Simplifying the network - source first!

Well, another weekend in lockdown has driven me to system tweaking, and it has ended with rather pleasing results. Albeit, I think the results may have highlighted another issue, but more on that later…

If I’m honest, I don’t really know why I even tried this - I must have read something which whetted my curiosity, but Saturday morning I decided to streamline my home network to see if I could squeeze any more performance out of my system (source first!).

I have an ISP router which feeds into a Sitecom Gigabit switch. This switch feeds all the wired items in the house, T.V’s, Freeview boxes and the like, then provides a link to the trusty Cisco 2960 switch, which solely serves my Naim system, which is fronted by a Melco N1a/2.

Now, I know that if I switch my Melco into direct mode so that it disconnects from the outside world/cuts out internet traffic (so it just provides a LAN link providing upnp between it and the NDS), I get a sound improvement. Therefore, whatever is going on around my network clearly affects system performance when the Melco is in normal network mode; which is how I use it 99% of the time so I can control things via iPad and stream internet radio etc.

So, leaving the Melco fully connected in network mode, I played a reference track then simply turned off the Sitecom switch and played the same track again. Wow, quite a reasonable overall improvement, with a clearer window on the music. I switched the Sitecom unit on and off a few times playing different tracks and it was clear that it was somehow generating noise on the network (it’s power supply?) when it was switched on.

After a bit of reorganisation and a re-siting of the Cisco switch, I got rid of the Sitecom switch and connected everything into the Cisco. The Cisco then linked back to the router for internet connection, but basically all wired devices including the Melco, were now connected to the Cisco. The same components were all still on the network, just one less switch.

The final tweak involved moving the 250 to the lowest shelf on the fraimlite, leaving a space between it and the NDS. (Although I have actually filled that space with a Fono MC and power control unit for my turntable, these remain powered off unless I’m using the turntable, so they won’t affect streaming performance).

Overall, this has given a surprisingly pleasing improvement… dare I say it’s not so different to a box upgrade, with a big lift in detail and definition.

Upshot is, I’m really chuffed with the results and it has cost nothing.

Now for the caveat! All that extra information has highlighted that perhaps my 14 year old 282 or 12 year old 555ps (or a combination of both) may be ready for a service. Things sounded rather harsh for a day or so after everything had been turned off for only half an hour, whilst I moved the 250. It’s never sounded that harsh before; it was nearly unlistenable. Happily though, it’s all settled down again and is sounding better than ever for the moment.

Anyway, that’s just my two penneth to provide some reading during lockdown! Stay safe all.


:small_blue_diamond:Excellent,.as I always say “Attention To Detail” and “Installation” means everything…!!

Fun to read about your experiment :+1:t2:.


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Thanks Peder,

Yes, in a way it was quite a fortunate discovery; if there was no lockdown I probably would never have put time aside to try it!

Interesting I have always adopted your former position keeping the Cisco exclusive for the Hi fi.
Another switch for TV, Sky, PC duties.

And that’s exactly the way I initially believed that the audio system was best isolated from other network traffic. In this experiment and in my circumstances though, that certainly was not the case. I don’t know whether the second switch was particularly poor quality perhaps and so contributed to the problem?

I ended up doing something similar. All my sources connect to my Cisco (feed from ISP router, Naim Unity Core, and Nucleus+ running Roon). From the Cisco I run one cable to my eR to the A side, and one AQ Vodka cable from the B side of the eR to my Meridian Ultra Dac. All cables other than the Vodka are CatSnake 6a with grounds relieved.

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Hi Bailyhill, Would like to try the AQ Vodka at some point, I’m only using basic chord and QED Ethernet cables. Sorry for being thick here but what’s the ‘eR’?

Hi Pat,

Interesting to hear your setup too. From what I can work out, I think switches themselves seem to generate ‘noise’ on the network. It was simply removing one of them on my network that made the difference. Every device that was connected on the network prior to removing one of the switches is still connected, it’s just that everything is now plugged into the Cisco 2960 rather than being distributed between two different switches.

I don’t have a diagram as such but the network is simply ISP router to Cisco 2960, and everything is now connected to that Cisco. Nice and simple.

As has already been stated above, I thought that by having everything but the Hi-Fi connected to one switch and then having a separate high quality switch for the Hi-Fi was the best way forward. I believed that potentially provided some isolation between the Hi-Fi and the rest of the network but it seems in my case that wasn’t the best result and the fewer switches the better.

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Sorry, its short for the Uptone EtherREGEN, an audiophile switch with great customer feedback. Lots of info on the "Cables Mania Topic’.

Ahh, thanks. Yes, I have seen that mentioned before in posts, but never really knew or understood what it was! I’ll have a read up on it.

Do you connect the Nds in the Ethernet player port of your Melco?
I do, and preferred that connection to Nds to Cisco.
Today I use Etheregen.

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In my view there has perhaps been a bit too much focus on the forum on the need for isolation from electrical noise on the network. Not that it isn’t an issue, and I can understand that having removed your cheap consumer grade Sitecom switch, you may have done exactly that. I don’t subscribe to the idea that once you have a decent network, you need a separate branch of that network exclusively for your HiFi.
I once used a cheap Netgear switch, and then got better results with a Cisco 2960. Over the last few years, I’ve added a second, and then a third 2960 to cover my whole house, with streamer, NAS, TV, computer etc. connected in all sorts of different layouts. None of this made a jot of difference to the sound quality of my HiFi once the cheap switch was removed.

Pat, Spot on… I think it was the second switch holding things back in my case. Why that was though, I can only speculate. Doesn’t hurt to try these things and the bonus is it costs nothing!

FR, yes absolutely use the Melco player port to NDS with nothing in between.

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Chris, you may well be right and it could all be down to the poor quality of the second switch rather than the number of switches involved. I only have one quality switch though, so can’t experiment with another one!

Jason your findings prompted me to experiment with my network set-up.
Before I had my one port of my ISP router connected to my main PC, the second port to a Netgear switch which fed everything on the network apart from the Naim system such as TVs etc, and a third port connected to a Cisco 2960 which then had a long cable run to my listening room into my second Cisco 2960 then out to my Melco N1 which then fed my ND555.
Yesterday I took out the Netgear switch and plugged everything that was connected to it into the ports on the office Cisco which still feeds the second Cisco in the listening room as before. The result is not subtle, a considerable lift in audio quality, much easier on the ear, cleaner and a darker background, so I will keep this arrangement. My original idea of keeping the system exclusively on Cisco switches and using the Netgear for everything else now seems unfounded. I have no scientific knowledge just my ears… I don’t understand the logic but I am guessing the Netgear and it’s cheap power supply were injecting some nastiness into the whole network. So thank you Jason, a free but worthwhile experiment.



That’s fantastic, I’m glad this has helped improve things for you too. Like you, I don’t really understand the science behind it, but as a best guess I would think it’s just down to poorer quality electrics/power supply in a cheaper switch. All I do know, is it seems like a window has been wiped clean, providing more clarity and scale in the music, with no downside.

@PatM, hopefully this will convince your good lady there’s a good reason for all the cable tweaking!


Yes Jason exactly that a clean window a good analogy. We learn together that is what this forum is all about. Stay safe.

After much swapping and changing over 6 months I settled on a Cisco with built in power supply.

Recently I removed the Cisco and plugged the NDX2 straight into the router and couldn’t hear any loss of sound quality so it’s stayed that way. I did wonder if the Cisco power supply would offset some gains?

Anyway enjoying the music so that’s all that matters :slightly_smiling_face:

Hi Mick

Yes, I think your experience tends to further corroborate my findings to some degree. The Cisco doesn’t seem to degrade the network or add noise, whereas the cheaper switch I used did.

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