Choice of wireless bridge and cable

With apologies to those of you who frequent other forums and may see similar there from me. I’m seeking advice from as large a pool as possible.

Having moved on from my Naim source I’ve spent much of the last year enjoying music more than I have in years. Still through Naim amplification. This despite using a very cheap wireless bridge recommended by a dealer as a way to get going. Outside of ludicrous amounts of music listening I’ve spent time to get the right resting place for 2,000 CDs and have finally purchased a separate solution for the covers/booklets so that they are accessible from under the sofa. So, it’s finally time to move forward on other matters.

Located next to the pre and streamer this cheap wireless bridge introduces audible noise into the system. It can’t be located elsewhere as it relies on a piece of very short and hard-wired piece of CAT 5. To make this worse I’ve run out of sockets and it currently shares a power socket with my Chord DAC. Extra sockets are not practical. Even if they were they don’t solve the noise issue.

A run of ethernet from router to streamer would be ideal but can’t be done without a level of upheaval that would be unacceptable to all given other works which need to be funded this year and next. I appreciate that someone will always post with the best of intentions that “nevertheless if you could just run ethernet from…” but it really is off the table.

Now, I could in theory go to something like an Innuos PhoenixNET; plug it in on the other side of the living room (sorry, “lounge” :slight_smile:) with a 3m run of ethernet across the front of fireplace but it seems to me that the more sensible first step is to replace the bridge with something better quality; plug that in the other side of the living room and run some ethernet from that.

I already have Chord Epic from streamer to DAC and from DAC to the 202 so the obvious choice of ethernet would also be Epic. However, it strikes me that my better first step would be a relocated and new, good quality bridge accompanied by relatively cheap ethernet (3m at most I think) to see how that impacts the audible noise and sound quality in general.

Best options on the former appear to be TP-Link. Best options on the latter appear to be… well I’m not sure. Where I come unstuck is that TP-Link have an array of available devices which is utterly bewildering. I have certain criteria but even when applied I remain bewildered. Any help to narrow down my choices would be much appreciated as would thoughts on cheap cables. Ideally I’d not want this to descend into a discussion on cables.

Current broadband is a rock solid 145Mbps. At peak there are, I think, up to 21 devices using wireless broadband.

My focus is very much on a good workable bridge. The ethernet cable, any ethernet cable, cannot be any worse than the thing attached to the current bridge so, whilst advice on cheap cable would be great my feeling is that the bridge is the priority.

The location for the new bridge will be very visible. I don’t want anything too big as we’re talking a run of sockets which already struggle to accommodate TV, DVD and a Sky Q box. I also don’t want anything with very conspicuous flashing lights. Current bridge ceaselessly flashes blue and green but is at least hidden from view via Blu Tac down the side of my Hutter rack.

Two reasons re: the flashing lights. Firstly, Mrs. H. will complain if there is something constantly flashing away conspicuously whilst trying to relax, watch TV or listening to music. Secondly, one of my eye conditions means my vision will be constantly drawn to said flashing lights.

So, having spewed all that, which TP-Link device and why? Anyone with experience of decent alternatives with Naim amplification would also be helpful. I get a sense TP-Link are both the best and rather prolific. If you think otherwise then by all means offer alternatives.

If I remember correctly, you had something made by vonets. An alternative would be this from netgear, search Amazon for “AC1200 (EX6120)”. This one plugs direct into the socket but you can always use a mains extension cable to site it somewhere less conspicuous.

For an Ethernet cable, look at designacable website and their “catsnake”.
These things always have green or blue leds, and flashing ones to show connection/activity. I’m afraid you’ll have to cover them with Blutac or electrical insulation tape.

^^ faster typist!
That’s an extra device using 1 more mains socket, but then you can try the Cisco 2960 switch or similar. i.e… bridge > cable > switch > cable > streamer.

So much depends on what you find appealing, unobtrusive or distracting but I have used the white BT discs (you would need two) very successfully in two different locations. They are bigger than the Netgear but have fewer flashing lights and don’t look like surrendering robots…

Thank you but a wireless bridge has to come first as a switch would have no socket in the current location unless it could be added to my PowerIgel. Long term I think a PhoenixNET next to a new bridge would do the job but right now it’s bridge first I think. Totally accept they all come with noise but the noise I have is very audible and is caused, I think, by the cheap lights within the bridge being right next to the 202 and the streamer.

@robert_h you do indeed remember correctly. It’s a horrid cheap little thing but it got me back into music. It’s time is up now. That Netgear is more what I’m thinking of but I’ve no idea how these things compare. It looks good but those four green lights would need to be covered up. It would be located behind the left speaker whereas all currently goes into the corner by and behind the right speaker. Straight into the wall would then be fine. I’d then just need a 3m run of ethernet. Your suggestion looks excellent.

What I don’t get is the explicit difference between a £30 product and say an £80. Where TP-Link are concerned it’s hard to see why so many devices at broadly the same price point.

@JonathanH are you talking mesh? The only BT stuff I can find looks like the Netgrear. I certainly don’t want mesh as I’ve no need. My wi-fi itself as per my OP is great.

Yes it is a mesh though you can use it simply as a point to point arrangement. I can quite see why you wouldn’t interfere with wifi that works well but I’ve always found wireless uplink access points to be temperamental, or at least sub-optimal, unless the whole system is designed to work together, which the BT one has been (not sure I can post a link but you can find the discs with “BT white wifi disc”). The ethernet cable that would run from disc to streamer can be as long as you like (within reason).

Innuos Zenith 3 streamer via USB into the DAC.

I am intrigued.

It’s not that I am set on one solution so much as my living scenario, shortage of sockets etc. dictates. A quality bridge solves a significant noise issue. A PhoenixNET further down the line strikes me as the next step. My issue, from my perspective, is that the range of such bridges is bewildering; has to be domestically acceptable snd ideally should not generate similar noise to the current ultra cheap solution (albeit that will be instantly mitigated by 3m of ethernet as opposed to about 10cm.

For my Uniti2 I use a Netgear wi-fi extender that has an Ethernet output. Plug the Netgear into a power point, connect to wi-fi and run the Ethernet cable to the Uniti2:

Personally ditch the bridge Idea and look at a dedicated mesh system to cover the house. This will give a more stable experience across the whole house for WiF and make it less reliant on one access point which is always a choke point if your using a lot of WiFi devices which you are with 21. You just disable WiFi on your router and plug one unit into it and distribute the rest around where you need them. As they usually have a dedicated WiFi backhaul for distribution they don’t take bandwidth from the WiFi for devices and tend to be a lot more robust. My experience with bridges was horrible they tend to cause more issues than they solve.

Mesh system can also be aesthetically more pleasing but only you can decide on that. BT, Amplifi, EERO are all very good. I would avoid TPlink and Netgear as they tend to have issues with multicasting over WiFi from my past experiences and this can affect apps that connect and control systems. Maybe why the Innuos app loses connection often?

As per previous posts, I hear what you’re saying re: mesh but there are as many post on here and elsewhere about issues with mesh as there are praising it. In my case it would offer a solution to a problem which doesn’t exist. I have fast, stable brilliant wi-fi across the house with no issues at all. I just need a bridge which can be relocated away from streamer and pre.

Interesting that we now have two votes for Netgear. Duly noted. @Mike_S is that thing huge or was that just a perspective issue?

It’s 160mm high by 80mm across, so not tiny. The photo is rotated by 90° for some reason. I use it as a workaround on the flaky Wi-Fi on the Uniti2.

Fair enough I understand , if it not broke don’t meddle approach. Just from my own experience extenders where a bad idea.

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I suppose the question to Netgear owners then is why that specific device and not another?

Does your streamer not have wi-fi? I wonder whether a wireless transport would be a better option and output a wired digital signal from that to the streamer?

The underlying Wi-Fi technology the products use is important. These are now referred to by numerical value, Wi-Fi 4 = 802.11n, Wi-Fi 5 = 802.11ac, Wi-Fi 6 = 802.11ax and Wi-Fi 7 = 802.11be

Wi-Fi 6 was designed to address a lot of the limitations and interoperability issues associated with previous generations in particular as consumers moved to Wi-Fi 5 and began to utilise the far less congested 5 GHz band.

If you’re looking at this as a complete solution to service not just your Naim kit but the whole property, I’d be looking at a current generation Wi-Fi 6 Access Point, disabling any existing Wi-Fi radios, likely to be older generation, and create a new extensible Mesh based network using satellites from the same product range and manufacturer. Ideally look for products that are Wi-Fi Alliance EasyMesh certified and this will give a level of assurance that they’ve been thoroughly tested for interoperability and extensibility.
Brands to consider include Netgear, Ubiquiti, Cisco, ZyZel or Plume

Nope. It’s an Innuos Zenith 3. There are lots of reasons to not change. The sound is superb (although obviously tainted by noise at present) and the app is superb. No room for extra boxes like a transport. I’m heading in the opposite direction. Eventually the 4 boxes of Naim amplification are replaced by an integrated solid state class A or valves.

As per previous posts. My wi-fi “solution” is fine. Dual band router. No black spots or weak points. Simply need a decent, relatively inconspicuous wireless bridge which will take an ethernet cable and can then be located where there is a socket and well away from black boxes etc.

Hi Mike, yes understood you just want to add to what you have, I was highlighting the limitations of the different generations of Wi-Fi technology. Assuming your existing Wi-Fi Access Point and router are using a Wi-Fi 5 radio then adding a bridge will almost certainly work but will come with constraints, interoperability between radios being a common issue, there’s also the possibility that adding it will impact performance of other client devices on that network. Wi-Fi 6 based products are worth considering regardless as they will ensure a degree of future proofing down the line even if initially you aren’t taking full advantage of the inherent benefits of Wi-Fi 6 over Wi-Fi 5.
If your existing Wi-FI router is a TP-Link product you might consider something like the TP-Link RE505X for example.

Elsewhere this has been suggested as the obvious immediate solution.

Rhinocables Ethernet RJ45 Extension Cable CAT5e/CAT6 Network Internet Extender — Male to Female Patch Cord Connector — 5m / 500cm, CAT5e (Grey) from Amazon.

I think they’re right. Thoughts? Struggled to see an equivalent on designacable so have persuaded Mrs. H. to press buy the cat 5e on her account.

Allows me to move the existing bridge to the other side of the room and run ethernet across. Obvious really. Cable unlikely to be inferior to the thing hardwired into the bridge. Once it’s working immediate noise levels should drop through lack of proximity to black boxes. Should also be a gain through the DAC then having its own dedicated wall socket.

Switch aside, the next obvious step would be an LPS for the router. Thoughts welcome or ought that to be a separate thread.

Hi Mike, you may have read some of this stuff in other posts I’ve made elsewhere but in this context its hopefully worth repeating.
3 years ago I started with a clean slate to create a local and remote streaming system. In terms of networking I started with 2 priorities:

  1. As good sound quality as possible
  2. Solid, uninterrupted, high performance network access for all network devices in my house.

My network is based on a mix of ethernet cabling and wi-fi and can be defined as follows:

  1. Devices that only support 2.4GHz wi-fi
  2. Fixed devices that are a long way away from the wi-fi router
  3. Mobile devices
  4. Video streaming
  5. Audio Streaming

Within a few miles of my home I had 3 major electronics retailers so I was able to buy and return a number of devices to trial and compare. These included 2 brands of mesh networking, extenders, power over mains devices, various routers plus some high quality ethernet cabling that came from Synergistic Research.
At the end of this I finished up with the following installation, which provided the optimum sound quality, optimum video streaming and most robust wi-fi without buffering interrupts or dropouts.
My broadband of ca 630Mbps is provided by Virgin Media via co-ax cable to a Hub 3, which is a combination cable modem and 2 band router. I run this in Modem-only mode and take an ethernet cable from its WAN socket to a TP-Link Archer AC 5400 Tri-Band Router. Referring to the above devices list this is set up as follows:
Band 1 2.4GHz. 1 & 2 & 3
Band 2 5GHz. 4
Band 5. 5GHz. 5

The above arrangement gives me solid domestic wi-fi without any heavy streaming loads to drag down bandwidth, a dedicated HD video streaming band and a dedicated HD audio streaming band.

My hi-fi server was initially an Innuos Zenith MkII SE, now upgraded to a Statement. In the hi-fi room I installed a TPLink RE650 AC2600, chosen mainly for its sound quality. The RE650 is set up as a wi-fi to ethernet bridge, with the 2.4GHz band, polling and LEDs all switched off and clients limited to the Innuos Statement. I can manage both the Archer 5400 router and RE650 bridge from my iPhone or iPad using the TP-Link Tether app. I run a short ethernet cable from the RE650 bridge to the Innuos. Due to the high speed wi-fi transmissions, the innuOS 2,0.X ‘push’ operating system, and the single client wi-fi there is almost no network traffic during active music replay, which means very little ‘noise’ or CPU interrupts.
I started out by adding an AQVox SE switch between the RE650 bridge and the server and now run a cascade of AQVoxSE into Melco S100/PF Ultra OCXO into Innuos PhoenixNET into the Statement. The installation has been highly optimized with anti-vibration platforms, highly screened star-wired ethernet cables and Sean Jacobs DC4 power supplies throughout.

One day, when I get FTTP I will certainly give fibre optic a try but in the meanwhile the musical performance of the above system is exemplary.

The pictures show the now modified RE650 with anti-vibration wall mount, 5V DC LPS feed and Synergistic Research Atmosphere X Ref ethernet cable.


If you’re still looking, it’s this:

Look in departments / studio cables, then network cables.