Ethernet Cables, do they make a difference?


I stream music via TIDAL and the only cable in my system that is not an "Audiophile" cable is the one going from my Gateway to my PC, it is a CAT6 cable. Question is, do "Audiophile" Ethernet cables make any difference/ improvement in sound quality?

Any and all feedback is most appreciated, especially if you noted improvements in your streaming audio SQ with a High-End Ethernet cable.

Thanks!
grm
grm
Designer shirts are worn just the same way as casual polo ones, but definitely look nicer.
+1 the answer is no, unless you want to believe those who make big money by persuading people otherwise, or those who fell for the emperor's new clothes. Digital is quite simply different from analogue: the signal gets there or it does not. Do you worry about your ethernet cable if you are doing your online banking? Cat 6 cable is certified for far more data throughput than you will ever need for audio.
Ethernet cables make equally as much difference as other high end cables. Zilch. Nada. Of course that presupposes you have half decent components. If you have flakey finicky boutique audio then even your type of home refrigerator will make an audible difference.
Probably more so.
Get Toyota FJ cruiser -- great example of no snake oil there.
Reading assignment:

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/most-important-unloved-cable?highlight=unloved%2Bcable
I agree with David_Ten.  The cable does make a difference.

Here is the review by Doug on Dagogo:

https://www.dagogo.com/audio-blast-ethernet-cables-xlr-y-adapters-survey/

Of course cables make a difference unless you are not actually listening in which case then they make no difference. There is a lot of evidence about the audibility of audio cables right here on Audiogon.
@grm,

Before you spend $$$ on a high end Ethernet cable, I suggest you try the Supra CAT 8 cable. If you hear audible improvements over your existing cable then you can step up to Purist or SoTM CAT 8 cables.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Supra-CAT-8-STP-patch-cable-1-meter-Made-In-Sweden-THE-BEST-FOR-NETWORK-AUD...

IME, Supra is quite an amazing cable for the money.

@lalitk and OP,

Agreed. I bought a Supra CAT 8 after experiencing several generic CAT 5 & 6 cables. I can hear an improvement that is worthwhile for the small increment in cost. My audio sub-net is just 1M in all directions, so it’s easy to experiment with EN cables. Ignore the nay-sayers.

Nothing in audio matters.  Get a cheap iPod or a $49 record player and you're done.
I was highly dubious, despite learning the importance of interconnects and speaker cables, until I brought home an Audioquest Vodka to try. The difference was stunning! And only from the router to my dac, I still have standard cat 7 for the NAS to router. Every bit of an audio system is important, if the components are resolving enough. 
These naysayers have no freakin clue about how audio works. These guys claim that all digital is just zeros and ones and nothing will have an impact on the sound. Cable sheathing, cable terminations all make a difference. 
Ask these guys why fibre is quieter than copper, and it’s still 1’s and 0’s. When I went fibre to my house, Tidal SQ jumped way up.

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mdining, can you link photo of bottle of AudioQuest Vodka?
I have a Purist Audio Design CAT7 Ethernet cable running from an Orbi satellite into an Antipodes DX3 music server. The difference from the "stock" ethernet cable is discernible. If someone couldn't hear the difference in my system I would question their hearing acuity. They might not think the difference was worth the money (BTW I do) but the difference is present. For those that insist on demanding the double blind test before proclaiming what they themselves hear, nope I didn't do one. But, I also know that I routinely experiment with other changes to my system (cables, isolation, hi rez files, power conditioners, etc.) and I readily admit when I can't discern a difference. If I'm imagining the difference, then it is a really good investment for an enjoyable imagined experience.
On the LAN datatransfer is usually limited by the network cards of two connected devices. Most oF NAS do not support 1G.
If any of the devices in your LAN route from the storage of your audio file to your playing device is 100M - your entire connection is limited to 100M. Any cat5 cable will serve you as good as the most expensive cat6,7,8,9,10 whatever number you can come up with and willing to pay for.
Do yourself a favor and run a couple of tests:
1. Time one audio file copy over the cheapest network cable you have and compare it to the time of copy over the most expensive one. I bet they will be the SAME, and much less than duration of the audio track - conclusion: network is not a bottleneck.
2. Copy the same file file over to the playing device (computer or whatever) and compare playing it to playing from NAS. I bet you won’t be able to tell the difference.

Alternative approach - do the blind test and try to guess if cable is cat5 or cat<$$$>.

For strong believers: I’m selling cat13 network cables $111 per foot, custom made, special order... <Sarcasm>
Buy a Belden cat7 cable it has better bandwidth then a 6  thicker conductors and 2x shielding isolation.    They provide more wire to professionals than any body in the industry.
And they verify their results.
I went from a cheap cat5 Ethernet to a moderately priced Synergistic ethernet bought used (def the way to go). I had a 15-foot run and wanted to make sure I had good shielding and connectors for that length of cable exposure. I heard a small improvement- I interpreted as less shrill or grainy at the high end. For a couple hundred dollars I got perceived sound improvement and a cable that for sure is less susceptible to RMI RFI. So maybe piece of mind was all I got, but sometimes that’s all I need. 
A dealer explained that upgrading an Ethernet cable ONLY helps if you run it through a splitter box (any one will due). 

Ultimately, these things have to be tested with one’s ears. The guy who is content with just a lo-fi iPod should stick with that (even though even he would hear a difference when compared to hi-fi). 
I read all the controversies, then groked a solution for steaming MQA files ... relocate the DSL modem (80 Mbps service) directly next to my PS Audio Directsteam DAC then try various 1 meter ethernet cables.  

Started by drilling a 1/2" hole directly though the wall from inside my DSL wall box outside of my house and ran a 5 meter Blue Jean cat 6 cable directly to the modem.  Understand this DSL modem input cable is hardwired from the wall box using only 4 wires to a RJ11 connector (Phone plug) on the modem. Surprise, Surprise ... a noticeable improvement! Further improvement when I switched to a 4 wire individually shielded twisted pairs with 22 gauge silver plated solid copper wires. Even more when I used a 12V Lithium Ion battery to power the DSL modem. Crazy, fanatical ... I think not, just standard logic folks.

With the modem now optimized it's easy to hear the difference between the various ethernet cables when steaming MQA.  Hell it even sounds better when my wife streams her mp3 Classic FM radio station from London. I'm not kidding, the entire house fills with classical music, before it sounded like a mono car speaker.

I can easily state that optimizing your modem is equally as important as your choice of ethernet cable. 

I tried both a 15M Audioquest Cinnamon and Tera Grand Cat 7 cable from Amazon to connect my optimized DSL modem to the rest of house. Small but noticeable improvement over my Blue Jean Cable wired house. I suspect fiber optic is the way to go for whole house optimization but I won't be sending that kind of money.

If you are following my bouncing ball, for fun I compared the long runs of Tera Grand & Cinnamon between the modem and Directstream DAC ... nothing special. Diamonds rule on this short thoroughfare.

@billallen10  +1  and a helpful post. Thank you.
Did anyone do a blind test?
Please post your honest results.
It would be nice to see “placebo effect” eliminated.

Do not get me wrong, I love high quality network cables and connectors, but I make mine myself, use high quality cable and connectors and cut them to the length. Why? Because I can and it doesn’t cost me much. Otherwise I’d use cheap cat5, because there is no any network need in the house requiring network speed that cat5 cannot handle.
Thanks to all!!
I did some research on the Net, and bottom line there are definate differences between my CAT6 and a CAT7 cable, basically, shielding individual twisted pairs and whole cable braid shielding. Also, not all CAT7 cables are the same, most boasted 10GB/s @ 600Mhz, but I found one that claimed 10GB/s @ 1000Mhz, there are also stranded and solid core cables. The claims about CAT7 were fairly consistant, in that due to twisting and shielding of the wire pairs and overall cable shielding the potential for noise being introduced in the signal is reduced. How this may improve Streaming SQ has yet to be determined. So, I decided on a CAT7 solid core 10GB/s @ 1000Mhz 10' run for $8 (shipping cost me as much as the cable). I looked at the AQ Vodka and can not understand what makes this cable cost over $500 for a 3M run! There must be something I'm missing here. I will A/B the new $8 CAT7 against my CAT6 and report back my perceived results. By the way, can anyone help me understand the difference between a 600Mhz cable compared to a 1000Mhz cable? Thanks!!
@grm can you also compare to cheap cat5 cable and if you can do a blind test even better.

as for the claims of 10 GB/s - you will not be able to experience this speed.
any computer network card supports 1Gbps (which is 80 times less than the claim above). Capital letter is for bytes per second and low case for bits per second (8 times difference)

DSL modems speed is 15 Mbps
EDSL May go up to 100 Mbps
If you have fiber optic all the way to your house (like I do) you may get up to 1Gbps.
Still regular cat6 handles it no problem.

Cable throupoot is not an issue at all.

10 GB/s rarely seen even in data centers, may be on data fabrics but it is distributed between multiple connections.

Claim may be legit but do you need it? Can other components handle the speed? And better question - why do you need the speed, how much data do you need to move? Do the math...
Hi, acepilot71,
When I return from business, I'll attempt a blind test with a straight CAT5e compared with my new CAT7 and see if my friend can detect a difference. I will then have my friend perform the test on myself to determine if I can consistently confirm which cable is in the system and report the results here. Also, again, I have the question as to what is the difference between a 600Mhz cable and a 1000Mhz cable?
Thanks! 
I have the SOtM dCBL-CAT7 and don’t really think it makes a difference.
Yes, they make a difference, but not because “bits is bits”.  The last meter, I have been told, improves EMI rejection. Regardless of the science, I hear a difference. 
No need to A/B my Cat6 cable with the new Cat7 cable. The difference with the Cat7 was a transformation, I would never have believed it. SQ improved to a degree of significance I find hard to describe. More detail, air, articulation, speed of transients and a lower noise floor just to begin. This is truly a cable not to overlook! 
What is "too much" for an ethernet cable?
some folks think that means a $200 ethernet is too much, some think $800 would be too much. Everyone has different systems.

but I hope we all agree that the signal difference, even very small, will make a difference by the time the signal gets from NAS to renderer/server/DAC to pre amp to amp to speakers.

e.g. an ethernet on the lower end will eventuate lower level SQ returns in the final signal from the speakers, and a a higher end ethernet will produce higher end results. The ethernet from the NAS is near the signal origin, and will thus flavor the SQ all the way through the signal chain to the speakers.
@1graber2 what you are talking about makes sense for analog signal.
From DAC out all the way to the speakers - yes your cables MUST be as good as you can get (or as good as you want to spend money for)

However your digital signal, especially from file source (NAS or streaming server) is a different story. Media player cashes the digital information as it comes from the source over the network cable and has enough bytes to play "smoothly". Network protocol takes care of packages transfer, ordering, re-sending lost packages (if any) and so on. Digital data is sent in discrete packages - that is defined by TCP/IP protocol. No cable can change that, Media player converts bursts of data into contentious stream of digital data over the optical cable (for example) to DAC.
I hear you @acepilot71, but then what would account for the differences in SQ that many people are reporting when they A/B different ethernet cables? or the difference many people report b/w USB and Ethernet cables on the final SQ?
I have kindly asked above to post the results of a blind tests...
No one posted them yet.
I also suggested to use cheap cat5 cable and compare it to playing file right from the storage of the device with media player (if for example you are playing from the computer) - blind test again.

With digital data transfer - your system is as weak as your weakest link and weaknesses do not usually add up.

p.s. reasonably priced good looking cable is worth the money just for it's look and high quality of the connectors.
p.p.s. Each of us can define "reasonably priced" for themselves ;-)
I went out to WGutz last year with a 100 foot, $13 cable from Amazon.

Compared to his Cryo treated 15 foot boutique cable he only hit 60% reliability.

Yep, a cable that was 660% longer, $0.13 a foot.

Later in the day when listening to Tidal he couldn’t hear when the cable was in the system or removed.

We queued up an ~11 minute piano solo and I showed him that then entire track after the first 10-15 seconds had been playing with the cable removed the entire time.
I recently added a Chord Sarum Super Aray streaming (ethernet) cable, its audible and enhances sound quality. I would describe it as a subtle upgrade. I stream Tidal.

If you have quality gear its a worthwhile upgrade, otherwise I would skip as the result will be close to insignificant.  
@joeeuro do you mind to post your streaming part of the configuration, i.e. what kind of internet, modem, what media player etc.
Path from the internet to the DAC

How much did you pay for the cable?

sorry for being nosy...
@jinjuku what do you mean by 60% reliability?
what kind of tests did you run?
Oh god.... Another flaky digital cable thread....  
They make NO difference. So long as the cable supports the ethernet configuration, it makes NO difference. This stuff is obvious. I can't believe people come here and debate this stuff in a serious way. If you think you're hearing differences in your purely digital cables like your HDMI and ethernet cables, it's PURELY in your head. Go read the actual specifications for these interconnects. I have. Nobody who knows how this stuff actually works would conclude you can hear a difference. The actual "sound" is buried under layer upon layer upon layer of physical layers, electrical layers, and protocol layers. It's being packetized, unpacked, routed, and decoded by millions upon millions of MOSFETs stuck to tiny copper traces through far-less-than-audiophile grade leadless Rohs-compliant solder. And some of you think you can "hear" a difference! Can you hear the difference between different brands of tiny surface mount termination resistors? Can you hear the difference between a .3 and .4 volt LVD bit? Where exactly does your insanity start and end? Are the squirrels on the cable up on your telephone pole injecting noise into your digital signal? Are those audiophile-grade telephone poles? What if the wind blows from the north instead of the west? 
And by the way, I think it's very foolish to hardline anything to a broadband modem that you care much about, ESPECIALLY a coax cable modem. Coax is like a freaking lightning rod. I've been running cable modems since 2001 and I lose one to a lightning strike about every 18 to 24 months. I just had one replaced last week. If you MUST hardline your intranet from a cable modem, by all means get the most robust surge suppression you can find for that coax. I've seen strikes rip through the modem, the router, the switch, and every network card connected to it. Unless you NEED the speed, go wireless. 
@acepilot71
Just as a matter of fact, ethernet doesn't always use TCP/IP because there isn't really a "TCP/IP" protocol. Those are two different protocols for two different layers of the software interface.  In all likelihood, it's using TCP/FTP. 
kosst_amojan
Another flaky digital cable thread....  
They make NO difference. So long as the cable supports the ethernet configuration, it makes NO difference. This stuff is obvious. I can't believe people come here and debate this stuff in a serious way.  If you think you're hearing differences in your purely digital cables like your HDMI and ethernet cables, it's PURELY in your head. Go read the actual specifications for these interconnects. I have
You've just proven your own expectation bias. Congratulations.

Nobody who knows how this stuff actually works would conclude you can hear a difference.
Are you actually claiming to speak for the entire spectrum of all knowledgeable people?

Where exactly does your insanity start and end?
So anyone who questions your claim is insane?

Coax is like a freaking lightning rod. I've been running cable modems since 2001 and I lose one to a lightning strike about every 18 to 24 months. I just had one replaced last week.
There's obviously something very wrong with your installation if you suffer this problem. You might want to call in an expert.

 
@cleeds
Expectation bias??? What planet are you from? I guess I’m biased if that means I assemble equipment according to my intent and it’s design and I expect it to perform to it’s specifications. I’m not like you who cobbles together whatever hocus-pocus I can find with no expectations it will do anything so I can turn it on and be amazed that it does anything at all. Do you think that’s how the world around you works? Go open up your amp and replace all the resistors in it with aluminum foil and bubble gum wrappers. DONT TELL ME IT WON’T WORK. That kind of talk is expectation bias! Don’t tell me that the design doesn’t account for bubble gum wrappers. According to your logic, we can only know it won’t work if when the thing explodes. Any result between catastrophic failure and glorious musicality should be possiblities to you. Anything else would be a biased expectation, even if it’s well founded.
Now go get to soldering and report back!

And by the way, I get my IT advice from a buddy who worked on communications systems for DOD at Langley AFB and Cheyenne Mountain. I'm pretty sure his knowledge and experience beats your Geek Squad guy. 
kosst_amojan

You are lashing out like a petulant child.

Your babbling and incoherent posts have not contributed or rebutted anything.

Give it a very long rest.
@maxima95 
Then clearly you aren't comprehending them. 
kosst_amojan
What planet are you from?
I'm from earth. That may be a different planet than yours.

I guess I’m biased ...
Big time!

I'm not like you who cobbles together whatever hocus-pocus I can find with no expectations ...
Pardon me, but your bias a.k.a. prejudice is showing again. You don't know anything about me, so please don't pretend that you do.

According to your logic, we can only know it won’t work if when the thing explodes.
Of course I never said that, or implied that. You seem to have some problems. Good luck resolving them.
No need to switch to the argument on personalities, just simply get someone to help, do the blind test and... please, please, please, post here honest result.
preferably with details of equipment involved in network connection from the internet to the media player.

Until than - it is a placebo effect which has no scientific background.
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They make no difference. None. Zilch. Nada. Spend your money elsewhere in your system.

You are streaming 1’s and 0’s. If you hear music, they are getting there. Period.

The 1’s and 0’s are turned into ANALOG by your D/A converter, and THAT matters, but the quality of the cable that delivers the 1’s and 0’s only needs to be sufficient to get them there without loss.

Any cat 5e or 6 cable is sufficient for audio use transmitting a digital signal. Cat 6 is what I use and what I wired my entire house with since it supports 1GBPS speed. I have a 1GB capable QNAP NAS which serves up DLNA/Twonkymedia to my whole house feeding Oppo players/computers/receivers/TV’s etc.

You can test any ethernet cable with a simple cable tester. I terminate my own. I use Southwire brand Cat6 riser cable (home depot) in my walls and I use cheap Monoprice or CableMatters (Amazon) for wall jack to component connections.

Anyone who tells you that ethernet cables make an audible difference in the digital domain does not understand digital data transmission and /or they are trying to profit from your ignorance. The same is true of digital Coax and Toslink (optical); the signal either gets there or it doesn’t.

I’ve been building computers and setting up networks since 1996 and I used to own a Company selling audio cables; I know quite a bit in this area.
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@dimora who are you with your 22 posts (and probably extensive computer or networking education), and who am I with my 10 posts?

another story @geoffkait - probably got his degree on this forum - over 9000 posts...