Is your Internet TV's Black Box-to-Router Connection Hurting your Sound?

It’s a rhetorical question, actually - in so far as I just discovered mine has been killing it for years. I hope readers with similar issues to mine might find this useful.

Without boring you with the componentry of my digital chain as of today, I’ll just say I exclusively stream files from a Melco unit and that it includes optical, i2s conversion and several LPS; yet still I didn’t eradicate a lingering degree of harshness in high frequencies and compressed soundstage.

Over the last 10 frustrating years I’ve been chasing the rabbit down a deep hole and gone through periopds of dark despair as well as ridiculous amounts of expense. Most of what I did to try to fix it, helped, incrementally - dedicated mains, optimum power cords and i/c’s including ethernet cables (AQ Vodka) GIK room panels, radically changing out a 252 for a tube pre, less analytical speakers (read less forward) EE switch, LPS on everything, optical chain breaker, converting to i2s away from USB. Over that time my sound has gone from varying degrees of painfuI to much improved. But still that halo of hard edges, compression and lack of air on some albums persisted at a certain level.

Last week I decided I’d need to to try a more current, high-end server and plaster my ceiling with GIK traps; but, beforehand, I thought I’d try a Melco ethernet cable between router and switch. (I didn’t find it to be as pleasing to my ears as a Vodka, btw…) But while I was on my knees messing with it, I considered the ethernet cable connecting the ghastly, electrically noisy nightmare that is the box for my internet TV service to my, likely, equally nasty, noisy router, from same company; and the fact that my EE switch also connects to that router. I unplugged the telly box ethernet from the router.

Now, I’ve only had two decent listening sessions (at either end of the day) since I disconnected the TV box from the router, so following may be premature, but, right now, the difference is staggering. My SQ has never sounded so relaxed and effortless, the soundstage so expansive, the bass so fervent, vocals so unstrained. It’s not expectation bias - I was quite convinced I’d hear nothing. I was flabberghasted; and waiting to discover I’ve imagined it or it disappears and the hard edges return…

Despite the optical ‘break’ in the chain allegedly preventing upstream pollution, this upstream component still had an (horrible) influence. I wish I’d tried what now seems like such an obvious, small thing, many tears ago. I wonder how many changes I made in the past, I wouldn’t have needed to make if I’d discovered this sooner. Thinking about, all the changes and upgrades are probably worthwhile, regardless; but possibly not the 252 and speaker swaps - the ones that cost me the most lost cash.

In any event, the moral of my story is, if you are not happy with your SQ (or even if you are) and you have other components plugged into the router to which you connect your hifi switch, try disconnecting them and listening - before doing anything more radical.

This is why I, and many others on here use 2 switches. The first gets all the nasty noisy devices plugged into it. An Ethernet cable then connects this first switch to a second switch, like an EE8 for example, which in turn is only connected to your streamer. This second switch further isolates your streamer from all the other household data traffic.

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What exactly is the tv box?
Does it have Wi-Fi, if so, just connect it using that instead?

Indeed and I understand. The only thing plugged into my switch is the hifi SFP - and the router. But does not the fact that the 2 switches are linked still enable pollution to enter the second switch, Nigel?

It’s the box of tricks that decodes the signal and feeds it to the TV. It also has a hard drive to record programming. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have wifi capability.

Noise will inevitably get into the second switch but it’s removal from the other noisy devices and the use of a so-called audiophile switch as a second switch like the EE8 reduces noise.

This is all very system dependent and it is a bit of a lottery. You will need to decide when you hit the point of diminishing returns.

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One of the main things I found with removing noise from a network and refining its physical layer was that the better it got, the greater the level and impact of improvements became, so exactly the opposite of a law of diminishing returns

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My question meaning, is it a Sky Q box, Virgin Media, TalkTalk etc. If it’s old and lacks Wi-Fi then it may be time to ask your TV service provider for a set top refresh.

Yep Sky Q. Google enquiry says it’ll connect wirelessly, but wired is better. I’ll look into it; meantime, it’s not hugely inconvenient to pull the cable when listening to music…

Set tops can be noisy, not least they have USB and HDMI in them, both of which are particularly noisy interfaces and if not shielded well can cause issues with interfaces and devices in close proximity.
If you can try the Wi-Fi it’s worth a try certainly.

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