Naim NDX - Wi-fi vs Ethernet - tremendous difference

Finally I received and tested my NDX which was planned as an upgrade of my Innuos Zen Mini Mk3.

I first tried the NDX via uPnP connection from my Innuos and the NDX was better sounding with bigger soundstange, more clear sound and more details but the difference was not so amazing.

I then tried NDX with ethernet cable from my UpTone EtherRegen switch and played some TIDAL streams. Again the NDX was better than streaming Tidal from the Innuos, but still something was missing.

Finally, I tried NDX via Wi-Fi and then the sound turned to be at least 2-3 times better! I heard not only new details but whole new frequencies. The very top end and the very bottom end (and probably some frequencies in between) seem to have been cut off when I used wired ethernet connection. The soundstage is huge and more room filling than before. Voices are more real and crystal clear. The sound comes easier off the speakers. The highs and vocals are more extended and hang more in the air. General the sound is more 3D. The sound before was muffled with blurred edges, messy soundstange and worse positioning. For the moment I’m quite happy with my NDX running my nDAC!

My wired ethernet connection is the following - Netgear wi-fi extender from a wall socket -> cheap generic ethernet cable from the Netgear ethernet output -> Uptone EtherRegen -> Chord C-stream cable -> NDX. I need this Netgear extender because my router is in another room and the walls block the signal.

I’ve read that the wi-fi modules of the old generation Naim streamers are not so stable and performant and a lot of users use Ethernet cable with good results. I’m wondering now why the Wi-Fi signal in my case is so much better than the wired signal. Do you have any ideas?

The only drawback of the Wi-Fi in my case is that occasionally after hours of streaming I have some dropouts but I then quickly start the stream again. For the moment I tend to like the idea of using Wi-Fi and wanted also to ask you - are there Wi-Fi extenders that are more suitable for music streaming and prioritise streaming requests over normal internet usage. Could you recommend something that can provide better Wi-Fi signal than my Netgear extender?

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Maybe because it’s not the same as having a direct connecting with a good cable from router to the Etheregen, than router > generic cable > WiFi extender> c stream > Ndx.
Could you run a long Ethernet cable from the router to the Etheregen, then C stream to Ndx?
It would be a more fair comparison between wired and WiFi.

Perhaps the audio files are getting messed up as the pass thru your netgear WiFi extender?

You’re not the only oneti gave said WiFi sounds better!

If you look at the reams written about different ethernet cables snd switches, you will soon gather that a wired connection is a route that can bring electrical (RF) noise into the DAC, where it can modulate the analogue signal. Different DACs/streamer vary in their susceptibility, and likely in what the resultant effect sounds like, while any and all aspects of the attached network can influence the noise characteristics, as can the specific local electrical environment. Not using a wired network removes the whole issue - but wifi introduces its own potential issues, so not everyone necessarily will find if better.

[quote=“corsuse, post:1, topic:9824”]
My wired ethernet connection is the following - Netgear wi-fi extender from a wall socket -> cheap generic ethernet cable from the Netgear ethernet output -> Uptone EtherRegen -> Chord C-stream cable -> NDX

It would be interesting to remove the ER from the chain to see if the SQ is improved?

Would be very surprised f it’s better without the ER. But only you can know.

@frenchrooster I agree that running a cable from the router itself would be a more fair comparions, however I don’t have such a long cable at hand.

@JimDog That is one of the main questions. The extender receives ethernet signal from the current of the mains socket and I guess it has a lot of interference messed with the signal. That’s why I have added the EtherRegen to purify the ethernet signal and isolate galvanically the system from the wi-fi extender. Although a lot of people experience great improvement when installing EtherRegen I started wondering whether removal of the pollution from the ethernet signal that is performed inside the EtherRegen might not also cut some part of the frequency spectrum. So at the end you get a clean signal but also loose some of the dynamics, life of the music and some frequencies, but that’s just my hypothesis.

@Innocent_Bystander Probably the end result really is strongly dependent on the local environment. There are a lot of things going on like different internet providers, electricity installations, different routers, switches, cables, configurations of the routers themselves, etc. What potential issues are you talking about - stream dropouts or something more?

@anon79759132 Yes I can try to remove the ER and make an experiment.

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Wow - don’t do dat!!

Just get a good length of Blue Jeans Cat 6a to link your internet router to the ER. Or move the hifi (temporarily) closer to the router to test how much better it will sound via one ethernet cable.

I have router - BJC 6a - EtherRegen - 272 and it sounds lovely.

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With WiFi? Anything - one might be the very functioning of a RF transceiver in the streamer. I am not saying any issues necessarily exist that adversely affect sound quality, but I am aware that over the years the use of WiFi has been seen as second class compared to wired, though no doubt that may vary according to each specific setup.

But then, the massive interest in the effect of ethernet cables and switches is pretty recent, so it may be that emphasis will shift if the WiFi installation is good, and those who are reporting WiFi sounding best may be the new leading lights…

I don’t have a view myself, avoiding the matter entirely by renderer and music store being in the same box, so my music dpesn’t stream across a network, wired or wireless.

That is not good, @corsuse.

If wired connectivity is unsolvable for you, I would recommend mesh wifi, this is one of latest network home technologies and it works extremely well.

@JimDog, @anon56221831 Yes I know it’s not the best way to get an ethernet signal from mains current, but this was the most convenient way in my case. Btw, my father have performed the same test with different internet provider and up-to-date TP-Link router with his NAC-272. He also reported that the wi-fi signal is much better than the wired ethernet signal that is run from the router itself. He used a generic ethernet cable. So even without using extenders from the wall socket again the same result was reproduced - Wi-Fi sounding better. I’v read on the forum that old generation Naim wi-fi modules are to be avoided but is it due to SQ reasons or just connectivity issues and dropouts? Mesh wifi is something that I might investigate yes, for even better wi-fi performance. @anon56221831 can you recommend specific brands or models that are suitable for audio usage?

I would suggest Google Nest Wifi.

One of the nice things about the mesh WiFi is that you could hook up to one of WiFi devices by an Ethernet cable if you want.

NDX/XPS DR sounding the same like Chromecast Audio sounds scary… :slight_smile: I also have Chromecast and can compare it to the NDX by connecting it to the nDAC. It would be interesting.

Regarding the WiFi connection and the Tidal dropouts, can’t it be that the NDX has a buffer overflow and just stops playing and it can be more of a software issue than internet connected?

AFAIK, this is a common issue of wifi if you stream hires music (>96/24). There has been a lot of discussions about this issue in this forum and elsewhere (eg. Roon forum, etc.).

IMOE, I think mesh wifi fixes it.

The ndx can have problems with Tidal, it’s been written about many times on here. There are solutions like BubbleUpnp server (bigger buffer on the bubble host) to act as a proxy between the older streamers and Tidal. May be a road you are not interested in.

Now I realised I might have expressed myself incorectly. I don’t experience Tidal dropouts but pausing of playlists. For example after a given song ends, the next one does not start and when I open the Naim app it’s written No content playing and I have to manually select a song from the playlist again. For now it happens rarely and is not so annyoing but I wanted to find the root cause. Seems more like a software bug.

Do you think mesh wifi or something else can increase SQ performance over wi-fi or these solutions are only for better stability and reliability of the network?

Mesh in my opinion makes for a more stable connection throughout the house, not sure about SQ. In your case, until you get rid of the extender AND the mains socket thing - expect unusual behavior.

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Mesh is wifi… it’s just a marketing term (In consumer land) used to describe Multiple access points with wireless uplinks as well as the option of Ethernet uplinks on a single SSID.
So mesh and wifi are the same thing.

The items to be wary of are wireless extenders… these tend to compromise performance and efficiency, by using the same wlan wifi space to manage an extension as well as devices trying to use that same space to communicate… not really good unless as a last resort kludge.

The best, in terms of performance, and the streamer having to work least hard, which usually gives best SQ, is using wifi access points with Ethernet uplinks, unless there is very little load on your wlan.

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I don’t understand how a crap chromcast can sound the same as Ndx transport…very strange

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I suspect those with some wifi issues is because their wifi has some sort of airtime fairness enabled. Best disable such features if using wifi and Naim streamers, otherwise you may get disconnects or dropouts after an extended period of time.

I agree about removing powerline adapters, they provide significant verging on phenomenal in my opinion amount of local RF energy in the space in your house, in your wiring, and in connected devices. They also don’t provide true Ethernet connectivity… at best they typically provide a half duplex bridge between two Ethernet segments… not ideal for our uses here.

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