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A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming

The Computer Audiophile

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Most important: please realize this thread is about bleeding edge experimentation and discovery. No one has The Answer™. If you are not into tweaking, just know that you can have a musically satisfying system without doing any of the nutty things we do here.

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1 hour ago, lmitche said:

Have you tried the Monoprice Slimrun Fiber USB 3 extension cable?

Not yet, because I am using LVDS I2S over HDMI cable currently. I was stupid enough to think that the Silmrun HDMI extender may work and bought one but had to return it. Working on my USB-based rig... looks promising that I may be able to switch to USB soon. 

I was hoping there would be some feedback on the USB Slimrun extender by now. It's a relatively inexpensive thing to try, easy to return, and also gives you the option to move the computer further away from your audio system, which may be beneficial. 

 

49 minutes ago, Dev said:

Nenon, are you using the A or B side of the eR ? I am perplexed when you say it makes a big difference. I can understand that it can make a difference if both ends (upstream and downstream) are connected to the A side of eR but if one is connected to A and other is connected to B, wouldn't eR isolation/moat reduce the effect of the ethernet cables in general ?

You know, that's interesting actually. I only like using the A-side only and not crossing the moat in a very particular scenario:

- fiber from the eR to my router.

- JCAT Signature Gold ethernet cable to my server.

With the JCAT ethernet cable my Qobuz streaming becomes a lot more transparent. So transparent that I think the 1Gbps on my server (vs. using 100 Mbps) brings more than crossing the moat on the eR. But with any other cable I have tried, I prefer to connect the A-side to my router and the B-side to my server. Very interesting. Of course I can try hardcoding the speed to 100Mbps when using the A-side exclusively, but I haven't had a chance to do that test. 

 

Currently, I am using the B-side as I am testing a Melco switch upstream from the etherRegen.

 

@austinpop is absolutely right! Adding the Melco switch between my router and the etherRegen brings Qobuz streaming to yet another level. 

Currently I have the following network: Cable modem --(copper)--> Ubiquity router --(copper)--> Melco switch --(fiber)--> (A)etherREGEN(B) --(copper)--> JCAT NIC on the server (one box solution connected directly to the DAC). And that sounds better than without the Melco. 

 

But I have a second Melco(*) switch (more on that in some future posts). So would adding a second Melco switch be even better?

Cable modem --(copper)--> Ubiquity router --(copper)--> Melco switch --> Melco(*) switch --(fiber)--> (A)etherREGEN(B) --(copper)--> JCAT NIC on the server.

 

Yes! It is better with 3 switches in the chain. The song I used for A/B comparison was even more enjoyable with the chain of 3 switches. 

459044627_ScreenShot2020-03-15at2_27_29PM.png.f4884f2eb1c8b49bae5fa46ef7bd7242.png

 

Is it worth doing that? IMO - no.

Does it ever end? NO!

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Nenon said:

You know, that's interesting actually. I only like using the A-side only and not crossing the moat in a very particular scenario:

- fiber from the eR to my router.

- JCAT Signature Gold ethernet cable to my server.

With the JCAT ethernet cable my Qobuz streaming becomes a lot more transparent. So transparent that I think the 1Gbps on my server (vs. using 100 Mbps) brings more than crossing the moat on the eR. But with any other cable I have tried, I prefer to connect the A-side to my router and the B-side to my server. Very interesting. Of course I can try hardcoding the speed to 100Mbps when using the A-side exclusively, but I haven't had a chance to do that test. 

 

Currently, I am using the B-side as I am testing a Melco switch upstream from the etherRegen.

 

@austinpop is absolutely right! Adding the Melco switch between my router and the etherRegen brings Qobuz streaming to yet another level. 

Currently I have the following network: Cable modem --(copper)--> Ubiquity router --(copper)--> Melco switch --(fiber)--> (A)etherREGEN(B) --(copper)--> JCAT NIC on the server (one box solution connected directly to the DAC). And that sounds better than without the Melco. 

 

But I have a second Melco(*) switch (more on that in some future posts). So would adding a second Melco switch be even better?

Cable modem --(copper)--> Ubiquity router --(copper)--> Melco switch --> Melco(*) switch --(fiber)--> (A)etherREGEN(B) --(copper)--> JCAT NIC on the server.

 

Yes! It is better with 3 switches in the chain. The song I used for A/B comparison was even more enjoyable with the chain of 3 switches. 

459044627_ScreenShot2020-03-15at2_27_29PM.png.f4884f2eb1c8b49bae5fa46ef7bd7242.png

 

Is it worth doing that? IMO - no.

Does it ever end? NO!

 

 

 

well, looks like you are missing one more audiograde switch in the chain and since you have gone that far, you need to try the OCXO Quad switch from Paul Pang 🙂

 

http://ppaproduct.blogspot.com/2015/07/audio-grade-switcher.html

 

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1 hour ago, Nenon said:

But I have a second Melco(*) switch (more on that in some future posts). So would adding a second Melco switch be even better?

Cable modem --(copper)--> Ubiquity router --(copper)--> Melco switch --> Melco(*) switch --(fiber)--> (A)etherREGEN(B) --(copper)--> JCAT NIC on the server.

 

What happens if you put the Melco after the etherREGEN?


 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Nenon said:

Currently I have the following network: Cable modem --(copper)--> Ubiquity router --(copper)--> Melco switch --(fiber)--> (A)etherREGEN(B) --(copper)--> JCAT NIC on the server (one box solution connected directly to the DAC). And that sounds better than without the Melco. 

 

Just for clarification:

 

Did you compare in this set-up:

 

1. ER A-side >> JCAT NIC >> server

vs

2. ER B-side >> JCAT NIC >> server

 

BTW, which copper port did you use with the Melco?

 

Thanks

 

Matt

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1 hour ago, auricgoldfinger said:

 

What happens if you put the Melco after the etherREGEN?


Or Melco first and go optical to ER, that’s what I am thinking.


🇳🇱
Meitner ma1 v2 dac,  Sovereign preamp and power amp,

DIY speakers with scan speak illuminator drivers.

Under development:

NUC7i7dnbe, Euphony Stylus

EtherRegen, LPS1- Isoregen, Lush^2

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Just now, RickyV said:


Or Melco first and go optical to ER, that’s what I am thinking.

 

@austinpop and I use SOtM via optical to ER.  In the ER review, he preferred the Melco to the other two switches (when cost is not a factor), so why not try it last in the chain?  Only Uptone says the ER must be last.  I haven't seen anyone test that assertion.


 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Superdad said:

 

Small correction: The EtherREGEN does not ship with any SFP transceiver, nor does UpTone sell any SFP modules. Everyone is free to roll their own. B|


Sorry. My mistake. I had forgotten that in all my experimenting. 😉


SonicTransporter i5 > EtherRegen > opticalRendu (all three powered by Uptone JS-2) > Ayre QX-5 DAC > Ayre KX-R Twenty Preamp > Ayre MX-R Twenty mono amps > YG Kipod Signature Passive speakers.

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7 hours ago, guiltyboxswapper said:

 

Not best for ER, certainly much improved on oM+oR but found the planet variants sounded less mechanical with the oM+oR too.


What model would you recommend? Thanks. 


SonicTransporter i5 > EtherRegen > opticalRendu (all three powered by Uptone JS-2) > Ayre QX-5 DAC > Ayre KX-R Twenty Preamp > Ayre MX-R Twenty mono amps > YG Kipod Signature Passive speakers.

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5 hours ago, Nenon said:

I was hoping there would be some feedback on the USB Slimrun extender by now.

Tried the USB Slimrun extender in 33ft length. Unfortunately it doesn't work NUC i7 -> RME ADI-2 DAC but does work with the NUC->an old ES9023 USB dongle I have around. The RME says USB (disconnected).

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5 hours ago, auricgoldfinger said:

What happens if you put the Melco after the etherREGEN?

I could not try that, because the power supply powering the etherREGEN was not 12V, and I did not have a suitable power supply for that purpose. I wonder if @austinpop tried it. 

 

4 hours ago, RickyV said:

Or Melco first and go optical to ER, that’s what I am thinking.

That's what I did. 

6 hours ago, Nenon said:

Cable modem --(copper)--> Ubiquity router --(copper)--> Melco switch --(fiber)--> (A)etherREGEN(B) --(copper)--> JCAT NIC

The Ubiquity router has a SPF port, but I use it to isolate my WiFi access point, as that seems to inject a lot more noise in my network if connected with copper. It's quite audible in my system if I connect the WiFI access point with copper to the Ubiquity router. It took a lot of trial and error to tame that noise. I always isolate the WiFi via fiber now. 

 

 

4 hours ago, auricgoldfinger said:

 

@austinpop and I use SOtM via optical to ER.  In the ER review, he preferred the Melco to the other two switches (when cost is not a factor), so why not try it last in the chain?  Only Uptone says the ER must be last.  I haven't seen anyone test that assertion.

I agree it's a good test to do. I can't do it at the moment due to power supply limitations, but I should be able to do it soon.

 

 

5 hours ago, matthias said:

Did you compare in this set-up:

1. ER A-side >> JCAT NIC >> server

vs

2. ER B-side >> JCAT NIC >> server

My early etherREGN tests (I was lucky to get one from the first batch) did not show any difference between going A-->B or B-->A. But I haven't tested that recently. My network setup is much more resolving now, and I think I need to repeat some of the tests. But my early tests were also more inline with what a typical eR user would be doing. Today's tests with two Melco switches, an eR, and $3,000+ worth of ethernet cables, not to mention all the power supplies, power cords, SR Orange fuses, etc. are a little bit out of the norm. But why not try it while I have all that stuff. I am sending some of it back tomorrow, so today was tha day. 

What I compared was:

1. Router connected to the A-side; server connected to the B-side.

vs.

2. Router and server connected to the A-side.

There is one very specific case where I liked router and server connected to the A-side and not going to the B-side.  And that was the best sounding combination of all. But in most other cases Router to the A-side and server to the B-side sounded best. 

@austinpop has tried many of those tests in his excellent review. But with networking stuff YMMV. 

 

 

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I'm a big believer in optical now since that above experience. In order to completely get rid of ethernet/copper connection, I need to find a suitable replacement of my JCAT NET card. Is there any audiophile grade PCIE optical lan card? I think startech makes one but not sure their quality.

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4 hours ago, auricgoldfinger said:

 

@austinpop and I use SOtM via optical to ER.  In the ER review, he preferred the Melco to the other two switches (when cost is not a factor), so why not try it last in the chain?  Only Uptone says the ER must be last.  I haven't seen anyone test that assertion.

 

Despite the review becoming TL;DR for many people, there were sooo many things I didn't try or chose to leave out!

 

Yes, I do think the "best" switch should be last in the chain. I'll try the Melco as the last switch when I get a chance...

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@shahed99 - you can try the Startech PEX1000SFP card that the Extreme uses. 

I am not sure that fiber cables work better everywhere. They change the sound if they are on your streaming path. And it's not just about noise isolation but also quality reclocking, which the JCAT NET Femto does better than the Startech.  

On the 5m cable - I would not worry too much about it. 

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And my advise use normal distance SFP's for single mode (less than 5 miles), the more complex and the more distance the SFP have the more RFI should generate, although shielding could be actually better on those, as a matter of fact I haven't tested those, but I know it will increase the radiated RFI.

 

Stay away from BiDi at all cost, even wider spectrum RFI, use regular dual fibers LC's SFP's

 

Ubiquity is a great brand and very inexpensive

 

Avoid the FMC's (fiber media converters) if possible

 

My 2 cents

 

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I've been connecting my server to ER's B side and listened for past few months.

After reading Emile's post in wb, I tried to connect my server and router on A side.

OMG, the sound stage opened up a lot , it has more texture and energy then the B side 100M port.

 

I will not go back to B port anymore.

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3 hours ago, seeteeyou said:

 

Well, didn't @hols (current owner of SGM Extreme) comment that Melco switch → Melco(*) switch → SOtM switch + Habst clock cable + Cybershaft OP21A might have the potential to achieve something that's very close to what SGM Extreme could offer?

 

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/melco-s100-audiophile-switch.29828/page-2#post-627616

 

Since that industrial grade Planet Technology MGB-TLX (with wide temperature range -40℃ to 75℃) turned out to be a winner while @romaz should be evaluating Telegärtner M12 Gold Switch soon, maybe it's also an interesting experiment to give their Industrial IP67 Rated IGS-5227-6MT-X a try since used ones are available on eBay for $299 or less?

 

https://www.amazon.com/PLANET-Industrial-Managed-Ethernet-IGS-5227-6MT-X/dp/B075JD79VG

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Planet-IGS-5227-6MT-X-Industrial-IP67-rated-6-Port-Gigabit-M12-Ethernet-Switch-/153780775951

https://planetechusa.com/product/igs-5227-6mt-x-industrial-ip67-rated-6-port-10-100-1000t-m12-managed-ethernet-switch/

 

Please take a look at the picture on eBay as well as RTFM, it's indicating that DC 12V could be accepted and here's the M12 connector required for making JSSG DC cables with 15AWG Mundorf SGW115

 

https://planetechusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/IGS-5227-6MT-X_Datasheet.pdf#page=6

 

We could make our own Ethernet cables that are terminated with X-coded M12 connector on one end, though here's something that's ready to go

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/METZ-CONNECT-142M2X15010-M12-RJ45-ETHERNET-CABLE-IP67-FNOB/183867433128

https://www.metz-connect.com/en/products/142m2x15010

 

IMHO it's hard to tell why Telegärtner would perform so well according to Emile, did the wide temperature part play a role while having the right male / female connectors might also score some extra points?

 

https://slideplayer.com/slide/5267720/

aO91dn3.jpg

 

 

 

All great ideas. I bookmarked your post and will get to it eventually if no one else does. I have too many other experiments on my plate at the moment. Hopefully someone would listen to you, try one of these switches, and report back. I would have done it in a heartbeat if I did not have so many other things going on. 

 

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On 3/16/2020 at 3:26 AM, shahed99 said:

I'm a big believer in optical now since that above experience. In order to completely get rid of ethernet/copper connection, I need to find a suitable replacement of my JCAT NET card. Is there any audiophile grade PCIE optical lan card? I think startech makes one but not sure their quality.

 

I think we need to tread carefully here.  The opticalModule, opticalRendu and ER do some kind of signal regeneration / clean up process.  I imagine other switches are doing similar via reclocking too. 

 

I have tried the off-the-shelf FMCs such as recommended StarTech, not nearly as capable.

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7 hours ago, seeteeyou said:

Well, didn't @hols (current owner of SGM Extreme) comment that Melco switch → Melco(*) switch → SOtM switch + Habst clock cable + Cybershaft OP21A might have the potential to achieve something that's very close to what SGM Extreme could offer?

 

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/melco-s100-audiophile-switch.29828/page-2#post-627616

 

The setup of @hols is a typical setup with NAA as endpoint.

 

For comparison @romaz for example always prefered his Extreme to ANY setup with an endpoint even when his Extreme was either server or endpoint.

 

Matt

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1 hour ago, zettelsm said:
With the arrival of the Extreme, the feed from the LAN became:
 
DSL modem > copper jumper (Sablon ethernet cable) > StarTech FMC/Planet Tech SFP with -10dB attenuator > fiber > Startech SFP with -10dB attenuator/Extreme

CORRECTION (since I can't edit this post now):

 

The correct feed configuration from LAN to Extreme:

 

DSL modem > copper jumper (Sablon ethernet cable) > Startech FMC/Startech SFP with -10dB attenuator > fiber > Startec SFP with -10dB attenuator/Extreme

 

Obviously, mixing a Planet Tech SFP (1310nm) on one end and a Startech SFP (1550nm) on the other end would not have worked.

 

Also, in musical test track 3. above, it is Mozart's Piano Concerto 20 and not 2.

 

Sorry for the errors.

 

Steve Z


VPI-HW40 Anniversary turntable, Grado Aeon cartridge, Teres turntable, VPI Fatboy gimbal, Dynavector XV1-S, Lyra Helikon mono; Taiko Audio Extreme server, dCS Vivaldi DAC, Upsampler Plus and Clock, Cybershaft OP21 Reference Clock; Playback Designs Pinot ADC; D'Agostino Momentum S250 amplifier, Momentum HD preamp, Momentum phono stage; Sonus Faber Aida speakers, SVS SB16 Ultra quad subwoofers; Shunyata Triton v3/Typhon QR & Typhon, Shunyata Sigma NR & Alpha NR power cords, Sigma interconnects, digital and speaker cables; Stillpoints ESS grid system rack; Stillpoints Ultras and Ultra 5s, component stands and cones under everything, ASC Tube Traps . . . and lots and lots of music.

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4 hours ago, zettelsm said:

Once again I'll just say that all of this is very much in the context of my own system, LAN and taste in music and musical presentation. And it appears that for whatever the reason, with an Extreme in the mix some of the unique attributes of the EtherRegen don't come out in the same way they do with other servers. The EtherRegen would be my first choice if I needed a switch in the feed to my Extreme because it is still better sounding than a Startech FMC, or a TLS OXCO switch. However for my needs and for what I value in sonic presentation the Optical Module with Planet Tech SFP has just the right balance.

Hopefully this was helpful, or at least interesting and worth the time spent reading.

 

Great work Steve,

thank you:-)

 

I agree, it is certainly a big advantage to have the Extreme in a set-up for these evaluations.

 

Matt

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