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Article: Network Audio Refresher


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Hi Chris,

Very similar to my setup.

Comcast -> SURFboard DOCSIS3.0 modem -> pfSense on FIT-PC -> Cisco SG-100-8 -> TrendNet WAP put in center of house

This all is in the "office" where the cable comes in. The switch handles everything in the office (including VOIP phone). One cable coming out of the switch goes to another identical switch in the "lab". I have several computers in there including the music server, another FitPC running LMS (I'm an SB guy from way back) and all kinds of different stuff being tested at any given time. The connection to the listening room comes off this switch since that is what the server is connected to. The lab switch needs to be bigger, I frequently run out of ports in there.

 

My friends think I'm absolutely nuts for using such a complicated system, but it is absolutely stable, works flawlessly etc. I've only ever had one issue with the system, once after a power failure things did not power up properly, the network got in a weird state. I had to power everything down, then up and it was off and running again.

 

Those Cisco switches are so nice to use, I've tried some other "smart" switches that were absolutely horrible to use, their guis were terrible and the documentation was even worse. The Cisco switches have clear menus and dialogs that are joy to use and the documentation is actually readable AND useful. And of course the switches just work!

 

The single WAP on the ceiling in the center of the house covers everything perfectly including the backyard and the garage.

 

I have a number of Vlans setup in pfSense and the switch to handle things like the VOIP phones, guest wireless internet access etc. Coordinating that with pfSense and the Cisco switch was very easy. I tried doing that several years ago with an all in one box and it was almost impossible, even though it was supposed to be able to do stuff like that.

 

And you get a bunch of boxes with a whole lot of blinking lights to impress your friends!

 

John S.

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THis is a great article. Obviously its geared towards high end implementation with the Audioquest cables you are using, But nonetheless I find it very helpful. I would also be interested in your thoughts on two other related things...

 

1) If we didn't need so many network devices and really just wanted a streamline system could you get away with the switch and wireless points and just use an apple extreme. Would you be losing some of the integrity of the network? What I am getting at is I only need one wireless access point and maybe another 2 or 3 Ethernet based devices, so the huge switch and multiple wireless points is overkill. Could I combine the switch and wireless by just getting the airport extreme and still have similar integrity?

 

2) How are you setup electrical circuit wise? I have found I have to be careful with keeping certain components on the same circuit, (such as amp and preamp) otherwise I get electrical hum. How do you isolate your computer vs audio equipment vs video (if you have any) with electrical circuits in your network/system or have you never had to deal with any issues...

Samsung 2TB SSD external drive > Oppo 205 USB in > McIntosh C45 > Proceed AMP5 > Mirage HDT Speakers > Velodyne HGS15 Sub // Nordost Blue Heaven Cables, PS Audio Quintet, OWC 2TB Mercury Elite Pro Firewire

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Chris...i have a standard CenturyLink modem connected to my Cisco router with standard Cat 5E ethernet cable that then connects to my Lumin A1 Player...question..if i was to employ the Vodka Cat7 cable from the modem ..connected to the Baaske MI-1005 and then use the Vodka again to connect to my Cisco router and then..because of a 50' run to my Lumin ..continue to use the Cat 5E cable would i notice an improvement in sound with the new modem to router setup..?..i don't want to spend the $ if there probably isn't going to make a difference..thanks..dave smith...by the way...Great thread..

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Chris-

 

Great article, but doesn't seem to me to be applicable to most setups. I think the number of readers with the need for such a setup (not to mention the cost) is relatively small. I find it quite difficult to understand how to apply it to my situation, and I bet there are lots of others like me.

 

This article is for the highest end home setup, sort of like your best CAPS server. Like with the CAPS, you should offer a suggestion for a Network I and and Network II:

 

Network I: A suggestion for a simpler setup with fewer devices permanently connected to it. Also lower in cost, obviously. But still something that would be better than using the combo device from the ethernet provider.

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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Hi Chris

As you know, I am fan of AudioQuest's LAN cables too, and using the Diamond in my living room for my network player and it sounds great. I have / had the complete line of AQ LAN cables at home and stuck with the Diamond (as I also do with the USB cable).

Juergen

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I think he meant the 6141. Great modem. I use it, too.

 

Motorola Surfboard SB6141->Juniper SRX240->Cisco 3750G-24TSS-E here->2x Apple Airport Extreme ac and one Express also.

 

Juniper provides routing, stateful firewall services and site to site VPN to cloud. Cisco switch is running Advanced IP stack with DHCP and is divided up into multiple VLANs here to isolate my audio stuff (Sonos, Auralic) which are hardwired from the rest of my stuff like TVs, home automation, etc. Link Aggregation enabled for my servers to the Cisco switch, as well. No separate NAS here as I use one of my servers as file storage. One Airport Extreme on each VLAN. Airport Express is on audio VLAN.

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Thanks, Chris, this is a great refresher and public service you provide. My next task is to source some quiet linear power supplies for my modem, router and NAS.

 

Kenreau

Synology NAS> Aurender W20> AQ Wel AES/XLR> Devialet 200> AQ Castle Rock Bi-Wire> Vandersteen 5As.

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Chris,

 

Does the location of your Ethernet isolator give better sonic improvement than other location such as from the NAS or to the audio device?

 

Your thoughts on Baaske MI-1005 Ethernet isolator vs GISO 1GB?

 

Appreciate your thoughts here...

 

Thanks,

 

j

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Chris,

 

Does the location of your Ethernet isolator give better sonic improvement than other location such as from the NAS or to the audio device?

 

Your thoughts on Baaske MI-1005 Ethernet isolator vs GISO 1GB?

 

Appreciate your thoughts here...

 

Thanks,

 

j

I'm not really sure.

 

I haven't used the GISO yet.

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Chris-

 

Great article, but doesn't seem to me to be applicable to most setups. I think the number of readers with the need for such a setup (not to mention the cost) is relatively small. I find it quite difficult to understand how to apply it to my situation, and I bet there are lots of others like me.

 

This article is for the highest end home setup, sort of like your best CAPS server. Like with the CAPS, you should offer a suggestion for a Network I and and Network II:

 

Network I: A suggestion for a simpler setup with fewer devices permanently connected to it. Also lower in cost, obviously. But still something that would be better than using the combo device from the ethernet provider.

Hi firedog - Good point. The genesis of this article was all the frustration people had with networks that couldn't perform up to the task the streaming audio from a NAS. I figured one way to "guarantee" success was to show my network and give reasons why I use what I use.

 

You're also correct that there are a lot of people like you who may not need this exact setup. It's tough to recommend a different setup because everyone's situation and house are so different. I really recommend this type of infrastructure even if someone uses completely different network equipment.

 

One way os to use the modem / router provided by the ISP, into a good switch with the wireless and audio components branching off this switch. Netgear makes great unmanaged switched that are fabless as well (GS108).

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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The system I have really isn't that complicated or that expensive. The whole purpose is to use single devices that are optimized for their specific task. I had been using various combo devices for years and got totally frustrated with them. Unless you spend in the $300 range for the combo devices they just don't work all that well, even if you are not trying to do anything fancy. By doing it separately every piece works far better than the equivalent function in the combo device.

 

I put down the wrong number of the switch, what I have is the SG200-08

 

Here is the prices of what I got:

Surfboard modem $80

FitPC $200

Cisco switch $90

WAP $60

 

So that comes out to $430

 

Yeah it is more expensive than an all in one, but it is way better and never has a problem, it just works, month after month after month. NONE of the all in ones I tried could ever do that.

 

The FitPC being the most expensive part, but any atom or equivalent dual LAN boards will work here. There are several dual LAN mini-itx boards that cost less than $100, put a cheap case and some memory on them and they will work fine for pfSense.

 

So the basic system is:

modem to one port of the pfSense computer

Other port of pfSense computer to switch

One port on switch to WAP

Plug whatever else you want into the switch ports.

 

Setting up pfSense for basic router use with firewall is very easy. Yes it gets more complicated if you want to add VLANs and other fancy stuff, but you don't HAVE to do any of that.

 

Same for the switch, you can use it as a straight switch with no configuration at all, but the capability is there if you ever want to do a little more. The price of the model I listed (SG200-08) is in the same ballpark as other unmanaged 8 port switches so why not? As a straight switch it out performs almost all others, even ones that cost considerably more.

 

Using a separate WAP lets you put the antenna where it will do the most good, rather than where your ISP put the cable. I wound up using one of those WAPs that looks like smoke alarm mounted on the ceiling in the central hallway in the house. It covers everything beautifully with just one WAP. The old system had the antennas on the all in one, and 2 other WAPs in different parts of the house. The other two were not in ideal locations so I actually needed 3 to cover the house well. One WAP up high in the right place was all it really needed.

 

Even if you don't come close to using the full blown throughput of such a system the robustness of it can make it worth it. The decrease in aggravation since I put this in has been worth every penny.

 

John S.

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Thanks John. I was hoping someone would say a lot of the benefit would come from buying a modest but quality version of each type of device. That's what I'll plan on.

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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I have wired the house with simple bulk Cat 5E cable some 7 years ago.

I also use separate network components of 'home office' grade, works perfect, I have 500-600 MBit/sec transfer rate on reads (storage could be the bottleneck), but it enables me to stream full blu-ray into several rooms simultaneously.

For sure, JRiver has no issue even with DSD..

 

Don't understand really why did you have to push AudioQuest here (it was mentioned 14 times !!!),

how much did you pay for the cabling, it is crazy expensive? How long is the total run?

 

-- Michael

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