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Ethernet switches for audio - Part B: why a regular switch will suffice.


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1 hour ago, Assisi said:

@Stereophilus

 

I have a reasonable quality pair of Ethernet to optical converters, an optical cable plus Cat 8 cables.  My perspective is that there is a definite difference with the above configuration compared to without.  What I am not sure about is whether the difference is a benefit or not.  One other person has heard my system and his comment is that the difference is not beneficial as there is a to him a very small but discernible loss of dynamics. 

 

His comment is that whenever there is a conversion happening as there is in this chain, there can be a detrimental impact.  The conversions that happen may impact the SQ.  Minimal is better than more. 

 

I thought that last week when we did the comparison that at the end of the comparison that the Ethernet/optical was removed.  I thought that I would try them again today.  Actually, they were not removed and I have been listening to them for the past 7days.  They are now removed and I now think that the SQ is probably slightly better without them.

 

It is a bit confusing.  It may be worthwhile having a small GTG somewhere to try to work out.

 

John

A GTG is long overdue.  I would be very interested in listening to any network audio “tweaks”, including the EtherRegen and/or anything else you might have in mind.

 

I have found that the JCAT USB+LAN “ground conditioner” caused the most significant improvement in SQ when added to my Antipodes EX than any upstream network tweaks.

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@Assisi

 

According to my humble experience on fibre converter, the converter device, the power supply and the earth ground can affect the sound in a considerable extend. I started my fibre journey with a pair of Tp-link mc210 which gave poor result. Then I tried D-link 872, a little better than the mc210. However these d-link converters have ground terminal which give me opportunity to ground them with some generic ethernet cable(without connector), connect those converters with the water pipe in my apartment. This improved the clarity and soundstage quite a bit.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 08/01/2020 at 11:11 AM, recur said:

 

EX2200's are affordable and a very nice unit - though I don't have a dedicated wiring cupboard anymore, and so the noise requirements of most of these solutions way exceeds my possibilities. If anything the 2200's fit my 300mm rack just fine, it's more the firmware requirement to run at maximum fan speed for a minute every ten doesn't make for a manageable installation in my home. 

 

Having spent a few hours understanding that you're right, there's some phenomenal hardware out there at very reasonable prices for those that can afford the space and noise involved... I can see how Uptone has a market for things like the etherREGEN (for people with neither the space not acoustic budget/isolation). 

 

And that if you have the space... forget the toys, get the real deal. Two or three decent switches would cover my heavy-on-Ethernet home, would allow for stacking, and would give fantastic results. 

 

One of those things that 'if I knew in advance I'd do it differently'. Who knows, with some money and spare time I might insulate a space in the attic, give it temperature and air quality management and move the lot up there.

 

Thanks for the advice. You're quite right.

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I did an experiment a while back comparing music streaming from my Nas over ethernet to the same music playlist physically copied to a ram disk on my MPD player.

 

After repeated listening to the streamed version, I switched to the ram copy. Sounded no different (for me). While playing from ram, I also pulled the ethernet cable completely. Again, no difference (to me). Plugged it back in. Ditto. Again and again. I tried really hard to discern a difference for an hour or so. Nada. 

 

After that, I lost all interest in fiddling with my network.  

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1 hour ago, essem said:

I did an experiment a while back comparing music streaming from my Nas over ethernet to the same music playlist physically copied to a ram disk on my MPD player.

 

After repeated listening to the streamed version, I switched to the ram copy. Sounded no different (for me). While playing from ram, I also pulled the ethernet cable completely. Again, no difference (to me). Plugged it back in. Ditto. Again and again. I tried really hard to discern a difference for an hour or so. Nada.

Which can only be explained as one of three things:

1. You're not prone to the power of suggestion under this experiment.

2. You're overcome by negative expectation bias, or

3. You're too deaf to hear the differences.

I vote number 1.

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38 minutes ago, Ittaku said:

Which can only be explained as one of three things:

1. You're not prone to the power of suggestion under this experiment.

2. You're overcome by negative expectation bias, or

3. You're too deaf to hear the differences.

I vote number 1.

 

Go easy. Some people hear a difference in their systems. Some don't. Some systems yield identical results. 

 

All legitimate.

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Given most people probably will keep their audio system switch in a living room and dont want to hear cooling systems, it would be useful to hear suggestions of switches that dont need noisy cooling, insulation, dedicated cabinet, or the like.

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5 hours ago, dbastin said:

Given most people probably will keep their audio system switch in a living room and dont want to hear cooling systems, it would be useful to hear suggestions of switches that dont need noisy cooling, insulation, dedicated cabinet, or the like.

Are you after a reliable ethernet switch for networking or something audiophile related? If the former, the TP-Link switches are the best budget choices whilst the ubiquiti are probably a more respected switch, of which they make some relatively affordable choices. This is all entirely my opinion from my experience. You don't have to buy from here, but this is a fairly expansive list of their offerings to give you an idea:

https://www.pccasegear.com/category/200_331/networking/switches

If you're after something audiophile related, I can't advise you there.

Edited by Ittaku
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6 hours ago, dbastin said:

Given most people probably will keep their audio system switch in a living room and dont want to hear cooling systems, it would be useful to hear suggestions of switches that dont need noisy cooling, insulation, dedicated cabinet, or the like.

 

Put it over optical with a card in the streaming device rather than a converter. If you like, power the card independently as you would any other PCI device. Then work on CPU affinities and the like to whatever interrupt(s) the card uses. 

 

Like running pro switching hardware, a full optical link won't be for everyone. 

 

As which much of the market for audiophile solutions, it's an exercise in what compromises you make. The EtherREGEN is an exceptional product - it's the best band-aid going for many of us that could have something to improve with the wired network connection feeding our audio. 

 

But it is a band-aid. 

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5 hours ago, Ittaku said:

Are you after a reliable ethernet switch for networking or something audiophile related? If the former, the TP-Link switches are the best budget choices whilst the ubiquiti are probably a more respected switch, of which they make some relatively affordable choices. This is all entirely my opinion from my experience. You don't have to buy from here, but this is a fairly expansive list of their offerings to give you an idea:

https://www.pccasegear.com/category/200_331/networking/switches

If you're after something audiophile related, I can't advise you there.

I reckon, new, and on a budget, you're hard pressed to better the Ubiquiti Unifi switches. The 16 port 1RU switch is very quiet and has 16 gigabit ethernet PoE enabled ports as well as two SFP ports for fibre connectivity. https://www.ui.com/unifi-switching/unifi-switch-16-150w/

 

If you run the Unifi controller it's a doddle to configure and super powerful in terms of functionality.  If you are into great home wifi with loads more capability than you'll ever need, their access points can be configured by the same controller and really comes into its own. 

 

For the same coin you'd be hard pressed to do better unless you're buying into a used enterprise level switch.

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10 hours ago, rmpfyf said:

Put it over optical

What if optical input into the server/endpoint is not available?

10 hours ago, rmpfyf said:

it is a band-aid

If EtherRegen is a band-aid, what is an effective way to deal with the problem (eg. for less than an ER cost).

 

11 hours ago, Ittaku said:

If you're after something audiophile related, I can't advise you there.

For reference ...

 

5 hours ago, recur said:

you're hard pressed to better the Ubiquiti Unifi switches.

I beleive these are still on the Computer Audiophile CASH list .. getting a bit dated tho ..

 

https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/bits-and-bytes/computer-audiophile-suggested-hardware-list/

 

Edited by dbastin
typos
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46 minutes ago, dbastin said:

What if optical input into the server/endpoint is not available?

 

Then you're stuck with wired and better hope that what's inside your box is designed as to be as immune as possible to packet jitter, conducted/radiated noise and the rest of it. Which is possible. But uncommon. 

 

Don't mean to be pithy here - everything's got a compromise. It's like saying 'I want to be completely free of jitter but I want a zero time delay when I hit play' - well, that means no buffer, so...

 

47 minutes ago, dbastin said:

If EtherRegen is a band-aid, what is an effective way to deal with the problem (eg. for les than an ER cost.

 

Drop the noise acquired and conducted, improve the packet timing to minimise OS jitter on the receiving side. I can't think of anything other mechanism that could give rise to anything that affects SQ. It's hard to make judgements as much depends on the network environment you're in, and beyond that the environment your network is in. Much of the difficulty in taking the discussion seriously is that there's only discussion around which product is better, and none around understanding what a given problem or opportunity can be - it'll be different for everyone. The former discussion inevitably leads to 'ah but I know of a GigaTeraUberFoil v10 with the ostrich-scrotum-plated conductors to minimise vibration that you weren't aware of, I coupled that to my WireWorld platinum cable and the sound was divine and I'm hoping my smug in my telling you that this hopelessly expensive thing you can never afford sounds best is just above your noise floor for BS acceptance'. 

 

EtherREGEN really is a nice band aid, it hits on a few fronts that could matter, but it's unlikely all of them do in every case. 

 

The most 'effective way to deal with the problem'... is to understand it. 

 

54 minutes ago, dbastin said:

I beleive these are still on the CASH list .. getting a bit dated tho ..

 

For a second there I thought CASH meant 'they're bloody expensive', which they are. Dated doesn't matter - it's an excellent home solution for high-end home networks. 

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21 hours ago, essem said:

I did an experiment a while back comparing music streaming from my Nas over ethernet to the same music playlist physically copied to a ram disk on my MPD player.

 

After repeated listening to the streamed version, I switched to the ram copy. Sounded no different (for me). While playing from ram, I also pulled the ethernet cable completely. Again, no difference (to me). Plugged it back in. Ditto. Again and again. I tried really hard to discern a difference for an hour or so. Nada. 

 

After that, I lost all interest in fiddling with my network.  

I did similar test including wifi

2 hours ago, dbastin said:

If EtherRegen is a band-aid, what is an effective way to deal with the problem (eg. for les than an ER cost.

get yourself a better DAC which is immune to upstream quality

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1 hour ago, kukynas said:

get yourself a better DAC which is immune to upstream quality

And which would those be?  Please be specific so your comment helps people.

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34 minutes ago, dbastin said:

And which would those be?  Please be specific so your comment helps people.

@Ittaku's got an MSB Reference, which isn't inexpensive but does pay a lot of good attention to reclocking and related noise jitter elimination in design. Wonderful DAC, though not inexpensive. 

 

Further down the food chain there's valid questions about just how much attention there is to the same problem in the boxes we buy.

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SONCOZ SGD1 would be my pick, if RCA out is sufficient Topping D50, Aune X1S Pro and many others...

basically any DAC with decent SINAD ~110db and jitter suppression below -130db should be immune to upstream quality, best dacs will push that below 140-150db with very clean spectrum (first mentioned is in that category)

of course there are more expensive DACs with better figures but in different price category

 

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2 minutes ago, kukynas said:

SONCOZ SGD1 would be my pick, if RCA out is sufficient Topping D50, Aune X1S Pro and many others...

basically any DAC with decent SINAD ~110db and jitter suppression below -130db should be immune to upstream quality, best dacs will push that below 140-150db with very clean spectrum (first mentioned is in that category)

of course there are more expensive DACs with better figures but in different price category

 

Why are SINAD and jitter suppression definitive measures to these ends?

I'm assuming you read ASR.

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nothing's definitive but with current (available) way of measuring DUT this is reliable and repeatable enough to show if there's any issue or not...otherwise you would see leakage of either noise or jitter from the upstream, of course in both cases it might be caused just by poor implementation of the DAC itself and isolation as such is perfectly fine but cos it's hidden behind DAC self noise/jitter it won't be visible, hence why I'd like to see sufficient performance which would indicate/show troubles with isolation

If you ask me 5-10 years ago how do those DACs and their implementation performs in terms of isolation and jitter suppression I wouldn't be too much positive but things changed since and there's no reason anymore not to expect perfect results (inaudible)

ASR just confirms my own findings re isolation/imunity so I have no reasons not to believe them, all other aspects of the reviewed units are up to individuals and their preferences including how much they wanna spend 

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8 hours ago, kukynas said:

nothing's definitive but with current (available) way of measuring DUT this is reliable and repeatable enough to show if there's any issue or not...otherwise you would see leakage of either noise or jitter from the upstream, of course in both cases it might be caused just by poor implementation of the DAC itself and isolation as such is perfectly fine but cos it's hidden behind DAC self noise/jitter it won't be visible, hence why I'd like to see sufficient performance which would indicate/show troubles with isolation

If you ask me 5-10 years ago how do those DACs and their implementation performs in terms of isolation and jitter suppression I wouldn't be too much positive but things changed since and there's no reason anymore not to expect perfect results (inaudible)

ASR just confirms my own findings re isolation/imunity so I have no reasons not to believe them, all other aspects of the reviewed units are up to individuals and their preferences including how much they wanna spend 

 

Don't want to derail this thread into another ASR debate though suffice to say you'd need a lot more testing and results would need to be visualised quite differently to be able to pick differences of note.

 

The two tests on ASR aee only useful for picking out if anything is majorly wrong to the point of being broken in a jitter context.

 

Jumping to a conclusion of 'theres no reason to expect it's inaudible' from the graphs presented is flat out scientifically wrong. Sorry.

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On ‎20‎/‎01‎/‎2020 at 10:33 AM, recur said:

If you run the Unifi controller it's a doddle to configure and super powerful in terms of functionality

So, if its not plug and play, or you can get better performance reconfiguring, then what configurations settings would be best for audio?  Buffer size? Speed? Is it easy to set up a subnet to make data 'traffic' more efficient?  What does the controller software cost? Can the free app be used to do this?

 

16 ports seems a lot.  Wouldn't unused ports be a way for noise to get in from the surrounding 'environment'?  Can this be dealt with by turning off the ports?  Or some other way?

 

Maybe less ports woud be better, such as their UniFi Switch (8ports + SFP), EdgeSwitch (8 ports + SFP), Edge Router (4-5 ports + SFP).  I gather the UFibre are for PON/GPON which is not suitable.  And I assume a Gateway is unnecessary/overkill?

 

Would PoE be another avenue for noise or other impact on SQ?  Can that be managed/minimised with configuration?

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whoah Tex. That's a lot of questions. Take a breath, and relax. 

 

A lot of the best practice guidelines for network segmentation for latency sensitive traffic is well documented and understood. We've been building networks to deliver high frequency trading and voice and video for years and they are much more problematic (and $ intensive in terms of application and output) than audio to transmit. 

 

A quick rule of thumb on things to look at:

- Consider traffic prioritisation if you have a network boundary to cross (eg routing between subnets) to make audio go first (refer QoS with low latency queuing for a starting point for your research)

- Segment the network into different VLANs / subnets if you are worried about collisions on your network. Probably unnecessary on a home network, but you might go there. I use a separate VLAN for all IoT devices so I can firewall them from talking to other devices or to the internet. I've got no audio issues on a home network gigabit backbone.

- Don't route traffic in a CPU bound device (like a router) unless absolutely necessary. Routers are software devices and can't forward packets over subnets at line rate. Buy a good layer 3 switch with at least a static routing license for this.

- Consider enabling jumbo frames if all of your audio devices in the chain support it (unlikely).

 

 

RE: above, a unified gateway is a router/firewall. Use it to replace your home firewall / router. I'd only look at the 1RU unit for performance reasons.

 

Less ports doesn't equal less "noise", but "noise" isn't an issue regardless. I can't be bothered getting into an OSI model discussion and why the protocols that carry the data ensure this is not an issue as it will likely devolve into some audiophile related discussion related to people having golden ears that is of no particular merit.

 

PoE is only enabled if you configure it or a device requests it to power the device. 

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