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Prosumer Routers/WiFi recommendations


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I am looking for recommendations, comments, and discussion around prosumer routers, i.e., a more robust setup over the typical Netgear, Linksys, and Asus. 

 

Note that I have some experience setting up my home systems but I am not a networking person and certainly do not know or understand all the nuances and settings within a router.

 

My experience summary:

Years ago, 10-20, I used Linksys.  I seem to recall they were underwhelming.  I switched to Asus and these were decent but ran hot enough to fry eggs.  The unit finally burned itself up...helped along by a thunderstorm.  I then switched to Apple Extreme (older style) but the range was limiting...I still use it as a wired-wifi access point.  Extremely stable...I have not logged into it in years.  I then went on to Netgear...starting with the R7000 (now a backup) and R7800 which is in use for routing/wifi.  I found the Netgears pretty good until the firmware updates started piling up and rendered both units very unstable requiring multiple reboots per day.  I was just about to pull the trigger on either MikroTik or Ubiquiti when I tried Voxel firmware on the R7800 and this has been a godsend.  Great stability and with frequent updates.  Voxel is limited to a few routers but is working well for me.

 

But the hardware has to be getting to end of lifetime.  I purchased the R7800 just after release so it is several years old.  So I am searching now for what could replace the unit.  I would like a step up in hardware build and reliability from the plastic offering of the current consumer brands and am looking for recommendations.

 

My current service is Spectrum 400mb down/20-30 mb up and is more than fast enough.

I use the Spectrum Modem and the R7800 as a router and wifi with the Apple unit connected via ethernet as a wifi access point.

 

Routers I have looked at but really do not know much about:

Ubiquiti: Lots of models, lots of reviews with some good/great and some not so good.  A couple of users in the neighborhood use ubiquiti and like but had professional setup.

MikroTik: This is the brand I would like to know more about but do not know anyone using.

pfsense: I discounted from previous researching but not sure I remember why...I think because I had to build a pc to run the routing/

 

I have looked at other brands (whose names escape me) but the available information was limited.

 

Thank you in advance for any input.

 

chris

QNAP TS453Pro w/QLMS->Netgear Switch->Netgear R7800 Router->Ethernet (50 ft)->Netgear switch->SBT->iFi xDSD->Linn Majik-IL (preamp)->Linn 2250->Linn Keilidh; Control Points: Squeeze Commander (DroidX) & iPeng (iPad Air); Also: Rega P3-24 w/ DV 10x5; OPPO 103; PC Playback: Foobar2000 & JRiver; Portable: Sony NWZ_ZX1 & ZX2 w/ PHA-3; SMSL IQ, Fiio Q5, iFi Nano iDSD BL; Garage: Edifier S1000DB Active Speakers  Wish List: New DAC,  SBT replacement; Dream system: Linn EXACT or ATC Active or Big Tubes (KR or Nagra or Shindo or ...)

 

My goal is to use appliances and take home PC out of the chain...

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This isn't exactly what you asked but I have a Linksys AC1900 from a few years ago. It was top of the home line back then. Wifi-Ethernet Router, but not modem. It's rock solid. Zero complaints and has better range that the simpler combo routers most people use at home. I also added  TP-LINK switch for all my ethernet devices. The combo is really good. Best network performance I've ever had. I use my ISP provided combo modem/router just as a modem. So my setup is modem>router>switch. My ISP will freak out if I don't use their modem/router. They don't even like it that I limited it to just the modem function, and don't support that setup.

 

This is high end "home" equipment, not anything pro, although the switch is apparently intended for office use. Certainly seems all I need at home. If you have a really extensive home setup you might need more pro like equipment.

 

But in answer to your question, I'm more in the school of getting dedicated devices for each function: modem, router, etc. I'd probably break apart the wifi and ethernet too, if it was easily doable for not a lot of money. At the time I bought, it wasn't a very practical option.

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: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I use a mix of TP-Link, Cisco and Mikrotik equipment in my home network. My ISP is fiber-based and doesn't use a modem, just a RJ45 Ethernet connection to my TP-Link Archer C400 router/wifi, located in the middle of my second floor house (ideal location for wifi coverage).

 

Connected to the TP-Link is an unmanaged Cisco 5-port switch that I use to consolidate my NAS and Roon Server (NUC) as well as connect to Internet and downstairs music system.

 

The Cisco connects to a Mikrotik 10Gbe managed switch (via copper Ethernet) in my downstairs music system which in turn is used to connect my music server (HQP Desktop) and opticalRendu, both have optical ports.

 

Circling back around to your specific question, Ubiquiti sounds like really great gear but their product offerings have always been confusing to me. It does seem like they are starting to offer more high-end consumer related gear like the EdgeRouter and EdgeSwitch lines.

 

The big draw for Mikrotik is their 10Gbe gear at a very nice price. They have two OS - RouterOS and SwOS - which you can switch between. RouterOS has much more functionalities where as the SwOS is more light weight - you can tell the different in boot time. I use SwOS because I don't want to deal with all the overhead of the router software.

 

In general, there seems to be a move toward more fiber optic networks for their natural immunity to noise. Some gear like the Sonore opticalRendu and the new Linn Klimax DSM have optical ports which tells you something about where things are headed. If you want to learn more about optical networks, there is large thread on the subject. The cost of going fiber optics is about the same as copper Ethernet but the complexity with having to use fiber optic transceivers can be a bit daunting (single mode vs multi-mode, 10Gbe vs 10Gbe/1Gbe vs 1Gbe transceivers, etc.) at first. That said, you can get some fiber optic gear (switch) and then start playing with the various transceiver as they are typically just plug & play.

 

If you are revamping your network, I would seriously consider going with fiber optics. Good luck with all this.

Eric


Ubuntu Studio Linux box (i7-9700, 8 cores, 16GB RAM, Intel X520-DA1 NIC, HQP Desktop) > fiber optic > MikroTik CRS305-1G-4S+ > fiber optic > opticalRendu (HQP NAA) > Holo Cyan (DSD version) > Nord One UP NC500MB mono blocks > Klipsch La Scala — digital volume control with HQP via Roon client, DSP with HQP convolution engine, Intel NUC (Roon server)

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3 hours ago, firedog said:

This isn't exactly what you asked but I have a Linksys AC1900 from a few years ago. It was top of the home line back then. Wifi-Ethernet Router, but not modem. It's rock solid. Zero complaints and has better range that the simpler combo routers most people use at home. I also added  TP-LINK switch for all my ethernet devices. The combo is really good. Best network performance I've ever had. I use my ISP provided combo modem/router just as a modem. So my setup is modem>router>switch. My ISP will freak out if I don't use their modem/router. They don't even like it that I limited it to just the modem function, and don't support that setup.

 

This is high end "home" equipment, not anything pro, although the switch is apparently intended for office use. Certainly seems all I need at home. If you have a really extensive home setup you might need more pro like equipment.

 

But in answer to your question, I'm more in the school of getting dedicated devices for each function: modem, router, etc. I'd probably break apart the wifi and ethernet too, if it was easily doable for not a lot of money. At the time I bought, it wasn't a very practical option.

@firedog Thanks for the response.  My setup is almost identical to yours  modem (ISP provided/Router (r7800)/switch...lan cable...switch/Apple AP)...I think another switch in the chain to connect more devices and a EOP to connect the AVR in the room next to the router location.   My setup is robust since moving to the Voxel firmware...I am just anticipating/planning for router HW failure.  I am not too enamored with consumer models as they seem to be just fancy plastic with mediocre PCBs with intended failure rates (just my opinion).

QNAP TS453Pro w/QLMS->Netgear Switch->Netgear R7800 Router->Ethernet (50 ft)->Netgear switch->SBT->iFi xDSD->Linn Majik-IL (preamp)->Linn 2250->Linn Keilidh; Control Points: Squeeze Commander (DroidX) & iPeng (iPad Air); Also: Rega P3-24 w/ DV 10x5; OPPO 103; PC Playback: Foobar2000 & JRiver; Portable: Sony NWZ_ZX1 & ZX2 w/ PHA-3; SMSL IQ, Fiio Q5, iFi Nano iDSD BL; Garage: Edifier S1000DB Active Speakers  Wish List: New DAC,  SBT replacement; Dream system: Linn EXACT or ATC Active or Big Tubes (KR or Nagra or Shindo or ...)

 

My goal is to use appliances and take home PC out of the chain...

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55 minutes ago, ericuco said:

I use a mix of TP-Link, Cisco and Mikrotik equipment in my home network. My ISP is fiber-based and doesn't use a modem, just a RJ45 Ethernet connection to my TP-Link Archer C400 router/wifi, located in the middle of my second floor house (ideal location for wifi coverage).

 

Connected to the TP-Link is an unmanaged Cisco 5-port switch that I use to consolidate my NAS and Roon Server (NUC) as well as connect to Internet and downstairs music system.

 

The Cisco connects to a Mikrotik 10Gbe managed switch (via copper Ethernet) in my downstairs music system which in turn is used to connect my music server (HQP Desktop) and opticalRendu, both have optical ports.

 

Circling back around to your specific question, Ubiquiti sounds like really great gear but their product offerings have always been confusing to me. It does seem like they are starting to offer more high-end consumer related gear like the EdgeRouter and EdgeSwitch lines.

 

The big draw for Mikrotik is their 10Gbe gear at a very nice price. They have two OS - RouterOS and SwOS - which you can switch between. RouterOS has much more functionalities where as the SwOS is more light weight - you can tell the different in boot time. I use SwOS because I don't want to deal with all the overhead of the router software.

 

In general, there seems to be a move toward more fiber optic networks for their natural immunity to noise. Some gear like the Sonore opticalRendu and the new Linn Klimax DSM have optical ports which tells you something about where things are headed. If you want to learn more about optical networks, there is large thread on the subject. The cost of going fiber optics is about the same as copper Ethernet but the complexity with having to use fiber optic transceivers can be a bit daunting (single mode vs multi-mode, 10Gbe vs 10Gbe/1Gbe vs 1Gbe transceivers, etc.) at first. That said, you can get some fiber optic gear (switch) and then start playing with the various transceiver as they are typically just plug & play.

 

If you are revamping your network, I would seriously consider going with fiber optics. Good luck with all this.

 

@ericuco Thanks for the reply.  I follow the optical threads a bit due to curiosity but it will be cold day in hell before my neighborhood gets fiber (too isolated) and I really do not need fiber to move my tax return files from the upstairs pc to the downstairs.  As far as Audio, I do not listen critically (too taxing) so I am not looking for the last iota of performance.  This inquiry is only about home network robustness.  I do have a newer laptop and can utilize the 5ghz wifi speed which is cool.  Thanks for the info about MikroTik sw...i will dig into that a bit more.

QNAP TS453Pro w/QLMS->Netgear Switch->Netgear R7800 Router->Ethernet (50 ft)->Netgear switch->SBT->iFi xDSD->Linn Majik-IL (preamp)->Linn 2250->Linn Keilidh; Control Points: Squeeze Commander (DroidX) & iPeng (iPad Air); Also: Rega P3-24 w/ DV 10x5; OPPO 103; PC Playback: Foobar2000 & JRiver; Portable: Sony NWZ_ZX1 & ZX2 w/ PHA-3; SMSL IQ, Fiio Q5, iFi Nano iDSD BL; Garage: Edifier S1000DB Active Speakers  Wish List: New DAC,  SBT replacement; Dream system: Linn EXACT or ATC Active or Big Tubes (KR or Nagra or Shindo or ...)

 

My goal is to use appliances and take home PC out of the chain...

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1 hour ago, jcbenten said:

 

@ericuco Thanks for the reply.  I follow the optical threads a bit due to curiosity but it will be cold day in hell before my neighborhood gets fiber (too isolated) and I really do not need fiber to move my tax return files from the upstairs pc to the downstairs.  As far as Audio, I do not listen critically (too taxing) so I am not looking for the last iota of performance.  This inquiry is only about home network robustness.  I do have a newer laptop and can utilize the 5ghz wifi speed which is cool.  Thanks for the info about MikroTik sw...i will dig into that a bit more.

 

The whole appeal of fiber optic network for audiophiles is not the speed (I usually see about 3-4 Mbps for my music files on the network) but the immunity to electrical noise interference. Even if you use it to connect (isolate) your music system, it will usually provide benefit in SQ.

 

For me, fiber is just as robust as copper Ethernet. In any case, best of luck to you.

Eric


Ubuntu Studio Linux box (i7-9700, 8 cores, 16GB RAM, Intel X520-DA1 NIC, HQP Desktop) > fiber optic > MikroTik CRS305-1G-4S+ > fiber optic > opticalRendu (HQP NAA) > Holo Cyan (DSD version) > Nord One UP NC500MB mono blocks > Klipsch La Scala — digital volume control with HQP via Roon client, DSP with HQP convolution engine, Intel NUC (Roon server)

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