Wifi or Ethernet cable for streaming?

I currently have an Uniti Star with Spendor A4 and stream music via Wifi. I use Tidal (CD quality), Qobuz (High Res) and Amazon music (via Airplay). I sometimes wonder if I should connect the router to the Uniti Star directly with an Ethernet cable but as I have wooden floorboards I have avoided doing this. Is Wifi OK for this set? Would I notice any sound improvement with Ethernet?

Try it. Just run a temporary length of Ethernet cable and see if it sounds better or worse.


Always hard wire a device if you can. Throughput, bandwidth and potential interference make wireless a poor choice in comparison


Wifi works just fine. You use a buffer when playing and it do not matter if that buffer is filled by wifi or ethernet cable…


I’m sure @Mike_S will be along soon with his box of Popcorn…




If you can, go for ethernet, simple & robust.
But if you can’t, wireless will be just fine provided the wireless transmission is optimised, it doesn’t like going thru walls, living inside cabinets or hiding behind furniture on the floor.


Always wired ethernet. It works.

Wi-fi is subject to connection issues and external interference from other devices.
Usually it works until it doesn’t.
How many forum posts relate to connection problems caused by wi-fi.
Absolute no brainer.


100% agree, especially re the endless network connectivity problem we read on this & other forums.
I’m no wireless fan, but in some homes wireless is the only option, however it needs to be done correctly.


The reason I ask also is I went to audition at a high end hifi dealer and asked him if they were using Ethernet or wifi and he said wifi. They sold speakers costing about £90k which made me think if they are using wifi it should be ok?

In my particular case I would need to get a carpenter in to lay under floorboards which I will do if needed.

Last night (using wifi) with Qobuz HD I noticed a few audio dropouts on a couple of albums and I thought this may be due to wifi? However later in the evening after about 10.30pm no issues. This morning also no issues at all. So if there is an issue with Wifi is it audio dropouts I would get (as I described) or is it a deterioration in sound quality (eg theoretically listening 96kHz 24bit but not actually getting that).

I do have a spare Ethernet so I could do a back to back comparison. I did try this briefly some weeks back and did not at that time pick up any differences (that I could here - unless you tell me I should listen to something in particular?)

Dropouts are likely to be issues with the WiFi. There is limited capacity on WiFi especially if you are in an urban area with lots of other users.

The stream won’t degrade it will simply stop working.

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Wifi every time for me - less cables and less risk of interference. Works seamlessly on my Auralic streamer. I’ve never been able to hear any sound difference difference between ethernet and streaming on any device.

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Just measured my wifi speed using fast.com and it’s 70Mbps

Was that from a computer or phone that was on wifi?

If 70 mbps is what you can consistently get on wifi (which is an OK number on a 2.4 GHz wifi network), it should be fine:

24 bit 96 kHz needs a data rate of:
24 bit samples * 96,000 times per second = 2,304,000 bits per second
Times two for two channels = 4,608,000 bits per second
4,608,000 / 1000 = 4,608 kilobits / 1000 = 4.608 megabits per second

If you use 192 kHz, it’s 9.261 mbps.

This raw required music data rate can be approx. halved to account for FLAC compression of the Qobuz files. But one has to add comfortable margins for network control traffic, error correction, resending of packets, etc. Even if we double the data rate for this again, which is a very safe margin, we are only back to no more than 10 mbps.

The possible data rate of wifi is variable depending on congestion on the wifi spectrum, like other devices on your network or other wifis networks in the vicinity, but if you get these 70 mbps consistently, it should be more than fine. You also need to ensure that both the wifi and the internet connection has sufficient bandwidth for music streaming in addition to any possible other parallel users like someone watching Netflix or TV over IP, gaming, etc.

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I think few people would agree with that - quite the reverse.

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Hi @Paul_C - you’re right that many people on this forum would argue otherwise. For a different take here’s what Auralic state on their website:

“The primary disadvantage of a wired connection like ethernet is the potential for induced noise due to wire’s antenna-like tendencies. The main advantage of a wireless connection is that you won’t run the risk of induced noise from a cable, as you would with ethernet.”

That makes a lot of sense to me, though as I said earlier, I’ve never been able to hear any difference between ethernet and wifi, so perhaps a moot point anyway.

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Assuming that you have your Wi-Fi network working perfectly, the quality of the SQ can depend on the implementation of the Wi-Fi network adapter of your streamer, for instance it can inject noises to your DAC.

My Linn Organik DSM/3 supports WIFI as well as copper/optical ethernet, and its WIFI streaming does not sound good at all.

So you will need to try it with your streamer to see which one you like best.

No WiFi system maintains consistent bandwidth it’s up and down all the time due to environmental factors, all the other WiFi devices you run on the same network and everyone else’s network interferes with yours, especially in a built up environment. So you can have intermittent drops due to over utilization as your access point is iust overwhelmed . What internet speeds you have matter not, as this is all internal transfers but obviously ISP’s are not fool proof and often you will get big drops in bandwidth from then to yours could have been either. If you have a lot of other WiFi devices then adding extra access point via a mesh system can help relieve the utilization a one point system can get.

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As pretty much already said on here, any wifi with a solid 10mbps is going to be good. Cable is fine if you are close to the router but can be a pain if you have to make runs halfway round the house.
As we all on here obsess about introduced noise and pay hundreds if not thousands for mains cables, interconnects and even network cables hand soldered by vestal virgins trained in the art, I would go for wifi over hard wired.

I have never encountered ethernet cable noise.

Nevertheless when I was installing trunking that carried different cables I had the choice of screened ethernet cable or screening in the trunking. I chose the latter partly as I already had the ethernet cable.

The point is that if you have an issue with ethernet (which I didn’t), and I have not seen it flagged as a user issue, then you can prevent it.
With wi-fi you can do nothing about TVs, microwaves, other wi-fi users, walls, conflict with other competing wi-fi channels etc.

I do not think the choice would usually improve SQ except by the stability and robustness of the connection as @Mike-B pointed out.

I return to my point about the number of forum posts with connectivity issues usually caused by wi-fi and the way devices/apps deal with it.