Upgrade to Cisco switch...do I need two

So I’ve finally decided to change from my cheap 6 way netgear switch to a Cisco (most likely a 2960)
Now at present I’m using the NDS over wifi and the core on powerline (i.e. Over mains) for data lookup but connected to the NDS via spidf cable (chord)

So the question is do I connect my router to a Cisco switch and run a cat 6 cable through to my lounge into a double box …then plug the NDS and uniticore into the double box

Do I connect the router to a Cisco switch then run a cat 6 though to another Cisco in the lounge and plug the equipment into that

Or…do a get a fibre optic Cisco and run a fibre though to another Cisco in the lounge?

Or…none of the above…and something different?
Answers on a postcard please…(or on this tread would be better)
Thanks for help from those that have been there already

You could do this two ways -

1 - 2960 in the lounge. Connect Core and NDS to 2960. Run cable from 2960 back to router.
2 - Stick the 2960 and core where the router is. Run cable to NDS in lounge.

If you’re running the cable anyway you could experiment with both options. I suspect getting rid of the wi-fi and powerline adapter and running a physical connection will sound better, even when just using the Netgear switch.


I run one cable from the router to the Cisco 2960 in the lounge. From there I connect the Naim streamer, NAS and Bubble Server.

Ok…so not necessarily better to have two switches then…and fibre optic not an advantage either?

I had a problem with wi fi drop outs in the music room, the router being in the lounge at the other end of the house.

I got rid of my Powerline Ethernet over mains plugs, and connected an Apple Extreme base station to the router, and an Airport Express on the equipment rack, operating as an extender, which is rock solid for the iPad used to control the music.

In addition, I ran an Ethernet cable from the Extreme through to a Cisco switch adjacent to the rack, and my HDX, the Airport Express and ND555 all connect to that.

It works a treat, and since Apple no longer actively support wi fi, both bits of kit are available for peanuts second hand on Fleabay.

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I’ve not played about with Fibre. You only need one 2960 in your setup.

Keep it simple :grinning:

This, definitely. :+1:

The challenge overall here is bypassing the limitations of a connecting medium and data transport that were never designed with audio quality in mind and aren’t optimised for minimising jitter and noise which in turn end up in the audio as it’s delivered from source to output device. Various manufacturers have taken different approaches to the problem including using optical transmission to reduce electrical interference or using I2S. There are also a number of designs that take standard Ethernet controllers and electrical interfaces and add filters and noise reduction circuitry much as Melco do on their streamers or AQVOX with their high spec Ethernet switch products. It’s one of those try what your budget allows and stick with what your ears approve of scenarios. You could spend £100’s on a 1m Copper Ethernet cable built to CAT 6 or even CAT 7 or CAT 8 specification however those specifications are for data transmission not audio enjoyment so whilst you’d have a cable that can happily transmit 40 Gb/s of data it won’t necessarily reduce noise or jitter issues or as is desired, make your music sound better. The Cisco switches are certainly built to a higher quality level than your average consumer grade type but they still aren’t built with audio transmission in mind. In the testing I’ve done I found the Melco source did a very good job of removing unwanted noise on the Ethernet transmission however I found the product itself clunky and lacking flexibility. I’ve also tried adding linear PSU’s to standard switches with limited benefit. Ethernet cabling over short runs is not likely to be your main source of EMI. If you have a rum of 10’s of meters then shielding and screening of the transmission pairs on the Ethernet cable will reduce noise to an extent. The filtering of noise from the power supply is another area of interest but without additional filtering on the output interfaces on the switch itself you are potentially spending a lot on a quality PSU only to find the switch itself is generating noise by design. I’ve yet to try an optimised switch such as AQVOX, as funds allow I’d like to however as this basically does what the network board on a Melco source does whilst giving flexibiltity on storage and control options. I’d also like to explore a coax feed from a Uniti Core as alternative to Ethernet. I use this today for a CD player transport and it sounds acceptable to my ears at least.

James has it spot on. No benefit of running fibre as Naim devices don’t support fibre!! Just twisted pair.

Some folks have tried using Electrical to Optical media convertors or using a pair of switches that have optical SFP interfaces to create the main link between the Internet router and audio equipment. The issue with that approach is that whilst it can reduce EMI on the link it doesn’t remove jitter and in fact can often make it worse as the signal conversion creates a timing overhead and means the reclocking at the DAC in turn has to work a little harder.

One approach you rarely see discussed is using Enterprise grade Wi-Fi access points with traffic management and airtime priority. The new Naim streamers have much better Wi-Fi radios and with a well designed Wireless LAN using meshed AP’s and wired backhaul you get a good overall solution in terms of reducing noise and jitter.

Don’t forget the common mode noise from cheap media converters… they potentially can undo the benefit of a quality switch with low jitter serial clock in the PHY layer, as well as creating common mode noise from a poor PSU in the media converter…

TPLink ones are pretty noisy and often the ones people find and try out! Unless you spend quite a lot, in the region of £400-500 on an optimised switch or a source like the Melco you’re at best reducing the issues of concern namely EMI noise and jitter by a small percentage and maybe not enough to hear improvement. Given that your system overall is probably a significant financial investment, buying an Ethernet switch that costs about the same as a new Powerline mains cord isn’t too big an investment given the potential gains. I’d certainly advise caution on the more exotic Ethernet cables which can run to many hundreds of Pounds. I’ve loaned and borrowed a few and not felt the improvements (if any in some cases) warranted their cost.

Thank you all for your input
The run of cat 6 or fibre would be about 40m by the time I have managed to hide it away…that’s why I thought I might need two fibre optic enabled Cisco switches at each end to keep RFI and noise at bay…
But if there are other issues that I don’t know about…like jitter …then I will keep it simple and buy one Cisco 2960 and put it near the NDS and core …and feed it with one run of copper direct from my sky hub in the other room
I’m happy to spend a few hundred if needed to get a reasonable improvement over the current lash-up

Simon…I appreciate naim don’t support fibre…but two switches connected will…

The whole point of using these switches is for the improved Cat termination and higher quality physical layer serial clock. Therefore the main benefit of using these switches unless you are using some of their specific functionality such as an IGMP querier etc is for connection to your streamer.
Having a fibre run between two SFP fibre adapters is if you need a distance longer than 100m, or you need to pass through a very electrically noisy environment over some length.
Really less is more with reliability, so a single switch (combined core and edge) is preferable for a small network.

For a very much larger network you might have two core switches connecting to an edge switch for each floor of your house or room where there are lots of connected devices etc…

The Cisco Catalyst switches tend to be low to very low on RFI when using the AM radio test…

Despite that best keep the switch as in all network equipment away from your audio equipment… and using longer lengths of Cat5e/6 (Cat6 likely to be longer than Cat5e due to wiring size) cable to connect to your streamer is advantageous to reduce serial line switching noise due to line attenuation.

Additionally fibre needs distance as well as there are minimum lengths that are reliable typically. You may need to use an optical attenuators if using a short run of fibre. If using fibre I strongly advise checking physical and link layer stats from the switches to confirm reliable transmission,

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Is there any preference for using Cat5, cat6 or cat7 for these purposes?

I use all Cat5e. More engaging and natural than 6 or 7.

NB shielded cables may induce earth loops.

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You shouldn’t really touch Cat 5 as it’s mostly obsolete. You should use Cat 5e or Cat 6… really pretty similar in price and for our uses effectively the same.

Cat 6A is stiffer, think NACA5 (almost) and is really designed for infrastructure.

Cat 7 is the odd one out… it’s not formally recognised as suitable for Ethernet in all areas, and has a specification that is not appropriate for our Ethernet uses. It does seem to be targeted at consumers though… where higher numbers are often perceived as ‘better’

So to your question… general wiring then Cat5e or Cat 6. If wiring up a new building then Cat 6A.
The Cat 5e and Cat 6 are good for 1Gbps at 100 metres.

I’d agree with the comments regarding longer lengths. A bit of spare time over Easter meant i could do a bit of experimentation and moving around of equipment after reading some comments by Simon in another thread. My 2960 and Nucleus have now moved from the Hi-Fi rack and now sit in the Study with my Wireless router and feed my streamer via 30m of Cat5e. This also allowed me to run another 20m length of Cat5e up to an upstairs room for my headphone system so both systems now benefit from using the 2960. Results are very positive and i’d recommend trying a longer length of cable if you can. As ever mileage will vary and some will prefer shorter lengths but it’s certainly worth trying.

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Thanks again everyone…that’s settled then…a Cisco switch near the router …move the uniticore into the same room and connect …then a long run of cat6 through to the NDS … I’ll see if that has a beneficial effect on sound