Nopiano

Ethernet switch - benefits?

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Taking streaming content off wireless is a good idea. Ethernet is full duplex in operation and it delivers in all circumstances. Wireless is not full duplex and can be affected by other local signals and even things like a leaky microwave! As much as we love the idea of not having to run cable, the cables offer guaranteed stability and capacity. I moved my audio and video streaming to Ethernet and got better functional performance. 

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Super Wammer
15 hours ago, Cable Monkey said:

Taking streaming content off wireless is a good idea. Ethernet is full duplex in operation and it delivers in all circumstances. Wireless is not full duplex and can be affected by other local signals and even things like a leaky microwave! As much as we love the idea of not having to run cable, the cables offer guaranteed stability and capacity. I moved my audio and video streaming to Ethernet and got better functional performance. 

I don’t have any choice as Linn only offer Ethernet connections. Do you use a switch?

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Yes I do. I did re-read your opening post and realised I was commenting more to others here than your question. My arrangement is a bit strange but it works for me. I have one port on my BT router connected into a homeplug. This then feeds three others around the house. The dedicated HiFi space has a switch to provide me with the required ports and provide a degree of isolation from noise introduced by routing Ethernet over mains. I could potentially just go straight from the plug to my server, and bridge to a second Ethernet port out to my streamer. But I thought introducing a switch and powering it with an available clean DC source helped SQ. This is an unpopular viewpoint but I think it worked for me. No blind testing though. I would ultimately like to cable the house but I would go with a single feed to each destination with a switch at the end rather than feed everything from its own port on a central router. 

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Super Wammer
4 hours ago, Cable Monkey said:

Yes I do. I did re-read your opening post and realised I was commenting more to others here than your question. My arrangement is a bit strange but it works for me. I have one port on my BT router connected into a homeplug. This then feeds three others around the house. The dedicated HiFi space has a switch to provide me with the required ports and provide a degree of isolation from noise introduced by routing Ethernet over mains. I could potentially just go straight from the plug to my server, and bridge to a second Ethernet port out to my streamer. But I thought introducing a switch and powering it with an available clean DC source helped SQ. This is an unpopular viewpoint but I think it worked for me. No blind testing though. I would ultimately like to cable the house but I would go with a single feed to each destination with a switch at the end rather than feed everything from its own port on a central router. 

Thanks, that’s really helpful. 

I think I omitted to state that I run one homeplug off the router, as that feeds the TV at the other (far) end of the living room.  The little power supplies for the Dect landline phone and the router itself are nearby too. Not ideal I guess.  

For £25 I suppose it’s hardly a risk for me to try one.  It’s just that slightly contrary thing of inserting something that’s not actually essential and hoping that the added isolation outpoints the unnecessary interruption!  

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If you want to see if a switch makes a difference then fork out the money for

https://www.arista.com/en/products/7130-series

(Arista just bought out Metamako) or maybe

https://exablaze.com/exalink-fusion

Plug it in and see what you think. Apart from you being considerably poorer I highly doubt this will make a difference. Given these devices are currently state of the art for networking ( 10G/40G/100G) then if they don't sound better then nothing will :) If you are ultra paranoid then measure the latency between each port pairing. Due to the different lengths of wire involved you can find the 2 port pairs with the lowest latency and then use them. The picosecond delay differences are measurable. However I am guessing you are listening to music and not high frequency algo trading in a co-located data centre so none of this matters.

If you can avoid using wi-fi then do so as it's a very inefficient way to send packet data and signal strength and other people using the same router can cause problems.

Plugging an ethernet cable into the router you have connected to the phone line will be good enough. Audio data ( even hi-res ) isn't actually that much at all and compared to video it is nothing. From an audio point of view you are interested in maximum latency and not average latency and the outliers in a network can be much highter than the average but again you are listening to audio which even at 192Khz sampling frequency isn't going to make any difference. If you can watch iPlayer or Netflix withouth drop outs and buffering that are not caused by your internet supplier but by your own network then you will be fine with just music.

If you have a NAS and a Streamer running off a dedicated switch not connected to the internet or the rest of the house then this will increase security and prevent the network being saturated by other people streaming hi-res video across your network.

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So do you have any experience of said switch? Or any audiophile switch? Or is this just an opinion piece?

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Super Wammer
On 13/09/2019 at 13:33, MrSammy said:

If you want to see if a switch makes a difference...

...I’d borrow one of these.  The ultimate network foo, or maybe a miracle for the price of a decent streamer?!

https://jcat.eu/product/m12-switch-magic/

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On 28/08/2019 at 13:01, Nopiano said:

Are there any benefits to the installation of an Ethernet switch, other than the provision of more sockets?

I am asking because I can see there may be a preference to put, say, a PC, NAS and a Streamer all on their own feed. But in my case I simply run a good Ethernet cable from modem/router to my Linn DS streamer.  I don’t use a NAS, and my laptop and iPad connect wirelessly. 

I’m wondering if there is some potential sonic benefits in isolating the ‘hifi’ from the other demands on the router. However, that seems somewhat at odds with the usual HiFi preference for having the simplest path for any signal.

If you wish to isolate the streamer you should consider optical: https://smile.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00172Q5M2/

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On 14/09/2019 at 18:21, Cable Monkey said:

So do you have any experience of said switch? Or any audiophile switch? Or is this just an opinion piece?

Not sure if this is directed at me but I use the above switches at work along with Corvil monitoring (https://www.corvil.com/products) of the packets to ensure accurate latency measuring. I've no idea what an audiophile switch is but I have a lot of experience of Ultra Low latency networking and the various vendors operating in this space. None of this is required for Audio but being able to do a basic measure of the network performance comes in handy.

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It was. It is a shame you aren’t able to measure switches sold specifically for use in high end audio to see exactly what they bring (if anything) to the table. It isn’t really a surprise that a high capacity low latency network switch actually does what it claims. What is a lot less clear is what these audiophile devices do better that a £15 SOHO switch.

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I just read the link NoPiano posted. Wow. Not sure how a switch can improve signal to noise ratio or why standard RJ connectors aren't good enough. Almost all network vendors will let you take kit on trial to evaluate it but I doubt any audiophile brands will. If we could get one on evaluation we could measure it for you.

For audio on a home network your 15 quid switch would be more than fine. The improvement over wi-fi is huge and wi-fi is good enough most of the time anyway.

The geekiest network thing I have seen is the layout of some of the exablaze network interface cards where one of the chips is at 45 degrees to the rest of the board which is all laid out at right angles otherwise. Why the 45 degress? The asymetric copper tracks, with one longer than the other by 2 cms give a measurable increase in latency ( at the picosecond level ) so they rotated it to make them equal length. This may give you in a win in high frequency trading which every picosecond counts but in hi-fi would be pointless.

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21 hours ago, MrSammy said:

Not sure if this is directed at me but I use the above switches at work along with Corvil monitoring (https://www.corvil.com/products) of the packets to ensure accurate latency measuring. I've no idea what an audiophile switch is but I have a lot of experience of Ultra Low latency networking and the various vendors operating in this space. None of this is required for Audio but being able to do a basic measure of the network performance comes in handy.

What is the point of low latency Ethernet if, as far as I know, data sent in packets?

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52 minutes ago, tuga said:

What is the point of low latency Ethernet if, as far as I know, data sent in packets?

PM me if you are interested. This is way off topic for a hi-fi forum.

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1 hour ago, MrSammy said:

PM me if you are interested. This is way off topic for a hi-fi forum.

 Just how important is latency in an audio context? Especially when 'audiophile' operating systems such as Euphony and AudioLinux list low latency as an attribute that benefits audio? And I know it does in VOIP applications. This isn't as far off topic as you may think!

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9 minutes ago, Cable Monkey said:

 Just how important is latency in an audio context? Especially when 'audiophile' operating systems such as Euphony and AudioLinux list low latency as an attribute that benefits audio? And I know it does in VOIP applications. This isn't as far off topic as you may think!

VOIP is a very different animal, because the traffic is two way. If the delay between something being said and it being heard at the other end is significant, it gets in the way of the conversation. With audio streaming, latency itself isn't an issue unless there is a large latency variation (some frames received with low latency, others with very high latency) because that leads to higher buffering requirements at the receiving end.

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