If you have a Naim NDS what Ethernet wire do you use?

Do you use Cat5 or Cat7 or one of the upper end Ethernet cables like from  Audioquest or Chord? I know many say it makes no difference, though I have read articles that says with higher end systems (I would think a Naim NDS with 555DR would be considered high end)  it does make a difference. Love to hear what everyone uses and your opinions. And does it matter on what brand of Ethernet port you use also? Thank you. 

Original Post

When I ran a NDS I used Cat5e and later a cheap screened Cat 6 cable, marginal improvement with the latter, both improved subtly  with a ferrite choke clamped around them. However trial and error might be worthwhile, as certainly not all Cat5e or Cat6 cables sound the same, and they don't need to cost a lot if you are willing to experiment 

However I found a bigger improvement on the switch type I used to drive it. An 8 port Cisco 2960 sounded noticeably better than a Netgear GS type switch..the former just sounded more natural... And that is what I use now with my NDX/Hugo.

Bert Schurink posted:

I saw a noticeable improvement on my NDS when I switched from a good standard cable to an audio grade cable. So it's definitely worthwhile to invest here...

Ps and to complete the answer to your original question. I have an audio quest Vodka cable. And I would also subscribe to Simon's comments about the switches have an impact on the quality of the sound.

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

When I ran a NDS I used Cat5e and later a cheap screened Cat 6 cable, marginal improvement with the latter, both improved subtly  with a ferrite choke clamped around them. However trial and error might be worthwhile, as certainly not all Cat5e or Cat6 cables sound the same, and they don't need to cost a lot if you are willing to experiment 

However I found a bigger improvement on the switch type I used to drive it. An 8 port Cisco 2960 sounded noticeably better than a Netgear GS type switch..the former just sounded more natural... And that is what I use now with my NDX/Hugo.

What version of the Cisco 2960 do you use Simon? There appear to be a lot of different versions on the Cisco website,many of which are very expensive.

Can anyone suggest why spending a relatively large sum on an audiophile Ethernet cable to connect from switch to streamer would make a difference when all the other the cabling to the switch is some plain old Cat5e?

My network topology is based around a Netgear GS108Tv2 managed switch in my study. From there I have a drop cable to a panel, and then about 20m of screened outdoor use Cat5e goes outside the house to the sitting room downstairs where there is another panel. A drop cable goes from there to a TP-LINK SG108E "smart switch" to which NDS and a number of other networked devices are connected by further Cat5e drop cables. I'm dubious as to the benefit a single audiophile cable would make as the last link in the chain.

Chord C-Stream from NDS to switch. AQ Vodka from NAS (I have two with music on) to switch. Switch to hub is common Cat 5. Since this is not part of the music playing chain it doesn't factor in. I have tried a variety of cables between switch and NDS and NAS, including ordinary patch leads. My present set up gives me what I consider to be the best sound quality. I've no idea what your ears would make of it.

Adrian_P posted:

Can anyone suggest why spending a relatively large sum on an audiophile Ethernet cable to connect from switch to streamer would make a difference when all the other the cabling to the switch is some plain old Cat5e?

No, but it does. AQ Vodka in my case. Having spoken to AQ folk, they admit they don't really know why either.

Keith

MeiCord Opal Cat-6.   I previously had Supra Cat-7 & AQ Pearl Cat-7, the Supra had plug security issues & I decided to change to MeiCord,  I was attracted by the excellence in the cable to RJ45 interface & that MeiCord issue a test sheet of bandwidth compliance with each cable - they say the cable is Cat-6 compliant & they prove it.   I heard a sonic change with the new cable that bought better definition so am pleased with the change.

Jonn posted:
Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

When I ran a NDS I used Cat5e and later a cheap screened Cat 6 cable, marginal improvement with the latter, both improved subtly  with a ferrite choke clamped around them. However trial and error might be worthwhile, as certainly not all Cat5e or Cat6 cables sound the same, and they don't need to cost a lot if you are willing to experiment 

However I found a bigger improvement on the switch type I used to drive it. An 8 port Cisco 2960 sounded noticeably better than a Netgear GS type switch..the former just sounded more natural... And that is what I use now with my NDX/Hugo.

What version of the Cisco 2960 do you use Simon? There appear to be a lot of different versions on the Cisco website,many of which are very expensive.

I currently use 2 types of 8 port 2960 devices -

  • 2960-8TC-L
  • 2960PD-8TT-L

The top model i use to drive my NDX

Simon

 

Adrian_P posted:

I'm dubious as to the benefit a single audiophile cable would make as the last link in the chain.

Me too. Unfortunately, like many here, I find that there is a demonstrable difference. I did try going cheap to begin with, 5e > 7; there was a difference, but actually I preferred the 5e. However, having heard the difference I thought, 'stuff it', and bought an AQ Cinnamon, this combined the best of both the 'normal' cables. LOVE to know why.

M

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:
Jonn posted:
Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

When I ran a NDS I used Cat5e and later a cheap screened Cat 6 cable, marginal improvement with the latter, both improved subtly  with a ferrite choke clamped around them. However trial and error might be worthwhile, as certainly not all Cat5e or Cat6 cables sound the same, and they don't need to cost a lot if you are willing to experiment 

However I found a bigger improvement on the switch type I used to drive it. An 8 port Cisco 2960 sounded noticeably better than a Netgear GS type switch..the former just sounded more natural... And that is what I use now with my NDX/Hugo.

What version of the Cisco 2960 do you use Simon? There appear to be a lot of different versions on the Cisco website,many of which are very expensive.

I currently use 2 types of 8 port 2960 devices -

  • 2960-8TC-L
  • 2960PD-8TT-L

The top model i use to drive my NDX

Simon

 

Thanks. Quite expensive though @c£350

Mr Underhill posted:

.... LOVE to know why.

 

Normally its because of crosstalk between the send / receive balanced pairs and imperfections in the transmission line and connectors.... Effectively the the ethernet cable becomes a load with radio frequency analogue voltages being switched .. and therefore as every force has an equal opposite reaction,  the imperfections will require effort to drive and so will have an effect on the sender device. There is quite a lot written about it (its not specific to ethernet cables of course)  and some quite interesting engineering papers on the effects of EM effects from ethernet physical drivers - and one from TI who produce some of the Naim chipsets in the streamers that I previously posted on this forum. Careful design of the physical devices can mitigate many cable shortcomings according to the paper - so one cable might not 'sound' the same across all devices...

The only thing is you don't need to spend a lot of money to get a good cable - but unless you know how and the have the tools to measure it and/or have a lot of trail and error then it may be easier/quicker/though not necessarily cheaper to get a so called 'audiophile' cable.

Simon

 

I use AQ Vodka from switch to NDS and from switch to UnitiServe with AQ Cinnamon elsewhere. 'Better' ethernet cables seem to have a greater beneficial effect on SQ, the closer they are to the streamer and server/NAS. I don't know why either but I would only splash out on the better ethernet cables on those two links.

I would say that AQ Cinnamon offer the best VFM though Vodka give an additional enhancement over Cinnamon but are significantly more expensive.

Make sure you have only one ground point in your LAN. As AQ ethernet cables are screened thay can introduce too many grounding points and I later found out I had two grounding points in my LAN. I managed to 'isolate' one of these points by using a Lindy adapter (which is unscreened) to connect into my Unitiserve. I cannot emphasise this enough and I noticed a real improvement when I got this sorted. (Thanks to MikeB for his advice on this).

One last tip, if you use a switch like a Netgear with a nasty SMPS, change the SMPS for a iFi iPower, which is switched I believe but is not at all noisy. Again a very nice uplift in SQ for very little money. (Again I must acknowledge MikeB's advice here). I also use a linear power supply on my US again in an effort to reduce that pesky noise form my LAN.

Nigel,

How do I ensure that I only have one ground point in my LAN? I have around 20 devices with network connections to three switches.

Interesting what you say about where you get most value. From what I've read there are differences of opinion as to whether the most benefit is at the streamer end or at the NAS end, so what you say about covering both ends is consistent with that but not specific.

There are several points at which I could use "better" cables:

NAS -> (a) 2 cables for link aggregation -> GS108tv2 -> (b) -> panel -> 20m outdoor Cat5e -> panel -> (c) 5m run to switch -> SG108E -> (d) 5m run to NDS

With this setup would one "better" cable make a difference? If so, I assume the recommended place to try this would be (d) which would require a 5m cable. At AQ Vodka prices, that isn't going to happen :-) But I might consider experimenting with one of the cheaper options from AQ or elsewhere. If the answer if "don't bother unless you replace everywhere" then I'll pass.

Adrian

I am no expert, but the theory is the pathway from NAS to streamer (usually via a switch) has the potential for the greatest benefit from using the better Ethernet cables but I would try the link that goes into your NDS first. I agree that 5m of Vodka is silly money, I was lucky and have one short run of Vodka and my long run (8m) of Vodka I got at Cinnamon prices (supplier was embarrassed to be out of stock of Cinnamom and gave me Vodka instead). I wouldn't pay the money for Vodka if I needed a longish run but it is worth trying Cinnamon to see if you get a useful uplift. I know some dealers will lend AQ ethernet cables to try out so this might be worth a try.

I believe all Naim black boxes that have ethernet connections, use metal cased sockets and act as grounding points if screened ethernet cables are used - e.g. NDS, Unitiserve, HDX. So you need to count up how many of these you have on the music streaming side of the switch and if you have more than one, reduce these grounding points back to one only by using unscreened adapters like the Lindy model.

I said I am no expert but this is how I remember the advice I was given. Maybe those with more technical knowledge can chime in if I have been incorrect or there are other considerations to take into account.

You might also try a linear power supply on the switch as well - a cheapo from Hong Kong good enough (probably about $60-80). That combined with a medium/lower priced cable might give you all you need (does for me). I use Cinnamon AQ  from Nas to switch, and then again from switch to cheap coupler, and then Meicord Opal into microRendu. 

I started with cheap cat 5 cables, then upgraded to belkin cat 6. The difference was very clear to hear. I then upgraded to meicord opal cables from the nas to switch, and switch to nds. These sounded too polite and thick without much air for my taste so I tried a pair of audioquest cinnamon, which sounded a bit thin although with great detail and air. 

I decided to try one of each, and this gave the best of both worlds. I could have happily stopped here but decided to try a vodka from nds to switch. Wow, this was a huge improvement, so I tried another from switch to nas. This wasn't very good, it just sounded as if the music overfilled the room with no air around instruments.

I now use the vodka between nds and switch, and the meicord opal between switch and nas. This gives the best sound so far in my installation.

Hi Nigel & Adrian,  re ensuring one only ground point on the LAN for the STP cable screen;

Assuming the screened cable is from server (NAS or/and UnitiServe) to switch to streamer/player.   Make the Naim streamer/player the single ground point,  & assuming the switch has metal port shrouds that carry the screen connection,  then some form of UTP connector such as the Lindy, or a UTP coupler & a short section of UTP cable can isolate the screen to the server(s). 

If the switch has only plastic ports & cannot carry the screen connection, then you can use STP cable everywhere without any concerns as the switch isolates each connected  STP cables screen.

The simple solution is to not use STP (Cat-6A & Cat-7),  its not needed in domestic environments - & please note I am not saying anything about SQ,  just that the screen is not required.  

Adrian, re your "20 devices with network connections to three switches",    I would use UTP (Cat5e or Cat6) everywhere,  you already have that in your outside section so the NAS & NDS are screen isolated anyhow so no matter what if you have a fancy Cat7 connected to the NDS,  but IMO  a UTP Cat6 is a good as needed

Mike-B posted:

Hi Nigel & Adrian,  re ensuring one only ground point on the LAN for the STP cable screen;

Assuming the screened cable is from server (NAS or/and UnitiServe) to switch to streamer/player.   Make the Naim streamer/player the single ground point,  & assuming the switch has metal port shrouds that carry the screen connection,  then some form of UTP connector such as the Lindy, or a UTP coupler & a short section of UTP cable can isolate the screen to the server(s). 

If the switch has only plastic ports & cannot carry the screen connection, then you can use STP cable everywhere without any concerns as the switch isolates each connected  STP cables screen.

The simple solution is to not use STP (Cat-6A & Cat-7),  its not needed in domestic environments - & please note I am not saying anything about SQ,  just that the screen is not required.  

Adrian, re your "20 devices with network connections to three switches",    I would use UTP (Cat5e or Cat6) everywhere,  you already have that in your outside section so the NAS & NDS are screen isolated anyhow so no matter what if you have a fancy Cat7 connected to the NDS,  but IMO  a UTP Cat6 is a good as needed

Hi Mike

Am I right in thinking that the GS105 has metal shrouds? I have a Lindy plugged into the Qnap, but when I plugged my new and rather lovely Ethernet cable into the Lindy, the latter flops around a bit in the Qnap because the wire is quite heavy. It works fine and sounds great, but it does seem incongruous to plug a £200 cable into a £3 bit of plastic.... Such is life I suppose. 

Adam Zielinski posted:

NAS to switch: Chord C-Stream

Switch to wall sockets: standard CAT 6 cables

Wall socket to NDS: Chord Indigo Tuned ARAY streaming cable

Like most here I started with regular CAT 6 cables and tested various options - each one was an improvement. Hence the final selection.

Crumbs, that Indigo cable is expensive. Looking at the Chord website, it's interesting that it has cheap looking plastic connectors, whereas the AQ Vodka for example has very solid metal connectors. I wonder why this is - is the connector irrelevant and it's just the wire that makes the difference?

Thank you for all your replies! I am going to order Audioquest Cinnamon Ethernet cable through Amazon and see if it gives me any improvement. I recently added a Chord Sarum super Aray to my NDS and it made a big difference! Then started reading articles that says it does matter what ethernet cables you use on your streamer! So I guess I will test it out! 

Getting the better Cisco switch sounds like a worthwhile investment too! Though when I saw it was over $400 I was surprised. But quality always costs money! 

GraemeH posted:

This all bemuses me. I run short 'normal' cat6e from modem to NAS and a long run (15m) of 'normal' cat6e from NAS into the NDX.

Could this be optimised?

G

Yes.

Take Adams advice above.

Install a wall socket and run a length of high quality cable from it to the NDX.

Hungryhalibut posted:
Adam Zielinski posted:

NAS to switch: Chord C-Stream

Switch to wall sockets: standard CAT 6 cables

Wall socket to NDS: Chord Indigo Tuned ARAY streaming cable

Like most here I started with regular CAT 6 cables and tested various options - each one was an improvement. Hence the final selection.

Crumbs, that Indigo cable is expensive. Looking at the Chord website, it's interesting that it has cheap looking plastic connectors, whereas the AQ Vodka for example has very solid metal connectors. I wonder why this is - is the connector irrelevant and it's just the wire that makes the difference?

It does seem to be an oposit to the Audioquest Vodka, doesn't it? I thinik it's the quality of the cables and the shielding / screening that is critical here.

Chord seem to call this a 'streaming cable' as opposed to a regular 'network cable'. I don't know what the technical difference is, but it does sound different and marvelous.

My dealer was kind enough to loan me 4 or 5 different cables from the Chord range. I liked 3 of them: C-Stream, Signature and Indigo. 
A funny story: when I actually asked my dealer about the streaming cables, he looked at me as if I have finally and completely lost my mind. But something must have intrigued him - next time I popped in, he had a range of them on a rack, and his streamers were hooked up with at least C-Stream, Usually it's the dealer that pushes the envelope... 

fatcat posted:
GraemeH posted:

This all bemuses me. I run short 'normal' cat6e from modem to NAS and a long run (15m) of 'normal' cat6e from NAS into the NDX.

Could this be optimised?

G

Yes.

Take Adams advice above.

Install a wall socket and run a length of high quality cable from it to the NDX.

So, S6e Modem to NAS, 15m S6e NAS to wall socket and then 1m expensive 'specialist' cable to NDX...All my instincts say more junctions = poorer results. Why am I wrong?

G

Adam Zielinski posted:
Hungryhalibut posted:
Adam Zielinski posted:

NAS to switch: Chord C-Stream

Switch to wall sockets: standard CAT 6 cables

Wall socket to NDS: Chord Indigo Tuned ARAY streaming cable

Like most here I started with regular CAT 6 cables and tested various options - each one was an improvement. Hence the final selection.

Crumbs, that Indigo cable is expensive. Looking at the Chord website, it's interesting that it has cheap looking plastic connectors, whereas the AQ Vodka for example has very solid metal connectors. I wonder why this is - is the connector irrelevant and it's just the wire that makes the difference?

It does seem to be an oposit to the Audioquest Vodka, doesn't it? I thinik it's the quality of the cables and the shielding / screening that is critical here.

Chord seem to call this a 'streaming cable' as opposed to a regular 'network cable'. I don't know what the technical difference is, but it does sound different and marvelous.

My dealer was kind enough to loan me 4 or 5 different cables from the Chord range. I liked 3 of them: C-Stream, Signature and Indigo. 
A funny story: when I actually asked my dealer about the streaming cables, he looked at me as if I have finally and completely lost my mind. But something must have intrigued him - next time I popped in, he had a range of them on a rack, and his streamers were hooked up with at least C-Stream, Usually it's the dealer that pushes the envelope... 

...or smells an opportunity to tap a new (gullible - who, us?) market more like!

G

GraemeH posted:
fatcat posted:
GraemeH posted:

This all bemuses me. I run short 'normal' cat6e from modem to NAS and a long run (15m) of 'normal' cat6e from NAS into the NDX.

Could this be optimised?

G

Yes.

Take Adams advice above.

Install a wall socket and run a length of high quality cable from it to the NDX.

So, S6e Modem to NAS, 15m S6e NAS to wall socket and then 1m expensive 'specialist' cable to NDX...All my instincts say more junctions = poorer results. Why am I wrong?

G

Mr G - I don't really understand the 'mechanics' of why this last 1 meter should make a difference. But it does.

I sort of rationalised it to myself, using a power cord's analogy. Why would using a PowerLine for the last two meters make a difference? But it does...

My suggestion is just borrow some different streaming cables from your dealer and play with them. Chord actually encourage their customers and dealers to loan streaming cables for tests (Nigels Finn's from Chord own words, when I asked him for some advice).

GraemeH posted:
Adam Zielinski posted:
Hungryhalibut posted:
Adam Zielinski posted:

NAS to switch: Chord C-Stream

Switch to wall sockets: standard CAT 6 cables

Wall socket to NDS: Chord Indigo Tuned ARAY streaming cable

Like most here I started with regular CAT 6 cables and tested various options - each one was an improvement. Hence the final selection.

Crumbs, that Indigo cable is expensive. Looking at the Chord website, it's interesting that it has cheap looking plastic connectors, whereas the AQ Vodka for example has very solid metal connectors. I wonder why this is - is the connector irrelevant and it's just the wire that makes the difference?

It does seem to be an oposit to the Audioquest Vodka, doesn't it? I thinik it's the quality of the cables and the shielding / screening that is critical here.

Chord seem to call this a 'streaming cable' as opposed to a regular 'network cable'. I don't know what the technical difference is, but it does sound different and marvelous.

My dealer was kind enough to loan me 4 or 5 different cables from the Chord range. I liked 3 of them: C-Stream, Signature and Indigo. 
A funny story: when I actually asked my dealer about the streaming cables, he looked at me as if I have finally and completely lost my mind. But something must have intrigued him - next time I popped in, he had a range of them on a rack, and his streamers were hooked up with at least C-Stream, Usually it's the dealer that pushes the envelope... 

...or smells an opportunity to tap a new (gullible - who, us?) market more like!

G

Well... Possibly.

Nevertheless - just try it and see if it does anything for your system. 

If not - OK. I will buy a nice bottle of good wine.

If yes - you can buy me a nice pint of English best.

Graeme - I think it's very common to take that view until you hear for yourself what a difference these cables make. One thing you should do though, and it will only cost you twenty quid - connect a switch to the router (you mean router, not modem, don't you?) and then connect both the nas and the streamer to the switch. The system will then be more reliable. 

We have our switch near the stereo so that we only need short cables. The nas is actually only two feet away from the 272, but it's in the dining room, with a hole drilled through the wall for the Ethernet. I wonder if there is a way whereby you could run a posh wire from a switch to the streamer. This makes the biggest difference, followed by the wire from the switch to the nas. 

I've been using AQ Cinnamon for about three years, and it's very very good. However, I've swapped to Vodka in the past couple of weeks and it's miles better, more natural, more engaging and more perky than the Cinnamon. It's funny how these wires improve the sound, but they certainly do. 

If you are sending Adam wine, you can send me some nice Scottish mineral water, as I'm banned from alcohol until I'm recovered, which is most annoying. Still, the saving will pay for the cables. 

GraemeH posted:
fatcat posted:
GraemeH posted:

This all bemuses me. I run short 'normal' cat6e from modem to NAS and a long run (15m) of 'normal' cat6e from NAS into the NDX.

Could this be optimised?

G

Yes.

Take Adams advice above.

Install a wall socket and run a length of high quality cable from it to the NDX.

So, S6e Modem to NAS, 15m S6e NAS to wall socket and then 1m expensive 'specialist' cable to NDX...All my instincts say more junctions = poorer results. Why am I wrong?

G

Yes, I see your point.

 I find it very hard to believe an external phono stage (with it’s interconnect) is better than phono cards in a pre amp (which involves no interconnect).

I never even thought of this until I got the Chord sarum Super Aray interconnect! Dealer mentioned there was a super aray streaming cable! But the price was up there. Then I read some articles that is made a difference. I don't think it hurts to try the Audioquest cinnamon Ethernet! Can always return it if I hear no change. I am using 5e and it has to be better than that. 

 

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