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Home Network Optimization

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I wonder if anyone can help with a Networking query for optimizing the playback experience of my digital music.  I’m specifically looking to ensure I’m not doing something wrong regarding how my network is set up.

 

Separately I’m currently building a low noise dedicated PC that will only be used for Audio see below.

 

I currently have an ethernet home network +dual band Wi-Fi  using a Netgear R6250 Router with a 3TB external hard drive connected via USB3 configured as follows:-

 

  • 3 Desktop PC’s via Ethernet using Cat7 cables. All run Windows 7, although I may need to be update to Windows 10 soon.
  • 1 x laptop running Windows 10, connects via Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth keyboards and mice.
  • Gigabit switch/hub to increase the number of Lan sockets in my home office
  • External 3TB HDD connected to the Router via USB 3 where all the music files and other backups are stored. (Soon to be replaced with an internal SSD in the dedicated Audio PC for music files, while other backups will stay on the external HDD)
  • itunes is my current media player.  I use Airplay via a Marantz MCR-603 Receiver and use Remote Android app to play music. I have some Airplay speakers/soundbars in various rooms, so moving way from itunes might be painful. I have used JRiver in the past, but I struggled with syncing the Zones (rooms) during playback.
  • I rip CD’s using dbpoweramp to AIFF. There are also a few downloaded Hi-Res audio 24bit files from HD tracks.
  • Solwise 1200mbs Homeplugs with Passthough filters to connect my Marantz MCR-603 Receiver to the Ethernet. These Homeplugs are Ethernet only 1200mbs, not Wi-Fi. https://www.solwise.co.uk/net-powerline-pl-1200av2-piggy.html
  • There are also a couple of Wi-Fi Homeplugs on the network to extend wi-fi range these are also 1200mbs Solwise https://www.solwise.co.uk/net-powerline-pl-1200av2-pew.html
  • Should the Audio PC be located close to the Router or close to the Hi-Fi (Marantz Receiver)
  • Oh and the Audio PC and the Router has USB3, which I understand has some RF interference issues with 2.4 wi-fi? I don’t think I’ll have anything plugged into the USB3 sockets during playback.

 

I’m wondering if I have too much going on over the network? I have deliberately chosen Homeplugs with passthrough filters but there are all sorts of things going on in the house, fridge, freezer,  central heating, fluorescent lights, TV’s, mixers, blenders, PIR detectors. All of these pieces of equipment can create RF noise (interference). Should I have some kind of filter on the mains side (I only have basic surge protectors)

 

Any informed comments welcome.

 

 

Lastly any comments on the dedicated Audio PC which I’m building from a mix of parts in stock and ebay as follows.

 

  • ITX format
  • Gigabit H61N-USB3 Socket 1155 motherboard
  • CPU Intel Core i7-3700s
  • CPU cooling Noctua NH-L9i INTEL ONLY Low Profile Quiet CPU Cooler
  • Memory 16GB DDR3 Kingston Hyper X Fury 2 x 8GB DDR3-1333 CL9
  • Kingston SV300S37A120G 120GB SSD for the OS
  • Crucial 2TB SDD for the Music Library
  • Optical Drive TBC
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 710 Graphics Card, although I may not install this as I wont be needing decent graphics
  • PSU Corsair SF450 Platinum Fully Modular SFX Power Supply
  • Windows 7 Professional 64 bit(may upgrade to Windows 10)

 

I'm aware this is not high end equipment, but I was impressed with the low ripple of the PSU and how the fan can be tuned. The CPU is fairly low power TDP of 65W.

 

NB. I’ll not be needing a DAC. The Marantz Receiver has a good Burr-Brown 24/192 DAC

 

 

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Is anything wrong with the playback experience now?  Do you hear noise?

 

It is good practice to kill off Fl lights - newer LEDs should be fine.  Or turn the lights off while listening, ensure the stereo is on on a different circuit and also on a different column in your elec. panel from noise producing appliances.

 

Other appliances will not be used when listening, will they?

 

Homeplugs for WiFi may not have the best transformers/power supply and could inject noise into the AC power line - it will then travel to the DAC (receiver) where it will be attenuated by the transformer, but perhaps not all the way.  Generally, signal transmission thru the AC line is very noisy - are the Homeplugs involved in that at all?

 

The DAC will determine how important noise on the input is to SQ.  Some DACs have good isolation.  When people have tested modern DACs they find few issues with this.

 

Ethernet uses transformers and they will provide a lot of isolation for noise.  Using optical cable will eliminate noise on the signal line completely.  Either way a low noise PC is not needed.  WiFi similarly eliminates noise on the signal line.

 

I think there is an add on for iTunes (Audirvana??) that will handle HiRes - dunno how well it works on PCs.

 

Ground loops may be more important than using filters.

 

If you have a large budget there are balanced power supplies you can buy.  Or do a search for Topaz on here - they often can be had for about $600.  You may need nothing; you may need something.

 

Your speakers and their setup in the room (room tmts.) will have a far greater effect on SQ than many of the things above.  I'd kill signal transmission via the AC lien and Fl bulbs tho.

 

You want to strike a balance between eliminating noise effects and having a noise fetish...


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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