Time For Naim To Take Home Networking Seriously?

When I say Home Networking I am specifically referring to the link between a domestic (ISP?) router and a Naim Streamer, but as all a home’s (noisy?) networked devices (computers, tablets, Sky boxes, gaming, printers etc) will ‘hang’ of this link, hopefully closer to the router, be it wired or WiFi, the entire Home Network comes under the spotlight. To keep things simple though, let’s initially concentrate on that chain between the router and streamer.

Going up the Naim streaming ladder, I have learned that, let’s call it a ‘sub-optimal’ router/streamer hook up, can considerably constrain the ultimate capability of Naim streamers. The devices and Ethernet/streaming cables used to complete this linkage, switch(es), servers, NAS’s (when used as music servers) and the cables that link them can and do have a significant impact on SQ, or noise-shaping, as others have referred to this phenomenon. Furthermore, high spend on these items is far from a guarantee of success, as I have found recently swapping out posh streaming cables for far cheaper alternatives producing a far more satisfying result in terms of SQ.

Decades ago Naim developed a whole suite of analogue cables when it became evident these made a significant difference to SQ, and that development has continued with PowerLines and SuperLumina. However there has been no such development, or even recommendations, when it comes to the cables and devices that link our routers to our streamers.

Now I realise that, to some extent, the resulting SQ offered by, say a specific switch or streaming cable, is somewhat of a lottery as the effect these have on SQ is often as result of other components in the chain and the ‘environment’ in which they are used. Having said this there does seem to be some consensus emerging over those streaming cables and devices that are most likely to have a beneficial effect on SQ. For example most of us who have tried BJC or CatSnake 6a Ethernet cables seem to hold them in high regard. The pre-loved Cisco 2960 switches have been appreciated by more that those who do not. Indeed the EtherRegen and Chord EE 8Switch also seem to offer great promise. In the context of an expensive Naim streaming system, these are not expensive items.

Now I can understand that Naim might not want to invest in developing streaming cables, switches and high-end servers, and that this whole area is somewhat of a ‘can of worms’ Naim may not wish to open. It is also not good business sense to be seen to ‘complicate’ the whole arena of music streaming. But all I am simply suggesting is that Naim could at least carry out some trials at HQ, and consolidate feedback from dealers and the forum to inform themselves about devices (switches, streaming cables, network arrangements) that tend to have the biggest positive impact on SQ, and to share that learning with their customers and the entire dealer network (some dealers are more active in this area than others).

Dives for cover!


An excellent idea, or simply a series of diagrams to help those new to streaming etc. would be very helpful.


I suppose the difference with interconnects and power cables is that Naim have control over the entire ecosystem but not so with home networking. The majority of home networks have at their heart a cheap piece of junk router supplied by the ISP and even if Naim developed or endorsed a particular router some ISPs specifically forbid the use of 3rd party routers.

I’d agree it would be good (as Chris mentions above) for Naim to provide some guidelines on establishing a stable, reliable audio network (as Linn used to do) to ensure that their Streaming devices work as intended. How many times are there posts on here with issues that turn out to be non optimal network setups (ie use of Powerline network devices etc) causing drop outs or other problems.

As most of these threads show, there are so many variables involved, not only in the actual physical and electrical environment the system sits in but system configuration and listener preferences all play a part too. What works for one person may not for work for another.

I would suggest it would be difficult for Naim to recommend a set of components and cables that would work for all.

Sensible audio network advice should be presented - The use of a separate switch for the audio components (rather than the switch in the ISP supplied router) and well specced unscreened Ethernet cables should be in the guidelines. Sensible guidelines that are going to steer people in the right direction, not put them off and make them worry that their system will sound broken if normal off the shelf switches and cables are used.

For those that want to go further there are plenty of switch options and cables at all prices - i couldn’t see HQ recommending options here…

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I totally agree with the thread title. There are two things that immmediately spring to mind:

*update the networking/wifi elements of their products to a level that at least approaches the capability of a cheap laptop

*ensure all their dealers are competent at demonstrating and supporting/installing Naim network products and cull all dealers unable to achieve this

Those two steps would make buying a Naim networked product less of a lottery - the Forum might go a bit quiet though…

Any insights into what cables / switches Naim use for demos or, better still, what the networking layout is in the new listening room at Salisbury?

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I’ve said it before garbage in Garbage out, streaming devices totally miss their source first approach, the router to streamer brings major gains or can strangle a top end system.

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There are plenty of people who don’t think this makes a difference at all; it would be good if Naim did say something on the matter (maybe they already have and I’ve not been paying attention) to help people who are understandably confused on the matter.

I’m waiting to get under my floorboards to fit my newly acquired CatSnake 6a and hook it up to my newly acquired 2960 to form my own opinion. I guess if I don’t think it makes a difference then perhaps I’ve bought CatSnakeoil 6a!

What sticks in my memory is a particular Naim guy ( long gone ) boasting how in a short time he sorted out a dealer buying a cheap switch or router reconfigured. The whole shop including Linn now worked…my take out , if a dealer cannot buy IT support…what for the rest of us.
I think we have since moved on with help from our technical forum folk like Simon etc but the home system of each of us is complex and we end up experimenting.
Perhaps a minimum rather than optimum advice from Naim would help those starting out. For me , probably too late…down the rabbit hole…no bunny yet😁

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We don’t know that they aren’t trying out things, what goes on behind closed doors and in the R&D department who knows.

I discussed this with Naim a couple of years back. The bottom line they felt globally there were just simply too many variables, so being objective for regular consumers was rather impractical. The approach was to aim to decouple from network effects as far as possible, and the latest streamers took a big step in this direction, but common mode noise along mains leads, interconnects, automation leads and Ethernet leads may well be audible, albeit it is not much to do with the underlying signal (mains, signal, Ethernet etc)
Ultimately this is like tweaking the mains supply … short of it not being present or faulty there are simply too many variables and shades of subjectivity.


That makes sense, however although the latest Naim streamers are more bullet proof re network effects, I have proven to myself what a huge difference the simple substitution of a couple of streaming cables (expensive for relatively cheap cables actually) has on SQ (or favourable noise shaping if you prefer) with one of the new generation Naim streamers.

You mention tweaking mains supply. Well Naim actually offer advice here on how to install a dedicated mains supply, but not a jot on how to optimise the link between router and streamer.

I suspect there are many Naim streaming systems out there that are simply not delivering to their potential for the want of some simple advice, either from Naim or a switched on dealer, regarding easy ways of optimising a streaming network.

These effects and potential benefits do vary by system and operating environment, but there do seem to be some (mostly) universal truths emerging, mostly the result of much user and dealer trial end error (others call it suck it and see). Surely those inexperienced in music streaming in the home could (should) be offered some advice or short-cuts on getting the very best from their Naim streamers.


Totally agree. I think the time has come or is fast approaching for a company like Naim to weigh in on this topic, either way. Streaming sources are now a large percentage. I do wonder how they have set up the new audio room at the headquarters regarding networking.

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True, I guess one concession is a Naim Ethernet lead… it’s nothing really to do with networking or home networks, but will influence RF loading to the streamer… and as you say different cables with slightly different RF characteristics will sound different. After all Naim provide a spdif, interconnect and mains leads. Interesting,yo they don’t provide an automation lead, which is some respects has similarities with an Ethernet lead.

Internal networking around the factory uses switch devices such as watchguard fireboxes (though not exclusively). WiFi is pretty much all ruckus. Multiple vlans, of which the dem room has its own iirc. Cabling nothing fancy internally. Not sure on the component to wallplate patch cables in use.

I am not sure WatchGuard Fireboxes would be very relevant for most home users.
Robert, intrigued why Naim use them internally for switching to the access layer when they are essentially a perimeter or security domain guard IDS and IPS firewall. Curious at what threats Naim require these devices to act as a control for if distributed internally as access switches. Also I wonder if they will able to inspect TLS1.3… that is a lot more involved when it can be done and often it can’t, and reflects the changing views of network security to user authorisation, and being less reliant on perimeter protection.
Still surprised Fireboxes are used as access layer switches…

Anyway these devices are going to be almost certainly quite a bit removed from so called ‘audiophile’ switches which if they are being used as access switches, which if the case I think is quite telling.

I don’t agree with this. There are lots of us who are more than comfortable with installing our own kit and sorting our home network to do what we need it to do, and the idea of losing another already thin-on-the-ground audio outlet doesn’t strike me as a step in the right direction.

On the basis that all four streamers that I’ve owned (1 x CA Stream Magic, the rest Naim products) have all worked almost flawlessly out of the box and any problems have been resolved by power cycling the network devices in a logical order suggests that it isn’t a massive problem.

If they want to provide their own in-house or branded CAT5/6/?? cable that’s fine.

While you’re waiting, why not plug it in and warm it up?

My nearest dealer was incapable of updating the firmware on my Uniti when it first came out - I ended up doing it myself. Several years later I went with a friend who was impressed with my Uniti to listen to a Uniti 2 at a pre booked demo with same dealer. When we arrived on time the system wasn’t set up and we were sent away for an hour. When we returned the salesman couldn’t connect to the shop network - he had not a clue and when I asked him for the password so I could help by logging in to the router he didn’t even know there was a router… or a password. Luckily I had a usb stick with demo tracks with me or there would have been wasted journeys for both of us. I reported this dealer to Naim but they weren’t bothered.
I am capable of setting up my own kit and indeed I have but I shouldn’t have to install an upgraded network so that my Muso could stream internet radio in the same location that my cheap laptop could already stream HD video. The dealer in question has been a Naim dealer for decades and is great at servicing and upgrading LP12s but really shouldn’t be allowed to sell network products until all staff have had appropriate training. This Streaming Forum is full of threads from people with problems that they never should have had if their dealer was doing their job and Naim networked products weren’t so damn fussy!


I certainly see a difference across the dealer network of firstly basic IT/Networking skills and secondly experience/knowledge/expertise in the finer points of optimising the link between router and streamer. A few even have a selection of network devices (switches, streaming cables, servers) with a selection of power supplies to power them, to get the very best from Naim streamers, but these dealers are few and far between.

There has of course been a sizemic shift in the dominant source in our systems when we moved (almost entirely) from CD to streaming. IMV, Naim have done a great job in the development of some of the best streamers in the world at their price points. However dealers need a whole new raft of skillsets to properly support the demonstration, installation and problem-solving related to streaming systems. Additionally dealers should ideally be able to offer the their customers advice (and products) to optimise streaming home installations.

With CD based systems, most of us could get away with a basic knowledge of setting up separates and the dealers were always able to help out when needed as the ‘techie skills’ required were not too onerous. Not so with streaming. Far more of us are out of our depth, certainly on a number of technical aspects. Some of us users (a minority I would suggest) will have all the technical expertise needed and some of us will have a little knowledge and have a punt at optimising our streaming set-ups, others will be entirely clueless.

So I believe there is a certain amount of catching up to do before the dealer network is fully conversant with how to optimally install and support streaming systems, and that will require a significant training program for Naim with their dealer network. Some dealers are already there and are possibly ahead of Naim when it comes to installing and optimising Naim streaming systems in the home. Other dealers are way behind from what I (and pev999) have observed.

There will of course be some dealers who will lack the resources and will to take on such a shift in technical expertise, so there may need to be a ‘hierarchy’ of dealers based on their technical competence when it comes to installing, optimising and supporting Naim streamers and their associated links back to the router.

I realise this is a controversial view but I can only say it as I have experienced it. Currently, I would only go to certain dealers to sort my streaming issues out and to seek recommendations for improvements/upgrades to not only Naim streaming hardware, but to the ethernet chain (switches, streaming cables, servers) that feeds them, which in most cases, Naim do not supply. The need to be so selective with dealers I trust with streaming expertise can entail significant journeys for demos etc.

I have just experienced a significant up-lift in SQ by the simple substitution of two streaming cables, a very low-cost upgrade. This wasn’t just a change in presentation, it was a real SQ improvement and cost buttons, relatively. I got this tip from the forum but in reality I should be able to phone my local Naim dealer for such advice.

If such an ‘upgrade’ involves the installation of a device or cable that Naim does not provide, it is still good for the Naim brand image. After all, when we hear an improvement in SQ form say a cable or a switch in the link between router and streamer, we tend to perceive this as the streamer moving towards fulfilling its full potential, and so Naim get an image boost. So it is all good.