Ethernet to Optical Converter?

Hi Everyone,

I searched for this question a couple of ways and do not see it posted. Apologies if I am in the wrong Topic.

I have been enjoying my new Matrix Audio streamer DAC a lot. Even the USB signal is the cleanest I’ve ever heard.

I had hoped streaming would give me the best sound, but I am having issues with clicking and glitches in the sound the manufacturer explains is related to the ISP and Tidal servers. I can only assume that is correct. I intend to test it this weekend with Ethernet. In the end, I don’t really need to stream over WiFi, I just tried it because my previous experience with USB was so poor.

My question is: Does anyone have any experience adapting Ethernet signal out of a router to Optical with a converter? Can this represent an improvement in sound?

I’d like to avoid spending on another experiment if it is useless.

Thank you for any wisdoms!

That would be another streamer - since there is no single standard for sending audio over Ethernet (and therefore no simple “converter top optical”). Operating in front of your existing streamer - but bypassing its streaming capabilities.

If the issues you’re experiencing are down to TIDAL, your ISP, or your network, then it would have no beneficial effect.

Well, you can try one of the raspberry pi + hat solutions, some of which will give different (some might say “even more betterer”) connection methods like AES.

DigiOne Signature, PIE2AES, stuff like that. We have a thread with some discussions about it. Probably the Roon thread.

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Thank you Torq.
I could have been clearer. Until I get the network stuff worked out, I will try Ethernet to compare to USB. I am not even trying to stream over WiFi until I figure out what’s wrong with that source. What I am curious about is if anyone has an opinion if Optical is superior to Ethernet. I think what you wrote is that there are no simple Ethernet to Optical converters?

Thank you Torq.
I could have been clearer. Until I get the network stuff worked out, I will try Ethernet to compare to USB. I am not even trying to stream over WiFi until I figure out what’s wrong with that source. What I am curious about is if anyone has an opinion if Optical is superior to Ethernet. I think what you wrote is that there are no simple Ethernet to Optical converters?

Thank you ProFalkin. I am going to look into this PI2AES. But I think that the Ethernet is an output, so not sure it would convert an Ethernet input to optical out, and I do not want to add a streamer just for an optical out. If the Matrix is not working with my signal, I am not sure anything would.

It might be worth taking a step back and describing your setup.

A couple things are tickling my sixth-sense (but I could be wrong :smile:)

When a vendor blames an issue on another vendor it’s always worth validating that. In this case, if you can successfully stream Tidal via a PC, phone or tablet it raises a flag.

It sounds to me like you are asking if you can use an optical input to the streamer instead of a wi-fi or wired internet connection. That is an apples-to-oranges situation, but I might be misunderstanding your question.

Maybe you could describe how your streamer is accessing Tidal and any other connections to the streamer.

That’s right.

Ethernet is a low-level specification (the bottom two layers in the OSI model, “Physical” and “Data Link”) and there is no such thing as “Ethernet Audio” as a specification. There are a bunch of protocols that run on top of Ethernet, most actually another two-layers up, on top of the TCP/IP suite.

So to put an audio signal out over an Ethernet connection (or WiFi for that matter), other protocols and formats are required (e.g. RAAT, Ravenna/AES67, Dante, DLNA/UPnP and so on). That means having something that can output a music source in one of those protocols as well as something that can a) receive it and then b) send it to a DAC (noting that part “a” might be internal to the DAC unit). That’s what streaming is, in the context of a local network-addressable DAC/streamer.

The PI2AES (and similar) devices/approaches that @ProfFalkin mentions are a DIY-ish implementation of a streamer that does the above. They’ll support one or more protocols, and offer one or more output types (e.g. USB, S/PDIF COAX or TOSLINK, I2S etc.).

If you have a Matrix product from the “Element” line, then you don’t need an additional streaming solution. And adding one won’t help. I’d wager the issue you’re having is either due to your WiFi/network connection not having sufficient reliably-sustained bandwidth for the audio you’re trying to stream, or the Matrix box is faulty.

Which means, if it doesn’t stream without issue using a wired network connection, adding a different wired-networking connection isn’t likely to fix it.

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Thank you NickZ. I really appreciate the expertise on this forum.

I have a Matrix Audio Element X DAC/Streamer/Headphone amp. I was successful in getting it to stream Tidal from my standard ISP router/wifi. I pay for 480 Mbps internet and get over 250 consistently in my office. I use the MA (Matrix Audio) App on an iPad to control Tidal and the device settings. However, the stream is often interrupted by glitches, pops, and other disturbances that ruin it. It is strange because it happens on some tracks and not others, even when the same bit rate etc. It has nothing to do with being warm or how long it has been on.

I also have a standard USB input coming from my MacMini which I can play Tidal through, and for better results, Tidal through Audirvana. This sounds incredible to me and I could very likely just stop there and be forever happy. Except that I paid for an expensive streamer, not just a DAC. My goal was to ditch USB.

My next troubleshooting step will be to run an Ethernet cable from my router to hear what that sounds like and if it eliminates the disturbances the WiFi network is theoretically creating.

I do not have a source that uses optical output but I have read that optical can in some circumstances sound the best and I started this post to see if anyone had such experience and knew of a way to convert from Ethernet to Optical so I could test the theory.

I am searching for the absolute cleanest digital source because I often listen with sensitive IEMs and I am hyper sensitive to noise floor, ground loops, glare etc. So far the Element X has absolutely zero issues with noise or distortion, although I eventually had to run it on its own AC outlet separate from the MacMini because of an extremely faint 120hz hum and I cannot put it anywhere near an LCD monitor because it produces a fast (also faint) clicking noise the closer it gets to the monitor. Mind you, these issues are only audible with no music playing and heard against a pitch black background. I had hoped to use it as an all in one desktop system, but cannot put it on my desktop!

It sounds absolutely brilliant though. I am just (as many here are) trying to get to the end game and be finished with the search. I hope.

For reference, here is what the manufacturer wrote, very quick response BTW:

" The situation you encountered is a typical phenomenon caused by the instability of MQA data flow caused by poor network speed.

This does not refer to your home Internet access speed, but refers to the connection between your Internet service provider and Tidal or Qobuz servers.

Our engineers have some suggestions here:

  1. Try to restart router and restart Element, to restart Element must unplug the power cord.

  2. If you currently use 2.4G band, please switch to 5G band; if you currently use 5G band, please switch to use 2.4G band WIFI to try.

  3. Please check whether there is a setting to limit the network speed in the router.

  4. Please try to use other wireless routers(maybe a higer level), to see whether there is any improvement.

  5. Please connect through LAN cable to have a try, don’t remember to switch WiFi to LAN in setting menu."

Thank you again for a willingness to read all this.

Thank you again Torq. You folks are amazing.

I just wrote a full description of the setup to NickZ.

I am going to try ethernet tomorrow and will report back to everyone what the results are. I hope it is a network issue and I do not have a lemon for a streamer. I just love the sound of this…

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So, when the streamer acts up with dropouts, you can switch to using the mac mini and playback has no dropouts?

Yes, zero issues over USB playing the same exact tracks on Tidal.

Ok, progress.

How are the streamer and mac mini connected to the internet. Both wireless (wi-fi)?

Yes both WiFi through standard issue ISP modem to an eero hub. I should note my office is on the other side of the house and it is coming through an extender just 8 feet away from the streamer and MacMini. The router is on the other side of the house but I have a 100 foot CAT7 ethernet I am going to run to my office tomorrow.

If the mac mini works fine it is saying that there is no issue with Tidal or your isp.

Either the streamer is not getting a solid wi-fi connection or there is an issue with the streamer itself.

If the streamer and mac mini are close/near each other it tends to point to a streamer issue.

It is possible there is a source of interference that is effecting the streamer and not the mac mini, but when they are reasonably close to each it makes the odds lower for that.

I am dreading that possibility. I am going to try the ethernet, then experiment with some different placements of the eero extender and see if I can improve it.

Thank you again for your considerate replies. I’d buy you a beer if I could.

You are welcome!

The results of the wired connection will tell you what the next step will be.

If the streamer doesn’t work on the wired connection, remember to try the wired connection on the mac mini, to make sure the wired connection is working properly.

Interesting development, I cannot believe it though:

Comcast is upgrading in our neighborhood today so I have not had internet since 7AM. However, because I work from home I keep a Verizon 4G JetPack for emergencies and travel. I reconfigured the MA app on my iPad to stream through the JetPack assuming it would not be fast enough.

It is! No glitches or pops in the stream. The same tracks that were garbage yesterday sound great with no interruptions.

I do not think it is the streamer, I think it is a router/WiFi issue.

I’ll report back on further troubleshooting.

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That is interesting.

Hopefully it will work happily when your internet returns.

So how did this turn out? Was it a happy ending?

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