Ethernet setup

This thread is about network configuration.

Has anyone any experience of different setups sounding better than others? I currently have:
modem -> router ->switch ->switch-> streamer

I could go to
modem -> router ->switch-> streamer

or (more conveniently)
modem -> router ->switch ->switch-> switch->streamer

where -> means wired. i.e all connections are wired. Have people noticed an audible difference with more or fewer switches in the chain? standard netgear switches, all gigabit.

As the router only has one port the middle config is the simplest possible one.

So, let me be honest here - I can’t see a good technical reason why different (or more) ethernet switches or cables make a difference. But I can also accept that many people on here can hear a difference, and I’b be interested in views. My gut feel is that the simplest possible config is most likely to give the best possible sound, if there is indeed any difference…

That is the optimum, and of course you can also use the switchports on your router without using a physically separate switch.

Different network appliances can introduce their own artefacts such as common mode noise or serial line clock modulation. These artefacts can couple into network audio devices producing various very low level artefacts such as ground plane modulation and/or intermodulation distortion.
These are incredibly low level, but may be audible in revealing systems by subtly changing the character of the resultant audio.
The bottom line, your setup above is best from an optimisation point of view… but you can tweak to your heart’s content ‘noise shaping’ with different network devices and Ethernet leads. This akin to using different interconnects or mains leads… and there are several threads on this forum where people ‘Noise shape’ by using different devices and it appears several have positive experiences … but it is not affecting the Ethernet or network optimisation.

If you have quite a populated home network, then genuine Ethernet improvements can be had by using quality ISP routers / switches and quality switches that support network group management using a feature called IGMP snooping such as a Cisco Catalyst device… These minimise unnecessary network processing on the streamer and therefore reduce network noise… assuming other issues are not more prevalent.

The BT Smart Hub 2 ISP router appears to have an IGMP querier built in that can help quality network components remain properly optimised. Advantages here are rapid device discovery and fast performance on the Naim app.

If you look you’ll find several current/recent threads - long ones! - on this very subject, or aspects of it, including explanations as to why the components might affect the sound. It will depend on your specific streamer or renderer/DAC, the rest of your network, the electrical environment it is in, how revealing your system is, and how attuned to the differences your ears/brain may be. (And if you don’t do anything to avoid bias when comparing, how your susceptible your subconscious is to any of the possible biases that may exist in such comparisons.)

1 Like

I don’t know if this is of any help, but since my modem serves about 9/10 wi-fi appliances and 5 wired ones (not all of them all the time, of course), my setup is: Modem, WLan 1 port to Apple AirPort Extreme router, which serves my MacBook Pro and the streamer wired and my iPhone and iPad in WiFi; modem, Lan port 2 to Netgear switch which serves Apple TV, TV set and Philips Hue light control, wired. The other WiFi active appliances in the home use the modem’s own WiFi, different from the Apple’s.

So my audio gear has a quality router of its own and the video/light parts are isolated by a switch. Safe for some occasional issues on the modem part in re-distributing IP addresses in the event of blackouts, it works perfectly in terms of stability but I can’t make comparisons or evaluations in terms of sound.


do you think that placing the switch, in my configuration, between the Apple router and the MacBook/streamer instead of between the modem and the video/illumination-related gear would beneficially affect the sound?

That asked, I agree very much with IB’s reply.

Hi,it won’t or unlikely to affect the sound from a network perspective depending on switch and other factors.
However from an interference/common mode noise perspective (Analogue noise) anything goes, so try it.



am planning to upgrade my netgear switch for the well-regarded Cisco 2960 one - is this version of the myriad ones ok?
CISCO 2960 WS-C2960G-24TC-L

It will be fine, but do bear in mind it will be noisy with its fans, so you will need to house it into own room or space away from your listening environment… possibly in your garage.
Many use the smaller 8 port variants which are fan free and silent and fine to use in or near your listening environment.

I have one long cable from switch (in hall) to listening room (10m away, 40m cable) so noise should not be an issue. Might try to find a quiet one tho, regardless…

Yes I would, they are noisy… think small vacuum cleaner… so best not to have in the living space of your house.

thanks. Re PoE - doesn’t that add noise and interference? is it best avoided if possible? can find quite a few used PoE switches but fewer standard ones…

The standard 8 port one is excellent. I know where there is one for sale. Have a look on pink fish.

Nope… many smaller 8 port PoE supply switches are also fan free, but exhibit heat sinks, so ensure air flow.
No reason for interference, in fact the complete opposite. PoE uses D.C. offset voltages on the balanced lines… therefore PoE can be advantageous in terms of reduced electrical noise as it can reduce the need of smaller potentially noisy SMPS units for appliances and devices and reduce the propensity for common mode interference.
DC doesn’t cause interference. It’s higher frequency AC that tends to cause interference.

thanks. tempted, but as it would be the first switch in my network (and then one long cable to the streamer) being 10/100 limits all the rest of the household devices - so I’d rather have a gigabit version… if I change my mind I’ll message the seller on pinkish…

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.