Expensive Ethernet?

OK, the technical part of me realizes that noise reduction and timing are more difficult than many think. But the audiophile part of me really doesn’t want to have to consider the impacts of ethernet switches and cables. Then somebody comes along and posts photographic evidence. Ugh.

This is about 4 years old, but I just came across it recently.


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Lou I’ve been involved with Ethernet cabling sinch the 10Base2 ( RG59 Coaxial Cables and RG8 with Vampire Connectors ) Days. A malfunctioning switch is likely to cause a complete failure of the network, but it is really not capable of influencing any of the Audio aspects given in that article. It’s a step too far as much as I am concerned.

Mark Gosdin


I believe the original unit was reviewed and it was strictly from an objective standpoint. So that’s a bit different take which most people will battle about for days.

What someone else says or claims is meaningless unless you yourself do a testing of the product. In addition, that test needs to be blind. There’s many levels of bias which can occur that potentially make you believe you hear a difference.

I know it’s a lot of bs overall, but sometimes it will sound different but it may not actually be better.

The subject overall is very wishy washy, simply because something’s point to objectivity being accurate with proof and other things which prove subjectivity to be precise with evidence. Obviously to you as a person subjective take is everything.

For myself, being someone who respectably balances both sides with no extremes. My main opinion is DO NOT invest in these things unless you’re all the way at the end of your journey or you’ve basically spend so much money on your headphones, your amp, your dac, and you are trying to squeeze the very last bit out of your system you may get 5% performance gain. If you’re in the mid tier region of products the benefits could be exponentially less.


I think that article is full of…stereotypical enthusiast interpretations and the desire for improvements…and possible photographic artifacts. It shows static ultra-zooms of an image. While slightly different on a minute scale, was the recording method pure and consistent? Given the purple prose I want to see the actual device in action.

As @mgosdin states above, the audio interpretations are fully implausible.

I will note that low-end Ethernet hubs, switches, and cables are often cheap, unpredictable, and cause problems. Some deficient components may well be embedded in audio and home theater devices.

Back in college a guy added a 4-port mini hub to a college network. It made it impossible to resolve IP addresses and/or caused infinite loops, thereby functionally knocking out the entire building’s Internet for days. When IT discovered what happened, they said “an end user introduced an illegal, uncertified device.” I had an out-of-spec cable for a 1000 Mbps network force a fall back to 100 Mbps, and then return to normal with a free-in-the-box cable.

Per @HeadphoneNoob, I’d spend money elsewhere.


Hard to say the video quality comparison is interesting, but I’m not sure I see what could be impacting it.
There won’t be any errors introduced in the network transmission of the data.
So you’re left with handwavy noise from the ethernet connection, somehow leaking into the display.
Or somehow affecting how the Oppo player is choosing to decode that stream.

I hate the noise transitioning to the output device argument, though it’s the only one to fall back on for almost any change in digital transmission, I can’t see how else a USB cable makes a difference, and that I do hear.

What I do on my network is optically isolate the audio gear from the rest of it, when I did initial tests for this it was an at best marginal win, I now use a Optical Rendu connected to my DAC, so I can’t easily compare with and without. My hardwired network is not extensive, so that might have an effect. I do know people who hear more significant differences in their own systems.
I haven’t heard a significant difference in network cables either, though again I know others who have.


I am amused.

I would want to see the data stream coming off the Regen, the switch and the HDMI PHY inside the TV and compare with/without to believe this was anything more than typical artifacts of taking multiple pictures of a static display from an OLED panel and PWM artifacts.

There are pixel-level differences that are either a result of dynamic pixel shifting, differential PWM/timing in display refresh and the camera scanning its sensor. If those are not artifacts, and are actually PRESENT IN THE DATA mean it has been altered (specifically CORRUPTED) between transmission and display.

You WILL find objective data that shows better eye-charts for digital transmission systems of this nature. I’ve yet to see any such data that shows what’s decoded by the receiver yielding different data AND not tripping HDCP.


Thanks for all the replies. For the record, I’m not planning on spending any money on this sort of stuff. I’m trying to make myself get room treatments, certainly not gear that I don’t really believe in.

I really don’t know or think much about photography, so being reminded that both the display and the camera are scanning is helpful. There are more variables in play than it seems.

Thanks again, all.


If spending more money on “audiophile” equipment makes someone feel like they’re getting better sound then I am not going to be the one to rain on their parade. But let’s just say I personally would not recommend an “audiophile” network switch or router. I would honestly recommend trying the audiophile crystals before this. :wink:


Happy cake day chrisnyc75!


Wait, why are improvements via an ethernet switch and cables any less plausible than power regenerators / conditioners and power cables? I don’t think it’s about the bits being corrupted, but rather, most likely about isolation of RF interference. There is current on an ethernet cable. I’ve very audibly noticed a difference between running my NUC server via WiFi and ethernet (normal, non-audiophile switch). WiFi is meaningfully better - and lest anyone try to tell me it’s placebo, I went into it expecting the opposite. I don’t think it would be implausible at all for the sound to improve over ethernet, given better isolation.

Hell, I’ve A/B’d this little sucker from iFi on my 2-channel, and it did improve the sound.


IME, it depends a lot on the device and the network.
My NS1 was better wired (though I still used it over Wifi, for convenience reasons and the differences weren’t dramatic), but I know at least one of the major streamer manufacturers promotes Wifi as the best on their devices.

Changes from anything in the Digital chain where is doesn’t carry the audio clock can only really come down to isolation and noise reduction impacting the operation of other devices.
That’s a hard sell for a lot of people the noise levels are likely tiny so accepting that they have an impact implies pretty much everything does.
But in the end anything not directly in the analog audio path is in the same boat.
It’s no more out there than power cables, or USB cables.

Ignoring the OG article for a second, because I agree the methodology for analyzing the video is suspect.

I understand the reticence to accept something like a Ether Regen or a Muon can have an impact, and it doesn’t help that the explanations people choose to stick to for the effect (errors in transmission) are often clearly just incorrect. Or in some cases the naming of the device implies it does something that can’t have an effect (network reclocker). Doesn’t mean the devices don’t have an effect, just the common explanations are wrong, and they have a bad name.

I hear a big (read audiophile big, which is at best minor to regular people) difference with power cables, and with the right USB cable, but IME the impact on my network fiddling was in the audible but don’t care range, but I know people with differing experiences.
A friend of mine keeps offering to loan me a Muon, but I don’t really have a way to test it in my current setup, because I’m optically isolated from my main network.


Oh, 100%. I didn’t mean that to be a universal statement at all, and sorry if it came off that way. Was really just meant to say that in my system (two of them, actually), I trust the bits are the same via WiFi and Ethernet, but one sounds distinctly different from the other, and I’m generally chalking that up to noise over ethernet. I’m sure WiFi implementations pick up noise to varying degrees, and it just happens that my ethernet is worse than my WiFi without any isolation.

I’m with you on this completely.

Same, same.


Here is my knowledge about the topic.

if you build your network within the ethernet standards, it is error proof (in audio terms it is bit perfect) and at the ethernet protocol level does not contains any time related information (means asynchronous ). The same things true for the USB connections also.

So in theory you are perfectly good in any ethernet network within the related standards for the highest-end audio purpose too.

Only in theory, because there is a very little chance some kind of software glitches at the upper layers, or more likely you have a weakly implemented streamer endpoint or other component in your system.

But none of these are a network problem, but other faulty or low quality components.

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Unless you’re using PoE devices, Ethernet is galvanically isolated and no “current” is getting off the cable and into a downstream device unless something is faulty.


In essence, the better quality your backbone is - 1000 BaseT Wired or WiFi - the more likely that any issues with sound quality will be some other device attached to the backbone, i.e. a Streamer or a Media Server. I’m using a mix of Wired & WiFi that has been in place for 10 years with almost no changes. It works well and I’ve not had any issues with Sound Quality.

In my, admittedly not extensive, experience cables generally don’t make audible differences. ( Only twice, once with an IEM cable and once with a Headphone cable, have I heard marked improvements. ) I am able to hear a difference with power filtering, but it is a challenge to hear.

I too won’t dis anyone if they say they hear an improvement. I don’t have their system or their ears.

Mark Gosdin


Reminds me of the time an “Certified Electician” did such a bang up job wiring a new Server closet that I got hit with 220 Volts over the network cable while trying to diagnose a PC issue. After I calmed down I told the employees; “That’s why your PCs aren’t working right.”

Mark Gosdin

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That doesn’t resolve anything, as expectancies are arbitrary and personal.

Expectancy bias:

Expectancy bias, also known as the observer-expectancy effect, is a cognitive bias in psychology where a person’s expectations or beliefs about a situation or individual can influence their perception, interpretation, and behavior.

For example, if a teacher believes that a student is highly intelligent, they may unconsciously provide more opportunities for that student to succeed and offer more positive feedback, leading to the student performing better than their peers. On the other hand, if a teacher believes that a student is not intelligent, they may unconsciously provide fewer opportunities and less positive feedback, leading to the student performing worse than their peers.

Here I might insert all sorts of research on perceptual biases and illusions (optical and auditory). There’s 100+ years of solid perception data that fills many libraries, and it was used to create compressed MP3s, noise canceling systems, and other technologies. It permeates marketing and branding too. For background, start with Gestalt psychology.

In hobby audio circles I could propose several routine expectancies:

  1. Every system change matters, no matter how small or improbable. “The impact is greater than anyone thought.” Classic audiophiles.
  2. Look at measurements. Ignore ignorant rich snobs and the vendors who try to cheat you. They can’t hear $#!+. I want to be a frugal giant killer. ASR. David vs. Goliath.
  3. I want to be stylish and stylish gear sounds better. See research on synesthesia. Selfie time. Check out my hair.
  4. I want to buy the best, and look to reviews, friends, and ‘influencers’ to decide. See research on social presentation and social psychology generally.
  5. I don’t care much about audio, and only know about stuff I’ve seen advertised. Let’s go to the Bose store at the outlet mall and get a good deal. I saw Beats on a TV show as used by my favorite singer. That must be a good brand.

Personality/expectancy may set each type up to reach similar conclusions regardless of testable audio properties with a given change (i.e., measurements or actual changes versus fake/placebo changes). Some may believe the same headphone drivers sound better in a pricey polished metal chassis, while others may prefer the sound of devices marked with the “B” of Beats or the Apple logo.


I could speculate about the impact of mere physical activity and fitness too, following an infamous and grossly overpriced $15K “Four minute workout machine” of several decades ago. Among those who are less active, the mere act of standing up, reaching behind a device, and plugging in a new device or cables could stimulate circulation. Improved blood flow = improved hearing? When coupled with an expectancy bias it is surely possible.

I thereby fall back to double blind testing and fatigue for my evaluations. These are my only defenses against expectancies and fooling myself.

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Yeah, but I don’t fall into any of those categories. I don’t think every change matters (many do, but some don’t), I don’t care about measurements, I care little about style, I use reviews as jumping off points while making all my own judgments (which often go against a favorite reviewer’s), and I care almost solely about how something sounds. I have found stuff to matter when I don’t want or expect it to, I have found stuff to not matter when I thought for sure it would, I have found expensive gear I bought to be worse than stock or cheap gear, and I have also lamented how well an expensive item performs, wishing not to be tempted by it. I don’t want to spend a single penny more than I have to in order to achieve improvements I find meaningful. I’m generally frugal (in audiophile terms, anyway) in that I buy and sell lots of used gear, and only ever buy new if something used isn’t available, or it’s truly an end-game item for me (like the Stellaris).

I get that true, double blind testing is the only way to convince some people, but that’s just impossible in many practical real-life situations. I know my system insanely well; it’s very revealing; and I go back-and-forth when trying gear out tons of times to check that I hear something.

I really don’t care if others find a particular piece or category of gear to be meaningful to them, but it bugs me that folks who are generally objective and don’t have an agenda are held to a frankly ridiculous standard in terms of justifying what they do or do not hear. I don’t claim to be able to fully explain why components matter - I can make suggestions or guesses, but I really don’t know.

Biases exist, sure, but we are also definitionally limited in our understanding of how every single component works, so in a world where our hearing is the ultimate end goal anyway, that is the measurement mechanism that matters the most.


Some humans may not need to eat, breathe oxygen, drink water, or sleep. Maybe.

I created a few speculative personas in 10 minutes. You may fit a hybrid expectancy model of those above or some other model. However, nobody has an objective God’s-eye view of their own behaviors and biases. Perception testing methods (as rooted in our shared biology) are extremely robust, often requiring just a handful of participants for repeatable global generalizations.

Audiophiles’ experiential impressions are often not robust or repeatable.

Indeed. Blind testing is often not worth the cost, time, and methodological nuances required. Have fun instead.

It’s not that at all, it’s the genesis of this entire thread. It’s the standards used for reporting “findings” in this hobby. Above, someone took photos of a screen images and claimed they meant something about Ethernet performance. Several of us concluded that the photographic comparison method was a probable cause of the differences. This is an example of an author’s perceptions (expectancies) coupled with limited self-awareness for going way way way out on an interpretive limb. Ethernet regeneration will make everything better, cleaner, blah, blah, blah…but this is easily testable with a double blind method.

Personal taste can legitimately follow from style or performance or extensive testing or feeling like a giant killer. It’s your life, it’s your hobby.


Do you think power cables make a difference?
What about usb cables? I found some noticeable differences in these with my system. The kimber select usb was really noticeable imo. A ifi power cable made a noticeable improvement too.

Once my new office room is complete I’ll probably look into purchasing all new power cables to upgrade my Pangeas. And I even thought about trying an affordable priced Ethernet cable since I’ll be close to the wall outlet.

I think many here will agree to disagree, but I feel cables matter. I’ve experienced an improvement in interconnects as well. Currently have kimber karbon and will probably upgrade those to kimber select as well.