Silly question about switches

Call me stupid, but what is a switch and what does it do?
I have my NDX2 wired via Chord ethernet cable directly to my router. Also connected is my PC
I have not experienced any issues, so what is the point of a switch?

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There are no silly questions here. Some people believe switches satisfactorily isolate the musical element of your network from the and that’s important from a security and sound quality perspective. Others have no such concerns. Your mileage may vary depending on how obsessive you wish to be.

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You can expect a few different answers … & some thread dift
A switch is a connection point that enables a number of devices such as music streamer, media server (NAS) computer, printer, TV & any other wired device you have to connect to your internet router/modem/wifi hub. In your case with just two ethernet connections, you don’t need a switch.

A few years ago some routers had poor/limited switch ability & a separate switch worked better. I’m not so sure that is true these days, it depends on your set up.
There is a belief in the audio world that some switches do improve SQ & there are a lot of posts & threads on this forum on this but this is moving a basic function device into fine tuning.

I use a switch because I don’t like a lot of visible cables going to the wifi hub, one is enough.

It’s a way of connecting stuff on your network together. In my case I have a wire from the router to the switch, and connected to the switch are my NDX2, the nas, and the QB in the kitchen. The computer and Virgin box connect direct to the router. This means that data between the NDX2 and the nas is unaffected by what else may be going on in the house which should theoretically make it sound better. When you get more computer things than you have sockets in your router, you need a switch anyway.

I’ve yet to read a single coherent statement on how non music data impacts music data to the extent it impacts sound quality. Seen a lot of authoritative people go on at length about it but none convincingly so.

A friend has the legendary Cisco switch often banged on about here and in other places. They have written eloquently and with caution on a number of forums about it. They come from a networking background for a global company i.e. they’re responsible for that network.

Prior to lockdown 1 about 5 of us got together, long before I got into streaming, and headed to their beautiful home to try various audio experiments for a weekend whilst their family was away. The single most profound change to their system was disconnecting and connecting it to the radial spur they’d had installed. They’d never written about that because it was, to them, their single most disappointing upgrade. All of us heard tangible positive changes. The Cisco switch? Nothing. Not a one of us could hear a thing.

When challenged as to why it had been added phrases like “good practice” and “security” and “reading a lot about what it does” came up. When asked to point to specifics like better note tails; more accurate timbre; lower noise floor etc. Nothing.

Like all these things your mileage most definitely vary.


Thanks guys
I think you have put my mind at rest

Now have a look over on the EE8 and cable threads.
You think you have a grasp of it but you will soon lose the will to live. :joy::joy::joy::joy:


The reality is that streaming means dealing with new stuff and dealing with new stuff means someone will always get it into their head “well if I just tweak that…”. Sometimes that makes sense. Often not. It speaks to other desires.

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There are a few things I’ve tried and, at one point, could hear absolutely no difference; usb cables, until I bought my Phoenix, internet cables, and I’m still not sure I can although I settled on BJ ones, and switches until I got my EE8. With my Cisco I could hear absolutely no difference whatsoever


Basically a switch is a way to extend your Ethernet network with several additional wired connections, not much more than that, and most ISP supplied cable modem/routers include the basic switch functionality in terms of multiple Ethernet ports…

The debate about audiophile grade Ethernet cables/switches/etc… has been baffling to me for a while. I think a lot of people on this (and many other) forum(s) have started a long hi-fi journey in a pure analogue world of vinyls, FM radio, K7 and tape decks maybe… for all of these there is a realistic correlation between build and material quality, price, and sound quality… this is still true of the analogue components of our systems today: turn tables, preamplifiers, power amplifiers, speakers, will all demonstrate some strong link between price and sound quality. Of course, there is always going to be some individual preferences coming in, as all of these components will in effect be the consequence of various choices and compromises made by the designers, reflecting their objectives as well as the price point they are working towards. We may like some more than others, that’s fair.

When it comes to streaming, and in particular the networking side of things, I would happily agree that the cheapest equipment may bring badly isolated power supplies and the like, which can definitely create some noise pollution (by affecting the analogue side of our expensive equipment, although these are carefully trying to avoid that anyway). When it comes to the signal quality itself, if the 0s and 1s of the source all arrive at destination and are dealt with in the same order they were stored/sent initially, there cannot be any difference in sound quality. It is the same as sending e.g a text document over the internet: there will be the same number of letters and words at destination, they will be in the same order and the story won’t have changed a bit. Of course, online streaming is a bit more demanding in terms of timing and stability of the feeds, and this is where re-transmits and buffers come in. Try unplugging your streamer from the Ethernet (unplug the cable!) and you will see that there are several seconds of music in the buffer, as it keeps playing happily… so plenty of time to smooth over any retransmits that may be required - and they are not common. The buffers also take care of latency considerations, etc.

Lastly, and keeping in mind some readers in various countries who may not enjoy high bandwidth and quality ISP services we are now used to in Europe or North America, the poor bandwidth, latency and retransmit issues are much more likely to take place on the outside (WAN) of the fence than our our home (wired) network anyway… of course, one’s WiFi setup may exhibit issues in terms of obstacles, signal strength, etc. and more powerful equipment may help overcome that, although in my experience it is usually coming down to the way things are setup and organised by whoever laid out the network and it’s topology anyway.

The long and short of it is that music streaming is not e.g online gaming, and I certainly wouldn’t spend crazy money on “audiophile grade” network equipment myself. I am of the opinion that decent mainstream home networking equipment is everything one’s needs and extra cash is better spent on a better amp or set of speakers, etc. The appeal of overpriced/hyped network equipment is merely a consequence of transferring the experience of the analogue world into the digital one, which actually is exactly designed to move away from the more expensive will be better paradigm …


Well stated.

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In your case I completely agree. You will not pay more on switch/ lps/ Ethernet cables than the amount of cash you invested in your system, the Uniqute.
There are priorities.
Source , preamp first. Then amp, speakers. Then powerblock, power cables, and after interconnects and speakers cables. When all is sorted, an audiophile switch can be a very nice cherry on the cake.

Alternatively, when all is genuinely sorted, an audiophile switch will make no difference at all…

It helps to have some well played and well recorded music to feed it too. I think we miss the point sometimes.

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Look for example Dark Bear system : Nd555 twin 555dr, S1, 3X 500dr, Ovator S800, full Superlumina…: all is more than sorted. However the Etheregen made a big uplift.
Same for me. All is sorted, but not at that level.
And I can continue with several members here.

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No. That’s just expensive…

I told you to expect a few different answers … & some thread drift @thenaimsdave

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That appears to happen to every question asked in this forum.

How fast does this thread get to 1000 posts? :smiley:

Good question… a data switch is a device that allows devices to communicate with each other on a single data network.
Home broadband routers usually incorporate switches with four ports in them as well… often referred to as LAN ports.

Therefore your NDX2 wired to your router’s switch ports will work well, you are affective,y connecting to the inbuilt switch in your broadband router. Adding an additional switch can help with capacity and topology of your home network. Switches usually can be interlinked and indeed is considered good practice when done in certain ways for larger networks.

A switch can allow multiple devices to share the network concurrently.
Before switches were common place the equivalent network device was a hub… this allowed devices to talk to each other on a network, but only one at a time… in early networks this was fine, but these days that would likely be a serious performance limitation.

Hopefully you are now aware of what a switch does, and that it can be part of different home network devices, and why it is important.

With respect to sound quality, for the vast majority this has little to do with the function of the switch or network, but more to do with coupled high frequency analogue voltages and currents circulating through the connected network leads that can interact with connected analogue audio products. This sort of thing is similar to high frequency noise induced in mains leads, interconnects and speaker cables.
The good thing here is that xDSL modem routers tend to be very well behaved with respect to the creation of electrical noise, as interference here tends to have a drastic affect on the performance of the xDSL connection and sync speed, especially with VDSL (Superfast)… so you may well find your router switch ports tend to ‘sound’ rather good directly connected to your streamer already.


I don’t care what you say … I’m not going to call you stupid.
However, the connections you have are fine, but some/many members have found that running the signal from the modem thru some particular, well-made Ethernet switches/splitters, can improve the sound of your digital source.
Ones like, Cisco 2960 and UpTone EtherRegen.