Usb vs ethernet for signal treatment of audio

just wondering what the pros/cons are of ethernet signal conditioning vs usb?
like many i use my computer as my music source, but
the area of usb can get confusing (head over to computeraudiophile, for example)
…not only is a microrendu required to optimize sound but now you can also
add an lps1 (or multiples ones), dc-4 cardas cable, the new iso regen etc.

i’ve read some comments that ethernet connection would simplify things, but i’m no techie.
just a few yrs ago all one needed for good usb audio was a good DAC and cans/iems.
no longer it seems.

Like a lot of audio there are diminishing returns. Your USB connection sounds like it always did, but there seems to be a consensus that Ethernet to a network device with USB to the DAC can be an improvement.

A USB connection has a 5v line and an earth. Computers are a notoriously noisy environment and that noise can propagate into a DAC via those lines. There are various techniques for minimizing such noise including software optimization, improved power supplies or separate power supplies/batteries for various components. Some people cut or mask the 5v line but the earth line must stay open and it provides a galvanic connection into the DAC. These tweaks and optimisations can get as expensive as you like.

Alternatively, you can send the data by Ethernet to a small footprint network device and then to your DAC, usually by USB. This enables you to create a dirty side and a clean side for audio purposes. Provided the Ethernet connection can fill the buffer on the network device it doesn’t matter how noisy or jitter ridden the output of the dirty side is. You can then concentrate on keeping the network device “clean” rather than the Augean stables of a general computer.

There are some qualifications to this architecture. Although Ethernet has small transformers at each end which reduce propagation of noise they are not as effective as fibre, which absolutely ends any galvanic connection. There can also be a noise path through shielded Ethernet cables, some computers (Apple in particular) have little studs next to the Ethernet port which connect shields to an internal earth.

There are also reports of different sounding Ethernet cables, but no consensus about this. I’m agnostic as to this possibility. The effect is not reported to be substantial.

So, in short, choosing a quiet network device and feeding it clean power is generally accepted as providing better bang for buck than tweaking the computer.

There is a page in the KB about this, I’ll link it when I’m off my phone and back on a desktop.

Thanks…so a question…why doesn’t the microrendu focus on Ethernet vs USB?

The Microrendu is designed to retrofit legacy USB DAC’s with an Ethernet input. Since 95%+ of all computer software media player users (circa mid 2017) use the USB input on their external DAC’s, there was a market for this sort of device. Moving forward will will see more and more DAC’s with Ethernet inputs. However for those who own older DAC’s, these little boxes can be the next best thing.

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This is the KB page I was thinking of. I agree with Mike that we can expect to see more Ethernet ports on DACs. I would much prefer an l2s output from the mR; maybe the mR 2.0 ?

In order for the MR to spit out I2S would require a totally different setup. Right now it’s just a minicomputer board with a USB hub chip powered by a low noise regulator. I2S requires an FPGA or ASIC of some sort after the computer board to derive the I2S from. To do it right requires much more real estate, power supplies, programming knowledge and expense. Then at the end of the day it’s still better to do the I2S decoding inside the DAC anyways.

Sonore already made a device called the Signature Rendu that spit out I2S. But nobody bought it. When you build a product that will only appeal to the 0.1%, it’s hard to make any money off of it.

“It’s just…” Maybe it’s a cultural thing but you still sound mighty arrogant/opinionated. That’s fine, personally I find it irritating.


If you can explain its architecture and functionality using more accurate terminology go for it. I’m Not downplaying the functionality of the unit. Only accurately explaining that it doesn’t have the built in resources to output I2S. And the market for such a device is very small. This isn’t based on opinion, rather facts. I don’t think Jesus from Sonore would explain it any differently.