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14 minutes ago, Rosco8 said:

Still some clever stuff in QUIC ..  2 edged swords ...

I think it's a bit like DNSoHTTPS. One can argue some very positive sides (less carrier intrusion into traffic, analytics, etc) but one can also see it as a way of removing common DNS blocks that are used for skipping advertising networks, or putting that DNS data in the hands of Cloudflare or Google instead. 

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There's always going to be a little friction in these discussions because people who actually do networks (and other IT) for a living deal in hard reality and not wishy thinking.   Networks

John, I'm just a tad experienced in networking and have decades of experience delivering far more time sensitive and bandwidth heavy applications than audio.   I've been involved in design a

@rmpfyf I’ve lost interest in discussions about Ethernet, cables, switches and routers around here.  Please leave me out.   There are way too many people on here with a deep seated belief that

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5 hours ago, davewantsmoore said:

"A little misleading"   ?!?!?!?

 

LOL LOL LOL

He may as well be telling people up is down.

 

You're shortselling the presentation, Dave.

 

He's telling people up is down and he has a solution that is a little bit less down, and that he's been the first to notice the alleged discrepancy.

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Many here are still looking at the wrong thing. 

 

There is nothing in bog-standard Ethernet that limits the ability of the data to get through. 

 

Any performance differences are going to be realised as small changes in OS jitter on the receive end. Period. There's a ton of work dedicated to OS jitter as a function of interrupt performance for many real-time-like applications particularly in Linux, it's dense reading but you'll find all you need to read there. The problem is not as simple as 'there's a buffer there' nor is it solved similarly.

 

And frankly there are solutions that don't involve extremely conductive cables, noise-free digital signal square waves or well-tempered clocks in your Ethernet router. In most applications tweaking CPU affinity and using large buffers around independent processes will do the job. Most streamers, no matter how expensive, don't actually do this. There's a ton that can be done for realtime performance in OS builds that isn't done in most audio builds. 

 

Finally there are networking standards that force time synchronisation of packets where that's useful. Again (flogging a dead horse) AES67 deals with this well. 

 

The people that have nice routers and switches etc are not hearing things. It's quite real. I have no doubt. Seriously.

 

But a few people with tuned networks on very ordinary cabling on some attention to detail and standard routers, with very simplistic operating systems and significantly buffered players are probably getting better sound. 

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4 minutes ago, rmpfyf said:

The people that have nice routers and switches etc are not hearing things. It's quite real. I have no doubt. Seriously.

 

But a few people with tuned networks on very ordinary cabling on some attention to detail and standard routers, with very simplistic operating systems and significantly buffered players are probably getting better sound. 

 

I'm hesitating to weigh into this too much being new here but, I do not agree. A nice router or a nice switch does not equal hearing 'better quality audio' full stop.

 

Your opening statement was true for broadcast quality networks that due to architecture that was correct at the time (things have changed I'm sure) required low-latent point-to-point fibre transmission to get the most out of their live transmission.

 

As new as I am to audio, 'real-time' for home audio is false idea. Live broadcast media, different story. 

 

Any suggestion that your network device(s) - and I am talking on premise only, no streaming from Internet hosted services - are introducing any audio degradation can only be a result of interference with the power of said units (maybe, stretch) and not the underlying technology that is transmitting the content. The keyword here is transmitting and NOT transforming*.

 

For audio that is streamed via Internet services there is also variable bitrate (VBR) to consider which can vary the quality of the media (audio or video) streamed to/from a device based on how the control plane measures available resources, e.g.; throughput, jitter, packet loss. Only then (unless your home network is congested) would one experience variance in audio quality.

 

*Ethernet hardware and the protocol is for transport. Only when the transport mechanism introduces constraints such as bandwidth, loss and latency, such as Bluetooth, does one then transform media with codecs to deal with the constraints by the transport medium.

 

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56 minutes ago, bigev said:

 

I'm hesitating to weigh into this too much being new here but, I do not agree. A nice router or a nice switch does not equal hearing 'better quality audio' full stop.

 

Your opening statement was true for broadcast quality networks that due to architecture that was correct at the time (things have changed I'm sure) required low-latent point-to-point fibre transmission to get the most out of their live transmission.

 

As new as I am to audio, 'real-time' for home audio is false idea. Live broadcast media, different story. 

 

Any suggestion that your network device(s) - and I am talking on premise only, no streaming from Internet hosted services - are introducing any audio degradation can only be a result of interference with the power of said units (maybe, stretch) and not the underlying technology that is transmitting the content. The keyword here is transmitting and NOT transforming*.

 

For audio that is streamed via Internet services there is also variable bitrate (VBR) to consider which can vary the quality of the media (audio or video) streamed to/from a device based on how the control plane measures available resources, e.g.; throughput, jitter, packet loss. Only then (unless your home network is congested) would one experience variance in audio quality.

 

*Ethernet hardware and the protocol is for transport. Only when the transport mechanism introduces constraints such as bandwidth, loss and latency, such as Bluetooth, does one then transform media with codecs to deal with the constraints by the transport medium.

 

 

I do not agree with you. Two full stops. 

 

There is no audio degradation to be had. None. Zero. For the millionth time, nothing is lost in transport. The bits get there intact. There is no debate here. I have a CAT3 cable somewhere here and when I find it I am happy to mail it to anyone that disagrees.

 

This is about timing accuracy at the endpoint, nothing less and nothing more. 

 

it's as basic as using packetised architecture to generate a stream. Timing variance, no matter how small, is inevitable. 

 

The point of using a real-time OS or an OS with real-time extensions is simply to manage priorities. In particular those associated with playback and networking, and to not have resources need to tend to both when one is a primary task. Network behaviour at the NIC can affect audio playback even when the playback material is fully buffered locally. This has nothing to do with any transport issues. Nothing. Play anything on a Linux machine over a network using aplay; whilst it happens flick the NIC interrupt from CPU to CPU. It's often audible. There is no degradation, there is no data loss. But there is a difference. It's just slightly so in timing.

 

A nice switch and uber cabling is a daft way of eliciting periodicity enough to tame noise and any inherent randomness in network data because these are at best very, very indirect ways of optimising the phenomena at hand. They are the sort of solutions borne of 'traditional' audio thinking where better wires, better timing, better interconnects, better isolation all work in analogue or stream domains. 

 

The very point of packet-based networks is to not need any of that. And that's a paradigm that extends beyond the NIC and into the node. Getting some NIC interrupt sensitivity? Buffer locally, deliberately so, and sort process and interrupt priorities. Sorted. Getting conducted noise in (if you think so)? Fibre. These  are direct solutions and they are very, very effective.

 

I am totally in love with the notion of AES67 as I can have multiple speakers on a network and literally employ a digital solution for timing accuracy of whatever specification I desire.

 

In the meantime I've a PC with some network tuning, some OS tuning, very simple playback from RAM and very happy listening.

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1 hour ago, bigev said:

A nice router or a nice switch does not equal hearing 'better quality audio' full stop.

@bigev,

 

Another full stop in bold.

 

There are several other posters in this thread that are on the same page as you and reside in the same universe.  There are a few posters including myself who fortunately  reside in a parallel universe. 

 

@rmpfyfacknowledges that:

“The people that have nice routers and switches etc are not hearing things. It's quite real. I have no doubt. Seriously

My assumption reading all his posts is that he has questions on the networking methodology and possible expense of what somebody like me has achieved.  His position seems to be that there are other methodologies that are less expense to achieve an equivalent outcome.  That maybe so.  To me his methodologies are too complex for me.  I can buy something, easily connect it up and it works and life is much better.

 

 

Possibly the cosmologists are correct and there is more than one universe.  I definitely live in one different to you.  I have implemented improvements to my audio network arrangements on a staged basis over time.  The progressive benefit has been significant.  If you listened to my system, I am sure that you would leave asking yourself the questions what is happening and why?  I still ask myself those same questions.   If you have not experienced a network configured for audio you have missed something I can assure you.

 

John

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17 hours ago, PCOWandre said:

I just put together an anonymous survey -- there's not even an option to leave a name. C'mon, let's weigh in and we'll discuss the stats when we're done:

 

https://nc.purplecow.org/index.php/apps/forms/Sj3aRs2ffd5xcyjG

Seems like this survey has put an end to the debate. 

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18 hours ago, PCOWandre said:

anonymous survey

I did the survey.  Sounds like some market research for a start up. 

 

There's a few key questions missing, but they may only make sense to people from the parallel universe John and I are in.

 

The bottom line answer for me is, I dont care how it looks or if its 'audiiphile' or not, or consistent with conventional/mainstream networking knowledge ... if it improves sound quality and is reasonably priced for what sound quality it achieves, I am willing to try it.

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18 minutes ago, dbastin said:

Sounds like some market research for a start up. 

Aww, hell no. There's no way I'd want to be launching a start up in that space. That way madness lies!

 

 

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OK, everyone has had some time to chime in with an opinion. I'll leave it open and if there are many more replies I'll post an update on Monday.

 

image.png.633e9cb568a87365adad0ed9e1cd413b.png

 

Of the fifteen respondents, eight were looking for incremental upgrades without changing their major components. Four people thought optical fibre was cool and wanted to get some of that. Two felt that while enterprise graded equipment would be nice, the noise and heat was intolerable.

 

Seven people stated they didn't want fancy-looking cables that made no promises. Seven people would consider such a purchase. 

 

Ten had no interest in network elements designed to be solid and cosmetically pleasing without promising specific audio advantages. Four suggested they would, but there was no consensus about that what such a component should look like. 

 

And for the grizzly opinions of the network professionals? 

 

I think "Network Experts" are dismissive of subjective reports and ...

image.png.2757b2cbe9198229fe89d3e1f84b769a.png

 

Notably, zero respondents stated they planned to purchase audiophile-specific network equipment. Either potential buyers had already left the thread, or the appeal just isn't there.

 

Obviously the survey size is very small. Not wide enough to be statistically significant nor represent the broader SNA community. But I think it was entertaining and gave me a chance to test the NextCloud "forms" functionality. 

 

Meanwhile, it seems like the one easy to fulfull desire is to get cables that don't look crappy, so perhaps there's an opportunity for a group buy to get some patch cables made up locally with some nice braid sleeve. I'm assuming the total cost would be in the order of $30/cable. 

 

For those adding fibre to their network, make sure you get the right colour. Aqua/OM4 should be your minimum since you'll want to re-use it for 10 gig later on. 

 

 

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The question that immediately springs to mind is... Given this thread is named "ethernet routers for Audio", why are 2/3 or respondants content with their network setup and not interested in upgrading?  Are they just here to troll?

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18 minutes ago, PCOWandre said:

They could be answering questions rather than asking them?

Pause and reflect on the content of this thread... how many of those “answers” have been the repetitive bleating of “ bits is bits is bits is bits is bits...” (always carefully paraphrased to sound like it is a somehow unique and novel argument)?
 

Those of us who actually experiment, because we enjoy the hobby, the music and the journey, sometimes (not all the time) hear a difference.  We come to threads like this not just for answers, but to share experiences.  Real experiences... not the regurgitated ideas of Amir at ASR, or the misguided do-gooders wanting to help us out by saving our mis-spent coin.  Hobbies are for fun and experimenting and spending (sometimes frivolously). 

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Well listening to music isn't just about just specs, nor the speakers or cables or even the music it self. It is the experience that counts. 

 

Even if bits stays bits and doesn't change anything by adding audiophile ethernet cables and switches but if it does improve the experience, than that is all its about.

 

The other day, I had the pleasure of visiting another SNA member and got to listen to his very high end gear in very large space through tiny JBL 4312MII speakers and that experience has been mesmerising. May be it was the another person who was genuinely interested in sharing his listening pleasure with me, or may be I was just listening to new gear other than mine and had enjoyed it very much. I don't know what it was, but It was the experience as a whole that was mesmerising. 

 

So, leaving aside what we know and what we don't about network and audio, and if by adding an audiophile ethernet cable or network switches adds to that experience than, that is the main pursuit here.

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4 minutes ago, :) Go Away (: said:

 

Well listening to music isn't just about just specs, nor the speakers or cables or even the music it self. It is the experience that counts. 

 

Bam! That’s it in its entirety. But the music is the experience.

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17 minutes ago, :) Go Away (: said:

May be it was the another person who was genuinely interested in sharing his listening pleasure with me

For millennia, music has been a shared experience. I think there's a very good reason for that. 

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54 minutes ago, Stereophilus said:

how many of those “answers” have been the repetitive bleating of “ bits is bits is bits is bits is bits...”

I think there's a gulf of difference between the classic "bits is bits" crowd and a discussion of ethernet and IP networking. I don't see the participants in this thread being the same as Amir's army of Chi-Fi salesmen. 

 

By and large, IP networking and the supporting physical layers are misunderstood, including by experienced IT professionals who just haven't worked in that space. As more of the industry becomes cloud-native, understanding of networks and ethernet are going down. 

 

I believe there is a campaign of deliberate misinformation being disseminated by cable vendors and their ilk to portray ethernet as being akin to S/PDIF; a time-sensitive medium without robust transmission. In fact, a video posted upthread (or was that in the cabling thread?) even claimed there was no error checking or retransmission on a TCP connection. That's just a barefaced lie. Claims that only certain devices "regenerate" or "reclock" ethernet are also false, because the store 'n' forward nature of a switch means every frame is fresh from the bridge. 

 

It certainly isn't about begrudging anyone their enjoyment of nice things. Certainly, if we were to live by other people's measurements and opinions, we'd all be sitting with nought but "Topping" boxes watching a movie instead of listening to a symphony. 

 

Finally, in the spirit of cooperation rather than just arguing, I'm willing to test, configure and firmware upgrade any reasonable* enterprise network switch that any prior poster in this thread chooses to acquire. Just pick up the shipping and I'll make sure gets to you with sensible settings, IP address configured and ready to use. I assume not everyone has a serial console handy and some of these network elements don't play nicely with USB/RS-232 dongles. 

 

* Reasonable is defined broadly as Cisco, Mikrotik, ProCurve. 

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1 hour ago, PCOWandre said:

I believe there is a campaign of deliberate misinformation being disseminated by cable vendors and their ilk to portray ethernet as being akin to S/PDIF; a time-sensitive medium without robust transmission. In fact, a video posted upthread (or was that in the cabling thread?) even claimed there was no error checking or retransmission on a TCP connection. That's just a barefaced lie. Claims that only certain devices "regenerate" or "reclock" ethernet are also false, because the store 'n' forward nature of a switch means every frame is fresh from the bridge. 

The Audio hobby certainly is prone to hyperbole.  The problem is, something seems to happening between the router and the DAC (inclusive of those devices) that can influence sound quality.  I’m not saying I know what is happening, but it’s a real thing.  The message here to “networking experts” is can you help us understand where the the network might contribute to changes in sound quality? That way we can all benefit, and make more discerning choices that reward the true engineers over the snakeoilers.  I think @rmpfyf tries really hard to do this.

Quote

 

It certainly isn't about begrudging anyone their enjoyment of nice things. Certainly, if we were to live by other people's measurements and opinions, we'd all be sitting with nought but "Topping" boxes watching a movie instead of listening to a symphony. 

 

Finally, in the spirit of cooperation rather than just arguing, I'm willing to test, configure and firmware upgrade any reasonable* enterprise network switch that any prior poster in this thread chooses to acquire. Just pick up the shipping and I'll make sure gets to you with sensible settings, IP address configured and ready to use. I assume not everyone has a serial console handy and some of these network elements don't play nicely with USB/RS-232 dongles. 

 

* Reasonable is defined broadly as Cisco, Mikrotik, ProCurve. 

That’s a very decent offer and one I might take you up on.  Do you anticipate that in doing so I might notice a change in my streaming audio sound quality?

Edited by Stereophilus
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1 minute ago, Stereophilus said:

That’s a very decent offer and one I might take you up on.  Do you anticipate that in doing so I might notice a change in my streaming audio sound quality?

Your signature suggests you're using an Antipodes CX. I'm not familiar with the CX, but I did read some of the earlier Antipodes documentation recently while looking at another thread, and it appears that the core music playing "engine" of the Antipodes is mpd. Given the robust nature of mpd combined with the usually generous specs of the Antipodes series, I'd be surprised if you'd gain anything unless you had an identified fault condition such as noise ingress, gaps or stuttering in playback. If the Antipodes gives you multiple player app options, I'd strongly recommend giving mpd a thorough audition to see how it performs for you. If it permits, try to use NFS to connect your NAS instead of SMB which is more robust.

 

In terms of streaming services such as Tidal, as long as your network is fully functional and you aren't having obvious problems -- like the aforementioned noise ingress or stuttering in playback -- there's probably nothing to be gained. Because of external network factors, streaming apps are designed to hold quite a large buffer so your music doesn't start skipping when someone else in the house starts a youtube video playing. 

 

I'd tend to endorse replacing consumer network kit with good commercial or enterprise equipment, but you need to factor in size and noise, as well as ongoing maintenance. I'd probably have to recommend against replacing your router unless you had the time to learn how to drive the replacement. Switches generally don't get too much in the way of config changes in a home environment, so they're easier to deal with. 

 

If you think you have a problem with decreased throughput and your cable is installed in the walls, pull the wall plate and inspect the terminations. There should be almost zero untwisted wire going to the keystone. When the network requirements are very low (like streaming audio), horrible network packet loss can hide behind TCP and lead to irritation. There have been a lot of cases of bad installs turning up lately, with cabling that only meets cat3 standards due to length of untwisted pairs. 

 

 

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Oh, and reboot your kit every now and again, even if it doesn't need it. I've found some of these USB audio interfaces get a little .. special .. after a few weeks without interruption. 

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We're 6 pages into this thread and I think we've had a fair bit a venting, and established we have some members with immense expertise in networking, and some members who have explored alternatives to the conventions and discovered gains in sound quality, on some systems that are very good to say the least.

 

Both groups have serious cred, and seem to be aligning in their pursuit for greater enjoyment, better experiences of music and the systems that convey it.

 

As an aside, the enjoyment makes a great contribution to our wellbeing.  And working together to achieve things can also be rewarding in many ways other than the achievement.  All this can be enriching.

 

I created this thread (and others about ethernet for audio) with a hope to create resources for members to benefit, and improve their enjoyment.  Ultimately, once we explorre routers, I have in mind creating a thread 'Ethernet Systems for Audio: Putting it all together' with a view to creating a resource to help understand what components to use where, to balance their impact and bang for buck.  To help novices navigate this rabbit hole which is more of a rabbit warren (aka, network).

 

I suggest we develop a specification.  What does a router need to be optimal for audio.  Then go about finding products that meet the specification.  Then develop easy tò follow guide to configure/set them up. 

 

I suggest we try to choose products that dont need a console, ie. more user friendly.  But if a console is needed, there could be an opportunity for sideline income for those that can access one and have the expertise to use it.

 

I'm gonna kick off ...

 

The Specification

 

1. SFPs, ideally 4 or more, ie:

- 1 for input from nbn (via media convertor)

- 1 for audio system

- 2 + for rest of network (ie. to switches)

 

2. Capable of being powered by external PSU with litte or no modification.

 

3. fanless or very quiet for placement in listening room (so can be powered via audio system power conditioner).

 

4. User friendly by people with little or no networking expertise.

 

5. cost? say up to $1k.

 

Feel free to suggest additions.

 

Dale

Edited by dbastin
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I mentioned ECTs previously.  I was referring to Synergistic Research ECTs (Electronic Circuit Tranducers).

 

I have 5 of these in strategic locations on the ethernet route to my endpoint.  Each one provides an incremental minor to moderate improvement in sound quality, and it is cumulative.  I dont fully understand why, it just is.

 

So I now put one more in, on the isolation transformer in my Ubiquiti EdgeRouter X SFP.  Again it provided another improvement, which took a few songs to fully appreciate but now I have learned it, it is unmistakeable.

 

For context, there is bog standard Cat 5e UTP from EdgeRouter to the next switch. Soon to be replaced with fibre.

 

Incidentally I had previously removed the SSD and all sata cabling from my Antipodes EX.  The sound now is considerably better than playback from SSD.

 

The twist ... my system has 5 devices that buffer ethernet data enroute to endpoint and it plays for about a minute when the router it disconnected.  Even so, when the router is now connected, it is the best sound I've had.

 

I can't explain why.  It is mysterious.

20200919_090001.jpg

Edited by dbastin
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