Ethernet running along power cable runs vs local switch

For reasons of space/effort I can run two ethernet cables from my router to NDS and Unitiserve alongside mains cables runs, or I can have the NDS and Unitiserve connected with a local switch and run one ethernet cable from the switch to the router.

Would having a switch keep everything local with the music going from the Unitiserve to the NDS direct via the local switch, or would it all be going through the router regardless?

Is either to be preferred and if so why, or should I just move house?

One longer cable or two doesn’t matter too much, Ethernet is fine for runs up to 100 metres. Best not to have long runs parallel to power cables though, try to keep them a few inches apart where possible, although it’s hard to say what effect this will have as every location is different in this respect.
A single cable to a switch near your HiFi may be preferable. Having said that, the Unitiserve doesn’t need to be anywhere near it. One could even argue that keeping such gear a good distance from the HiFi is preferable. Mine is in a cupboard in a different room.

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Well the music will come out regardless. With the power, I have not had an issue but to be fair dont have power running for a long way with ethernet runs. It will most likely be fine, look at data centres!

What the others have said - power cable likely makes no difference, but keep a few cm of distance if you can, if only for peace of mind. Your router is a switch as well, so in this regard there is no difference between running one or two cables, each cable connected to the router is just as separated as each cable connected to an additional switch. However, running one cable back to the router may be more convenient than running two.

I would use a good, unmanaged reasonably priced switch, like the typical Netgear G105 or G108 for 50 euros or so. There really is no need to pay hundreds for “audiophile” switches. If you want to play with this (and I recommend keeping your head), you can still do so later and find out if you really hear a difference that is worth it.

As to your other question, switches don’t broadcast all the data for everyone out of each port. Instead, they learn the hardware MAC addresses of connected devices and only send data to the port (device) that is concerned with it. In other words, each switch port forms its own “collision domain”. This is nice as it keeps chatter down, improves throughput, and makes the devices’ network ports less busy. (In the past, there were so-called repeaters, which were dumb and repeated everything, leaving the connected devices to sort it out, but these times are long gone.)

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@ewencummins
You may find some help on my earlier topic
Cabling trunking isolation and separation - advice and ideas - Hi-Fi Corner - Naim Audio - Community

It was suggested as 200mm (almost 8 inches) for unscreened power and unscreened ethernet cables.

I screened them both (power and ethernet) in trunking (see pictures).
I also used a NetGear unmanaged switch (hub) and one cable in a similar situation. Works well.

Hi guys,

Thanks for the replies. At the idiot boy level of understanding, does this mean that even with a local switch with short ethernet cables to both NDS and US, then the switch connected to the router with a single long run ethernet cable, that the music signal would not remain local to the switch/NDS/US but still travel via the long run to the router?

Yours,

Ewen.

It does not really matter how far it travels.

But no, if the NDS and the US talk with each other while connected to a local switch, the switch learns that, say, the NDS has the hardware MAC address “abc” and is connected to switch port 1, and that the US has the MAC address “xyz” and is connected to the switch port 2. So if it sees a network packet coming in on port 1 from “abc” and being addressed to “xyz”, it sends the packet out of switch port 2, without bothering the upstream router.

This was what I meant in my earlier post regarding

If there is no local switch, the “router” (which is actually both a router* and a switch** in most consumer setups) performs the same function.

Mind you, there is always some control and bookkeeping data being sent around, to keep the network functioning. It’s rarely 100% quiet on a network. This is normal and by design.

In addition, apart from the digital data, network cables are still electrical devices that emit and receive analog interference; this is what people on audiophile forums usually are concerned about. However, that’s what networks and devices on it are designed for, and I would not overly concern myself. It’s usually not much work to compare later by replacing the regular switch with a 3K “audiophile” switch, if you really want to.

Footnotes:

* It’s a router because one module of it “routes” traffic between two different networks, the upstream internet link and the local network. It does this on higher levels of the networking protocols, like IP addresses.

** What is commonly called “the router” also contains another module that works as a local network switch for the local devices. This happens on the lower, “dumber” network protocol layer 2, which is based on MAC addresses. Every network device has a globally unique one, and it is fixed for every device by the manufacturer. Every MAC address on the local network can see every other, so this is a very basic identification layer, which the switch uses to send traffic only to the device that needs it. (In contrast, MAC addresses are not routed by the router part - they are stripped out when the router sends data from the local LAN to the upstream internet link)

In short the router will negotiate connections between devices via their MAC addresses, and should allow them to transfer data without going via the router.

Bear in mind most peoples understanding or router is the usually supplied one with wifi a modem and a (Generally) four port switch built in. A half way decent set up will know the various mac addresses on the LAN and send packets between those ports.

This being said, please be assured there is nothing you are going to do with audio that in anyway would pressure a lan network even if it was all going via the router.

Why not use fiber Ethernet and avoid the concern? An FMC at your router and a Cisco 2960 near your system would cost about $100 with the cable and avoid any interference.

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Brilliant. And thanks to GaryI too. I’ll just keep it all local then.

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