Valley of "audiophile" ethernet cables


#368

Have to try. If these cables increases audio quality, they must also improve spelling problems in my word files and picture quality of my jpgs :smile:


#369

I’m curious to know how long the various ethernet cables are in people’s setup.


#370

For about the last 15 years:wink:


(Daniel Beyer) #371

50 feet from the central network closet to the ethernet wall jack. 10 feet from wall jack to switch, 1 to 3 feet from switch to computer, to tv, to PS4, to Digitone.


(Alex) #372

15m from Mac to router, 7m from router to switch. 1.5m from switch to Devialet, 1m from switch to NAS drive.


(Johan N) #373

I’m curious to know why you want to know that. :slight_smile:


#374

I posted this on a different post reagrding wifi vs ethernet last night so thought I would repeat it here as its relevant.

I decided to capture digitally the headphone output of my Naim Uniti Atom using a pcm recorder so to compare the outputs of local USB stick playback, ethernet and Wifi.

  • Took one file and copied it to usb stick an stuck it in the Atom (Sufjan Stevens Chicago from Illinoise as its a very dynamic track with a lot going on.)

  • Connected up a professional solid state digital recorder that records 44.1 wav to the headphone out of the Atom and adjusted volume to 50% and set the record levels on the recorder ensuring there was no distortion or clipping. Listened to output all good

  • Recorded file playing back by USB x2 times as a control.

  • Played file again via USB this time without the lan cable connected and it moved well away from the Atom. Switch is at the other side of the room so I have a 5m cable

  • Played same file from NAS via uPNP via Wifi again no lan cable connected (did not use Roon for the test as its output does come out at a slightly different volume for some reason)

  • Played same file from NAS via uPNP on Lan (my normal setup)

  • All files copied to PC and edited to be all matched up to the millisecond using Adobe Premiere

  • Exported them back out as uncompressed wav so all the same duration

  • Imported in Audacity and compared waveforms at normal and highly zoomed in levels

  • A/B across tracks randomly in realtime in Audacity

  • So what did I find and hear when I could accurately switch between them all and compare them?

No difference that I could see whatsoever.No1 increased noise floor in the silent areas, no difference in peak levels, no difference in waveforms and switching between was seamless with no jarring or noticable difference it felt as one continuous track from one source. So I think that wraps it up for me. It shows at least in my system no added noise is happening in the D/A stages from ethernet and wireless is the same as ethernet and Lan. Yes my system might be adding noise all over but it still shows there is no difference between sources and with the Lan cable removed and put some distance from the audio kit. You might all say using the headphone output is not the same as using the speakers. Perhaps but you cant control the environmental noise if recording from speakers and it still uses the same DAC regardless and it seems to be the theory thats this is where the noise causes the problems. Why not try it for yourselves.


#375

I’ve tried to both isolate and induce noise in my system (both conducted and radiated) with the ethernet cables or its power supplies, but I think they make no difference in my system. I’ve ruled out radiated noise as a factor.

In my system, I have a 10 and 18 feet AES cable which I can use to hook up the BDP-1 to the DAC. I’m using the 10 feet for consistency. When the BDP-1 is in the rack, there is a single ethernet cable coming into the rack which is very close to the other gear and cables. Alternatively, I can pull the BDP-1 out of the rack and place it at least 10 feet away from the rest of the rig so no ethernet cable goes near the rest of the rig. Similarly, I have tried these two combinations with another two: having the switch and all the other ethernet cables plugged in far away OR putting the switch and it’s LPS and other ethernet cables directly in the middle of the rack beside all my gear and in very close proximity (few inches) to the other cables. I even put it on top of my DAC.

Then I can use the native MPD playback feature with a locally attached USB flash drive. Ethernet is just there for network connection and monitoring. If there was noise being emitted from the ethernet cable into the environment or conducted into the BDP-1, then I would notice a difference if I unplugged the cable going into the BDP-1 or the other ethernet cables and the LPS.

So what happens to the sound when I start plugging and unplugging all this networking gear: NOTHING. If there is any leakage being emitted into the rig or conducted into the BDP-1, my rig is immune to this. Additionally, these cables should be immune to 30 Mhz and the noise levels in typical home aren’t that high.

Based on these tests, I can rule out noise from these cables or from the environment as a factor. I’ve done this plugging unplugging test many times over the years even when I didn’t have Roon. It never made a difference, which is why this whole exercise is puzzling.

I don’t think ‘noise’ as the way it’s commonly discussed here and on other forums is the culprit. At least, not for my system. I think it’s something else. If I have to guess at the moment, I think any differences are solely based on what’s happening inside those networking devices and wires. They don’t get affected by anything outside or bother anything outside.

There are some other experiments in other directions I have been doing and trying to make sense of what might be happening. However, radiated noise as commonly thought of, is being ruled out for the time being. I tried to intentionally cause problems, yet got nothing.


#376

Ummm, knowledge for knowledge’s sake…

:zipper_mouth_face:


#377

Another inquiry if I may.

I’m going to assume most devices running Roon Core will be relatively new and running gigabit. Do you guys use gigabit or fast switches (100 Mbps), and are your network audio devices/DACs using 100 Mbps or gigabit ports? For the switches, I’m directly talking about the ones involved in the stream.

Thanks.


(Alex) #378

Gigabit for me.


(Mr Fix It ) #379

Well most of the audio devices I am using Rpi and Oppo Sonica that are networked only support 100mb but are all connected with Cat6 cables typically and all my switches (tyes there are 6 switches in :open_mouth: my setup all with at least one Roon connection) are Gigabit Unifi switches. All the PC/Mac/NAS setups are all at Gb rates

I dont use any Audiophile Ethernet cables and DIY most all of my audio cables with good quality cables and connectors.


#380

Same. Do any of these companies even post electrical measurements for each individual piece they ship? Additionally, due to the much higher cost, I’m guessing people are buying these at short lengths. Unknown specs at short lengths…not sure if that’s a good idea.


#381

http://forums.bicsi.org/Topic2210-4-1.aspx#bm2215


(Alex) #382

Meicord supply data for each Ethernet cable that they manufacture.


#383

Gigabit switch for me.Not sure the Uniti Atom has a gigibit port or not its not documented anywere.


#384

And I just use cat5a from switch to the Atom.


#385

@zoom25 in my experiment it made no difference using different ethernet devices, e.g. solely my router via WiFi or via router, Lan via powerline to switch and then to my Naim Atom. There are 6 different ethernet devices in that chain and still no difference to native usb playback or wifi. If there where any changes to the sound at all i would see it in the waveform of the captured output. Personally I don’t think any of this kit matters ands its people brains processing it differently either with or without bias and it’s your DAC onwards that changes anything not the delivered data stream or alleged noise.


#386

Thanks for your feedback Simon :slight_smile:

If you put enough time listening back and forth critically and found no differences, then I 100% believe that you indeed didn’t hear any differences. Your result of ‘no difference’ is just as important to have. With these types of debates, the common retorts thrown out are:

  1. Of course, what did you expect. It’s all digital and bit perfect playback. There is nothing to discuss from the get-go, especially in non-realtime asynchronous systems that are galvanically isolated by ethernet. (Wifi’s implementation can vary from system to system. Some manufacturers dislike it, while others prefer it.)

  2. Perhaps, there is a difference, but either way the rig is immune to any differences. If the digital transport/streamer is immune to this, then the stream it sends to the DAC will be identical and unaffected. If the streamer is not immune, but the DAC is immune, then in this case as well you will not hear any difference. However, if both the DAC and streamer are susceptible to any of these differences, then one can hear a difference.

  3. The rig isn’t resolving enough or you don’t have trained ears. While there can sometimes be truth to this, I hate this argument personally. It’s very condescending. Same with golden ears. Although, I do think people can improve their ability to 1) pick up subtle stuff 2) Try and make sense of what a difference might mean. #2 is much, much harder. I’ve flip flopped many times. Sure, you can hear it. But what does it mean?

Please know I’m not directly saying any of this directly towards you or anyone else! Just more of an observation of the discourse here.

Your point about bias influencing hearing and perception is an important one! How do you combat it? The obvious way would be to do blind testing and/or provide measurements. It’s the one with the most merit. Of course, not everyone here has the gear to measure these things or even know what to look for. The only way one can really reduce their bias when doing things subjectively and on their own is to do these tests long-term. Days, weeks, and months. While time doesn’t eliminate bias, it can reduce it.

Enough waxing, back to the topic at hand. If one puts in the time and cannot hear any difference, then there is very little that person can or should do. Now, for common folks at home finding differences, if you cannot provide measurements, you can try and come up with ways to directly or indirectly eliminate variables. You have to start controlling for things if you want people to take your subjective results with any consideration.

I’ll try to share some of my other experiments and how I am arriving at the results I am.

BTW, since you have the enthusiasm to conduct listening tests, I’d love to get your feedback on the following test and how you approached it:

http://www.cranesong.com/jitter_1.html

I’ve posted this before, but I didn’t hear back from anyone. Hopefully you and others will try this test and report their findings. When dealing with jitter, it’s good to know whether all of us are on the same page or not.

Once again, thank you for your feedback and participation Simon. :+1:


#387

I’ll share some more about the environment here and what’s happening and what’s NOT happening. There are 2 experiments/variables that I’ve been looking at. I’ll share them but just want to run some more tests before stating something with confidence.

For power, I have all the audio gear plugged into the Torus. However, I do have a 2009 iMac nearby that can spew out a lot of interference. I’ve brought in my AM radio to check for its interference radius is around a meter. Other than that, the one other dirty power supply is the switching stock supply for the spare router.

When I play music with a flash drive through the BDP-1 in MPD mode, I can move the audio gear away from the rack and directly near the iMac (just cm’s away). I’ve also put the router and switches and it’s LPS on top of my DAC directly and coiled the analog and digital cables on top of them. So I try to make it as worse as possible from a common sense perspective.

So what happens to the sound if I move away the dirty gear away from the audio gear? Nothing. Going further, what happens if I turnoff these dirty devices completely and unplug them and their power supplies directly from the power strip. Nothing! Doesn’t make any difference. It’s completely immune.

I’ve probably found around 10 ways and device combination to connect ethernet to my BDP-1. Direct Routers, Switches, powered by LPS vs. stock, bridged connection from Mac through Thunderbolt adapter and ethernet port.

When I’m playing music off of a USB flash drive and using any of these ethernet devices and combinations to control the interface, they make no difference to the sound. Zero. I’ve pulled the ethernet cable out and not once I’ve detected any difference in sound. Not once!

However, when I start using Roon and feeding the data stream from ethernet, all these devices start making a difference all of a sudden. Each one sounding different from one another. How can that possibly be? We’re still ground isolated and using the same ethernet setup. It made no difference in local playback with flash drives, yet just switching to Roon Ready and all these differences pop up.

So what’s happening? I know for a fact it’s not radiated noise or conducted noise…at least not in the way we commonly assume. I’ve moved the BDP-1 10-18+ feet away from the rig for isolation and in another case tried to make it as bad as possible. Noise radiated or conducted into the BDP-1 or rest of rig is not a problem in this home environment.

So if radiated or conducted noise isn’t a problem, then what can account for it? Well some might say I’m hallucinating. Sure. Or there might be another mechanism. I’ll describe one of the two experiments soon.

Last thing for today, in the case for local playback from flash drives in MPD, the incoming music is pulled at its given rate from the USB drive. Steady and locked in. Same performance day in, day out. With Roon Ready, the incoming data comes from ethernet which has it’s own rate. At this point, some of you already want me to stop speaking “It’s asynchronous and non-realtime. Galvanic isolation. None of this matters. It’s buffered into RAM ahead of time! Do my emails and spreadsheets look different if I change this or that!”

To be continued…