Sound quality: USB vs. Ethernet (LAN)

I thought that bits and bytes where the same (transport) - no difference in sound quality.

If you use LAN or USB. I thought it would be the same - data streams are data streams.

But I was wrong. It seems that I have still a lot to learn :slight_smile:

I was quit happy with my setup - see below. Great sound through ethernet (LAN)

But why not try some new settings?

Today I added a good USB cable from the NAS to Linn (marked with orange).

And what a difference - The UBS connections sounds much better - bigger sound stage and more clear.

Wow - I didn’t expect that. I thought it would the same. Now I am happy that I spend 118 EURO on this experiment :slight_smile:


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What USB cable do you use? HQ player can make thing sound better via USB.

Supra Cables Excalibur USB 2.0 :slight_smile:


Cool, that is the one I use.

I have a Linn Klimax NG DSM//3 with Cisco switch + optical ethernet in, but I also use a MacMini + HQ Player NAA + USB for upsampling upto 384k

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It could also be your Linn device has different “paths” for data received via Ethernet vs. data received via USB - maybe even different DACs (though that’s unlikely).

Data is data, but different analog signal paths can have very different noise / resolution characteristics, even if the digital data is exactly the same.


I don’t know if this is the case. Maybee my current CAT7 was the wrong choose.

Will try some Belden 1303E CAT 6A (connected one side) and see if they are better :slight_smile:

Does that one have a fiber network input. I’d be interested in hearing if that makes a difference.

Did you try Wifi? I have 1 Roon Ready device that has such a horrid ethernet PHY implementation to make the port unusable. Wifi doesn’t have the audible issues. Shame really at these price points.

Have in mind that the type of input you select depends where the clock signal is based on.

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Per the highly respected HQPlayer developer (@jussi_laako):


I’ve owned a Selekt (not Surround) and I currently I own two recent Klimax. Some comments:

  • I’ve discussed Cat 7 with network engineers, including my Linn dealer (who used to be one for a major hardware company before going into audio), and they think it’s a bad choice for this application, because of shielding incompatibilities with domestic gear.
  • I’ve heard a definite improvement when I replaced a GS105 upstream of Klimax with these.
  • I got a further minor improvement when I replaced Cat 6 between those switches and Klimax with optical.
  • It could well be that USB from HS-264 is just electrically less noisy than your current Ethernet. The bits are not different, but the stray EM junk coming along with them down the wire can matter.

In all of the above, the issue is not the bits themselves, but keeping stray EM interference away from Linn gear. For some reason, the GS105 is a worse electrical noise source than that discontinued Cisco switch.

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But the OP does not have the Klimax NG DSM/3 so no optical ethernet in.

I think you are absolutely right :slight_smile: Thats why I ordered Belden 1303E CAT 6A (connected one side) from Designacable - right now stucked in customs - I think UK need to join the EU again :slight_smile:

The GS105 was a suggestion from Linn support. Cisco switch is discontinued and from 2011 (Series Release Date 07-JAN-2011).

What could be a good alternative?

This is entirely about application. With this hardware USB sounds better than Ethernet. With other hardware the opposite is being observed (Gustard R26). There is no hard and fast rule as to what sounds best. Look at where your manufacturer has made the effort and you will probably see benefits.

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Remember to use CAT6 U/UTP cable, not a shielded one. As shield would destroy galvanic isolation otherwise provided by Ethernet.


Well it depends, when connecting the DAC via USB the clock of the DAC is used, when connecting for example via SPDIF or AES/EBU the clock of the source device is used.

The UpTone EtherRegen is a great performing switch in that regard. Just check some reviews worldwide.

This are the ones that I have ordered:

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That one is shielded so it connects grounds of two devices allowing dirty ground currents to flow.

  • Shielded RJ45 connectors with a metal shroud

This is something you don’t want. Check for CAT6(a) U/UTP cables with plastic connectors.

This is one of the cable types I use:

Preferably look for CAT6a U/UTP 500 MHz rated cables.


THX :slight_smile: But the Belden 1303E CAT 6A are only connected on one side

I would also recommend installing a Tp-Link MC200CM Gigabit SFP to RJ45 Fiber Ethernet Converter (or something similar) after the Netgear switch, fiber ethernet, then another Tp-Link MC200CM Gigabit SFP to RJ45 Fiber Ethernet Converter back to wired ethernet into your streamer.

The noise from the router, Roon Core and switch gets dropped completely by the fiber, leaving only the short run of wired ethernet to the streamer/DAC to pick up noise. Make those cables (wired ethernet to streamer and USB to DAC) as short and as high quality as possible.

Next step after that is investing in good linear power supplies, quality FEMTO clocks, and an “audiophile” switch.

You will hear a difference.

I use a good quality gaming Router (ASUS), a Paul Pang Quad Switch, iFi Zen Streamer with power supply, and from there into my DAC, with the highest quality Audioquest cables I can afford. I am incredibly happy with the sound and pitch-black background.