Sound Quality - Rule 5: Use Ethernet between Core and Output. Really?

"Roon has comprehensive and robust support for WiFi, but the sound quality often isn’t the same.

For your highest quality rooms, plan on using wired gigabit Ethernet connections between the Core and the Outputs."

I wanted to double check with you those statements, as they are not fully clear for me. To keep it simple: if I understand RAAT, basically what is happening we are sending a lot of small data files from Core to Output (and we have some buffers on both sites).

One can say WiFi is not optimal to this type of traffic, however it is 2018, we have WiFI Mesh, we have Tri-Band routers, MU-MIMO and standard hi-res file decoded (24bits/96kHz) is less then 5 Mbit/s.
So my question is, why the sound quality over WiFI is not the same as Ethernet? If implementation of WIFI can handle this level of traffic without dropouts and packet loss, why “sound quality often isn’t the same.”? And what do you mean by not the same quality, how worse is the streaming over WiFi then over Ethernet?
If the WiFi cannot handle the traffic we will just clearly hear distortion, dropouts, etc? It is obvious, but it means we just have poorly designed WiFi and I agree it is easier to design bad WiFi then bad Ethernet.

But is RAAT somehow detecting WiFi is used and lowers the bit-rates avoid potential bandwidth and latency issues? Can I find this information in the logs or on the sound quality indicator on Roon Remote? Or can we assume that if WiFi can handle the required bandwidth and not introducing delays the sound quality is the same as over Ethernet? Is this is now true or not: “Stable Streaming over Ethernet and WiFi networks. We take this for granted in 2016, but it’s easier-said-than-done, and a huge set of implementation choices are driven by this requirement.” ?

There could be other things like how the Output handles (WiFi), maybe Wifi client point is needed at the “last mile” to feed the device with Ethernet patch cord, but this is diffident story then having to use Ethernet all the way from Core to Output not to compromise the sound quality.

Thanks in advance for explaining.

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Auralic recommends Wifi for the best sound quality, as it removes the possible noise carrying physical ethernet connection.


I’m not an audio engineer :wink: but I feel the same - if your WiFi network can handle it, why wouldn’t you stream wirelessly instead of over Ethernet, which could certainly carry all kinds of electrical grunge and could even function as an antenna of sorts?

I’d think the ideal would be some sort of wireless input directly to the DAC chip :wink:

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A fair question.

But do you then introduce a new source of noise and RF interference with the WiFi antenna in the endpoint unit, connected directly to the DAC?

My learnings from various respected experts in this hobby of ours is that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” applies everywhere in this hobby. So I can only guess that the assumption is Auralic have determined internally (their own testing) that WiFi is the lesser of the two evils, in general, overall.

I ask genuinely and politely. I hope this thread doesn’t turn into the ethernet cables one :slight_smile:

In all honesty that’s something I would have thought as well. To add to it, can RF injection happen elsewhere in the streamer never mind the antennas. It’s a never ending rabbit hole.

I have a G2 which is advertised as having galvanic isolation on all their various DAC outputs. So, I would hope between it and the advertised USB galvanic isolation in my DAC I’ve protected the digital connection the best I can or best I can afford.

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Ha. This (and “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”) may answer any/every potential question of this thread to be honest.

They are good and interesting questions though.

I use an EEROS mesh system, 5 units spread out around the house (6500 sq ft.). My music room 2 uses one Erros unit with a ethernet cable to my Mac Mini to avoid having the wifi turned on in the Mac Mini. I have Roon upstairs in music room 1 and I send music via wifi to music room 2 upto 128 with no problems. 128 is max for the Mac Mini. The SQ is fine. I can’t say its the same or better, as they are 2 different systems, equipment wise, wouldn’t be a fair comparison. Hope this helps.

No – RAAT will output exactly what your signal path shows you. It has some buffering optimisations to ensure best performance, but it will not downsample your stream.

One fact of life is that any WiFi implementation (even a great one) is more susceptible to environmental variables compared to a wired LAN. Another fact of life is that the vast majority of home WiFi networks uses poor hardware poorly set up and performing accordingly.

But apart from that: there’s nothing Roon will do to lessen AQ over WiFi.

Noted, SQ is fine with many different configs. Both ethernet and WiFi have sounded fantastic in many configs I’ve had.

I think the OP is just seeking clarification about a Roon statement about WiFi and sound quality.

Maybe that rule #5 just needs to be revised.

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Thanks for all the answers. The Roon community is amazing.
So basically, looks like in properly designed WiFi the statement regarding worse sound quality is not valid.
Glad to hear that.

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I think we have to look at this as a rule that will give you consistent results if you do it. I know that finding a way to hardwire my network resulted in a better experience than using WiFi. By that I mean pressing play and getting music 100% of the time rather than the estimated 80-90% using WiFi. I was using a standard modem/router and not hundreds of pounds worth of Mesh wireless gear.

Certainly this statement is one to keep in mind. I was having this same discussion with a local Hifi shop owner just yesterday. Sadly 99.x % of household networks fall into this situation. Ideally get your isp based free router replaced with a professionally spec’d (and installed if you can’t DIY it) system and you give yourself a much better chance for stable and issue free infrastructure for your music streaming, and everything else going on in the home.

The varibale “qaulity” needs definition here, rather than leaving it up to the minds of audiophiles. For those that equate high quality with the experience of no drop outs and always playing when we press play, the easiest way to get there is with a wired connection. A properly configured wireless connection may also reap the same qaulity.
For those that are thinking wireless removes the chance of introduced noise, while that may be true, its unlikely the noise is audible and if this is what Roon is getting at then where’s the testing data and results that show this?

Assuming there are no connecticity or saturation issues, and the same source material quality is being used, at no point have I ever felt the SQ was different, better, or worse, between wifi, wired LAN, or even LTE.

As long as the network can keep up, the SQ question doesn’t exist in my opinion.


I deleted my last post.

Sorry: I made a mistake in this post, I was getting confused with WiFi and Apple Airplay (which can only handle 16bit files. Sorry for the confusion.

Wifi isn’t limited to 16 bit, where did you get that horrible misinformation? I stream 24/192 all day long to my Auralic via Wifi.

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Hello Jeff, I Han another Senior Moment, I was thinking of Apple Airplay.

Sorry to cause any confusion.


No worries.

“Use Ethernet between…”

Of course - especially that in our case WiFi is the wireless Ethernet

Cables are less temperamental

I used WiFi routinely up to 24 192 , but come 5 pm the wheels fell off,almost on cue and repeatedly

I never found the answer I put a cable in and voila

I suspect my neighbor came home and things started clashing, being retired I had all day neibourless so …

Wire isn’t fickle :joy: