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2 part question on ethernet cables


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2 part question. do high end ethernet cables really make a difference? If they do make a difference would it effect wireless setups or only wired ones? Right now my set up is as follows. bell fibreOP internet 50mb download 30mb upload wired and wireless. I have fibreOP TV as well. I got one cat 5e ethernet cable going from the fibre box to the wireless router for internet, one cat 5e ethernet cable going from the router to a wireless bridge for the wireless fibreOP TV and a cat 5e ethernet cable going from the router to my Sonos bridge for my music and TV audio.

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2 part question. do high end ethernet cables really make a difference?

 

Depends on who is listening.

 

If they do make a difference would it effect wireless setups or only wired ones?

 

Again, depends on who is listening.

 

In other words, you'll need to listen for yourself to determine what you'll personally hear.

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I am kind of leading the same discussion on facebook so I just repost below, what I think is the correct technical explanation. I actually hope, that someone challenges this explanation and tells me if I am right or wrong. Anyway, to answer your questions based on this explanation:

 

1. High end ethernet cables can make a difference: when streaming via ethernet. When no streaming is done or the streaming is not done via ethernet, a high end ethernet cable does not at all make a difference.

2. Of course cables usually affect only the wired part of a setup. I might get the question wrong, but in a combined wireless and wired setup the cables certainly affect the wired part of the signal chain.

 

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given the post attached below, I want to further elaborate on 1.):

Ethernet always takes care of error correction, i.e. it ensures correctness of information transmitted between sender and receiver. That is not a bad thing as we are not talking analog and this happens transparently. If errors can be corrected, there is no problem. If they can't, the receiver knows and acts accordingly. Problem with ethernet are delays. Delays cause jitter in a streaming context (only).

 

For transmission the message (i.e. the file) is split in numbered packets. Packets are sent separately. Error correction is in effect, i.e. to put simple: signals are being sent back and forth until the packet has been received correctly. It is kind of a negotiation between sender and receiver, that ensures this. Usually the packets are not received in the correct order, i.e. packet 3 might arrive at the receiver's end before packet 1 and packet 2. The receiver basically gathers all received packets and reconstructs the message by putting the packets back in the correct order. At the time of reconstruction of the message, it has been ensured, that all packets are correct in terms of contents. Correct packets in correct order => correct message.

 

Something that can happen in this context is delay. A packet might be erroneous. If it is, it will simply be resent until it is correctly received. If a packet is lost, it will simply be resent until it is correctly received. This takes time. The receiver might have to wait for a single missing packet for a long while. This is not yet a problem. It just means, that it takes some time to correctly transmit information.

 

The actual problem occurs beyond ethernet. Depending on chip design as well as implementation of operating systems, drivers and applications it might be the case, that the receiver starts to process parts (!) of the correctly received message before the full message has been reconstructed. This usually occurs in a streaming context and not if you are just transmitting complete files between say your NAS and your laptop.

 

So what's the problem? To put simple, a message is being transmitted and while it is in transmission the receiver already processes the message. Then a physical problems occurs. Ethernet for sure takes care, that the problem is eliminated. But meanwhile the processing on the receivers end continues. The receiver might want to process a packet, that has just not yet been received. And that is, when jitter happens (btw, I am not talking about interval lengths while doing the AD/DA conversion; that's another type of jitter that occurs in a separate part of the signal chain). So essentially there is kind of a hole in the message. But the receiver just continues to process packets coming in.

 

Usual implementations get rid of the problem by providing for a buffer, i.e. the application that processes the message provides for a certain lead time before starting to process the incoming message. During the lead time it only gathers incoming packets. This way there is more time for any occurring errors to be corrected properly.

 

Hence, if the implementation of streaming is robust, additional buffer size achieves the same quality improvement as a high end ethernet cable.

 

--- 8< --------

First off, I'm neither an electrical engineer nor a communications engineer, so I might not use the proper terms here. Anyway, I'm sorry, but I just do not get, what a "high quality ethernet cable" has got anything to do with improving audio quality in a digital system.

 

We are talking about a digital to digital connection. On the physical level problems with the signal obviously exist. There is noise, i.e. the signal might be altered due to various reasons, particularly electronic-magnetic interference. As the signal is digital the description of the amplitude is quite obvious. It is 0 or 1. No need to distinguish between infinitesimal differences in amplitude as it would be with an analog signal. Furthermore jitter exists. This means in short, that the duration of a signal to transfer a single symbol is not exactly one Unit Interval long, but it might slightly differ in duration. It is essentially a problem with clocking the signal.Put simple, if the difference in duration is too short or too long, a single symbol (i.e. bit) might be read as no symbol or two symbols of the same type. These are the types of errors that might occur on a physical level. In a network context jitter might occur as delay, but we'll come to that.

 

To put it simple, in analog signal processing the signal is being transferred from source to destination without any change of the actual information transmitted (in theory and if you do not deliberately use something to alter the signal). If with this direct transmission the signal is being altered due to problems on the physical level (e.g. electro-magnetic interference), the altered information is transmitted to the destination. Hence if an error occurs along the signal chain, this error is transmitted directly to the destination. The information sent out from source differs from the information received at destination.

 

So far so good. Now we are talking ethernet. Ethernet includes analog signal processing, but it does not work at all like analog signal processing. Data transferred via ethernet is processed on multiple levels. Google "ISO OSI model" for fun, please. Of course errors might occur in various ways. But these errors are identified and eliminated digitally. If you look at your router you might see collision statistics. These are actual errors on the physical level. They have been identified. Signals have been resent. The original information sent out at source has completely been restored at destination. The data link layer of the OSI model takes care of that. Ethernet helps on the network layer to connect nodes (i.e. source and destination). There are way more layers involved before the complete file (i.e. the full correctly restored message) resides in the memory of either your laptop or whatever device to be processed further.To deal with the second type of jitter (delay of streamed information in context of networking) there usually are buffers involved to make sure, that even though the transmitted information might have been erroneous at some point in time, the final information is correct (particularly in order as on the network level information is being sent out in packets).

 

If talking about digital to digital connection always think about your bank and about what you would do to them, if there would have been arbitrary errors with money on your account. Imagine error-prone digital high frequency trading.

 

So, I am quite sure, that the AQ cable improves signal quality. But with digital audio you are not actually hearing the signal itself like you would in an all analog system. The digital connection ensures, that the messages transmitted along the whole digital path is correct and unchanged. The data is actually transmitted inside your computer as well. There are different chips, main memory and the CPU as well as registers in the CPU involved etc.

 

And of course, jitter really happens at the time of AD or DA conversion. But that's got nothing at all to do with ethernet.

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so putting a high end ethernet cable between the fibreOP box and my router would help the wireless signal powering my Television and streaming Sonos system? I heard on another site someone say there internet speed went up when they went from stock cat 5e to high quality cat 7. anyone on here experience a increase in speed with high end cables?

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so putting a high end ethernet cable between the fibreOP box and my router would help the wireless signal powering my Television and streaming Sonos system?

 

Putting a high end ethernet cable between the fibreOP and the router could of course improve signal quality between the fibreOP and the router, which in turn could improve the signal quality of the overall chain including the wireless part. To be very clear about that, we are talking about possible quality improvements in context of data, that is streaming from the internet via your fibreOP further to router and TV or Sonos. Be aware, that problems on the wireless part of the overall signal chain might spoil all quality improvements that you gain between fibreOP and router.

 

So does it make an audible difference? You have to hear for yourself, just as goldsdad says...

 

I heard on another site someone say there internet speed went up when they went from stock cat 5e to high quality cat 7. anyone on here experience a increase in speed with high end cables?

 

First off, we are not talking "internet" here. You can improve signal quality in the part of the internet, that is under your own control i.e. your LAN. Beyond your fibreOP there might be thousands of miles of different interconnects. And you do not have any control over these. So you are not actually improving "internet speed", but the speed of your local network. If data is streamed from somewhere in the internet, the overall signal chain includes many additional aspects: Quality of Service, bandwidth, etc etc. It is actually a question of network technology. That's why I would rather talk about improving the speed of your LAN...

 

So yes, in general it is possible to improve the signal quality in your LAN by using higher quality ethernet cables. Will you experience an increase in speed? Maybe. Depends on the situation. The most error-prone part of your LAN might be your lower quality ethernet cable. So exchanging it could contribute to improve speed. The most erroneous part might be your wifi. Then it wouldn't make too much of a difference. You might have a look at router statistics as a rough hint.

 

In the end, you have to give it a try...

 

So have I experienced an improvement of my LAN speed by using higher quality ethernet cables? Never gave it a try. I am not actually streaming (ThinkPad -> Ayre QB-9 -> Lehmann Audio Black Cube Linear Pro -> Sennheiser HD800). The weak link of this chain in terms of digital cables is the USB interconnect between laptop and DAC. And yes I bought a high end USB cable. Does it make an audible difference for me? I think it does. Might be placebo. I just like the feeling of having optimized this weak link... :)

 

btw, the Audioquest: Computer Audio Demystified White Paper is quite interesting in this context...

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Better Ethernet cables is BS if your software and bandwidth is adequate. God help you if the music playback solution you are using is so primitive it doesn't buffer the data transmission to deal with the rare lost frame. What matters most is having adequate bandwidth to keep the buffer from being emptied and avoiding bandwidth contention on your switch/router so that you don't empty your music buffer before the next data block is needed to continue playing.

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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On the blue jeans cable site they sell ethernet cables. Not "audiophile" ones. But they claim that they have tested many of the off the shelf cables on the market, and they don't meet spec.

 

Whatever you think of the whole issue, it is probably worthwhile to at least have a cable that you know meets spec and is properly terminated. Some of the cheap ones aren't.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Depends on who is listening.

 

 

 

Again, depends on who is listening.

 

In other words, you'll need to listen for yourself to determine what you'll personally hear.

 

+1

 

Tried a couple I had in the cupboard and heard a difference (to my supprise), ordered one on trial 'Opal' liked it better than the ones out of the cupboard, so bought it.

 

Next for me, is to work out if an internal pci ethernet card with win8 pc set to bridge, will sound better than going through an access point.

Only way is to try it ;-)

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I have a testing rig setup for computer based clients where the DAC is USB/Firewire/PCI-e connected.

 

AMD setup with 3 Intel PCIe 1x CT series GB adapters.

 

Cisco SG-200 8. 8 port switch with 802.3ad support (NIC Teaming).

 

Two Blue Jean cables: 5e and 6 both 12 footers and a $350 AQ Vodka 1.5 meter.

 

So server to Cisco, Cisco to 1-3 Ethernet Cables on client computer to DAC. Quick proof of concept video:

 

 

It allows for truly unbiased testing with no drop in audio playback.

 

Simply sit back and play music, let someone swap cables, and tell someone that there was a change and what cable it was.

 

You wouldn't know when the change happened. Just figure an hour or two and 10-15 changes.

 

Anyone in ~2 hours of Cincinnati, Louisville corridor?

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so putting a high end ethernet cable between the fibreOP box and my router would help the wireless signal powering my Television and streaming Sonos system? I heard on another site someone say there internet speed went up when they went from stock cat 5e to high quality cat 7. anyone on here experience a increase in speed with high end cables?

 

If you have a severely poor cable this could cause problems. Outside of that: it's actually impossible for a spec meeting CAT5/5e/6/6a/7 cable to increase your internet speeds.

 

You've just bumped into someone that has no idea what they are talking about.

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