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How Important is Gigabit Ethernet Support for Music Servers


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Searching for a new router and NAS, I see that 10/100/1000 Gigabit support is an often promoted feature. How important is Gigabit Ethernet as it relates to music servers? I was planning to utilize WiFi, in which case, I won't need the Gigabit support. Would there be any benefits of interfacing via Gigabit Ethernet over interfacing with WiFi (for 44/16, 96/24, 192/24 and possibly higher sample rates)?

 

 

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If you use wifi from your NAS, only the wireless bandwith is important.

 

You need around 10 Mbit to stream uncompressed 192k/24 stereo without problems:

192000 x 24 x 2 / 1000000 = 9.216

 

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In theory wireless works perfect and has more than enough bandwidth. Even an 802.11b network "should" support 24/192. However many of us have experienced issues using wifi. An all 802.11n network running at 5GHz is very good and a close second to wired gigabit Ethernet.

 

Do a search here on CA for Hard Wired Ethernet and you see a thread talking about some other wireless issues.

 

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The wirelessG worked for me, but the signal strenght better be there. I had poor signal strenght and no deal for even 16/44.1. Now I run 100 speed per my laptop and its perfect.

 

JR

 

ps not stock in copper wire...inside joke;)

 

check out my recent post by searching for "wow what an upgrade"

 

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  • 3 years later...
In theory wireless works perfect and has more than enough bandwidth. Even an 802.11b network "should" support 24/192. However many of us have experienced issues using wifi. An all 802.11n network running at 5GHz is very good and a close second to wired gigabit Ethernet.

 

Do a search here on CA for Hard Wired Ethernet and you see a thread talking about some other wireless issues.

 

Hi Chris, Does adding a wireless pci mini card to a mobo add a lot of noise to the system or somehow reduce audio performance? I'm new to this and see how some dont add a DVD drive due to concerns over audio performance. Appreciate your views or from anyone else for that matter.

Great site btw!

Equipment:

Auralic Vega DAC, Auralic Taurus Preamp, KEF LS50 Speakers, Hypex Ncore400 monoblock amps, CAPs V3, Paul Hynes SR5 (12v and 9v rails), Audioquest King Cobra XLRs, Signal Cable speaker cable, Furutech power and USB cable

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Fortunately routers, NIC's, etc. are relatively inexpensive, easy to return or exchange and simple to A/B test. I'll always choose a wired connection if it's an option, but I've had great luck streaming over Wireless-N using a Netgear WNDR3700 Wifi Router. I try to keep the 5GHz channel dedicated to streaming and the 2.4GHz for general Internet access. I also have QoS configured on the Netgear and set to "Highest" priority for any streaming devices. It also helps that there are no other wifi networks in range of my house, so any interference is kept to a minimum.

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Fortunately routers, NIC's, etc. are relatively inexpensive, easy to return or exchange and simple to A/B test. I'll always choose a wired connection if it's an option, but I've had great luck streaming over Wireless-N using a Netgear WNDR3700 Wifi Router. I try to keep the 5GHz channel dedicated to streaming and the 2.4GHz for general Internet access. I also have QoS configured on the Netgear and set to "Highest" priority for any streaming devices. It also helps that there are no other wifi networks in range of my house, so any interference is kept to a minimum.

 

Thanks for the input. I probably didn't describe my earlier post well after I read it again.... I was more asking around the rf noise that gets introduced into the case by putting a wireless card inside. My guess from some of the designs is that it's a big no no if you are striving for audiophile purity versus convenience. Weird thing is that there are audiophile servers like the Naim that have a wireless connection but maybe they shield it well...

Equipment:

Auralic Vega DAC, Auralic Taurus Preamp, KEF LS50 Speakers, Hypex Ncore400 monoblock amps, CAPs V3, Paul Hynes SR5 (12v and 9v rails), Audioquest King Cobra XLRs, Signal Cable speaker cable, Furutech power and USB cable

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Fortunately routers, NIC's, etc. are relatively inexpensive, easy to return or exchange and simple to A/B test. I'll always choose a wired connection if it's an option, but I've had great luck streaming over Wireless-N using a Netgear WNDR3700 Wifi Router. I try to keep the 5GHz channel dedicated to streaming and the 2.4GHz for general Internet access. I also have QoS configured on the Netgear and set to "Highest" priority for any streaming devices. It also helps that there are no other wifi networks in range of my house, so any interference is kept to a minimum.

 

I have my home wired with CAT5e and also have a Netgear WNDR4000 router. My system runs on the 5GHz band and if I AB both, can't really hear a difference between wired and wireless. Distance from router to equipment which is another room though an interior wall ( wood and sheet rock( is 30ft ( total cable lenght) or 10ft wireless. In our area all power in underground. If I had to chose one over the other, if you can hardwire a Ethernet connection go that route in the event your router takes a bites the dust.

The Truth Is Out There

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One thing I didn't see mentioned and that is latency. Compared to a wired network, wireless has horrendous latency and jitter. How this affects your set-up is really dependent on that set-up but if you can get a cable over to the machine I'd do it. Why is latency and jitter important on networks?

 

You've got some data that needs to go from the NAS to the machine. Either this is part of a file, in the case of a remote mount, or part of an audio stream, in the case of streaming. The machine will make the request and the NAS will start to send. Each bit (packet really) of data needs an acknowledgement that it was received. The NAS won't send another bit of data until it sees the acknowledgement. The acknowledgements are very tiny but delaying them delays the next bit of data going from the NAS to the machine. For very large files, like lossless, little bits of added latency add up over time and slow down the transfer of your file and/or stream. It will probably never slow down to the point it gets behind and you may never notice the difference. But, I subscribe to the school of thought to get the data off the NAS as quickly as possible and put the network into idle as quickly as possible. Additionally, the packets moving across the network (assuming you are using IP) are predictable in that they kind of model the transfer based upon when they expect packets to be acknowledged. This is where jitter can slow you down. Wired is much more predictable within it's latency measurements but wireless isn't. If the protocol in use starts to see acknowledgments come back at varying latency it has to adjust for that by slowing down the transfer rate. Again, you may never notice this but it's something easier avoided simply by going wired.

 

In my own personal set-up, where I remote mount everything, I find software (iTunes, A+, etc.) is far more stable on the wired network. Also, with A+ at least, the time between when a track stops and the next track plays is reduced as A+ is able to get the whole track into memory much faster on the wired network.

 

Will the RF of a wired network effect sound quality? I can't hear a difference personally but putting a radio transmitter that is basically a very low powered microwave inside/near the device responsible for audio playback probably isn't helping.

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One thing I didn't see mentioned and that is latency. Compared to a wired network, wireless has horrendous latency and jitter. How this affects your set-up is really dependent on that set-up but if you can get a cable over to the machine I'd do it. Why is latency and jitter important on networks?

 

You've got some data that needs to go from the NAS to the machine. Either this is part of a file, in the case of a remote mount, or part of an audio stream, in the case of streaming. The machine will make the request and the NAS will start to send. Each bit (packet really) of data needs an acknowledgement that it was received. The NAS won't send another bit of data until it sees the acknowledgement. The acknowledgements are very tiny but delaying them delays the next bit of data going from the NAS to the machine. For very large files, like lossless, little bits of added latency add up over time and slow down the transfer of your file and/or stream. It will probably never slow down to the point it gets behind and you may never notice the difference. But, I subscribe to the school of thought to get the data off the NAS as quickly as possible and put the network into idle as quickly as possible. Additionally, the packets moving across the network (assuming you are using IP) are predictable in that they kind of model the transfer based upon when they expect packets to be acknowledged. This is where jitter can slow you down. Wired is much more predictable within it's latency measurements but wireless isn't. If the protocol in use starts to see acknowledgments come back at varying latency it has to adjust for that by slowing down the transfer rate. Again, you may never notice this but it's something easier avoided simply by going wired.

 

In my own personal set-up, where I remote mount everything, I find software (iTunes, A+, etc.) is far more stable on the wired network. Also, with A+ at least, the time between when a track stops and the next track plays is reduced as A+ is able to get the whole track into memory much faster on the wired network.

 

Will the RF of a wired network effect sound quality? I can't hear a difference personally but putting a radio transmitter that is basically a very low powered microwave inside/near the device responsible for audio playback probably isn't helping.

 

Many thanks! Very helpful information. If hardwired, I would have to use ethernet over powerline. I assume that would be another variable as the power lines must be picking up noise from all over the house similar to wireless. But not sure on this...

Equipment:

Auralic Vega DAC, Auralic Taurus Preamp, KEF LS50 Speakers, Hypex Ncore400 monoblock amps, CAPs V3, Paul Hynes SR5 (12v and 9v rails), Audioquest King Cobra XLRs, Signal Cable speaker cable, Furutech power and USB cable

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Many thanks! Very helpful information. If hardwired, I would have to use ethernet over powerline. I assume that would be another variable as the power lines must be picking up noise from all over the house similar to wireless. But not sure on this...

 

Actually ethernet over powerline would introduce noise across the AC power in your house. That might actually be worse than wireless since you'd be injecting noise into everything plugged in (amp, dac, computer, etc.). Injecting noise directly into all the equipment sounds like a bad idea. I don't know much about powerline though.

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I have a couple of the 85 Mbps Netgear powerline ethernet adapters. The biggest issue that I've found with powerline ethernet is that the throughput is highly dependent on the electrical wiring in your house. They seem to be very good at gracefully degrading throughput based on the wiring conditions without introducing errors at the Ethernet or IP layers. I used my adapters to put wired Ethernet behind my television (Tivo, AppleTV, etc.) in my condo and throughput was at least equivalent to the ~20-25 Mbps I get from my cablemodem, but in my house where the wiring is more complex and the distances are much longer, throughput is sub 5 Mbps. Now I use a Netgear WN2500RP to put wired Ethernet behind my television setup and it works wonderfully in conjunction with my WNDR3700.

 

As far as latency goes, when running ping tests from my iMac, I get a lower standard deviation using my wired connection (~4.5 ms vs. ~13.8 Ms) , but the average ping is lower when connected to my 5Ghz wifi network (~40.3 ms vs. ~22.2 ms). I'm sure someone can elaborate on which is better and why, but I expect that the consistency of the wired network is preferable (Regardless of whether this level of variability is noticeable or not in your digital setup).

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