The Great Ethernet Showdown 2

Beachcomber posted:

I thought I'd have a go at some changes to the Ethernet.  I have replaced my Netgear switch with a Catalyst 2960.  I have a reasonable Ethernet cable between the switch and the NDX.  The difference in sound is...undetectable.  I can hear no change at all.  Of course, I'm sure that's because my hearing is rubbish, otherwise I would hear the night and day improvement...

you don’t hear more body, bass, and involvement?   i had the netgear gs105 before and heard these differences with my nds and cisco 2960. ( using same lan cables).


French Rooster posted:

you don’t hear more body, bass, and involvement?   i had the netgear gs105 before and heard these differences with my nds and cisco 2960. ( using same lan cables).


No - nothing different.  This is NDX/52/Supercap/NAP500/S600.  Source is a PC with Asset server.

Morning All

Following this thread with my audio 'head' on it all makes sense. Following with my IT 'head' on it sounds like a load of rubbish . So I had to conduct some tests. 

First I bought a 2960 for £50 on eBay. Cheap enough test and i needed a new switch anyhow.

Second I bought a AQ Vodka Streaming Cable from a good online source that accepts returns 

  • First Test - insert switch between rest of the network and the Streamer using basic cheap cat5 
  • Second Test  A-B Test the Vodka cable against a basic CAT5 cable I have


The aim was to trust a pair of ears and not technical ‘facts’ in the testing.  My wife has a great set of ears, loves music and the HiFi but also does not care about the tech stuff, just what sounds better/worse/same etc so made the perfect 'blind' tester. In each test i did not reveal what was being tested or what order i was changing cables/device and not everytime did i make a change. We use the first 30s of a single track for the test.

First test was repeated a number of times and while subtle the differences the switch made where obvious and detectable each time the change was made. Every time my chief listener picked the test with the switch as the 'best' option. Slightly more punch in the base, bit wider sound stage and separation. Nothing groundbreaking but it was there and worth £50.

Onto the Vodka ! I was very skeptical about this so ran the new cable and old basic cable from the cisco and made the change over a quick as possible. The story is very similar to the switch above. The expensive cable was better, the basic cable was a tad slower and a bit less defined. The Vodka just opened things up a tad. Again nothing major, not like adding a PSU or changing a power cable.

In the scope of this hobby a £350 upgrade is 'cheap' so both have stayed in place !






Interesting. I blind tested my wife on network cables (generic, Cinnamon, Meicord, Chord Indigo) and she picked the most expensive (which isn't even able to call itself "Ethernet") as sounding best. And I had the same view as yourself - there didn't seem to be any reason there'd be a difference.

However, this (and my own listening tests) were invalid because:

a) Neither she nor I are certified Cisco Network Engineers and therefore don't *know* there can't be any difference 

b) We're not posters from elsewhere come here to poke fun and who, despite not having tried things, *know* there can't be any difference

But it sounds good to me... (and my wife doesn't give a hoot)

OK, results of my (previously promised) test...

Yes, in my system* I can tell differences when swapping the cable from the switch to streamer, but they are relatively small.
So, in ascending order...

3m Generic Cat6a SFTP
Slightly 'veiled' sound, slight reduction in apparent dynamics, less clarity of instrumental timbres, a bit less 'involving' to listen to.

3m Chord C-Stream
Still slightly 'veiled', less clarity of instrumental timbres, very slightly less 'involving' to listen to.

3m Meicord Opal, Cat6 UTP
Slightly less clarity of instrumental timbres otherwise fine.

5m StarTech Cat6 UTP (type N6PATC5MWH, a generic UTP patch cable from CPC Farnell)
This beat all the rest, and is the reference to which the others were compared.

So in my system*, it now appears that UTP wins.


* Synology NAS (Synology Media Server) -> Cisco 2960G 8TC-L switch -> NAC-N272/555PSDR + 300DR
This applies only to my system in my environment - no guarantees that you're going to find the same thing!

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