Help setting up nework for Zenith mk3 arriving next week


Searching existing discussions here and in other forums has helped somewhat but not nearly enough for a computer-phobe like me.  In fact, it has almost raised as many questions as it has answered.  This discussion should help a great deal. 

For those that might be kind enough to offer insights and/or answer my questoins based on their 'adventures in computer audio' hopefully these specifics will help you help me and others searching this topic.

GEAR:

--Comcast issued modem/router.  If the model or technical specs matter, I can provide that.  Ethernet is running to tv in living room for streaming (no idea if that is relevant).
--one ethernet port currently available on the comcast modem/router
--Ethernet or fiber optic length to music room 100'-150' 
--Innuos Zenith mk3 
--Lyngdorf 2170 TDAI
--USB cable will connect Zenith to Lyngdorf
--Will stream Tidal or Qobuz and maybe play music stored on the Zenith SSD's.

MY DEALER'S NETWORK SUGGESTION:

It's very appealing for its simplicity:  Connect the modem and the Zenith with cat 6a (shielded cat 6) and run it into the music room thru a brush plate.  This avoids the add'l connections required when using a wall terminal plate.  He did not prescribe a brand of cat 6a or connectors but he suggests good quality for each.  That's it.  Done!   Or...AM I?

I don't know, which is why I started this discussion, my first on AG.

If I implement this approach, I will plan to purchase pre-terminated bluejean brand cat 6a and know the quality of all is rock-solid and it comes with a test report of your actual run.  About $1.20/ft.   BTW, BJ told me I only needed cat 5 or 5e ( don't recall which).  They said shielding is only needed when there are many other data-carrying wires next to each other.  There aren't in my case.  And the 5 is a lot less $.  But, I plan to err on the side of caution and do cat 6a anyway.

QUESTIONS:

1. Have others used a set up like this (described above) and been very pleased?
2. Can others please share ways of improving the SQ with enhancements of varying cost?
3. Anyone like something better than bluejean? 

Many report audible improvements from using short ethernet cables such as Supracat 8, Audioquest, etc, for the last meter or so.

4. Are they using those from their wall plate to the streamer?

5. If so, are they adding those at the end of a run of ordinary ethernet like BJ or are they running a more expensive ethernet the entire way from the modem/router (aka, gateway?) to the streamer.?  Over 100' in my case.

6.If the audiophile grade 1-1.5m (are they called patchcords?) aren't used from the wall plate to streamer, then wear are they used?  BTW, I realize I won't have a wall terminal plate if I follow my dealers suggestion.  But I presume there exists a coupler that I could use.

7.  Is buying my own modem/router to replace the comcast one beneficial?  If so...any suggestions.  Maybe Comcast would update my gateway.  My current one is 2-3 years old.

8.  Has anyone switched from ethernet to fiber optic and realized an improvement in SQ.  Any innuos users in particular?  I realize optical ethernet requires converters and upgraded power supplies for converters but I wonder if it is worth doing.  If so...it seems like the costs are very reasonable.


Thank you,


rc22
You are worrying too much.   This being an audiophile site, you will get people swearing to the death about the superiority of one kind of cable vs another, but most reasonable people are going to tell you that especially with ethernet cables, from Cat5 and above you aren't going to hear much of a difference.  There are surely better modems than what you have, but not necessarily for audiophile purposes.  As to how you get the cable to run from your router to your listening area, do whatever works.
   The biggest issue imo with streaming are connectivity issues, in terms of getting the streamer to play nice with the rest of your system.  None of that will be affected by the issues you cite.  If your new streamer is easily integrated by the rest of your intranet, then most of your worries are over.
  Take a deep breath, have a glass of egg nog with some nice rum, and think about the music that you will enjoy
An easy solution to avoid running 150 ft of cables is to use an Apple Airport in bridge mode connected via a short ethernet cable to the streamer and replicating your wifi unless you live in a place with lots of wifi networks. If you decide to run a long cable, inserting a quality ethernet switch at the end and then connecting to the streamer with a high quality ethernet cable that is as short as possible will significantly improve streaming quality.
Finally, using a high quality USB cable (Shunyata, Intona, Acoustic Revive, Furutech, Oyaide) and possibly an Isolator (Intona, Uptone Regen, Ifi) for galvanlc isolation to the DAC will substantially improve SQ.
Another way of skinning this cat (no pun) is to use fiber directly into an Uptone Etherregen connected via Ethernet into the streamer. 
Both responses above are very appreciated.  Lots of good advice input in each.

Mahler 123:  I anticipated there’d be debates over how I should proceed.  Fingers crossed it’ll not get ugly.  You and Antigrunge2 have struck an exemplary note as the first posters.

Your viewpoint on the matter echoes my dealers and he is certainly not a low-information person.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  It’s just that learned folks can and do often report opposing experiences/outcomes on virtually everything in this hobby.   

Reminding me that connectivity can be an issue is appreciated.  I never could get my  direct tv DVR connected via WiFi.  Had to run Ethernet.  But, that was successful immediately.  Hopefully same for Zenith.

Antigrunge 2:

I’ve heard of Apple Airport but had no idea what is was. The Zentith, I am pretty sure,  is not WiFi-compatible. I can anticipate that perhaps the Airplay isn’t “seen” as WiFi by the innuos, and thus is compatible.  If it is compatible and provides robust connectivity I should investigate that option.  My dealer and I discussed the relatively new Chord (aka English Electric)  8-port Ethernet switch.  But he suggested I pass on that since I don’t need so many ports.  And I get that it’s about improving SQ, irrespective of having 8 ports.  But, having read just yesterday about the Uptone Ether Regen, I had presumed it would be used instead of a switch not in addition to it.  You did say “Uptone Regen”.  Is that perhaps a different product that the UT Ethernet Regen? 

Your last suggestion seems very promising.  Except that I think I read the UT Ethernet Regen is on back order for 6 weeks give or take.  But, I will look into it non-the less.  Hopefully, Uptone has a good product support line.

My ComCrap modem just crapped itself. If yours is 4 years old get a new one.
I don’t have the option of having my modem within 100ft. of the music room. Probably for the better.
Spending that much for a streamer and being close points to tosink instead of copper.
@rc22,

the Apple Airport actually takes wifi input and in bridge mode makes it look to the Zenith as though it were connected to the router via ethernet. It works well when there are few other networks around, otherwise you might not have enough wifi bandwidth for good soundquality and reliability. Airplay is an Apple protocol for streaming from your handheld and doesn‘t come into this. In any case, it is challenged for sound quality at this level.

The Uptone Regen goes into the USB connection, the ethernet connection being addressed by the Etherregen. They address different issues. I was just meaning to highlight the importance of a good USB link between the Zenith and your DAC.
Thank you, Antigrunge2.
Thanks for those that helped.  Now to report the outcome in hopes that it helps anyone else searching for information like I was.

After weighing all the recommendations from folks here and offline, I decided to run Cat 6 Ethernet.  Not even the shielded Cat6a version.  I chose Blue Jeans Cable brand.  My handyman who is very practiced at fishing cable, ran it along with a $28 run of fiber optic cable simply as a contingency plan should ever wish to experiment with F-O cable.

I used no patch cables or wall plates.  The Cat 6 clicks right into what was my comcast gateway’s (router/modem combo) last remaining Ethernet port.  Some years ago we ran cat from that router to the Directv box in the living room (fished thru walls/attic also) and did use a wall plate.  So we loosened the plate and just rand the BJ cat between the plate and sheet rock.  The “unsightliness” is hidden behind a desk.  Cat 6 enters the music room upstairs thru a small hole in the sheetrock under a low shelf that’s part of a built in.  The hole is not visible even from my seat.  The Cat clicks into my Zenith.  Zenith to Lyngdorf integrated via USB cable.  USB is Acoustic BBQ brand, Full-Rack, Double-Smoked.  Made by AG member, Grannyring.

All sounds crazy good to me.  Being brand new at streaming, I cannot compare it to other streamers, levels of Cat cable, fiber optic or even USB cables.  But it exceeds my expectations and I am one pretty OCD, Audio-Nervosa, hair-splitting Audiophile.  Lol.  After only a few hours of playing around/comparing, I unplugged the CD player I was using as a transport.
If you feel like tweaking a little, you might insert a filter (ENO, EMO EN70–HD) and use a short bit (i.e. 10-15‘‘) of high quality ethernet cable (I use Meicord) but you seem to sound happy as is.
Hey Antigrunge2,

Always interested in tweaking.  I am happy, but my experimentation will continue.  Will explore enhancements like you mention.  Also perhaps switches (Chord/English Electiric 8switch) and things like Innuos' Phoenix USB reclocker.

I'd like to learn more about the EN-70-HD.  What did it do for your rig?  I see EMO is the company.  Is ENO a less expensive alternative to EN70-HD (that I looked up).
http://networkacoustics.com is ENO
pls also look up my tread for improving streamer input on ’gon in the digital forum
The EMO filter galvanically isolates your ethernet connection: lower noise floor, better soundstage depth and height, better dynamics and resolution
If you look at the Phoenix you probably use USB. Look at the Intona Isolator, same function as EMO but for USB, use Intona USB cables ( I have tried lots of different ones and Intona is best) and if your DAC has a 10m BNC clock input getyourself an ocxo clock (Antelope, Cybershaft, etc.) The Phoenix combines these functions but won’t reclock your DAC.

Enjoy the music
mahler123

   The biggest issue imo with streaming are connectivity issues, in terms of getting the streamer to play nice with the rest of your system.  None of that will be affected by the issues you cite.  If your new streamer is easily integrated by the rest of your intranet, then most of your worries are over.
Sage advise, and in my experience true!
rc22,

Like your ethernet connection, mine is pretty simple. I have an Innuos Zen Mk3 in my living room that is connected to a Netgear router in my basement. I'm using 50 feet of BJC Cat-6a with no switches or wall plates in between. I connect the Zen to a PS Audio DAC via USB, and the sound is excellent. I tried inserting a Netgear GS105 switch into the ethernet run at a spot close to the Zen, but the system sounded better without the switch (which probably just added noise from the cheap power supply). I would think that a better power supply and an "audiophile" switch could improve the sound quality further, but I haven't tried them yet.

I might go ahead and try an EtherRegen switch to help isolate any noise from my router and the long ethernet run, but then I'd also need to add a short but decent ethernet cable to run from the EtherRegen to the Zen.  

Tweaks for the future could include use of fiber-optic cable to replace my long Cat-6a run, which could terminate in the EtherRegen (if I decide to try one of those). Right now, I'm comparing six different USB cables, which is very interesting. If you're happy with your current USB, I would not urge you to dive down the deep USB "rabbit hole." I'm finding that some of the better sounding cables can get quite expensive - and I'm not even listening to the really high-end stuff.    
@sdl4,

do try the Intona Isolator if you are trying to improve your usb conection. Also: keep your USB cables as short as possible
@antigrunge2,

Thanks for the suggestion regarding the isolator. Right now, I'm more concerned about making sure my ethernet connection is good and then seeing if I need to do anything more about the USB connection. Given that the Innuos Zen is already providing a somewhat cleaned up USB output, I may not need to insert any more hardware between the Zen and the DAC. On the ethernet side, I've been considering an EtherRegen rather than a traditional switch since it should provide more isolation and provide the option of a fiber-optic connection at some point.

I've heard different recommendations regarding USB cable length. I've been using a 1 meter cable, but could go a little shorter if I had to. I've noticed that 1.5 m is the shortest USB cable that Shunyata makes, but most other cable makers will go shorter. Any specific length that would be ideal?

Thanks!  
I run a 12in Intona Reference between the Intona Isolator and the DAC, it made a substantial difference to a pure silver cable I used before. The Isolator made an equally big difference, though. I agree with working the ethernet side of things but would suggest you first try a filter before going all the way to the Etherregen. Things depend on your location and level of likely EMI/RFI interference. Again, use a short cable from whatever you insert to the server.
sdl4,

I bought my first USB when I got the Innuos.  It's my first--and last one.  So, I will take your advice.  What USB rabbit hole? I don't any rabbit hole.  Lol.  

Despite having fished a single mode run "just in case", I am in no hurry to try it.  Like, you, I feel my SQ with ethernet is excellent...........

However, I'd like to see if products such as the EtherRegen, EE 8switch or Innuos' Phoenix improve SQ as much as many have reported. The Innuos is expensive and I've not even had a dealer demo yet, so I'd be loath to buy it without a satisfaction guarantee of sorts.  Fortunately, for me, I have an audiophile friend whose ears I trust.  He tries tons of gear and ancillaries first-hand and shares his findings with me.  He recommends a network filter called ENO silver--emphatically.  Network Acoustics, the maker, offers a 30 day MBG, so I figure, why not.  I'll be happy to report my findings once I get one.  I'm considering a switch also, but go into that right now.  Your experience with the netgear switch is a useful data point for me, so thanks.  Someone just advised me to get a better SMPS for switches.  He likes IFI PSU.  I know zip, just passing along what this guy said he uses himself with a very inexpensive D-link switch.

My views on the USB connection mirror yours.

Antigrunge2 also directed my attention to the ENO filter earlier in this thread.  So thanks to him.


rc22,

Yes, please report back on your findings if you get the ENO filter. I'm still not sure how much I should explore experimentation with lots of little boxes with expensive power supplies, though.

I'm pretty sure I will eventually try the Innuos Phoenix if I can arrange a home demo through a dealer. The Phoenix is an expensive investment, but it starts to look like a better value when I count up the costs of filters, switches, or isolators that can cost $500-600 each and still require adding a solid LPS like the Farad 3 for each one. I haven't read a bad review of the Phoenix yet, and Nuno at Innuos told me that you can't "unhear" how great it sounds once you've heard it. Of course, the Phoenix only works on the USB side of the server, so the ethernet side would still need attention.

The search for sonic bliss continues....