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Ethernet system for Audio: Tweaks on the clean side


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27 minutes ago, was_a said:

If there's one absolute, in my opinion, it's that noise reduction for ethernet streaming is nothing more than a band-aid solution if the source is not noise free: that is, the computer / NAS drive / router where the audio files originate / are stored. 

 

This should be the high priority for anyone seeking sound quality comparable to a traditional hi-fi source. Only after this is downstream noise reduction trully effective.

 

 

 

I assume that when you mention Ethernet streaming that it is a streamer connected via Ethernet to the internet.  There is “noise” in various components as you mention that if you mitigate the noise the listening experience can be improved.  What I am having difficulty understanding is, what particular aspect of the noise reduction is only a band aid from your perspective? What is upstream and what is downstream?  Where does on stream start and finish and the other one begin and than end?   Everything matters.

John

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1 minute ago, was_a said:

I don't think I could have been any clearer! 

I am confused nevertheless.  It is an interconnected network.  To me all noise reduction strategies in the network can be beneficial.

 

What aspect is a bandaid compared to other "Noise" reduction?

John

 

 

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John, everything downstream of the audio file is at the mercy of how / where it is stored and initially outputted digitally. In my opinion this is where our focus should be. Yes, I agree that everything matters, but only in the right order.  

 

(Which is why it's hard to get trully excellent sound quality from Tidal and Qobuz etc, because the listener is relying entirely on the quality of their servers, their networking protocols and other variables). 

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1 hour ago, was_a said:

If there's one absolute, in my opinion, it's that noise reduction for ethernet streaming is nothing more than a band-aid solution if the source is not noise free: that is, the computer / NAS drive / router where the audio files originate / are stored. 

 

This should be the high priority for anyone seeking sound quality comparable to a traditional hi-fi source. Only after this is downstream noise reduction trully effective.

 

 

 

The same logic would be applied to a fully analogue playback system, where, usually, $$$$ spent has an impact on overall performance i.e. you wont get the same level of signal to noise ratio on say, a Crosley suitcase turntable and supplied cart then as you would, a flagship product.

Edited by Hydrology
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Yeah, absolutely. In most cases I think the sound quality of streaming, whether local files from a computer / NAS or cloud services, is crippled from the outset. 

 

Even so we can get very decent sound quality with well-designed network bridges, ethernet reclockers, linear power supplies. But these are ultimately downstream band-aid solutions, in my opinion, and that's why a lot of audiophiles using streaming solutions are not satisfied. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by was_a
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48 minutes ago, was_a said:

Yeah, absolutely. In most cases I think the sound quality of streaming, whether local files from a computer / NAS or cloud services, is crippled from the outset. 

 

Even so we can get very decent sound quality with well-designed network bridges, ethernet reclockers, linear power supplies. But these are ultimately downstream band-aid solutions, in my opinion, and that's why a lot of audiophiles using streaming solutions are not satisfied. 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me edit your post...."audiophiles are not satisfied, period" 😉

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1 hour ago, was_a said:

Yeah, absolutely. In most cases I think the sound quality of streaming, whether local files from a computer / NAS or cloud services, is crippled from the outset. 

 

Even so we can get very decent sound quality with well-designed network bridges, ethernet reclockers, linear power supplies. But these are ultimately downstream band-aid solutions, in my opinion, and that's why a lot of audiophiles using streaming solutions are not satisfied. 

 

 

 

 

I note that it is your opinion.  I agree that some may not be satisfied with their audio streaming experience.  It is important to acknowledge that some like I, do have a very satisfying experience.  Is your opinion based on any listening experience?  This is my opinion based on my experience.

 

Like everything in audio there is a cost aspect to achieve quality.  Much of what I listen to comes from files on my Naim Uniti Core, (NAS) via a serious ROON Core plus switches and filters.  My listening experience is amazing and is definitely not coming from bandaid  applications.  Maybe it might be of interest to you listen to system that has a serious Ethernet network setup.  You may be surprised at the outcome.

 

John

Edited by Assisi
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By the way, why did you feel the need to respond defensively to my posts? I'm baffled! Because you've obviously spent a good deal of thought and money on reducing noise at the beginning of your chain!

 

Interestingly, I've found the better that downstream noise is addressed (such as the insertion of the excellent EtherRegen), the more audible any source-end issues / changes become. 

 

This, on face value, contradicts the theoretical / technical / marketing claims from manufacturers of noise-isolation products, but all it really means is that the source signal is being better preserved. 

 

And, if the signal is noisy, or affected by jitter, at the source-end, then this will be more audible in a well-implemented downstream chain.

 

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1 hour ago, was_a said:

Ah, Assisi, when it comes to assumptions of others' experience, and declarations about all things digital, you never disappoint... Enjoy your happiness!

Maybe your response could be read as a subtle put down but not one that I am overly fussed about.  I get worse.  You have obviously read some of my posts.  That pleases me. 

 

35 minutes ago, was_a said:

By the way, why did you feel the need to respond defensively to my posts? I'm baffled! Because you've obviously spent a good deal of thought and money on reducing noise at the beginning of your chain!

 

Interestingly, I've found the better that downstream noise is addressed (such as the insertion of the excellent EtherRegen), the more audible any source-end issues / changes become. 

 

This, on face value, contradicts the theoretical / technical / marketing claims from manufacturers of noise-isolation products, but all it really means is that the source signal is being better preserved. 

 

And, if the signal is noisy, or affected by jitter, at the source-end, then this will be more audible in a well-implemented downstream chain.

 

 

I didn’t think that I was defensive.  Rather I consider that I was challenging the basis of your opinion.  The issue for me is that I post about things that are based on my actual real live listening experience.  I respond to posts that to me are just an opinion that do not provide any apparent actual listening experience.  It is often just unsubstantiated opinion and to me should not be allowed to stand unquestioned as it does not further the interests of the audio discussion.  If you have the experience say it so that it can put in a context.  Some opinion to me indicates that the comment that a poster is constrained by their own reality.

 

 

Posters are fully entitled to post whatever they like within the rules.  I am also entitled to question the validity of their opinions and ask about their relative experience if it does not accord with my experience.  I am fully entitled to suggest that you and others may benefit if you each respectively listen to something.  

It is all about the experience and learning.  In terms of happiness, I definitely have it every time I turn my system on.  I do not use bandaids.  Far from it.

 

John

Edited by Assisi
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4 hours ago, was_a said:

Even so we can get very decent sound quality with well-designed network bridges, ethernet reclockers, linear power supplies. But these are ultimately downstream band-aid solutions, in my opinion, and that's why a lot of audiophiles using streaming solutions are not satisfied. 

If you would consider these things bandaids I would be very interested to know what the "cure" is. I for one would be very happy to replace these bandaids for something that does the job better!

 

Please be as specific as you can be so I can easily emulate your suggestion/s.

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1 hour ago, was_a said:

By the way, why did you feel the need to respond defensively to my posts? I'm baffled! Because you've obviously spent a good deal of thought and money on reducing noise at the beginning of your chain!

 

Interestingly, I've found the better that downstream noise is addressed (such as the insertion of the excellent EtherRegen), the more audible any source-end issues / changes become. 

 

This, on face value, contradicts the theoretical / technical / marketing claims from manufacturers of noise-isolation products, but all it really means is that the source signal is being better preserved. 

 

And, if the signal is noisy, or affected by jitter, at the source-end, then this will be more audible in a well-implemented downstream chain.

 

I found an EtherRegen in my system did nothing to improve things, albeit it was only there for 24 hours and involved only a few hours listening. The Waversa on the other hand was immediate and obvious from startup and got better over the next few days (no doubt due to the OCXO heating up).

You see what the key to that conclusion was? TRYING the products in the system.

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5 hours ago, was_a said:

Yeah, absolutely. In most cases I think the sound quality of streaming, whether local files from a computer / NAS or cloud services, is crippled from the outset. 

Crippled is too strong a word I think in the context.  It suggests to me music is unsalvageable from the stream which could not be further from the truth.

 

5 hours ago, was_a said:

Even so we can get very decent sound quality with well-designed network bridges, ethernet reclockers, linear power supplies. But these are ultimately downstream band-aid solutions, in my opinion, and that's why a lot of audiophiles using streaming solutions are not satisfied. 

Most of thee hobby of HiFi could be described as a band-aid solution in comparison to listening to live music.  A great many of us have very highly satisfying HiFi systems for playing streamed music.  Perspective and experience are important facets of this hobby.  Exploration of the hobby is not just the result of a lack of satisfaction.  Many of us explore just for the experience, as @Hydrology said…

51 minutes ago, Hydrology said:

You see what the key to that conclusion was? TRYING the products in the system.

 

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I currently have a loan of @Assisi’s Waversa LAN filter EXT1 reference.  Having tried out the ENO filter without any improvements, @Assisi has very generously allowed me to try the Waversa instead.  
 

In other threads I have posted about my experiences with various Ethernet cables and switches.  I currently use a Renolabs ultimate switch downstream from a LPS fed Uptone ER.  Now, in my view most Ethernet cables sound the same, but I have ordered (they are agonisingly stuck in Darwin at this moment) some AIM NA7 cables that I tried recently on loan from Sublime HiFi.  Although my memory of the NA7 effect is a little dimmed now, it seems to me the Waversa is doing the same thing I noticed from the NA7.  That is, greater imaging focus and depth.  This is something I would describe as quite an obvious improvement overall.  Interestingly the effect is a little different depending where in the chain the Waversa sits.  Hopefully I get my NA7 cables soon to try with it.  I did enthuse strongly about the NA7 cables and given what I am hearing currently with the Waversa, I can only echo those same sentiments.  The AIM NA7 and Waversa LAN EXT1 reference stand at the top of my list of products that seem to offer SQ improvements via the Ethernet chain.  The Renolabs switch sits down the list as my favourite sounding switch, and the ER is still in my chain because it offers a very minor SQ improvement in addition to the Renolabs.

Edited by Stereophilus
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One thing that improved my Ethernet streaming was ditching the PC grade Cisco switch and going direct from the NAS to Oppo front end with a single 1m Nordost Ethernet cable. No switch, no extra cable, but a PIA when you want to connect to that NAS to update content.

 

I found the Nordost Heimdall Ethernet to be superior to Wireworld Cat8 (Red version) and some other cheaper ones like Supra Ethernet.

My Oppo is also not normal, it has a full custom LPS upgrade + Joe Rasmussen SAW clock upgrade.

Another improvement was powering the Qnap NAS via an LPS. I use the Uptone JS-2.

 

For the future I am thinking of getting the Uptone EtherREGEN powered by their Supercap Battery LPS, and place that in between the NAS and Oppo. No doubt that will work way better than a stock PC network switch, but by how much? Worth it? I don't know.

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On 08/12/2021 at 9:19 PM, Stereophilus said:

I currently have a loan of @Assisi’s Waversa LAN filter EXT1 reference.  Having tried out the ENO filter without any improvements, @Assisi has very generously allowed me to try the Waversa instead.  
 

In other threads I have posted about my experiences with various Ethernet cables and switches.  I currently use a Renolabs ultimate switch downstream from a LPS fed Uptone ER.  Now, in my view most Ethernet cables sound the same, but I have ordered (they are agonisingly stuck in Darwin at this moment) some AIM NA7 cables that I tried recently on loan from Sublime HiFi.  Although my memory of the NA7 effect is a little dimmed now, it seems to me the Waversa is doing the same thing I noticed from the NA7.  That is, greater imaging focus and depth.  This is something I would describe as quite an obvious improvement overall.  Interestingly the effect is a little different depending where in the chain the Waversa sits.  Hopefully I get my NA7 cables soon to try with it.  I did enthuse strongly about the NA7 cables and given what I am hearing currently with the Waversa, I can only echo those same sentiments.  The AIM NA7 and Waversa LAN EXT1 reference stand at the top of my list of products that seem to offer SQ improvements via the Ethernet chain.  The Renolabs switch sits down the list as my favourite sounding switch, and the ER is still in my chain because it offers a very minor SQ improvement in addition to the Renolabs.

@Stereophilus,

 

After the no benefit outcome of the ENO I am pleased that the Waversa provides a benefit. 

 

 

Some thing interesting to try with the Waversa Filter.  Remove it from the network and listen to some tracks.  Then connect the Filter to a spare socket in the Renolabs using just one cable.  So no actual signal passing in and out of the  Filter.  Play the tracks again.  Your impression of the impact will be interesting.

 

John

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2 hours ago, Assisi said:

@Stereophilus,

 

After the no benefit outcome of the ENO I am pleased that the Waversa provides a benefit. 

 

 

Some thing interesting to try with the Waversa Filter.  Remove it from the network and listen to some tracks.  Then connect the Filter to a spare socket in the Renolabs using just one cable.  So no actual signal passing in and out of the  Filter.  Play the tracks again.  Your impression of the impact will be interesting.

 

John

I’ll give it a try

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10 hours ago, Stereophilus said:

I’ll give it a try

Ok, so that is interesting.

 

Connecting a passive Ethernet device to a switch should do nothing in theory.  In practice, connecting the Waversa EXT1 reference via a single cable to the Renolabs switch does give a proportion (maybe 1/2 or 2/3) of the improvement in SQ I notice when it is used between ER and Renolabs switches.  The connection light on the Renolabs port it is connected to does not light up when the Waversa is connected in a “blind loop”.

 

Emboldened by this unusual finding, I did also try using the Waversa as a blind loop on the ER (a small improvement, but not as good as on the Renolabs) and on my Antipodes CX.  In the latter scenario, connected to the CX, I lost connection to the Roon core, and reconnection was not possible until the Waversa was removed from the CX.  Music playback in this configuration was therefore not possible.

 

I’m not 100% sure what to make of this unusual result?

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Yes very interesting.  I experienced it and two others did also.  As you say the benefit is not equal to the full benefit of the filter being connected both in and out.  enough to easily be perceived though.  I fact when the filter was being tried initially else where and only one cable was removed it was thought that there was no benefit or very minimal until it was disconnected entirely. 

 

The question is why is it so?  It almost like a grounding block connected to a component with a single connection.

John

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My question, or thought on all of this is:

I was under the impression for most of us, our main reason for streaming was the simplicity to discover new artists, albums, music. With a mission to find/ try before you buy it on LP.
Or, alternatively that turntables and analogue playback in general, was too fussy, too many rituals/steps, cost, and overall too time consuming for the modern world.
Yet it seems to me the deeper one dives into digital playback in a streaming situation, the multitude of devices - Pc, NAS, SSD’s, Cores, Routers, Switches, Lps’, Cables, Optical, Decrapifiers, Filters, Network Bridges, Streamers etc. the more fussy, variable and time consuming steps that are involved in digital playback. Not to mention the cost of said device legion. 
In 2021, I’m finding that digital playback is making analogue playback look easy, appealing, and above all achievable.

No?

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2 hours ago, G_goodwin said:

My question, or thought on all of this is:

I was under the impression for most of us, our main reason for streaming was the simplicity to discover new artists, albums, music.

This is true, along with the ability to quickly and conveniently access our digital music library.  Your statement is true regardless of the digital setup.

 

2 hours ago, G_goodwin said:

With a mission to find/ try before you buy it on LP.

Not necessarily.  For example, I have no desire to own a turntable or vinyl.

 

2 hours ago, G_goodwin said:

Or, alternatively that turntables and analogue playback in general, was too fussy, too many rituals/steps, cost, and overall too time consuming for the modern world.

Yes and no… the “ritual” of vinyl is said to be part of the allure.  It is at odds with the allure of digital, which is quick and convenient.

 

2 hours ago, G_goodwin said:

Yet it seems to me the deeper one dives into digital playback in a streaming situation, the multitude of devices - Pc, NAS, SSD’s, Cores, Routers, Switches, Lps’, Cables, Optical, Decrapifiers, Filters, Network Bridges, Streamers etc. the more fussy, variable and time consuming steps that are involved in digital playback. Not to mention the cost of said device legion. 
In 2021, I’m finding that digital playback is making analogue playback look easy, appealing, and above all achievable.

No?

I think you have created a non-sequitur by confusing playback with setup.  In this thread we are discussion how to set up a digital based HiFi to sound its best (subjectively, obviously).  The playback of a set playlist of my favourite tracks from multiple different albums still occurs seamlessly whether I use USB from a crapped out laptop, or if I use my reference streaming setup.  
 

The tweaking of the setup for best sound quality does not (usually) affect the process of playback.  This is true whether you are tweaking a vinyl setup or a digital setup.  Tellingly, many of us who pursue the best digital sound quality don’t use vinyl anymore.

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3 hours ago, G_goodwin said:

My question, or thought on all of this is:

I was under the impression for most of us, our main reason for streaming was the simplicity to discover new artists, albums, music. With a mission to find/ try before you buy it on LP.
Or, alternatively that turntables and analogue playback in general, was too fussy, too many rituals/steps, cost, and overall too time consuming for the modern world.
Yet it seems to me the deeper one dives into digital playback in a streaming situation, the multitude of devices - Pc, NAS, SSD’s, Cores, Routers, Switches, Lps’, Cables, Optical, Decrapifiers, Filters, Network Bridges, Streamers etc. the more fussy, variable and time consuming steps that are involved in digital playback. Not to mention the cost of said device legion. 
In 2021, I’m finding that digital playback is making analogue playback look easy, appealing, and above all achievable.

No?

The deeper one dives into any aspect of audio, the fussier one becomes.

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3 hours ago, G_goodwin said:

the multitude of devices - Pc, NAS, SSD’s, Cores, Routers, Switches, Lps’, Cables, Optical, Decrapifiers, Filters, Network Bridges, Streamers etc

The above list on first read may seem complicated.  However it is case of start simple and build the complexity over time if required as one develops experience and also aspires for an enhanced outcome.  Not all of the above are definitely necessary to achieve a satisfying result.  I am not into vinyl at all.  The little I have read about setup of a TT seems to me for example to be rather complex.  It is all about learning the skills required.

John

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