(1) When possible, do wired. With few exceptions, in most cases wired will do better than wireless.
(2) You haven't mentioned a budget. If this is your entry into streaming, then a Bluesound Node 2i (retails for $550) is a good place to start. Blu OS is a nice interface. And it's good value for the money.
A wired connection will always provide the best connection.
I'm curious about this "wired always best" attitude. What if someone (like me for example) obtains his or her internet wirelessly to begin with. Is my streaming signal already compromised?
Or would the wired ethernet still be advantageous coming out of my modem as opposed to wireless?
I'm using a Bluenote Node 2 that somebody miracled me wirelessly and it (including its internal DAC) sounds pretty damn good streaming www.kfjc.org
There’s nothing compromised about wireless if the signal is strong and you’re not using some kind of lossy compression (mpg, Blutooth). Given that, wired or wireless might be slightly better, depending on the quality of implementation in the particular device.
(This is similar to the question of whether USB or SPDIF is better. The answer is the same: it depends on the implementation.)
Audiophiles tend to make hard-and-fast rules about things that are not all that clear. My hard-and-fast rule is, ignore such rules unless there are real data to back them up. Real data does not mean one or a few guys listening to one or a few pieces of equipment and generalizing from there.
I suggest you use whatever is most convenient for you. Happy listening!
+1 to @mike_in_nc and @almarg 's posts.
WiFi works just fine if your signal strength is good. For a system the level of using the Kii Three I would look at the Aries G1 or G2 then you have the option.
I started off wireless and soon got tired of losing the handshake. Much more satisfying experience running Cat8 from an Ubiquiti switch. I think BluOs is the worst of the three player OSs that I have. In it's favor it auto indexes locall files and it plays any service without requiring plugin.
I just ordered a 4th streamer that looks like a game changer. Maybe August.
Bluesound wireless code is a trainwreck. The Node 2i I'm trying out drops off the wifi network every few hours requiring a reboot to show back up. No issues with any other wifi components on the network. After conducting some research, this appears to be a long standing problem which Bluesound has failed to fix (among other wifi issues). If you're getting a Node 2i (which is otherwise a nice fully featured streamer at the pricepoint) expect that you'll need to hook it up wired.
Using Node 2i on wifi. No problems.
Your mileage may vary depending on router and signal strength
I only stream, and I've been testing wifi and Ethernet connections at various stages of my stereo build.
The last components I upgraded were the power supplies for my streamer, modem and router, and the Ethernet cables connecting them. I used the iFi power components because they are the most affordable low noise power supplies I know of ($50 or $100 depending on the amperage requirement of the component).
I added the LNPS's over time, and can say that the sound went from raw to refined when I replaced the streamer PSU. Next I replaced the modem PSU. The difference there was slight, but the sound had added resolution and body. Then replacing the router PSU changed the sound from edgy/fatiguing to relaxed.
So much of this hobby seems to revolve around prioritizing upgrades correctly. Sometimes an upgrade has no affect because of another bottleneck in the system. And only after I resolve the other bottleneck does the first upgrade become meaningful.
What's your experience, OP?
I run wireless and have no issues but I also have a good router and strong signal at the location of my streamer. I have a Bluesound Node 2i and a Benchmark DAC 2 HGC. No issues with signal dropping out when streaming Tidal or Qobuz.
I have pulled 2 runs of cat6e from my office-router across the house to my living room (via the attic and walls) for my smart TV and network reciever (Arcam SR250). This was done out of necessity. It was an option to add a run for the streamer but ultimately it was not worth the extra effort as there was no problem to fix.
Also, it makes no sense to run ethernet cable in your home that is rated higher than the cable used for your incoming service. I got a couple partial boxes of cat6e left over from a commercial jobsite but my service provider ran cat5 into the house. If I was buying the cable, cat5 would have been just fine. Just my two cents.
I use WiFi, but if I could use Ethernet I would. The usual issues people have is channel congestion with neighbors. Depends on where you live and who is around you. In an apartment, getting a clear channel can be a weekly time sucker.
In a home on an acre of land, not so much.
I have a silly question: would using LNPS's on a modem and main router in a mesh system make a difference if the stereo system is connected to a satellite router via Ethernet? I think the answer is likely 99% to be no. But I feel like the obvious no's change every 10-20 years in this hobby.
I have been playing with home networking over the last year. Wifi 6 and mesh are the emerging standards. However, systems deploying both wifi 6 and mesh are only starting to hit the market.
I picked up a Netgear wifi 6 router a year ago, but traded it out for a Google mesh WiFi system earlier this year. Mesh is the way to go for sure, as every room in my relatively small house has a similar connection. And I also love how simple Google software is compared to traditional router software.
I run the stereo system from the main router, but the home theater is connected to a satellite router. So I won't test my question anytime soon.
I have a Note2 and use WiFi and it sounds great. I tried it connected and could tell zero difference. If you have the bandwidth WiFi sound is excellent.
Go wires so you can put risers under there too.
Wireless only for me. Works great.
I've ran my old Squeezebox Touches both wired and wirelessly, and have done the same with my current Raspberry Pi players.
As others have said, as long as the wireless signal strength is good, I find no difference is audio quality nor the responsiveness of the player in starting and controlling music. Wired is a little easier to set up if you are close to the router or switch and can connect with an easily concealed cable, but I have no problem switching to wireless if that means I don't have to run a cable between rooms or leave wiring exposed. Point is, don't waste time worrying about it for audio.
I expected more votes for wired. To you wireless proponents, consider this:
I too didn't hear a difference between wifi and Ethernet until I connected low noise power supplies to the modem and router. It's possible the WiFi card in your streamer is about as electrically noisy as the power bricks for your modem and router. You won't know for certain until you try.
@erik_squires if you'd like to go wired, try running mesh router system. And throw a low noise power supply on the satelite router you connect to your stereo. It's worth a shot, and cheaper than a lot of other audiophile purchases. Worse case scenario, you end up upgrading your home network.
"it makes no sense to run ethernet cable in your home that is rated higher than the cable used for your incoming service."
Wish I'd thought of this obvious fact before buying a fancy ethernet cable. Oh, well. Surely it's doing no harm (?)
Is it just me or does anyone else think it’s crazy that or streamers receive data signals either wired (with basic 10 cent a foot cable) or wireless but are then told that we need expensive after market Ethernet cables as interconnects?
The wi-fi dongle on my Cambridge CXN V2 streamer caused intermittent noise with my Bel Canto REF500M class D amps, problem was resolved by going wired (which to be fair was "wired" with CAT 6 from a nearby wireless router, just to remove the requirement for the wi-fi dongle). If you do go wired, my understanding is that CAT 6 cable (like what Tuneful Cables makes with AudioQuest stock) is made to higher standards for crosstalk than generic CAT 5.
@classdstreamer what aftermarket "low noise power supply" would you recommend? I have an Orbi mesh setup with wall wart power supplies.
ALWAYS is a strong word
applied to wifi vs ethernet - it is also incorrect
it depends on the situation, quality of feed into and out of the network, etc etc
Most equipment manufacturers will advise to use a wired connection if the device can do both and you have a choice between the two. Everything being equal, the best a wireless connection can do is be as good as the wired connection. It will not be better. If that’s the case, the wireless is definitely more convenient. Keep in mind that the wired connection will always be more robust.
In my experience, wired has always sounded better, except for one product, the Auralic Aries Mini. There is however a fundamental flaw with wired Ethernet, it acts like a long aerial that, in addition to passing your data, picks up RFI/EMI from your local environment.
In my opinion a good RFI filter is essential. The ENO by Network Acoustics is cheap and transforms the listening experience. Link to their site here https://networkacoustics.com/
+1 for Mesh wireless router/node
it makes no sense to run ethernet cable in your home that is rated higher than the cable used for your incoming service."
Wish I'd thought of this obvious fact before buying a fancy ethernet cable. Oh, well. Surely it's doing no harm (?)
Hopefully one day your service will catch up.I'm 100% in favour of wired.No chance of interruption with other signals. The cable lifters are a nice touch though.
Not every wi fi component is a snap to get on the WiFi system...with wired you don’t have that issue. I also think a wired connection is less prone to dropouts when you have competing WiFi devices , like refrigerators, etc. gobbling up the available bandwidth.
I initially used WiFi. When I ran a hard wire, the sound was a bit stronger.
If you can always go wired. It is just the way wireless works that makes it inferior. Main point is that wireless data transfer drops off as the distance from the router increases. Wireless is also susceptible to all the other electrical signals in the building. Take a Bluetooth connected device as soon as I turn on my microwave the connection drops. If you are playing a high res file and don’t want any compression go wired. For my player I just use my MacBook Pro into a usb decraper Into an external dac. It works great, qobuz sounds amazing with my setup. Yes my MacBook is cat7 connected.
@snowbuffalo I used iFi power supplies on my modem and router. I recommend them. If you do try a low noise PS for you modem/router, I'm Interested to hear whether they make a difference for you.
First, @guy-incognito, regarding how much sense it makes to install better cable than your ISP service speed needs, keep in mind that upgrades do happen. I recently went from 100Mb internet to gigabit and had to replace two runs of old Cat-5 (not Cat-5e) cable in order to get the new speed at my desktop. If I hadn’t been quite as cheap with the cable back when I got 12 Mb DSL, I could have saved myself some work this time around.
(Of course, I started at 300 baud in roughly 1980, so that’s been quite a change in connection speed over the years.)
Second, @snowbuffalo, crosstalk in ethernet cables has nothing to do with crosstalk in stereo separation. Ethernet cables have 4 pairs of cable inside them and they are talking about the interference between those pairs (crosstalk). There is no stereo separation in a digital signal until it is decoded in the DAC. Only then can you have a stereo separation problem. Cat-5e cable can do gigabit speeds without problem, though Cat-6 might be better for long runs or a particularly noisy EMF environment.
Agree with many of the above who point to implementation. I also believe there is no absolute and x is "always" better.
Nice little video on the subject matter (and the Aries G1 streamer by Auralic) by a reputable reviewer:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cqd8UXCGU0s
Mahler123 is right.
Both wired & wireless will work excellent as long as they are working within their limits. The chances of wireless dropping packets and causing re transmissions are a bit higher than wired, especially if a lot of wifi devices are sharing the same band. Moving to the 11ac at 5G bandwidth may reduce those issues, unless you live near an airport or anywhere where radar signals are present. This may cause the AP to change bands continuously (DFS). Also, with higher frequencies (at 5G) , your signal degrades quicker so distance becomes more of an issue. This is laws of physics and you just have to live with it.
99.999 % of the time, both will be fine :-) It is really a choice of convenience.
In this thread, I have read some references being made to "noise" in the PSUs and/or wifi signals. This is completely irrelevant. The wifi signals (and hence the audio signals in the data packets) are carried in a digitized way and the PSU noise of the wifi and/or wired AP has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the quality of the analog signal you will achieve after it has passed thru your DAC.
Any AP noise issues will be automatically taken care of by re transmissions and CRC checks and error correction algorithms.
That is true however I have seen some network switch product white papers that claim network Wire noise can make its way Into the signal from streamer to dac where it might have an effect on jitter that might be heard in some cases. The switch is advertised for audio applications to address that.
That is definitely not an issue with wireless connections.
Also, with higher frequencies (at 5G) , your signal degrades quicker so distance becomes more of an issue. This is laws of physics and you just have to live with it.
This and the fact that higher frequencies penetrate walls poorly prevent interference from outside. In addition on 2.4GHz band each channel is 3.5 channel wide, so in reality there are only 3 to 4 completely independent channels. My microwave was on one of them causing dropouts, neighbor on another etc. I've never had dropout, since I switched to 5GHz (less traffic, more channels etc). With WiFi I don't have to worry about anything on computer side. Receiver (Airport Express) has small jitter on digital output, but it is suppressed by the DAC (Benchmark DAC3).
@mlsstl, future proofing is a good point to bring up and one I really wasn't thinking about.
We live within a half mile of a major area hospital, which generally means a T3 level service...now, who knows, who cares...*L*
Our net service is spectacular....wired locally, so our wireless within is great.
Just 'stupid lucky', I guess. *S*
Back in Houston, we lived about the same distance from a major software company, also T3 when it was rare. We'd get calls about cable service; the one's that Knew what we had wished us well. Those that didn't got told to 'go ask your sup what a T3 line Is' and get back to us'. *click*
They never did.
Got spoiled disgusting. Entire complex had a LAN created by the management (a real geek); some tenants were early 'day traders' (you could tell the good ones by their car), some 24/7 'gamers' that slept on the floor, only there for the low latency.
Had a Fantastic trove of music files...10K+, pick your genre'.
It got busted. A third of the tenants moved....*sigh*
We did as well later, but for different reasons....
I've run a number of devices including Bluesound Node 2 streamers over wireless using an inexpensive access point in my living room and configuring an inexpensive router as a repeater using DD-WRT in my bedroom, which is the farthest point from my router. All worked great. Until I got my TEAC NT-505. I had all kinds of problems getting it to stay on my network. I finally ran an ethernet cable to it and it has been rock solid ever since. So the device you're using may matter. I'm super happy with the NT-505 (now) and would recommend it. But you should probably run a wire to it.
As mentioned throughout the thread, wireless introduces a lot of variables. If wireless works, great. If it's easy to run a wire, then do that and take all those variables out of the equation.
Wired is twice as fast as wireless. That should be the deciding factor. It's bound to work better. I know a stereo/hi-fi dealer who now uses a streaming service to demo his gear. I asked him to demo some speakers sing a particular album I had at home. He called it up on the streaming service. I didn't sound like the same album! These were very pricey speakers. I've never heard a streaming service that sounded as good as a CD of the "same" material. It hope it works beautifully for you.
Wired is twice as fast as wireless. That should be the deciding factor.
No, it isn’t. What you need for typical CD is 1.4Mbit/s while WiFi delivers 54Mbit/s. Streaming services most of the time use lossy compression so it will never sound as good as original CD. AFAIK Tidal HiFi supports lossless streaming at 1.4Mbit/s rate (same as CD), but it costs more.
Wifi is more than adequately fast for even the highest sampled digital music, unless you have an ancient AP router older than about 6 years.
MartinLogan has an incredible deal on their Forte Amplifier/Streamer. $249.99 via their website. Nice interim solution before you move up to your ultimate unit.
In my opinion:
Wired vs. wireless is just a matter of convenience and network connectivity and not SQ. My Netgear router/wap is a nice strong solid connection to my streaming Macbook. I do have the Netgear plugged into an Isotek power strip just because I could so that might help with the electrical stuff.
As far a a streamer, I had an Altair but went back to the Macbook, again for its convenience and flexibility. I use the Toslink to connect the Mac to the Dac so they are electrically decoupled.
I stream Spotify but bitperfect since I use Amarra SQ+ and I get to play around with its EQ and audio conditioning filters. It is pretty wild to see how much garbage the AC filters out. It sounds like computerized garble.
There's the rub. What worked yesterday doesn't work today. Technology outstripping software and hardware. Makes one want to hide and not go outside. Wait a minute...
I just ran a test the other day.
My DSL modem can be connected with an ethernet cable, or switched on to run WiFi.
I made two video files downloaded from the internet.
The WiFi was not as precise and clear. The copper wire download was clear and the sound was better. But, you should get better quality ethernet cabling for the best sound.