Sound quality: USB vs. Ethernet

I tried Jriver, it does work pretty well. Unluckily it doesn’t seem too stable in my case (it disappears quite often).

By the way, correct me if I’m wrong as I’m pretty new to the Naim world, do you refer to the main page of the app called “room” where you add Naim streamers? As here is the only place where you can add an IP as far as I see.

Hi, you might benefit from using a slightly older version than the latest release of jriver, check on their forum where you can find and download from the release threads.

Each streamer is referred to as a room in the app; it’s slightly odd naming convention, but makes sense I suppose; jriver for example uses the term zones. The “+” allows you to add a new streamer to your home environment.

Hi Robert, thank you for the quick reply.
I use JRiver 24, so not the latest one. I’ll have a look on their forum.

I agree, it’s a very peculiar naming convention. I tried to add JRiver typing the computer local IP address, however it seems impossibile to find the library. Moreover I can’t even type the port, there’s no “:” button on the keyboard (I suppose it’s compulsory to put the port as well).

Is this a typo, you mean Ethernet cable is not especially susceptible to EMI and RFI noise? If so you are indeed correct, as per design it is deliberately resistant to such things through the use of balanced twisted pairs and the Manchester encoding used in the wires. This is why Ethernet cable is designed and specified the way it is. It’s a very efficient and effective design used the world over reliably resistant to EMI and RFI.

I am particularly impressed in my home setup with domestic EMI, which is no doubt average for domestic setups, over the last 4 years with the many terabits of data transferred, that has not been one single bit corruption due to external EMI/RFI. (As confirmed by my managed network equipment)


Ah I see; you don’t add jriver as a room, if you have jriver set up correctly (ie media server enabled etc) then it will appear under “servers” on your device. Eg my ndx2 sees this:

From their you can navigate into the jriver server and select by artist etc

These settings for jriver should work for you:

Thank you!

I was feeling a bit confused before. Indeed I can only see JRiver in the “servers” menu. I only wish it was stable, but hopefully things will improve with a wired connection, who knows. JRiver has already the setup that you mentioned by the way.

May I ask your opinion about sound quality using ethernet and USB? I’m curious as you worked at Naim. Do you think USB is worse than Ethernet as @newcomer experienced?

Can’t say I’ve noticed one as being inferior. I suppose theoretically Ethernet has the potential of being better, if you assume there is an impact in an ndx2 (for example) powering an attached drive via 5v usb. Whether you can hear that is another matter. I stream everything using roon, I have that running on the same pc as jriver. My streaming journey began with jriver as client on a 2nd pc connected via usb to a dac v1, then running roon in parallel for the last 2 or 3 years. It’s only recently I bought the ndx2 which made the pc / dac v1 redundant.

The “official “ Naim system - if you take what’s in the dem room - is all the files on a uniti core which then streams to whichever streamer is in use, be it atom or nova or ndx2 or nd555, using the Naim app on an iPad, the local library augmented with tidal/ qobuz.

The quality cd collection that used to be at the back of the dem room has sadly gone. I took a quick snap before it was all packed away.



The actual balanced twisted pair approach of Ethernet and USB is similar. The point of note is that USB less than USB3 uses flow control signalling on a half duplex link by breaking the unbalanced nature of the twisted pair (D+ and D-) creating small pulses of electro magnetic radiation from these signalling pulses


I suppose that it’s just a matter of personal taste, perception and circumstances in the end. I’m not an expert at judging these different technologies, but I can surely notice sound differences. As you rightly said, whether you can hear these differences or not is another matter. I will probably end up buying a NAS to avoid using a computer if I don’t want to. I prefer to have a simpler approach, there’s already too much technology involved (before the NDX 2 I had a couple of DACs connected to my computer).

Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the digital approach quite a lot, but a CD collection has a different and pure feeling (indeed I was very reluctant at buying my first DAC). By the way, what a CD collection!

PS JRiver doesn’t want to work, I’ll stick to my USB pendrive today.

Thanks for the insight!

A regular Cat5e Ethernet cable is good for up to 100m. There’s no problem using a 10m length, and you can even argue that very short lengths can cause problems in some setups. I certainly haven’t had any trouble with any of the cabls in my own LAN, which includes a couple that are 15 to 20m long.

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That’s a relief. Do you have all high quality audio ethernet cables? Or just from the streamer to the plug?

I’ve dabbled with a couple of ‘audiophile’ cables and found them to offer no significant improvement in my system, so I just use regular, certified Cat5e or Cat6 cables. I also use fibre between switches, which works well, but my motive for doing this was nothing to do with sound quality.

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Interesting, I think I’ll try different cables as soon as I have the chance. I’m curious to understand how much improvement I might have. Surely a full system with audiophile ethernet cables might cost a fortune!

I have 0,75 m vodka and 2 x 0,75 m Audioquest diamond: total: 1,5 k.
2 powerlines: same cost.

In my case I would need to use much longer cables (10 meters), that’s my problem. I wouldn’t have any concern for a 1 to 2 meter cable.

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You are right, I read some of those threads. I would be curious to experiment just for the sake of it.

However I’m lucky enough to have a simple setup: one router and no switches. I just need to care about 2 to 3 cables (one between the NDX 2 and the router, one between the router and the NAS, one between the router and the computer).

Maybe I should open “that can of worms” and change my router power adapter if things don’t turn out well enough to my ears, who knows.

The USB cable was, and is, AudioQuest Carbon 0.75 m; I have 2 of the same length, one is in use in the workstation system between the Lenovo AIO Y910-27ISH and the Wadia 151PowerDAC mini with Dali Menuet, and the other in the drawer with the HDD removed from the NDX2.

The length of the Ethernet cables is 1 m in all cases: NAS >> Router and Router >> Switch, both with AQ Cinnamon; and Switch >> NDX2 with Chord Epic Digital Streaming.

Yes, thank you, @Simon-in-Suffolk; I was thinking about the USB cable and I ate the NOT.