Streaming perfection? What is the theoretical answer?

Much of the discussions about sound quality are in reality about how to overcome practical issues, interference, noise, hums, insufficient bandwidth, noise on the line what have you.

So I wonder regarding the nd555 streamer, and IF the in-house wifi signal is perfect (fiber like), then what would be the “best” streaming option…

In other words, WHEN wifi is “perfect”, then streaming locally through wifi could even better an ethernet connection, because it doesn’t require a physical connection and all the different “noises” that can go with it?

Separately my own opinion based on my listening is that even when home wifi is perfect, remote streaming of Qobuz/Tidal is of a lesser quality than local streaming, because probably of all the restrictions in the data flow from the Qobuz/Tidal servers for the data to make their way to the home router?
What are your thoughts?

NB.
I have a fiber internet connection

There are multiple schools of thought in this.

Some say Ethernet RJ45 connection trumps Ethernet WiFi because RJ45 can allow the wireless input to be disabled, reducing potential noise from it. And that home WiFi is usually poor quality which introduces poor quality of service and jitter on to the stream.

Some say Ethernet WiFi is better because RJ45 connects the streamer through another potentially attenuating long cable to a noisy network device usually powered via a noisy switching power supply.

Both camps can mitigate each set of potential drawbacks. The RJ45 Ethernet camp buys expensive Ethernet cables, specific enterprise grade switches and better quality power supplies. The Ethernet WiFi camp invests in Mesh-WiFi technology.

As for me, I use Mesh-WiFi. I feed my NDX2 over Ethernet WiFi (It’s NP800 board includes support for 802.11AC). I only use Qobuz direct and happily use their hires content. It sounds great, I never get drop outs and the music sounds lifelike.

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Don’t forget that the specific mastering of the CD can be one of the biggest influencing factors on the audio quality and since you don’t know which master the streaming service is using you can’t be sure that you’re comparing like with like when switching between Tidal and a locally streamed copy of the same album.

Hi, I agree so let me make clear my question is in case of identical masters. I want to remove all the “exceptions” and look at an “ideal” response based on the nd555 capability only if fed from a “perfect” local network. from the exact same masters

Well it has already been established what the answer is.

The answer is…

The answer is…

You’re really not going to like it…

The answer is…
42!

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Same here with mesh wifi. I’m so surprised at how good the sound is with the nd555 streaming wirelessly from a small AK240 used as a upnp server through AK connect that I am starting to doubt the conventional idea that the ethernet cable is better.
A same file purchased on qobuz and transferred on the AK240, then streamed to the nd555 sounds better to me than directly streaming the same file from Qobuz.
I have an internet fiber connection so more than enough to feed the nd555 at any moment

You are right this is a quest…Let’s not get lost on the way. But if we can just go one little step further on the path…that would be great.

Topics like this have the potential to run and run!
@marka sums it up rather well I feel. If you look at the overall design of the current ND range, they’ve been built to encompass the great unknown of an owners LAN environment.
It’s why other forum members have spent many loops on evaluating various switches, cables, power supplies, standing on chairs holding a bent coat hanger and you name it experiments in the pursuit of some consistent improvements in their listening experience!
I’d also refer back to @Simon-in-Suffolk, a veritable oracle of knowledge regards all things Ethernet, who approaches these topics with a somewhat more scientific methodology and has on many occasions cohesively bottomed out the actual details behind what is happening as the audio moves between A to B and the influences upon the signal path on its journey.
I also took a path of least resistance to achieving connectivity between my own ND5 XS 2 (modest by comparison but based on the same streaming subsystem) and the various sources available to it, both local and on the Public Internet.
I’m lucky enough to work for a device manufacturer supplying equipment to Enterprise and service providers and as such I’ve setup and installed equipment in my home usually used in hospitals or sports stadiums.
I’ve got a dedicated router, a dedicated Ethernet Switch and beyond that a mesh of Wi-Fi Access Points with a physical radio on each floor of a 3 floor house. I’ve not used anything exotic beyond that, the cabling is stuff used by Operators in their data centres and backbone (also from work, luckily) I have gone to some lengths to manage the data on my network and give priority to the ND device but this is all done using standard practices and equipment that anyone can buy albeit at a premium to your stock kit as supplied by an ISP or a local Electrical retailer.
I don’t have wired Ethernet in my listening room, I could have done cable runs but the thought of drilling holes and plumbing it all in when I had a very robust Wi-Fi solution meant I just used the Wi-Fi radio on my ND5 and I can’t recall an occasion when it didn’t work and work well.
I’ve not got overly analytical about if it’s the optimal or not, I think as others have implied here there’s a good solution whichever route you take, it’s just that Ethernet is somewhat easier to quantify than Wi-Fi is and perhaps why many users end up with that solution. I’m sure if I had everything in one room I’d wire it up and give it a spin but if your wallet allows you, it’s easy to spend 1000’s on switches and cables and power supplies and ultimately still not get anything any better than what is possible with a well thought through Wi-FI LAN and some traffic management.

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The Ethernet Cables and Switch Mania thread has slowed right down now, whether because of the sheer complexity causing people to take a break, or because all those with something to contribute have done so and are now awaiting new developments, or simply flagging interest. But it has highlighted the complexity of the permutations of possible cables, switches, switch power supplies, streamers, DACs other network factors, differing electrical environments, differing ears, and even changing perceptions.

The question is: does wifi simply introduce a different set of variables to replace the ethernet part, or is it simply(!) a matter of the radio connection being good enough for reliable uninterrupted data flow of adequate speed? If the latter, then a focus on the requisite componentry to set up effectively in a house may be easier and cheaper than the shenanigans demonstrated in that other thread…

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My view is that many of these permutations are moot. Sure one can shape the noise slightly by setting up your electrical environment differently but I am not sure it is that if at all deterministic and may well vary from person to person/deployment to deployment.
I have found decoupling my DAC from my streamer transport processor (NDX2) I have isolated myself from just about all of these subtitles - and can now simply enjoy the music and as such I listen to my recordings rather than the system.
I do wonder if some get obsessed about subtle changes - I am sure my speakers perform slightly differently based on barometric pressure and room temperature - but in the end it largely becomes irrelevant if your system is enjoyable enough.

For the record I use two use Cats - a 2960 feeding a 3560 into my streamer from my router switch port. This is simply how it has been for a while and I have not arrived at this point of using two Cats as a SQ benefit but simply as a consequence of my home network topology.

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I’m a telecoms engineer by day with decades of hands on experience so had something of a head start and agree that the thread you refer to exposes the complexities and uncertainties when you bring these worlds together in to one place and try and make it work well enough for everyone. There’s no real conclusion to those sort of discussions, even a scientific and methodical approach will produce different results for different ears.
Unlike vinyl or even CD as a storage and reproduction system, Ethernet and IP networking isn’t by definition designed with audio reproduction as a specific use case. This is about adding functionality and supporting customer demands for new features like streaming from an Internet based content library in a generic and scalable way. The same played out when Naim and other Hi-FI equipment manufacturers began leveraging available technology to support ripping and storage of increasingly large CD libraries into a digital archive that freed up listening room space and allowed customers to focus on the music and not rummaging through a bookshelf full of jewel cases. I’m sure if you dig back in to the archives here on the forum there’ll be many threads about how ripping was the stuff of black magic and that a CD transport was the “purest” playback method!

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@Simon-in-Suffolk may have the ultimate conclusion here it seems, you just need 2 cats, black ideally!

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Yes it does and is environment dependent and network equipment dependent to a degree, the conclusion there would be to try it and see, I had the LAN infrastructure already done and in place as both myself and my partner work at home extensively and in my case I just got the best kit I could via work, I just made some minor adjustments to it to manage the traffic accordingly, nothing special going on there.
If Naim felt that adding a Wi-Fi radio was going to get in the way of our enjoyment of the product I expect they’d have left it out completely, at least on the ND555, same applies for Bluetooth, which in both cases, I’m sure a number of owners never use either hardware feature. However in an attempt to make a product portfolio that has a comprehensive feature set both in hardware and software, to remain appealing and relevant in this competitive landscape, those things are included to make the products work well across a range of usecases and listening environments.
I can certainly say that in my own experience of listening to my ND product exclusively over a Wi-Fi connection I’ve never sat there feeling I was missing something or wanting to return it to my dealer!
@Simon-in-Suffolk raises an additional very valid point which is that in separating out the streaming/transport from the DAC you can refine the listening experience in another way and in a sense that may well be the area to focus on in terms of determining the absolutely best end result in terms of streaming and decoding.
If however like me you’re ok with what your ND is doing with it’s own DAC then you’ll probably have all you need already, your ears and wallet are your guide!

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Hi Simon, thanks for your comments. Can you please expand on the “cats” part of your setup, not sure I fully understand? Thanks!

Cisco Catalyst switches, specifically a 2960 and 3560.

@Nestor_Burma If it helps I’m using a Ruckus ICX-7150 Ethernet Switch and a separate Ruckus ZoneDirector to look after the Wi-Fi segment of the LAN specifically. I’ve also got a Layer 3 build on the ICX to handle some specific services and help keep the traffic isolated where required, not just audio but other work related aspects factored for also. I’ve got a mix of 802.11ac and 802.11ax Access Points which do change and get moved a bit as I fiddle about with them doing other work related stuff. Complete overkill for a residential setting but it works fairly well for everything that’s thrown at it!

Now having the nd555 connected to my wifi (which is very good) I experience the following which maybe someone can help me understand…When I set up the connection and listen, then everything is as good as it gets; but the day after or 2 days after when I want to listen again then I have dropouts…and if I reset the connection (basically by turning off and on my extender), then the “fresh” connection with the nd555 is again perfect
—> does anyone experience the same? It is as if the connection between the wifi and the nd555 deteriorates if not used after a few hours? And if you have this issue, is there another simpler way to “refresh” the connection through the naim software rather than turning router off/on?

If you are using Wi-fi as your network feed, you really should remove the extender… they can be a real compromise and can move into modes of operation where they are really inefficient and will cause limited throughputs on your WLAN
You should use ideally an Ethernet connected wireless access point with good signal quality and strength to your streamer, or use a Home Mesh type product with good signal quality to your streamer. Both of these options, especially the first should provide a rock solid reliable Wi-fi solution day after day.

Hi Simon,ok. To be precise I just looked it up and what I have is a Netgear AC2 200 Nighthawk X4 Wifi Mesh extender. It really is working well I believe. But with the issue I was mentioning.

An extender is not a mesh… they are two different things, so might be a consumer marketing use of the word ‘mesh’ which is not helpful.
Check in the blurb that the router Wi-fi is EasyMesh certified or less likely conformant with 802.11s.
If it’s silent on either of these I would not use its ‘extender’ wirelessly if you need reliable Wi-fi throughput. You won’t know how well or badly it’s working without using specific tools, or you experience the issues you describe on non elastic data transfers. By the way the ND555 works, especially with UPnP, the throughput has to be very bad or intermittent to get dropouts.

If it is EasyMesh certified, move the mesh node(s) closer to your streamer.

As a temporary check, can you Ethernet connect your ‘extender’ instead of connect wirelessly back to the router to see if things improve…?