Where to focus Ethernet cable spend

With our new system pending we are starting to think about networking again.

There are posters on these forums who have said they can’t hear any difference adding switches/cables when using NDX2 as a transport only. That will be our starting point BT Hub - Melco C1AE - NDX2.

However if we did decide to retain/upgrade our switch is it imperative to have upgraded Ethernet cable between all devices or just on the “last leg” into streamer?

i.e. would we expect any difference between options 1 and 2 if we were trialling Vodka…

  1. BT Hub - Melco C1AE - Cisco 2960 - Audioquest Vodka - NDX2
  2. BT Hub - Audioquest Vodka - Cisco 2960 - Audioquest Vodka - NDX2

If we decide additional switch improves SQ we might swap Cisco for EE8 and investigate Diamond.

If you have a switch I assume you also have a NAS of some sort, what is it & the ethernet its connected to.

That aside I believe the forum consensus is the cable into the source (NDX2) has the most change/effect on SQ.

Yes Synology NAS currently Melco C1AE into Cisco.

This would then move to a BT Hub connection to start with.

We are hoping no fancy switch/cables needed when NDX2 used as transport. Expect any noise/other issues at NDX2 ethernet port to be dealt with by the device before an electrically isolated S/PDIF sends nice clean signal to nDAC!

If we listen and switch/cable does make a SQ difference I guess we’d be wondering if Synology to switch needs a fancy cable too.

OK understand. I’m a non-believer in fancy ‘boutique’ priced cables, I’ve tried a few of the then forum favourites & concluded a properly installed, correctly designed & made to spec cable is all you need.
A lot of the testing/experimenting I did was a group affair with friends & different streamer brands. It proved to be very inconclusive, but we did conclude that a change heard on a Naim did not necessarily carry over to a Linn or other brand & cost of cable is not indicative of performance.
Best trust your own ears on your system.

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Before thinking of retaining/upgrading cables I’d suggest to borrow an Ethernet cable tester and check all legs in your network with it. If this device shows green light, you will not benefit of any upgrade except the visual addend.
Any cable that is measured green using thing tester will give the same digital data. There is no streamer, that plays directly frow the cable - all streamers in the world have a buffer inside which is used for playing. So, if the digital data are the same, the buffer will send to the DAC the very same bits regardles of the cable attached.
One more thing - measure the noise level when you are connecting to the router as any router can impact on your electronics.
And the last - check if you have a proper mains and grounding, measure somehow if you can. Naim electronics are sensitive to these things.

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Kind of where our heads are at. Can see why a switch might make a difference on some devices due to electrically injected noise (and you can hear difference on a 272) but a cable shipping bits is just a cable, right? :laughing:

The NDX2 will buffer network data before sending out to nDAC which will again buffer and reclock. Hopefully this renders the “feed” of very low importance and a standard BT Hub and decent cable will suffice.

Reading old threads the newer naim devices aren’t supposed to be susceptible to ethernet noise in same way earlier gen1 devices like our 272 were. Hence our initial move back to hub - existing Melco cable - NDX2.

Our choice of Melco cable wasn’t scientific. It’s a nice black braided cable with good quality plugs and was cheapish with good reviews. We might have been as well going down Asda and picking up their £9.99 5m offering who knows.

Just experiment. You can get demo cables and switches. I don’t have your gear so have no idea how any of it would work or make a difference to you if any. But I was very surprised by some of the diferences in my own system (not all of them pleasant, either).

But to answer your question: everyone is pretty much agreed to my knowledge that the last cable - in your case Melco to NDX2 - is the one likely to make the biggest difference.

We have two 8 port Cisco switches available (2960, SG unmanaged) and some el cheapo cables as well as several Melco to hand. Seems easy to get cables on sale or return.

Intend to repeat the same experiment we did with 272. Cable directly from hub then add switch. Listening tests on 272 showed improvement doing this.

With the stated improvements to gen2 device ethernet card and the fact we’re using NDX2 as transport only we’re sceptical that a switch or expensive cable is required but time will tell.

I’ll report back in a few months when the experiment is complete. Currently in a holiday home enjoying a vintage Denon/Acoustic Energy package. Missing our naim/SF dream team though :sob:

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I have:
BT hub - normal Cat5e (long run) - Cisco2960 - AQ Vodka (0.75m) - ER Switch - KabelDirekt (1.5m) - Melco - AQ Vodka (1.5m) - ND555

I found the link between ND555 and Melco most important - but all the other cables impacted the performance and in effect seemed to ‘tune-up’ what I finally accepted as suitable.
It was not subtle differences in my system for me - some cables were truely awful, some lacking in resolution, etc.

None of this is to do with data transfer integrity but seems to be something to do with just how the system of cabals interacts with the source electrically along the feeds.
I tried Optical but that had a host of other problems and lost detail so was for now abandoned until I decide to investigate better Optical Convertors.

So try a chain of switches like this - the Cisco effectively provides a termination to the Hub router and you can feed Melco direct from that to begin. Then try a better ‘audiophile’ switch - I tried and liked the Ethernet Regenerator (ER) switch which I just placed in-circuit as described above and it was clearly better.

I like the Vodka cable, but it takes a few weeks to run-in and I’d say many months (years) to really improve to an ultimate example of what it allows.

Try things and decide on what you like is best advice.

DB.

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I’m in the cable makes a difference camp.

Not trying to convince anyone either way as all our systems are different. What might be good for one system, may be awful for another.

I have found improvements with different network cables as well as speaker, interconnects and mains cables.

With networking cables, the data will be the same, but some cables are better at reducing or removing external noise.

All I can suggest is try some loan cables from your dealer and try them in your system. That way, if you hear an improvement, go for it. If not, give it back and nothing lost.

Plus it’s a bit of fun along the way experimenting with different cables.

At the end of the day, it’s your system and your ears. Consequently, only you can tell if there’s an improvement or not.

That’s the fun thing about music and HiFi, it’s a hobby and a bit of fun, so just enjoy it.

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I’m trying to use my scepticism to save time and money but then I read thoughtful, detailed responses like yours on far better kit than ours and I immediately get upgradeitis all round :laughing:

EE8 plus two vodkas is 1200 quid so not a trivial decision.

Yes - I’ve been there too. :slightly_smiling_face:

Then my curiosity made my Dealer show me what swapping cables and other things that I knew ‘had no effect’ did …I think my face went pale with disbelief as my Dealer sadly nodded and prepared the invoice. :bear:

It is what it is.
Empirically you get these results if you subject yourself to try them - and then have to wrestle with what you thought you understood.
Then further dealving into the latter opens a can of worms of things that ‘could’ be going on which people LaLaLa ignore because they don’t like that they could be happening - but I find it best to go with what is happening and move-on from there.

I wanted the end-result and nice music rather than a false sense of understanding - even though the latter would have saved me a lot of money and also deprived me of joys.

Have fun. :bear:

DB.

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I work in the world of Computers and in general, what you get with a cheaper cable is usually copper-clad aluminum wire and they’re also frequently unshielded. Other than the usual guidance on purchasing the right category of cable to suit the speed of the network and its load, if these 3 aspects are observed then paying over the “average” price of cables which meet these requirements is likely to be for the prestige of the badge alone.

A quick look at reseller sites suggests that basic cables might be copper, more expensive cables might be silver clad copper (or increasing silver percentages in solid conductor) and esoteric cables are fully silver. With varying degrees of insulation and separation,

Bit like the world of interconnects!!! What a wallet minefield.

Having looked I’m now drooling over Diamond and Wireworld Platinum Starlight Cat 8 :laughing:

“Having looked I’m now drooling over Diamond and Wireworld Platinum Starlight Cat 8”

Just like interconnects, it’s all too easy to jump on the upgrade wagon lol! What have you got at home Network-wise because Cat 8 was designed for large Server rooms to free up space (because the cables have POE, or Power Over Ethernet which reduced the cable count) and high workloads (it’s 4 x the speed of Cat6a at 40Gb). The additional shielding required to reduce interference will no doubt be beneficial but will it make £850’s worth of difference is the question!

I really doubt we’d end up with those high end cables given we currently have BT Hub, might add our Cisco 2960 back in and add/upgrade to something like EE8. Would seem a ridiculous spend.

In the short term based on ideas above we could easily try BT Hub - Melco C1AE - Cisco 2960 - nice cable - NDX2 on demo. Nice cable costing less than a kidney.

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For me there is no discernible difference between various copper or optical Ethernet cables when using a Naim streamer via SPDIF into a separate DAC, in my case NDX2 to Chord Dave.
With my Mk1 NDX using the built in DAC there were small but clearly audible differences between some cables and switches.

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Been thinking on this during a 5 mile hike round the local loch in the sun today.

Still of the hope that absolute basic BT Hub - Melco C1AE - NDX2 is the ultimate solution when naim streamer is transport only (zero cost).

However we will let the system burn in before trying the addition back in of our Cisco 2960 just to scratch the itch (based on some experiences shared here). Really hoping our findings agree with @ChrisSU at that point otherwise I know I won’t be happy til we have some exotic switch and cable combo :laughing:

This will be a 4 month project post holiday:
Sept - book electrician, collect rack, build and rack most of new system
Oct - receive and rack 555
Nov - listen to lots of music (burn in nDAC[2011/freshly serviced], 555[new], 252[new], SCDR[2021/boxed for 6 months], NDX2[new])
Dec - Xmas hols, fiddle with networking

By December funds might also be in place for a 300DR. We’ll trade 250DR to facilitate.

Why not avoid the whole mess with cables from your hub to your audio device and just use Wi-Fi? I realize that not everyone has great Wi-Fi, but I have an Eero Plus plugged directly into my Luxul 16-switch hub with a decent 1-foot ethernet cable, and then just connect my Nova to the mesh network wirelessly. It sounds great, and no additional cost. I know that wired connections can be more stable, etc., etc., etc., but I have about a Gigabyte of bandwidth coming into my house, and I have never had anything buffer or drop out even once. Very stable, very clean, very easy, very cheap!

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I can vouch that the ‘Full Loom Vodkas’ helped take my NDX 2 to a whole new level, as well as the PowerLines and HiLine. They all work together to really put the fun back into music listening.