Do better ethernet cables matter?

I did a comparison between Blue Jeans Cat 6A and Foundation SX ethernet from Synergistic Research. Here are my thoughts…


I agree with your assessment. I too have the Synergistic Research Foundation SX Ethernet cable connected to my Bartok. This cable definitely sounds better than a generic cable and an Audioquest Cinnamon at a quarter of the price of the Foundation SX.


Hey Lee. Do you have any fiber optic cable between your switch and the ultimate cat connection to your rossini

Didn’t try Synergistic but many others (Chord, Audioquest, Ansuz, Tellurium, Furutech…) and yes- they all sound different. My only findings: one has to try it!

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I only watched a couple of min of the video and bailed. Given the frequency of these conversations, I think it is important to remind folks who may be new to dCS, there are certain facts about data transfer over Ethernet that are indisputable:

  • The hardware and software protocols for TC/IP over ethernet feature error correction. This ensures data delivered perfectly from point A to B.
  • Cat 5e (properly spec’d provides galvanic isolation between ethernet devices. (Cat 5e is unshelled and features plastic connectors)
  • dCS has stated in this forum that a properly spec’d Cat 5e cable is all that is needed between one’s router and dCS streamer

I do not. I have not experimented with fiber optic except on a soundbar.

I am reluctant to go against the collective wisdom of dCS but as a journalist I have to share my honest findings. I also have found great value in using an ethernet switch.


Of course Lee, personally I really enjoy the TAS videos and like hearing the point of view of industry journalists and specialists. I’m glad to see members of media, manufacturers and some dealers who post here. I think the forum is better for it, however these groups should self identify. Looks like your profile has changed which is great


Likewise. I am a TAS subscriber, and I like hearing of other people’s experiences. But I am struck by three things, and I offer these respectfully and without any negativity: (1) this is a purely subjective review, and Lee says exactly that toward the end [“from a purely subjective standpoint”]. There is no apparent effort to remove human cognitive bias from this process.

(2) Although Lee expresses some curiosity at why there should be differences between cables, he does absolutely nothing to explore why his brain should be hearing those differences. We know how to test for these differences and how to remove cognitive bias [A/B/X can be a real pain for ordinary folks, but for people who make their living from this hobby (or some of it) or purport to offer expertise, it should be trivial]. We also know that @alphaaudio has made an effort to run down measurables to explain some of what people convey they are hearing. There are ways to address these claims that respect both the subjective and the objective. As was said elsewhere, these two realms do not need to be in opposition. But none of that was done here.

Finally, (3) @Lee, at the 10:10 mark, you describe the process of removing the “generic cable,” [I think that’s the BJC] and replacing it with the Synergistic, and it sounds as though you replaced it between your AT&T closet and the Ethernet switch. Is that correct? And then subsequently, you state that you tried it “without the Ethernet switch as well.” So, what is between your Ethernet switch and the Rossini Apex when the Ethernet switch is present? And also, given the claim that an audiophile ethernet switch can reduce noise [a possibility I accept if one has that problem on one’s network, especially with a cable as long as the one you briefly showed], what is it you think the Synergistic cable is doing before the Ethernet switch to improve the SQ of your system? And how does that differ from what the Synergistic cable is doing without the Ethernet switch? Do you recommend both together, or is the Synergistic sufficient by itself. if the Synergistic is providing a 20% improvement [which to me sounds significant], what level of improvement is the switch providing?

Cheers! :beers:


Ethernet cables are pretty fascinating. I do think I hear differences sometimes. Why? I have no clue to be honest. Switches and power supplies are easy to explain. But ethernet-cables aren’t. It is all twisted pair - so noise is pretty much eliminated, I guess - and the bandwith needed is there, even with normal CAT5. So… in theory, there shouldn’t be a difference. And still… I heard differences when using non-shielded, or shielded cables. (check my experiments here and some plug-tests here. Spoiler: I didn’t hear a difference in plugs.).

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I repost Andrew from dCS’s post on this topic in support of @Urbanluthier’s summary above. Cheers.

"I use an Amazon Special CAT6 (I believe the brand is either Cables 2 Go or Cables Matter) between my Vivaldi Upsampler and Ubiquiti switch.

I have a unique position in the industry as the “network streaming guy” for one of the premier digital audio manufacturers so I could easily have any audiophile cable currently available. I still chose the basic unshielded cable that passed certification.

Keywords above are unshielded and passed certification.


I think better Ethernet cables matter.

I think what constitutes “better” is where there are differences of opinion.

Ben “$12 BJ cable” Smith


Hi Greg,

Great questions. I will do my best to answer them.

  1. TAS is a subjective review company in keeping with our history and our belief that measurements don’t capture the entirety of a musical experience.

  2. I don’t have measuring equipment and have not found any one metric that explains these sonic differences but I do know these exist. I have done blind testing on the ethernet cables before and have heard differences since Audioquest demos from Shane Buettner many years ago.

  3. I was careful to only change one variable, that of the cable itself. I have a separate video on the effectiveness of the Ansuz D2 powerswitch when used with the Rossini Apex (terrific improvement by the way). But initially I formed most of my listening impressions and resulting notes from just connecting the ethernet cables into the Rossini Apex with no switch. In each test, I only had to plug in the DAC end and the router end. I recommend both a high quality ethernet cable and an ethernet switch. I found both to be effective.

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With respect, I think you are leaving some performance on the table. The better audiophile cables do improve performance over generic Amazon CAT6.

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I believe I am now tagged as a member of the trade but I believe my profile has always included this. I am on several forums and I believe I have always listed my connection to TAS.

I am very happy you are enjoying our TAS videos. We put a lot of work into them. Many don’t undersatnd the amount of hours that go into these videos. Our production quality is very good now but it will get even better.


Hi Lee.
I’m sorry if my post wasn’t clear. I was quoting the network engineering lead at dCS, who wrote the below on this forum.

"I use an Amazon Special CAT6 (I believe the brand is either Cables 2 Go or Cables Matter) between my Vivaldi Upsampler and Ubiquiti switch.

I have a unique position in the industry as the “network streaming guy” for one of the premier digital audio manufacturers so I could easily have any audiophile cable currently available. I still chose the basic unshielded cable that passed certification."

This topic has been discussed extensively in other threads.

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Why does it improve performance?


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I think Lee has made it pretty clear, it’s a purely subjective review, it’s his personal impression of what he thinks he hears, not objective facts.

So, it absolutely doesn’t matter that the technology was designed to ensure there’s no difference, and the equipment manufacturer says it won’t make a difference, and millions of systems deployed where it can’t possibly make a difference or the World as we know it would literally fall apart. :grin:


It’s National Beer Day here in the USA, and I’ll be damned if my system doesn’t sound better. :beers:


And it already comes bottled so everyone can buy it and reproduce your results!! :rofl: