Network optimization for serious streamers

In my ongoing experiments, now going on seven years, with network optimization for streaming I've discovered a number of optimizations that should work with any ethernet ISP.


I've tried a variety of ethernet cables, modems, routers, switches, FMC, ethernet filters, the following is what I've found to be most effective optimizations.


I'll start with ISP quality and speed. Recently I discovered 500mbps to be preferable to 300mbps. Along with upgrade in speed, modem capable of 1gb service replaced 600mbps, both have Broadcom chips and powered by same lps. Can't say which more responsible for improvement, speed or modem, presume speed has at least some role in ping time. As for ISP, there is importance in ISP server geographic location to you, shorter distances  means lower ping time. For information as to how ping time affects jitter-


Now for modems,  modem close to audio system is most favorable, extending coax cable preferable to long ethernet cable. Coax more resistant to rfi and closer positioning to system means one can more easily afford top quality ethernet cable for modem to router connection. The modem should use Broadcom chipset vs. inferior Intel Puma, Broadcom chipset has lower jitter vs the Intel. Modem should be powered via external lps using quality DC and AC cables, lps to power conditioner for ultimate performance.


Following close positioning of modem to audio system, router should also be placed near modem in service of same advantage of making highest quality ethernet cable more affordable, in this case, modem to router and router to switches, streamers and NAS. Router should be powered with lps, this lps should be able to provide more amps than router requires in service of providing greater reliability, having lps with reserves of amperage means lps runs cooler, heat is enemy of reliability, longevity. As with modem, quality dc, ac cables and connection to power conditioner.


The next finding is new to me, provides very meaningful upgrade to streaming sound quality. Noise from wifi, injected both internally to router and externally with routers sitting close to audio systems has long been a concern to me. I have quality Trifield meter which measures rfi, router with operational wifi manufacture obscenely high levels of rfi, rfi is noise, noise is enemy of streaming at level we're talking about here. And its very likely the more wifi devices one has in home the higher the levels of rfi produced. This noise is then injected into following cables and streaming equipment. One may convince themselves FMC totally isolates this noise, and while correct, it doesn't mitigate the noise and masking going on within router. The only way to eliminate this noise is turning off wifi. And then, how to provide wifi for the many  wifi devices we have at home? The answer is to connect a second router to the primary router. The primary router will only provide ethernet for streamers, switches and/or NAS in audio system, also for the second router.  Second router provides wifi for the home, this scheme keeps vast majority of rfi out of audio system streaming chain. My own measurements find rfi significantly diminished in primary router, more than mulitiples of ten times lower vs wifi enabled. This was seamless install with the Netgear routers I'm using. There may also be value in provisioning higher quality routers. My new primary router, Netgear XR1000 is marketed as a gamer router, claims of lower ping time, latency, jitter vs other routers. Since my old router, Netgear RS7000 didn't have means to monitor ping time I can't provide evidence of this claim. Whatever the case, my XR1000 ping time test measurements are as follows, 25.35ms highest, 16.50ms lowest, this is A+ measurements against objective criteria. Ping time under load is download 25.93ms, upload 37.34ms, idle 17.31ms, this rates as A. My speed of 565gbps rates B grade, likely need 1gb service to get A here. At to how this all pertains to sound quality, adding up the upgrade in ISP speed and the off loading of wifi is without a doubt one of the most substantial, if not most substantial network upgrades I've experienced. While I  long considered my setup as having a vanishing low noise floor, with this setup I heard a new level of vanishing if such a thing is possible. Even more astounding was a more analog like presentation, while I wasn't aware of even the slightest digital presentation prior, this upgrade certainly exposed it was indeed there. It seems logical to conclude there has been some lowering of jitter here.


And then we come to the ethernet filter. I suppose audiophile switches can be considered as one, then we have actual filters such as Network Acoustics Muon, my JCAT Net XE and others. I continue to believe these necessary even with the all measures above.


Optical conversion is also valid approach post router. While I found generic FMC somewhat effective, at this point I prefer ethernet. On the other hand I've not yet tried optimizing a fiber solution, for example two Sonore OpticalModules, both powered by lps, further upgraded with Finisar optical transceivers.


Assuming one has high resolving audio and streaming systems the above network optimizations should provide for substantial sound quality improvements. In my system, perception of performers in room has been taken to a new level of intimacy, meaning a more emotional connection to the performers and performance.


At this point, I consider network has been fully optimized, the only upgrade I'm aware of would be ISP upgrade to 1gb.


@willgolf and to whom it may concern,


@lalitk --thx.  Did you buy the Muon streaming cable also?  I assume that goes from Server to DAC. I am curious as to why you just bought the cheap $36 Linkup cable from the wall to the Filter as opposed to a better cable?  


No direct experience with Muon Streaming cable yet but I used to own ENO LAN cable in my earlier setup. @grannyring, someone whom I trust and respect; posted his impression about Muon LAN here recently. And Muon Pro LAN comes with 30 days, no questions asked return policy. A system like yours would greatly benefit from an ultra high resolution LAN cable. As far as LinkUp LAN, the only thing cheap about this cable is its price. The build quality is outstanding and the sound is balanced, open and detailed. I couldn’t have picked a better cable for a 15M length from my Infinity 1GB speed modem/router to my Telegartner M12 Switch Gold. Again, use Amazon generous return policy to test drive the LinkUp LAN cable in your system.


Hey Will,

The recommendations you are getting from @lalitk are solid. I realize you are functionally blind, but if possible, take a look at lalitk's system. It is very dialed in and thought out.

Network cables are certainly important in a system. I use the cable he recommended above throughout my system for over a year now, from ONT (optical network terminal) all the way to my N10 streamer. It made the most difference for me from the wall to streamer and from the ONT to the Router. I've not used or demoed any of the $500+ Network cables, but the four sub $100 cables that I've tried including Supra Cat8+, a known hi-value Network cable, were all easily trumped by the LinkUp 8. The LinkUp 8 is of very high quality components and excellent build quality. They make a very significant difference in my system; I've tried them individually at all places in my system, and as they were added you could hear the SQ improve with significantly reduced noise floor, improved dynamics, and increased frequency response top to bottom. At their price point, they are a very good option and a good place to start.

I know you mentioned elsewhere that you purchased the Muon Pro system and that Network Acoustics will have a Switch out in June. I've been very tempted to go that route as the Muon Pro is passive (doesn't need a power supply) and I know @grannyring uses this setup. He also has the discontinued NA Rubicon switch and loves the combo. I will be waiting to see what Network Acoustics releases; not sure if it will have the name Rubicon or otherwise. Seems lots of people like the products they manufacture. I am also curious to see what Uptone Audio releases around June as well, having been using their EtherRegen for years.

BTW, thanks for the comments on the LDMS server, much appreciated.