Putting a switch in the chain - mixed feelings

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Try the oft recommend Cisco 2960…

It’s not just decoupling but also clock quality and general component quality. The impact a switch can make is daft

It’s not so much it being cheap, it’s more that it’s a very high quality (good clocks and good output electronics driving the Ethernet cables) and high reliability switch that (s/h) is available for a very good price (£60 s/h, the new models of the switch are ~£650, depending on model). So, the Cisco 2960 improved the sound of a system far more than using a consumer level switch such as a Netgear, D-Link, TP-Link or Apple device.

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Are you in the UK?

Let us know!

Please feedback in this thread.

Anything that goes into that 7000 post is lost to the ether.

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Despite some rather esoteric postings about the ‘benefits’ of switches etc, there are some key technical benefits. Note technical benefit won’t necessarily translate to sonic benefit in all circumstances, environments and systems.

  1. the PHYsical design of the Ethernet switch can be built using better quality components to better preserve the balanced nature of the Ethernet serial line links. This includes electronic and physical PCB layout and design. There are also specialised Ethernet line driver chips that mitigate interference, but I have never seen these used in consumer audiophile products, only commercial/industrial designs which need to work to tighter specifications… the Cisco Catalyst switches don’t use these devices but are built to exacting and certified EMC standards. Most consumer devices simply comply with the the more tolerant consumer specifications.

  2. the serial clock oscillator modulating the serial links in the PHYsical layer can be more stable, thereby producing less sidebands and a smaller range of intermodulation frequencies.

Then we move to the Ethernet / TCP/IP network itself.

  1. higher quality switches, like the 2960, have more advanced capabilities that allow the LAN to work more efficiently and off loading unnecessary processing (and therefore noise) from the streamer. This includes IGMP snooping, and consequential multicast group data filtering. Multicast groups are increasingly used in home network applications now for discovery and automation.

  2. switched frame prioritisation. Albeit this is of more benefit in my experience on the legacy streamers on busier home LANs and requires technical know how to configure. Again a catalyst switch allows you to do this.

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I’ve deleted a number of posts on this thread - mainly they don’t really assist the OP, and in fact may just cause confusion or even bemusement. If members wish to argue about the content or length or otherwise of other threads, then please do so on the thread in question or perhaps on a separate thread. Thanks.


The one that was recommended to me, by Simon, is the 2960 8TC-L. L means this is the higher spec one. I paid £50 for it in autumn 2016. It made a lot more of a difference than a £400 fancy ethernet cable so I’d say it’s well worth checking out.

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Do you just have this plugged in between your ISP’s router and your streamer?

We have Virgin Media. I use their horrid hub thing as a modem. That connects to an AirPort Extreme which does the router stuff and provides the wifi. That then connects to the Cisco, which in turn connects to the 272 and my Qnap nas. All the wires are Blue Jeans Cat 6a. I don’t understand all the really complex stuff but this is a very standard setup and works really well.

ok thanks

As HH posts, this is the standard connection.
Ethernet Basic with Switch

As you managed to talk to a real human, you might also ask him if the unit has been reset to factory defaults. Most will be, but if a previous user has configured it for their needs, a full reset is a bit of a faff if you’re not familiar with such things.

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You beat me to it Chris… if not factory reset there could be much frustration to come…

Indeed, one of my switches had been heavily configured by the previous, corporate owner, and as a layman, it took a couple of attempts and a bit of head scratching to sort it out. Still, if I can manage it, I guess that proves it can be done if you’re up for a little challenge. Childsplay for an IT professional, of course.

Any thoughts or impressions re the new Cisco Catalyst 1000 replacing 2960? My layout requires an 8-port in the office near the router and a 16-port next-in-line in the main distribution closet. POE?

Also, I see wall wart or on-board PS is optional. Which is preferred?

Thanks. Nick

I hope it is ok to post this here. My wifi router died the other day (Linksys E2500) after a power outage. I need to buy a new one, can anyone recommend what i should be looking for? Are there any that improve the sound quality, since i connect my 2960 to it?

yes - do it!
see my and SiS and ElMarko’s posts in the long thread on switches and cables