The indisputable benefit of fiber for music


I've read a lot about fiber's audible superiority to Ethernet, and most of it I have taken with a grain of salt.  1GigE is plenty fast for just about anything, and it is balanced and galvanically isolated. The one area where fiber is clearly a better choice for music systems is lightning protection.

It is not uncommon for lightning to enter a home via the cable TV's coaxial cable. This can easily jump the millimeters from coax to Ethernet to Ethernet. So if you are like me, and rely on Ethernet cabling to stream to avoid any Wifi issues you are also creating a possible lightning path from the external Internet provider's connection all the way to your fancy audio gear.

In this one situation I have to say, the use of a 1m or longer fiber cable is the superior solution. I'm considering using this at the junction between the cable TV modem and my router, therefore isolating all of my streaming devices at once.

Best,

Erik
erik_squires
Here's a good one. When I ask about a simple mod you respond saying don't do it the voltage is LETHAL (just like that, ALL CAPS) and that even if unplugged I will kill myself. 

But when it comes to a lightning strike, millions of volts, more than enough to set the house on fire, no problem, meter of fiber optic and lightning won't be able to enter your home.

See, I do actually read this stuff. But, could you maybe try and help me understand why my unplugged tube amp is more LETHAL than lightning?


Hi @millercarbon ,

Not a lot of adults would still be butt hurt over free advice.  I'm glad to know you are special that way.

Best,

Erik
Whole house yesterday.  
Toslink today.  
Overkill.  
I've never heard any glass that sounded as good as ViaBlue.
Indubately.
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I'm not talking about S/PDIF or Toslink, just Ethernet.

I've not heard fiber to a streamer. 
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Only two ways to get fiber I know of is Fios and expensive conversion. If you think it's worth it, good for you. Not for purposes of electrical isolation. The OP states that he's never heard it. 
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Tis true, you can do this all for about $85.

No, I have not tried it as the connection to my streamer.  I'm just thinking about lightning protection where I am.  Not just for my audio gear, but also for all the other gear I have hard wired to the house Ethernet.
bananas oatmeal in the morning, a salad at lunch, and a granola bar every afternoon does it for me
Sorry, let me clarify. 

I want to use it between my cable modem and my router/switch.  This should give me a 1m gap in case of a surge.

Of course, if I used it right before my streamer, I'd protect the streamer and audio gear as well, but not save my router, the 2 PC's, 2 televisions, or anything else.
ozzy 
Thanks. Learn something here everyday.
I see that the primary purpose of fiber is to extend data transmidsion. Hard to believe that double conversion could improve 1/2 meter.
This one looks interesting also:

https://www.l-com.com/ethernet-converters-l-com-ethernet-media-converter-10-100tx-to-100fx-sm-sc-25k...

I see that the primary purpose of fiber is to extend data transmidsion.

Yep.

Hard to believe that double conversion could improve 1/2 meter.

That's what I'm thinking, unless there's something about the noise Ethernet picks up making the jump across the balanced and isolated receivers.
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Eric, great subject, thanks. I’ve been thinking along the optic fibre solution, but without the clumsy add on converters. I’ll keep investigating and feed back. 🇦🇺
Just get an internet provider that uses fiber. I’ve been using 1G ATT fiber for years. So may benefits: 950Mb up and down speeds, quiet, low latency, cheap, and again, no noise. 
Just get an internet provider that uses fiber.


In my case this would require a move. No can do. I’m lucky to get reasonable Internet speeds.

I would also recommend starting with a pair of TP-Link Gigabit SFP to RJ45 Fiber Media Converters as it is a relatively inexpensive tweak - it significantly improved my Roon experience (direct connection NAS => DAC).  I think there is a case to be made about galvanic isolation via transmission through optical fiber.  If you like the improvement then try swapping out the TP-Links with the Sonore opticalModule Deluxe (link:  http://www.sonore.us/opticalModule-Deluxe.html).  There is also a nice article in Absolute Sound that explains the whole process/setup for those that have an interest in streaming:
https://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/how-to-optimize-digital-streaming-with-optical-fiber
Good luck!
Gorm
Most good power conditioners also have in/out ports for RG-6 cable and Ethernet...  consider using the available surge suppression in yours.

And if you don’t have one...  I mean...
Try an ENO. It'll give fiber a sprint. OCC.
Using Ethernet to Fibre media converters at each end and an optical cable will isolate RF noise from the router end to the streamer, but it will introduce some noise of it own. It will give a bigger soundstage and more detail. The media converters and their PSU’s will introduce noise of their own though, albeit at a lower level. Using an ENO filter just before the streamer will filter out this last bit of noise making things even better.
Another option:
Between modem and router (Orbi satellite), I have a 5 Ghz WiFi backhaul. Seems to me, I get the same protection as fiber against lightning (along with absolute protection from mice). Galvanic isolation, too, and less cable clutter.  Haven't noticed issues with drop-outs.  No new converters and PSUs at either end as needed with fiber.  Complete flexibility if I want to move the router.  No drilling, no stapling.  As I recall, at least one HiFi company (Auralic?) recommends WiFi over ethernet for best sound quality (though I'm skeptical it makes much difference if we're comparing equally strong signals). 
I have tried optical and gone down the Uptone EtherRegen route. Not a bad solution and definitely improved sound quality. However with the introduction of the Network Acoustics ENO filter and silver ethernet cable I found the best sounding streaming solution these ears have ever heard. I placed an English Audio 8Switch ahead of the ENO filter and Ethernet cable and the results are a revelation.

Innovation is changing this space pretty quickly folks. 
I think I will prefer to not worry about either...instead, I will just put on a record and drop the stylus, or press play on my cd player, or insert a cassette into my 3 head tape deck. All the above will sound better, at least to my ears.
We just moved and switched to fiber. 
Oddly enough my music library is now missing some old bloat like Air Supply, Bay City Rollers, Rick Dees, and C.W. McCall.

Not sure how they got flushed out of the system but overall my music seems to have more pep....
Yes, Wifi won't carry a surge, but it also is subject to interference from competing routers and distance limitations. The other thing is that this method, putting an air gab just before the streamer leaves the rest of your networking gear exposed to a possible surge.  If your cable modem fries, your home network is down and so is the streaming. :)
Fiber is especially important when listening to tunes like "All Things Must Pass".
There are those passive inline ethernet isolators used in hospitals against EMP. Not sure if or how well they work for Lightning strikes. 
#Indisputable benefit of Ground, maybe an opportunity to analyze your home electrical grounding (Earthing) system.
"  Earthing, Lightning Arrestor, and SPD (Surge Protection Device) are the three pillars that actually protect against current-shocked.".
Using fiber between Etherregen and SOtM switch.  Found that choice of SFP's will make or break the deal.
Also found the ENO filter and EE 8Switch are keepers.
Fibre is a game changer. Glad I did not spend too much in the past on streamers or music servers. My cheap DELL computer with Fibre to my OpticalRendu is phenomenal. So good that I bought 2 OpiticalRendu's, I for each DAC that I have in the office system.

1) https://www.amazon.com/Ubiquiti-Networks-US-8-150W-UNIFI-Switch/dp/B01DKXT4CI/ref=sr_1_4?crid=6O42IY...

2)  OpticalRendu - mode 5 with RoonReady output only
https://www.sonore.us/opticalRendu.html

3) SPF cages and Fibre wire from the same link as #2.

4) USB from the OpticalRendu to the DAC. Spent $26 here.

5) Linear Power Supply for each OpticalRendu.
https://www.sonore.us/power.html

All of these are ROON READY and work flawlessly with my ROON CORE. They sound much better than my previous Sonore microRendu.
The problem of 'flatlanders' (life on the planes...oops, plains or just level lands) is the fear of lighting....nope, lightning...

All 6 of our 'puters are either WiFi'd or Bleutoothy, the cable modem all by its' lonesome in the corner, away....fresh new router as well, upgrading our act.

Just downstream 1/2 mi. from the areas' major hospital, so speed isn't an issue.  Better was back in Houston 15ish years hence, on a T3 line.  But 'puters were slower then, so all +/- equal in satisfaction.

Best about here is living at the base of hill, topped by a 100' cell tower of steel.  Couldn't ask for a better lightning rod...

Keep in mind the odds are still the same as a winning Lotto tix, unlucky vs lucky.  Place your bets....;)


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If you are sooo worried about it invest $19:
https://store.ui.com/collections/operator-accessories/products/instant-802-3af-adapter

If you want better sound get an ENO and a pink Faun isolator.
I just got a HOM250SPSD for $60.
Debating whether to plug it in hot or cold.
I am duplicating my home office fibre setup for someone's office. Everything is the same except 100 feet of fibre and 40 feet of fibre for 2 DACs in 2 different rooms.

I was told that short fibre wire is not ideal, less than 10 feet.
@anzaanimalclinic 
Found that choice of SFP's will make or break the deal.
What specifically did you find out about choosing the best SFP converter?  Which do you recommend for best sound?

Another question to all you ENO owners who also use fiber is whether the ENO, which costs over $800, has been worth it just to clean up the last very short Ethernet cable running from an SFP box to the streamer, assuming the majority of the run from router to the system area is all fiber?

The manufacturer, @richtruss believes so;
All active devices emit noise, including optical to RJ45 converters. We have users with these media converters that get a big improvement, as eloquently described by Bill, by adding an ENO filter between the media converter and the streamer.

Check out posts by Kenny123 at WBF.  My experience is limited to Startech SFP1000ZXST which I found overly bright.  Sonore's Multimode SFP's and cable which I found overly dark.  And Finisar 1318 which I enjoy.  Kenny recommended Finisar 1324 which I finally found on ebay and are being delivered shortly.

I have a Startech fiber and an also waiting on another fiber cable to be delivered.

To answer your question about the ENO filter I just removed mine and immediately found the sound dull glossed over and lifeless in comparison, but if I didn't have the ENO I would probably think it sounds good.  The ENO is between an EtherRegen and SOtM sNH-10G which are connected by the fiber and both clocked by a MutecRef10.  I just put the ENO back and all's well again.  And for full disclosure there is  SOtM dCBL CAT7 between the ER and ENO, the ENO cable is very short.
You are apparently using plug-in SFP devices.  I am using the linked stand-alone converters and powering the one located in the vicinity of my gear with an HD Plex LPS instead of the wall-wort that it came with.
Please note that the ENO filter will only work with Media Converters where the RJ45 connection will work at 100Mb/S. Converters like the TP-Link MC200 will only work at 1Gb/S so won’t work with the ENO filter. The MC100 is a better choice.
Hi Rich,
The info for the MC200CM says "10/100/1000Mbps."  So does that mean it "always" operates at the max 1Gb/S?   I did order two of the MC100CM converters so if I want to try the ENO I will have the appropriate Ethernet out speed.
I am strongly considering giving the ENO a try but I am a little trigger shy having had too many small boxes here that did next to nothing for the sound.
That should be fine, as long as the Media converter will negotiate down, or there is a hardware switch to force 100mbs.
No such worries with the trigger with our box, the reviews tell the story, they aren’t made up, plus the 30 day money back, we offer that as we know we’re on safe ground. Message me directly with details of your current Ethernet and system setup if you wish, we can go through things.
Over the last couple of years the whole of Australia changed over the the NBN (National Broadband Network) which is all fibre optic.

Before I got changed over to fibre optic, I had very fast super reliable "cable" at 6ms ping and 120mB per sec download any time of the day.
Now with the fibre even though it "can" do "up to" 1000mB per sec depending on how much you want to pay, I get drop outs and many days when it’s slow. And that now costs me more.
And it’s going to be obsolete soon anyway, as now 5G wifi is coming with 1.8gB per sec download speed, should be a real brain fryer or tumour exciter when we get it.
https://img.17qq.com/images/hjjoppfbbdz.jpeg

Cheers George