Valley of "audiophile" ethernet cables

(Sean) #428

Hehe the way you’ve quoted my words there, it reads like you think I am saying jitter is a major problem.

If it wasn’t clear from my earlier posts, I am saying there may be bigger problems (not to rule out John’s phase noise research) than jitter, especially if we’re talking about USB and audio over ethernet (i.e. compared with SPDIF for example).

Putting aside very obvious big issues like ‘the room’ and speakers (that’s not what this topic is about), and sticking to the topic of cables (any digital cables) conducted RF interference MAY be a bigger concern than jitter.

I’ll repeat. Block the leakage currents (as much as possible) in the cables going into the DAC and the effects of conducted RF getting into the DAC reduce. I’ve had agreement with this last part from a few DAC designers but you don’t have to believe me - talk to your own DAC’s designer/s :wink:


How, exactly, would the clock phase noise be encoded in a packet or a series of packets? Does the clock phase noise survive the transformers? Would it survive an optical connection? How?

(Sean) #430

Exactly the same questions I asked John. I even through in WiFi. He said something along the lines of ‘I don’t know but I’m spending the next 6 months looking into this’. I think that’s a fair answer.

One example he gave: he didn’t expect a clock upgrade in the microRendu to improve SQ at all for the reasons you hint at. The only difference between the v1.4 microRendu and v1.3 microRendu is an ultra low phase noise clock which shouldn’t affect SQ (audio) at all. But the difference is noticeable to anyone that’s heard it… nothing else changed. Anyway he thinks it may be phase noise related given this is the only thing that changed, so he’s looking into it.


That clock is after the Ethernet connection. What doe sit have to do with Ethernet?

(Sean) #432

Just one example of why he’s looking into this mate. I’m not claiming to answer any of your questions which, as I said, I asked months ago already and I threw in WiFi too… I was quite happy with his answer. i.e. he doesn’t know but he’s researching it.

Maybe his research results in a dead end. He hasn’t made any claim other than he wants to research it. Let’s revisit that particular topic in 6 months.

If you’re looking for any conclusive claims, you won’t find any yet unfortunately.


I tell you what why don’t we go the whole hog and just regen the music instead. This whole regenerator nonsense is just things gone too far.
When I saw the mains regenerator from ps audio I just couldn’t stop laughing and that price.


Things are a lot more complex, I’m afraid…

In this discussion, we are faced with a well-known (and unfortunately inescapable) epistemic dilemma. The existence of a phenomenon (φαινόμενον = “that which appears”) does not logically depend on its provability. In the same way, the non-existence of a phenomenon is logically independent of its disprovability. As we all know, absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence. The limits of our understanding or certainty do not change what is true and what is not.

When applied to the question of whether or not there can be audible differences between different types of Ethernet cable, Berkeley’s famous equation of existence with perception (“esse est percipi” = “to be is to be perceived”) proves highly problematic: Perceived differences could be merely imaginary. Measurable differences may very well be imperceivable. Demonstrably perceivable differences might not be scientifically explicable (yet)…

“There’s always an easy solution to every complex problem — neat, plausible and WRONG…”

All we can do as music lovers is to trust our ears and keep reminding ourselves that we cannot really trust them. It certainly does not hurt to approach this whole subject with a healthy dose of skepticism…

(Sean) #435

Well said hwz1970. A very long way of saying “who knows” :grin:

From another data point, who also happens to be a clever and respected chap, Bruno Putzeys:

“Textbook theory” is very often just a shortcut. When people say something like “In theory, it should happen like this . . . ,” what they actually mean to say is, “In the very first approximation, on a basic level, this is how it should go.” That’s oversimplification, not theory. Real theory isn’t so simple. It is like you say: in theory, cables shouldn’t make any difference. Well, hang on. Does that imply that you’ve actually looked at all of the established textbook physics that explains exactly what happens within a cable? I don’t mean “new physics,” like microdiodes or what have you, because I do think that’s a load of crock – but, really, all the things you know happen when you, for instance, intersperse two conductors with a dielectric between them. How will that behave, for instance, when you actually put it up in a listening room and subject it to the vibrations that are caused by the speakers – the triboelectric effect? Or just ordinary electromagnetic noise pickup from nearby mains cables? All these things are entirely known by physics and fully understood by theory. But the people who say that “in theory” it shouldn’t matter, they just look at one small corner in one particular textbook, where it doesn’t mention all these other things. Usually, where theory and practice deviate, it just means that your theory hasn’t gotten into enough theoretical detail. So far, I have not yet bumped into anything in terms of audible differences that I, or anyone with me, could hear that did not at some point connect with established theory and known physics – by which I mean ordinary street-level physics, none of your fancy quantum stuff. You really do not need to invent laws of physics from a parallel universe to explain things. And you don’t have to excuse yourself to say that theory does not connect with practice. If you look close enough, you will find [the connection]. If practice and theory seem to deviate, you better have a sharp look at your theory.

This is why I really enjoying reading about John Swenson’s research (and others) and then discussing it with DAC designers and other experts to hear what they think. I encourage others to do the same - talk to experts and ask questions. Some experts agree, some don’t but then we get into a friendly discussion that explains their perspective, what they think is happening.

Specific to this topic, John’s research on leakage currents and associated RF interferences getting into the DAC… and how leakage currents may affect RF pickup (and radiation) in cables and maybe (or not) this is why some cables ‘sound different’… i.e. maybe (or not) you’re hearing the effects of RF pickup getting into the DAC? So maybe (or not) if you block leakage currents going through these digital cables (and into the DAC), maybe you reduce the potential for digital cables ‘sounding different’?

Maybe? Who knows :grin:

One thing I do know with absolute certainty, you and I are definitely enjoying the music, going by our contributions to the ‘now playing’ music thread :wink:


No, the complex epistemic problem I briefly outlined in my last post CANNOT be boiled down to a naive “Who knows?” or indifferent “Who cares?”…

How can a listener know he actually hears what he believes he hears?

How can he know his perceptions aren’t at least partly – or perhaps even entirely – a product of his imagination?

How can he prove this to others who don’t believe him because they can’t hear what he says he can?

If he can prove it, how can he convince others that the difference he hears is relevant to them, although they don’t hear it?

If he can’t prove it, how can other listeners know that’s because the difference he believes he hears is actually inaudible?

If a group of listeners can prove they can tell cables apart during a listening test, how can they decide which of the cables they compared “sounded best”?

How can these listeners know the cable they found “sounded best” in the test situation will do so in other systems, too?

No developer or customer is immune to this epistemic dilemma! That’s why a healthy dose of skepticism towards our own perceptions and above all the promises made by audio developers and audio dealers proves INDISPENSABLE!


We can argue back and forth whether a certain mechanism CAUSES jitter in one’s setup but not in another. Fair point. How about when we KNOW there is going to be jitter in advance?

Did anyone bother even doing this:

5 files, all with different jitter except the master. Can you pick the correct one? Be honest.

(Chris ) #439

I am reminded of Captain Pugwash who used to wear a patch on his good eye, so when people thought he was looking… He wasn’t. :joy:


You are obsessed with this. Regardless if anyone can reliably pick the “correct” track is immaterial to the issue. More jitter is not good so less jitter is a good goal.

(Rik Carter) #441

There’s a lot in audiophilia that is ‘in theory’ and ‘its probable’, etc, etc. We can spend oodles of time and money playing around trying to perfect our systems. In practice, once you’ve invested in a decent DAC/amp/speakers, decent gauge speaker cable, room treatments (even just a rug on the floor and fabric curtains) and room EQ, everything else is just a waste of time and money. So, do yourselves a favour, forget about the theoretical aspects of ‘audiophile’ cables - unless, of course, your livelihood depends on it or you just like to tinker - and just enjoy listening to your music. Audiophile ethernet cables in particular are an insult to our intelligence*.

  • DISCLAIMER: I own a couple of ‘audiophile’ ethernet cables: an Audioquest Cinnamon and a highly-specced DIY cable. I bought them during my ‘audiophile’ mania days. It’s interesting to note than neither of those cables are being used. I’ve just got them stored away in a drawer.


I absolutely agree. This is why this test is helpful!

I understand the burden of proof is on the person making the claim and to provide measurements and double blind academic studies. Fair. Absolutely fair. 100%

However, at the same time when a person comes along and says they cannot hear a difference, is that because their gear is actually completely immune or is it that their ears aren’t trained or sensitive? There is practically no barrier of entry in this hobby. If a trained person finds no difference or does find a difference, their result means more to me than a person without the trained ears.

I’ll stop here as people might think I’m being insulting. I’m not! I’ve been genuinely curious about these things. I do other people’s tests as well and give my feedback. I’ve taken suggestions from Mark Brown here and others and actually tried them and reported my findings. Some of them have changed over time and I find no problem with changing my stance. My purpose isn’t to win arguments, but rather learn through both the theories and from as much practical experience that I can get reasonably at my place.

Anyways, I’ll bow out here. I don’t think anyone’s going to do the test here. Aside from 3-5 people here, I think everyone has their minds made up on where they firmly stand. Some of you have been very helpful with the knowledge you provided! Thank you!

EDIT: One last thing. I am very intrigued why some people think that others who are experimenting are somehow not enjoying the music. They constantly feel the need to tell others to enjoy the music. Why do you think we aren’t enjoying the music. We like this hobby because we DO like the music in the first place. We wouldn’t be bothering with these things if we didn’t like the music. Amusing stuff. Maybe a little bit of projection going on here? Why are all these perfectly happy people still on these threads when they should be listening and enjoying music…(I shouldn’t!)


Well, the biggest problem with those tracks is the jitter is somehow recorded into the tracks and is not created by the digital audio chain. So I don’t see how you can say anything about the gear used by a person other than their chain could add more jitter.

I just don’t see the point…


This is not the problem, but rather the great equalizer when it comes to discussions of audibility of jitter. Please allow me to explain. (I’m only responding to clear this up).

For example, Person A says that Wifi adds more jitter than ethernet in their setup and it sounds different when playing track X. Person B says that wifi and ethernet sound the same when playing track X in their system.

Is one right or wrong? It’s very much possible that Person A hears the difference due to jitter due to Wifi messing up things, but person B doesn’t because there actually is no difference in jitter between Wifi and ethernet. It’s not person B’s fault for not hearing differences because their rig is immune. This jitter is not in the file, but rather created due to the wifi mechanism.

Since person A and B do not have access to each other’s setup or to robust measurements of their own rigs, then it becomes hard to conclude whether person B’s rig is immune to jitter or whether person B cannot hear it?

With this experiment, one file is the master with no jitter while others have different levels of jitter artificially added. So when person A and B play this track, regardless of how immune their system is to wifi or ethernet adding jitter, there will still be the presence of jitter in the tracks themselves. This jitter will not go away regardless of your DAC. It’s inherent to the recording! This is why it’s a great equalizer, because we know jitter exists in some of those files. That jitter is going nowhere!

So now we can test whether Person A or B can hear that jitter that is inherent to the recording. Is their system and/or hearing capable of identifying jitter? If your system and hearing is top notch, when you artificially add jitter to the music itself, you should be able to tell the addition of jitter. You cannot take out this jitter. They should notice a change in sound when playing the master vs. the ones with more jitter. If they cannot hear the difference, then it’s either because their ears aren’t as trained or their system is not as resolving for whatever reason.

I hope that clears it up. It’s meant as an equalizer.

(Anders Vinberg) #445

Jitter recorded in the tracks are one thing.
But Ethernet and WiFi do not have jitter.
By definition, they cannot.
Again, Wikipedia: jitter is the deviation from true periodicity of a presumably periodic signal, and the network is not presumed periodic.

I’m not discussing whether network jitter is important.
I’m saying it does not exist.
It cannot.


I was just making up an example off the top of my head. Pick any other mechanism that might create jitter. Any one that you like. The logic still stands regardless.


The idea of training your ears to hear some artefacts that you don’t hear normally seems daft. People need to stop over analysing this and listen to the music not the hifi. It’s just a pointless exercise with no end.


Some of us do indeed pick up on this stuff unintentionally over a period of time unconsciously without putting much effort. While others cannot be forced to even hear differences between things like EQ.

Some people read things and THEN do the test/tweak and convince themselves that something is there. While others pay no attention to tweak or gadgets or public forums, but notice differences in things on their own in areas where by their own logic and knowledge indicate that it wouldn’t matter. They THEN try to find explanations about those things. They had no previous biases.

Everyone’s different. Do whatever makes one happy. Cheers!