both are very cheap and great little devices - small and silent.

I’m pretty technical and wired the whole house myself, with a little help from the electricians pulling some cables through where I couldnt reach, and smashing out some of the sockets (some I did). In an Edwardian house not much chance of conduits here… It was very rewarding, but wiring the patch panel was a pain as it was in a tight closet and very uncomfortable! Its fiddly work!

I had to make some concessions, like running close to and even along mains cables etc sometimes, which isnt ideal, but I dont see any dropped packets. Whether noise gets into hifi stuff through EMI/RFI I’ve no idea. I dont see any evidence of any dropped packets or errors anywhere, so I think it was all fine.

I really know nothing about switches but am basing using a managed switch on the following advice

For infrastructure try and use basic managed switches. This will allow you to check status and diagnostics when things go invariably wrong over the years. The definition of frustration is not knowing what on earth is happening on home networks when the embedded infrastructure starts going wrong and its all cheap ‘unmanaged’ equipment - like a socket going half duplex or fibre transceiver going noisy. This is why businesses uses managed switched - i.e. it allows you to manage the status and config of your network - which will be a godsend a few years down stream when the unexpected happens or a rodent nibbles through one of your cables!

I’m open to being swayed either way as I have no knowledge of network management at all, and ideally want something that “just works” but have learned the hard way that such things rarely exist.

That looks like CAT6 unshielded, thanks Daniel.


I had problems with Roon when I tried to use a managed switch. I quickly reverted to using unmanaged switches throughout.

Oddly the benefits cited are rarely useful in real life and pretty much never the reason for choosing a managed switch in an enterprise environment.

Managed switches are all about exerting control over what traffic gets presented to what port(s). In a home environment this functionality is rarely necessary and tends to get in the way when you just want the damned thing to work.

For audio applications the biggest issue faced when one uses a managed switch is how does that switch handle multicast traffic (in concert with your router and wireless access point(s)). Multicast is used heavily by A/V applications like Roon for device and service discovery. Managed switches cheat a bit and look inside multicast packets to try and figure out where they should and shouldn’t go on the network. More often than not the default configurations for the various network devices conflict and multicast gets dropped everywhere. Invariably this leads to issues where device discovery either takes a long time or breaks completely.

For the audio network at the shop I use unmanaged switches (Cisco SG100) and at any given time have 10 - 20 devices on that network spewing out multicast traffic. I never have a discovery issue on that network. At home I have manged switches (as there was a need for VLANS at one point) and although multicast does function correctly it took a lot of work massaging the configurations on 2 switches, a router, and two access points to make it work. Since I have a bunch of Sonos devices at home as well I had to make some very specific changes on a per-port basis in order to allow their mesh network to function correctly. At this point Sonos devices can only be plugged into certain switch ports or all hell breaks loose.

Managed switches are great if you’re trying to maximize the performance of critical applications where the user count is in the hundreds or thousands. At that point they are a necessity. In a home network where all you want to do is press play and enjoy they’ll be a nightmare.

If you have no network management experience then I’ll upgrade my statement from “strongly advise” to “vehemently urge.” :wink:


FWIW, I use two by 24-port Managed Switches in my home network…which has quite a few network devices…along with several Sonos, Meridian, and PC / Mac / NAS devices

It all works fine…without any of the issues outlined above…no Multi-Cast issues…no Sonos issues, even when ethernet connected, etc., etc.

However, I would also echo Andrew’s advice…unless you truly know WHY you want a Managed switch…and how it might benefit you, then I would stick with the “dumb” versions, which are just fine for almost all home networks

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I would skip the fully managed switch and get a netgear ‘plus’ switch

From what I’ve seen with mine there’s very little downside and the default config is still plug and play. The few options you might want to disable are quick to do so, but the nice thing it does is allow you log into a web gui, see which ports are active, their speed, any open cables, and prioritise any ports (in the unlikely event that becomes a necessity) - it also logs errors (if any). They’re barely more expensive than a non plus.

Managed switches are designed for network engineers who get paid to sort these things out, and are trained and experienced in complex networks, and the switches setup.

But, that said if you’re really interested in seeing what’s under the hood of a managed switch - why not. Just have a dumb switch ready to replace it with for your troubleshooting. :slight_smile:

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Sounds a convincing argument to me.

Would it be desirable to run a fibre connection to the main music kit and if so how would this be achieved.


Cat 6 would be my choice. Make sure the jack connections are Cat 6 as well.

Oh, and if you’re using conduit plan it so you don’t have too much of a bend in it going round corners. Ethernet cabling only ever seems to get thicker and less able to bend round tight corners.

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And more than one cable and they do their best to form a knot!


I use unmanaged Netgear switches and haven’t ever had a problem.

Amazon sells thin, flat Ethernet cable which has all the capabilities of the older style. I use it for all my long runs. Goes around corners, much less bulky and much more flexible, etc.

Managed switches are, probably, totally unnecessary and much more expensive. TP-Link switches have always worked for me, but probably any name brand will work. Make sure you go overboard on the number of ports.

If you’re using a router that has its own Ethernet ports, use the switch instead for all your networking. Communication between ports on your switch, even the unmanaged ones, will happen without going back to the router. Router ports are notorious junk.

It’s nice to have a switch that displays line activity and speed, etc. Of course, to future proof as much as possible buy only Gigabit switches.

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I just wanted to quote this for a +1 emphasis.

Yes agree. I use for the house a mikrotik router for the internet access/load balancing/basic FW/VPN, and as workhorse switch a nice HPE Aruba 2920 48 Ports POE+ Switch, with Cat 6 cabling, 4 Aruba 200/300 WLANs access points. Works great for the installed (low-cost NUC) Roon Server, Bluesound, Sonos, Apple TV with Zattoo, Netflix, Youtube, Skype, Mobile etc in parallel.