Ethernet Switch


Don’t be put off by some of the replies here, although I reckon that a few of them are really intended to be tongue-in-cheek.

A £14.99 (max £25) TP-Link or Netgear switch from Currys/PC World or eBay or Amazon will do exactly what you need it do do and for absolutely no reduction in sound quality whatsoever.

Should you decide in the future to investigate ‘esoteric’ switches or ethernet cables then by all means experiment with these.

I personally have 2 main streaming systems of reasonable quality (Linn Klimax DS/1 and Sonore microRendu/Mytek Brooklyn DAC+), and I found that switching from a cheap TP-Link consumer switch to an ‘industrial’ Cisco 2960 (2nd Hand) switch made little or no difference to the sound of my systems. I have no desire whatsoever to experiment with more esoteric so called ‘audiophile’ switches.

They may make a slight difference, but they cost an awful lot more and I am pretty sure that their effect will vary greatly from system to system. I suspect from my experience and that of others, that the Linn Klimax DS steamer range seems to be particularly effective in warding off unwanted digital ‘noise’ and so does not benefit a great deal from alternative switches and ethernet cables.

Don’t know about the Nova, but you can experiment later down the line.

Just get yourself a TP-Link or Netgear Gigabit switch for now.


Exactly! I have an ‘audiophile’ switch and it’s very good but I’m not going to advise the OP to get one. A basic £15 job will fit the bill more than adequately.


And if Wifi signal is strong enough, the OP should try this as well, as an alternative to a Netgear, before investing several hundred in an “audiophile” switch. Some people reported improvements over cable at least on the new streaming platform.


WiFi works well for me… but maybe I don’t have enough black boxes to hear the difference!

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We should call this thread « Ethernet switch and non mania »., as even the Cisco is not recommended here. haha

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Must point out that although I didn’t personally experience a sound quality improvement when I moved from a TP link to a Cisco 2960, I still have two of them in my home network.

They are still excellent bits of kit.


Sorry late to this thread… there are multitude comments and subjective preferences on switch SQ.
From a technical point of view, if you have a large home network with much automation or even other audio systems, I would recommend a switch that supports IGMP group management (IGMP snooping). This prevents your streamer having to do unnecessary data handling and creating spurious noise from other group traffic on your home network. If you hear differences between wav and FLAC, and have a busy hone network, then I recommend such a device. A used Cisco Catalyst switch in default factory fresh mode does this. A small Cisco 2960 is a firm favourite on the forum and elsewhere.

Now some, especially when they use the analogue out on their streamers (as opposed to SPDIF out) , which is probably most, are susceptible to hearing the effects of serial clock noise from the connected switch, and so putting one of the many so called audiophile switches between your streamer and the 2960 can be good way forward. Technically from a network perspective the audiophile switches are rather primitive devices from the ones I have seen, so they can benefit from a shield device like the 2960. The key benefit of the audiophile switch is they reduce the serial line clock noise on the Ethernet link for streamers sensitive to it.

If your home network has next to nothing on it, and no other multicast group data other than UPnP discovery, then you could attach your audiophile switch directly to your router for best SQ


Just to add that the Netgear GS108E (the managed variant, not the unmanaged GS108) also does IGMP snooping, for 30 EUR, i.e. 10 more than the unmanaged one

Edit: Though there are not many domestic multicast applications and if you don’t use any, the snooping won’t help you

I have a Virgin Hub and had also run out of ports. I now have one of the ports connected to a Cisco 2960 which in turn is connected to my streamer (272) and server using good quality Ethernet cable.

I have another switch - a cheap as chips Zyxel something - that is connected to my TV and Virgin box using my own made up cheap as chips Cat5e cable.

If I run another piece of cheap of chips Cat5e from the Zyxel to my 272 then to me it sounds just the same.


then in your setup you are not susceptible to hearing serial line noise - and/or you have a home network with no other major group traffic - enjoy - you are one of lucky ones who doesn’t notice such things. :grinning:


So where does it come from (in some cases for other people if they think they are not imagining it)? What would cause it? Why some streamers are not impacted? Why some streamers are sensitive to it?

Serial line clock stability … ie the frequency modulation noise from the serial line encoding clock from the switch Ethernet port. This FM noise can couple into the receiving electronics. I decouple my DAC from my Ethernet transport so I don’t hear this now, but when I did use the local DAC in my Naim streamer I found I could hear the effects of different connected Ethernet equipment, and UPnP servers.(that was about inter frame timing consistency on the first gen Naim streamers.). Clearly the extent of coupling and what the coupling interacts with in the streamer will vary from product design to product design. Naim went to some effort to reduce this in the new streamers by the use of internally using LVDS between key modules., but that doesn’t eliminate the effects of coupling, it just reduces them.

There is also common mode noise, but that is not about serial line noise, rather HF current is flowing commonly across the Ethernet wires, and this is the same for mains leads and potentially interconnects.


Unfortunately, I believe all streamers are sensible to Ethernet transported “noise”.

Some brands simply don’t advertise about it (like Naim for instance).

Even for their eye watering expensive DACs, MSB Technology do warn their users about potential sound compromise due to Ethernet connections (and provide decoupling solutions, like fiber).

Decoupling is the basic rule to apply.

My own experience confirms that basic rule (which I applied/achieved using fiber).


So if it is such a problem and can be fixed, apparently, by a switch for a few hundred quid or a fiber/optical bridge, why don’t the manufacturers of expensive streamers not include the technology in the streamer box behind the ethernet plug or sell a separate box, instead of issuing warnings?

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Lumin X1 has done it. Other will probably follow.

And others like Naim are happy letting their streamers sound worse than they could? As they are not even mentioning any problem

As always, that’s not as simple as it seems.

Most of the time, people tend to oversimplify science and/or technology.

Yes, networks are noisy. It’s in their very nature and can’t be avoided.

Fibre electrically isolates. No electrical connection, no electrically conducted noise. Simple.

But… adding fibre isn’t always the best solution. Fibre can bring its own issues…

And from an engineer and commercial point of view, the obvious solution isn’t always the best solution.

Most consumers, audiophile or not, hardly understand what a network is!

Many don’t even understand the difference between their local network and the Internet. Add to it fibre connection and you definitively lost them :grin:

Choosing an Ethernet switch is simple. Everyone has at least one Ethernet switch at home (the one provided by the Internet Service Provider). Ethernet cables are simple items too. Connecting those items is simple.

So Ethernet is the perfect choice: simple, reliable and everyone is able to handle those Ethernet cables.

And think of it; are Ethernet connections so bad? They are pretty good in fact!

Of course, one could argue that an audiophile switch could make a tremendous difference. And that’s rather true!

But again, how important is that? How much a difference those it make, comparing to other issues like, let’s say, room acoustics.

If you look at some System Pictures, you’ll have some surprises….

Listening positions against the back wall! Trust me. Listening to a speaker based system while having the head against the wall is… well, it is physically impossible to get a correct low end. Period, no discussion.

So, does fibre, or a fancy switch, make that much of a difference comparing to other major issues? Not really.

That’s why, in my opinion, most companies don’t bother.

As for Naim streamers, the P800 plateforme is rather good. Not many streamers platforms provide such a level of flexibility while being both reliable and relatively/partially immune to noise.


Because there is no problem :wink:
Being able to optimise a system doesn’t mean the system is flawed in the first place

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Thanks, all reasonable points.

But what I meant regarding fiber or whatever solution was to include a solution in the box (or add another box). Precisely because

As it is now, people are apparently either supposed to buy a random ancient Cisco switch on eBay so that their 20000 EUR streamer works as it should, or it doesn’t really matter

I think this debate has been had many times…In my case a better switch didn’t make a noticeable difference but that could be because I have speakers too close to the wall and a wall directly behind my listening position. I’m trying to correct that but I will need deep pockets as I will need to rearrange my living/ listening space and that will involve new furniture etc as the payback, lol.