Better sound with ethernet cable?


I'm presently streaming music WIRELESS from my WiFi router to my Yamaha receiver.  I was told I would get better sound if I ran an ethernet cable. It's a fairly long run, maybe 50 feet total by the time I fish down through the basement and back up.  Before I drill holes and fish through the basement, I may just run it across my living room and see if it improves the sound.  Also, in my manual there are two different instruction for hooking up to wired or wireless. Can I just plug in the cable now or will I have to re-connect through the wired instructions?  Thanks for any input.  Doug
dwhess
Hardwired is always better than a wireless connection. Quite few articles online in regards to this, not to mention quite a few previous discussions posted here in the archives. Another lil tidbit for when hard wiring, cat 5 is outdated.

Had an installer use cat 5 for a 200MB service and I was like, huh? No no no, anyways, I ended up throwing cat 7 in place.
Doug, purchase a Mesh Router and position it close to your system. Run WiFi to it. Then run a short, good quality LAN cable from the Mesh Router to your Yamaha receiver. The Supra CAT 8 will do fine and doesn't cost much.

No point going to the effort of fishing the cable and a long run. It will not be better and likely worse as you will be using a more basic LAN cable to save on the cost of the 50ft run.
hardwired is good.....suggest using a quality shielded ethernet cable as well
What Ethernet gives you: Absolute reliability, less radiated noise near your music.


Will you hear a difference? I'm not sure. It depends a great deal on your Wi-Fi environment. Like here I'm near 20-30 other Wifi signals all competing for the same bandwidth. That can absolutely have an effect, and my Squeezebox Touch doesn't have 5GHz so it is really not very reliable at all on wifi.


I would say, if possible, use Ethernet to stream to your main devices (TV, audio) and Wifi to get to the not so important places.


There are good apps for your phone and maybe PC that help you see your Wifi neighbors, and pick out less used channels.


Best,

E
It shouldn’t matter. In either case, wireless or Ethernet, you’re sending just data (no real D/A timing involved). Both can produce electrical noise, radiated or coupled, that might affect the sound but it’s hard to tell which one will sound better and I bet you have/use wireless router anyway. I use wireless (Airport Express) and had dropouts on 2.4GHz. I switched to 5GHz and had no dropout since.
Whoa, oh my...I see no gurus when it comes to wireless vs hard wired. I could copy/paste all day why hard wired is better.
Only the ears know. Your ears
Kijanki 4-20-2019
In either case, wireless or Ethernet, you’re sending just data (no real D/A timing involved). Both can produce electrical noise, radiated or coupled, that might affect the sound but it’s hard to tell which one will sound better ....

+1. Well said.

Both wired and wireless are potentially capable of providing excellent results, and both are potentially susceptible to problems. Personally, my preference is to keep computers, computer-like devices such as routers, and especially "wallwart" switching power supplies, as far away as possible from my audio system, and not have them powered from the same AC line(s) that power my audio system, and not have any physical connection between them and the audio system. Ethernet connected devices can couple digital noise into an audio system via the wired connection itself, via the power wiring, and via the air. And the noise produced by digital circuits, being much lower in frequency than the 2.4 gHz or 5 gHz frequencies that are used by wifi, as well as potentially coupling at much greater amplitudes, stands a greater chance of affecting the sonics of the audio system than wifi signals.

That said, ***if*** your present wireless connection functions reliably, meaning that it rarely if ever has any dropouts, I’m going to make a radical suggestion. I suggest that you do nothing :-) Just continue to use the same wireless path to the Yamaha receiver that you have been using, and focus your efforts to improve the system elsewhere.

And in that regard, I see in another thread that your Yamaha receiver is a model R-N803, which provides the functionality of a preamp, a power amp, a phono stage, a DAC, an ethernet interface, a wifi interface, an AM and FM over-the-air receiver, and an "acoustic optimizer"/equalizer, all in one $700 component. While I am certainly one who believes that in audio the correlation between price and performance is far from perfect, that suggests to me that the most meaningful upgrade path you could take would be to upgrade some or all of that functionality by purchasing other components, whenever you prefer to do so.

And finally, keep in mind that when and if you do that the results of a wired vs. wireless comparison could very well be completely different than they would be now.

Good luck. Regards,

-- Al

@almarg Al, I’m really surprised and frankly taken aback by your post.

I cannot think of a single high end server manufacturer that allows for a built in WiFi adaptor / card. If any are offered, it is purely for convenience and as a secondary ’input.’ They do have wired LAN cards / modules as their preferred and primary and in most cases ONLY data input.
My system is located about 50 feet from my router.  I tried streaming Tidal wirelessly and had problems with the signal cutting off and I had a lot of studering.  Once I hardwired using CAD6 the problems disappeared.  Video problems also went away.  Not sure if sound improved.
I ran a 75 ft cat 7 cable from my upstairs modem down to my music room to a switch to feed streamer, tv and OPPO.

Now is it better SQ?
Hard to say but for sure I NEVER suffer any drop outs or hang ups even on 24/192 streams so that's worth price of admission on its own.

But on my second system I do run the Aries Mini on Wi-Fi as it is closer to the modem and seems to be ok both on SQ and dropouts.


Instead of taking Ethernet cable or Mesh router Take your modem/router next to system. I hope your home has telephone point everywhere or extending new OPC is more economical & easier.
Not really practical as then would have the reverse problem of getting Ethernet to my home computer.... Which is up the big wooden hill where the modem lives.

So in my case would involve a 75ft cable one way or another.

And I know for a concrete fact my home computer dl a lot faster on hard wire than Wi-Fi.
If SQ matters, go hard and don't go for  "less"
@david_ten

Hi David,

I of course always highly value and respect your opinions and experiences. And I recognize your point to the effect that wifi is shunned by designers of high end equipment, in favor of ethernet.

One of the reasons for that, of course, figures to be the potential for erratic operation and dropouts that can occur with wifi under many circumstances. And perhaps considerations related to internal circuitry are also involved. But in any event I would not extrapolate from that any expectation as to whether the wifi interface or the ethernet interface would provide better sonics in the OP’s Yamaha receiver, which as I mentioned provides essentially an entire system’s worth of electronics in one $700 package. And I wouldn’t be surprised if no difference was perceivable at all, assuming his wifi link is working reliably.

And as I suggested I feel that he would have a much greater chance of making a meaningful upgrade to his system by replacing some or perhaps even all of the functions of that component with something else.

On another note, re @erik_squires mention of erratic wifi performance with his Squeezebox Touch, fwiw I have had a Sqeezebox Touch in my main system for about seven years. I use it mainly for non-critical listening to Internet radio, and occasionally to play files that I have stored on a computer elsewhere in the house. All of this is done wirelessly, with the Squeezebox communicating with a wireless access point on a different level (2nd floor vs. 1st floor) and at opposite ends of the house. Yet in those seven years I have never had one single dropout. I don’t use "mesh" equipment, and I don’t use a wireless router. Instead I have a wireless access point, which I believe is significantly higher powered than the wifi provisions that are incorporated in most wireless routers. (The access point is in turn connected via ethernet to a SonicWall hardware firewall which serves as my router). I should add though, that my area is zoned two-acre residential, and the nearest neighboring house is more than 200 feet away. So my wireless connection has essentially no competition.

So under some circumstances, at least, it is certainly possible for wifi to work reliably, even when the signal must traverse multiple rooms and floors.

Finally, in regard to my earlier mention of not wanting to have wallwart power supplies anywhere near my system, the Squeezebox of course uses one. But I have it plugged into a good quality Hammond power strip which includes a power switch, that allows me to conveniently disconnect power to the wallwart when I am listening to my critical sources (LP and CD).

Best regards,

-- Al

Claims that Ethernet has to sound better than WiFi have as much sense as claiming that HDTV connected by Ethernet has better picture than one connected by WiFi. In both cases it is just compressed and buffered data. WiFi can be a real blessing preventing computer from injecting electrical noise directly into DAC.
 
DAC designers might avoid WiFi because of possible dropouts (and not the sound quality).
WiFi dropouts occur because of very limited number of channels since there are only 3 non-overlapping channels (my microwave oven operates on one of them). 5GHz not only has more channels but also poorly penetrates walls, making transmission more immune to outside interference. I had no single dropout on 5GHz for many years and my router is on different floor (basement). My 4k TV streaming also comes thru this WiFi.

After taking another look at this thread, I thought I’d elaborate on the reasons why I believe high end equipment which provides an Ethernet interface usually does not also provide a wifi interface. (And for that matter the DEQX HDP-5 I have in my own system is an example of that, although I don’t presently make use of its Ethernet port). Following are the reasons that occur to me:

1) Users of such equipment who want to connect it via wifi can easily do so by using an external wireless adapter. The suggestion @david_ten made to the OP early in this thread is one way of doing that. Also, many wireless access points and other wifi devices can easily be configured to act as “bridges,” which would make that possible.

2) Implementing wifi externally to a component can greatly increase one’s ability to optimize antenna placement. And of course it would also make it possible for the user to choose among the wide range of wireless adapters that are available, and their varying output power and reception capabilities.

3) As has been said, designers presumably want to minimize the likelihood that users will experience dropouts when using their equipment.

4) It can be expected that most users would prefer an Ethernet connection if it is practicable for them, either to eliminate the possibility of dropouts or because they believe it to be sonically superior to wifi (witness many of the comments in this thread), or both.

5) Incorporating a wifi capability in a high end design would add complexity that most users presumably wouldn’t use, while creating opportunity for subtle design issues (perhaps involving interactions between ostensibly unrelated circuits, given especially that very high frequencies are involved) that might compromise sonics. And at the very least doing so would lengthen the amount of time that would be required for design and development of the component.

6) Wifi technology does not seem likely to be a specialty of most high end audio designers, so lack of experience choosing the necessary parts and designing the necessary surrounding circuits, printed circuit board traces, etc., in many cases might also be a factor in the decision not to include it.

Given all of that, it seems to me that the fact that very few high end components have integrated wifi should not be taken to signify that a wifi link that functions reliably (i.e., with dropouts occurring rarely or never) is intrinsically inferior to Ethernet when it comes to sonics.

Best regards,

--Al


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RE: OP's question.   Much also depends on what is being streamed.  Is it CD quality or higher - via Tidal or QoBuz?   Or is it a lossy compression via Spotify or Pandora?   Why go to all the effort to tweak something if the data isn't there?

OP / @dwhess  Fundamental to our hobby is trying things / approaches/ gear, etc., listening, and making judgements and informed choices based on what we hear and do not hear, what is pleasing or not pleasing to us, what is acceptable and what is not.

None of us can inform you of what you will or will not hear or experience or not experience.

Having said the above, in my experience, the probabilities are in your favor and you are likely to hear a difference between your current WiFi setup into your current Yamaha component WiFi adaptor/card vs. running a LAN cable (even a basic one run across your living room to test it out) should you spend enough time listening and learning how your system sounds with each approach. If you have the opportunity to borrow a higher level LAN cable from an audio buddy or obtain one on loan from a dealer, etc. I believe you will be surprised by the differences you hear.

Keep us posted on how it goes and what your results are.

I've been fairly busy and will do my best to post why I believe it is far better to run wired with a LAN cable vs. going WiFi... at this point in time.

All the best in whichever direction / approach you choose.
I ran a Cat 6 ethernet cable from router to stereo and the music does sound a little better.  I'm presently streaming Spotify and it sounds very good but I understand that Tidal & Quobus sound better so I will probably sign up for that.  Thanks for all the good advice.   Doug
Only use wireless if you can't use hardwire. Mesh networks are fine but if you use mesh with wireless from satellite to satellite, you are still using wireless and you have all the issues with it. To get the higher speeds with a mesh network, you might need a lot of satellites. Whereas, you can setup a 1Gb network with a switch and some cat 5e or better cable. My last leg going to my dad is a cat7 with the better terminations.
Based on internet stories, and even im an IT guy and familiar how LAN vs Wifi works from byte stream / TCP point of view, I decided to try with one decent Audioquest LAN cable instead of wifi, and one cheap LAN cable.  
No difference at all.  
But, its so hard to do proper A/B testing and quickly switch between connections (you have to unplug the cable, turn on wifi, wait for connection), who can even reliably say this sounds better or there's no difference at all? 
So I didn't notice any difference but maybe there's is some really small change that I can't notice.
If there's some EM/radio noise coming into my PC (have dedicated daphile based passive PC for playing) from Wifi or LAN that then leaks into the DAC and theoretically can mess up the clock and cause jitter, I don't hear that either. So I just use LAN because its more reliable and faster.  
Testbed:

350 Mb modem downloads bandwidth tested with 1GB wired and 5GHz Wifi directly from the cable modem. All systems connected to Oppo UDP 205 USB DAC. I used commercial quality cabling throughout as I have found and tested pricey Audiophile brands to offer NO advantages and they often don't work.

Results:

STREAMING Sonic Progression with QoBuz Studio CD quality minimum:

1. Windows 10 14GB 256TB SSD 5Ghz Wifi 20' from Wifi broadcast Arris cable "modem" (too many drop outs) 
2.  Windows 10 PC 14GB MEMORY 256TB SSD wired with 25' Cat 5e (better than 1. sonically, very few drop outs) 
3. Dedicated MacMini 2009 with 8GB memory (2) 1TB SSD with CAT 5e - considerably better than 2, no comparison.
4. System 3 above with tested 25' Cat 7 cable - best system so far by far, nothing else even close. (However, even this occasionally has drop-outs. Probably when people are streaming video in the neighborhood. One might be able to ameliorate this if I found the port qoBuz streams to but I am too lazy - if anyone knows?) 

However:

5. The best performance and most satisfying experience (NO DROP-OUTS) is to download and CACHE QoBuz at the highest resolution available on the Mac Mini and then play it back. I use an iPAD with a wireless interface program (forget the name) to control the Mini. QoBuz has a convenient favorites and playlist interface for the MAC. Also, some of the most interesting music, to me, is only available in hi-res downloads. No you don't have to buy them unless you want to own them. Oh, I don't have any others programs running on the MAC it's pretty much dedicated to music, I should say so for $110!)

At some point I will try to substitute Ethernet for USB as a DAC interface but I have other things to do. I think I have a pretty good sound now. I am a music lover but digital was my profession. 


Note about above 5 GHz wifi:

Best downloads I could get was about 60Mb consistently versus the 350Mb wired.

My service is 300Mb but it test at 350. Bandwidth is everything. Don't worry about the jitter.