To Switch Or Not To Switch

Just moved my Atom and NAS ethernet connections from a Dlink switch to a direct connection on my Linksys router, bypassing the switch all together.
I have to say, I’m surprised at the improvement. I didnt expect to notice any difference.
Has anyone else found the same?

It will entirely depend on your home network devices. If your connecting switch was injecting a lot of electrical noise into the connected Ethernet links, you will clearly hear an improvement removing the noise source! Again the radio test can help confirm that…

Best to use use quality network components if you can with published commercial noise compliance specifications…these most likely will be better behaved with respect to electro magnetic interference compared to basic/cheap consumer home devices… hence why you see some talk about the benefits of Cisco Catalyst switches like the small 2960s

I’ve got a fairly cheap Netgear switch that handles the tv, but vision, blue ray hanging off the router with the router linked directly to my zen mini and nova only.

I dont need another switch just yet, I have a couple of spare sockets but I will keep your recommendation in mind should the need arise. Any other recommendations besides the Cisco?

It’s only the Cisco Catalysts I have experienced a positive benefit, such as the 2960 and the 3560 series.

I’m amazed that not everyone here on the forum knows about the :small_blue_diamond:Cisco WS-C2960-8TC-L ability to improve the soundquality.
It has been written thousands of posts about this Cisco-switch the last 2.5 years.

Below a post by Marcus…


Sorry for the late feedback but finally I managed to test a Cisco 2960 in my system.
I’ve had a 2 week vacation and it also took a week to take delivery of the switch after ordering.
Okay, so does a switch improve SQ in my system?

Yes it does! Thank you Simon and the rest of you that suggested the Cisco 2960 .

I’ve compared “no switch” vs Netgear GS105 vs Cisco-switch.
With “no switch” as baseline I get an audible improvement by adding the Netgear switch “between” wall outlet and my Melco NAS.
When exchanging the Netgear switch for the Cisco the improvement is twice as big (at least).
The connection is from wall outlet: cheap “freebee” Ethernet cable from wall outlet to Cisco switch, cheap “freebee” Ethernet cable from Cisco switch to Melco NAS and finally Chord Sarum SA from Melco NAS to my Naim streamer.

I also tried to connect the switch earlier in the signal chain, after my Router but before the cable in the wall leading up to the wall outlet next to my system.
Here I can also hear an improvement but I would say it’s something like half the improvement compared to the switch connected closer to my system.

So the conclusion is that I “need” the Cisco switch and it needs to be connected close before my Melco NAS.
The idea now is to have a 3m long cable from wall outlet to switch, 1m cable from switch to Melco NAS and 1m cable from Melco to Naim streamer.
I will hide the switch underneath the brawn-stack in my setup.

I have also made a few tests with Ethernet cables.
Starting with cheap “freebee” Ethernet cables in all three positions I have tried to insert my Sarum SA in the different locations.
The last meter (between Melco and ND555) is by far the most important location to my ears but I can also hear improvements in the other two locations where switch to Melco is the second most important location.

Adding the Sarum SA between the wall outlet and switch also improves the SQ but less so compared to the other positions. No real surprise there…
Next step should be to borrow a couple of Ethernet cables from my dealer and experiment a little more.

Will I get an improvement when using cables of a little bit better quality (instead of cheap “freebee” Ethernet cable) in all three positions simultaneously?


You choose,…This great upgrade in sound-quality for only € 50-70.



Getting back to the thread topic, i.e. the OP raym55 found his system sounds better without a switch.
I tried that a few years ago & found it was better with a switch.
But whatever I really don’t want a bunch of visible cables running up to the router & am happy they are all hidden along with the switch with just one semi-visible cable to the router.


I have tried several switches and the best is …

No difference in sound quality that I could hear. Lowest noise using AM radio test was from an old 100 Mb/s HP switch. I have a Cisco switch, which was nearly as good. My TP-Link switch wasn’t too bad either. I like the new NetGear switches because you can turn off the annoying lights that plague Ethernet. Flashing lights they burn my eyes They are only around £20 new for 8 ports too.

I agree totally that RFI is not nice (almost as bad as transformers that buzz). There is nothing wrong with Cisco or Juniper switches that many companies use, but huge leap in sound quality? Oh well … maybe I’m the only one who can’t hear it.

I would definitely avoid expensive audiophile network cables - I don’t call them Ethernet cables because they are not good enough to earn that title as Advertising Standards has pointed out. You can buy fully qualified Ethernet cable from Cable Monkey (BT Connectix) for 50 pence a metre, a bit more if you want patch leads. Or if you prefer you can buy from Blue Jeans Cables and get a Fluke test certificate with your cable. On BJC web site you can find links to test reports on audiophile nonsense that let the CAT out the bag.

Or if you want buy a TCXO audiophile switch with its linear power supply, dual rail parallel output, hand crafted rectifiers and super fast diode. Not to mention 24 karat gold circuit trace and zero ground circuitry. It has 2oz of copper and ultra low jitter of under 1 picosecond RMS. Surely £1,500 well spent … [I’m not making this up, do a DuckDuckGo search or use that Google thingy if you must]

You see I really have to tell you
That it all gets so intense
From my experience
It just doesn’t seem to make sense

It is entirely your choice, but FWIW I think changing your speakers or applying some DSP will make more difference than changing your router or switch.

I use switches as it means less long wires - I would have gone wireless, but couldn’t find any fora discussing audiophile air. Though since I installed my air purifier I swear my system sounds better (it does I did a tune demo so it must be true).


Yes with things like Ethernet switches there are at least two considerations. There is EM noise from powersupplies and less than optimally designed circuitry… and this noise can couple into connected Ethernet patch leads… here the radio test can be a good guide.
There is then also the NIC design and the physical clock stability. The former helps retain the balanced nature of the twisted pairs and help minimise EM from the PCB, and the latter helps the reduction of inter modulation artefacts from the physical serial data clock… this can couple into streamers if directly connected.
It is these last two items that a good switch design will address and why it may ‘sound’ better. The powersupply or SMPS that some seem to solely focus on can be a bit of a side show.


@Peder. Thanks for your response. I’m sure there are many posts about switches and ethernet in general but until we have access to the old forum posts …

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I’m about to buy a Cisco Catalyst WS-C2960-8TC-L-R switch from for £48.
So I’ll have an ethernet cable from the PlusNet router to the Cisco, and then another ethernet cable from the Cisco into the 272?
Then either leave my other kit (TV, Humax STB, PV data unit) plugged into the router or move it to the Cisco?

Before I buy this, I was wondering whether there’s some other type of switch that would achieve even better improvements in SQ by using an optical link between the switch and the 272?

What you propose sounds great. I have a similar setup with a BT Hub and a Cisco 8 port switch under the Telly. :blush:
I have the Telly and STB plugged into the Cisco as well as my ND5XS. I doubt it causes any SQ issues.

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Or they have a Cisco Catalyst WS-C3750V2-24PS-S-R for £60…?
Will a Cisco switch come with a PSU? And will that need upgrading?

I keep the other stuff off my Cisco 2960. I can use WiFi to the Humax and Apple TV. The TV stays on the hub as does the NAS.

There is lots on the old forum about optical largely concluding with don’t bother unless you need to deal with big distances.



Thanks - I’ll try it both ways and see whether it makes a difference.
And should I make a long ethernet link from the Router to the Cisco then a short ethernet link to the 272? Or make a short link to the Cisco then and long link to the 272? (The total distance from the router to the 272 is 5m, which runs past the TV, speakers, STBs).

Good - thanks Phil - that makes sense as it’s one less conversion of the signal stream.
I’m planning to order a couple of Blue Jean ethernet cables too, to compare with the really cheap stuff I am using at the moment.

The 272 doesn’t have a suitable input for this. Such a thing could certainly be done if Naim saw a benefit to it. In fact, Sonore have just released their opticalRendu which can use an optical network connection should you wish. For a Naim streamer, though, you would need to convert optical back to copper Ethernet.
(Optical SPDIF, aka Toslink, is a different thing altogether.)

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Ah, yes - I was thinking of somehow converting to use the optical SPDIF inputs on the 272, to reduce interference…
The Toslink cable that runs from my Samsung TV to the 272 is the only one that I allow to touch other power and satellite cables - as I think that it does not conduct any signals or is not effected by touching those other cables - or is it??

I do not want to have my switch near my boxes, but I would think 1-2m cable keeps it far enough away.


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The 24 port version comes with fan that runs continuously. Power supply is built in so all you need is a kettle lead.