I find the NetGear GS series of unmanaged switches to be very reliable - available as 5, 8, 16 and 24 port versions (cost about £20 upwards) but TP-Link are usually decent in my experience too. There’s also Zyxel and D-Link which should be decent too but usually I stick with NetGear wherever possible or TP-Link as a close second - all my switches at home are either NetGear or TP-Link.
It depends what you want, Anthony. For a completely bullet-proof meat-and-spuds switch to connect media server to DAC to internet the Netgear GS-308 is hard to beat.
If OTOH your network is used by a whole family for everything from Netflix x n to FIFA, CoD and 4K TV then you may be better served by something a little bit more sophisticated. I have really “gone to town” on this so I won’t bore you with the details unless you’re really interested.
Many of the folks on this board are using “audiophile” switches from the likes of SoTM and Uptone, or ethernet filters/regenerators from the likes of Network Acoustics. All of these make (diminishing) incremental improvements. How far you go all depends on your appetite to invest and to which level of the audiophile inferno your OCDs have dragged you.
I am running a DCS Lina DAC with the HiFiman EF1000 hybrid amp with Susvara and 1266 tc headphones. I do mostly streaming using Roon these days so I want a good switch. I have good audiophile network cables, So the SoTM Uptone info is appreciated, ill check it out
In no way am I “picking” on @struts001 or his reply here - it’s just that he has replied with something that is actually really relevant and kicks off a bit more discussion so, @struts001, please take this as a truly positive response to your posting (and a thank you from me for a good reply that raises discussion points) and not a negative one…
For anyone in a domestic environment, no matter how much streaming or gaming your family do, you really don’t NEED anything more than your ISPs router and basic unmanaged switches (@struts001’s “meat and spuds” switches are absolutely fine)… in fact getting expensive managed switches and other similar “pro” network kit can cause far more challenges and issues than it solves.
What you actually need is kit that works correctly and you simply run a network cable to everything that has an Ethernet port leaving WiFi for those devices whose manufacturers have been “brave” and have eschewed any form of physical connection for the lawless frontier “wild west” world of wireless - game over, lets go home via the pub and the chippy!
Of course it’s not that simple, there are a few other things that come into play here.
I CAN’T run a network cable. (Note : This is usually more accurately “I don’t want to go to the hassle of running a network cable”.)
I want to use wireless.
I want to play with my network.
I’ll be absolutely honest and say that I come into group 3 (as, I suspect, does @struts001) … I have a Ubiquiti DreamMachine as a router and a couple of additional Unifi WiFi access points to cover the house and garden but I don’t currently use Unifi Switches - all my switches are NetGear GS or TP-Link - but I do have physical network cable links to the kitchen, downstairs “cloakroom” (where my NAS, printer and other network servers reside), living room, hallway (where my broadband connection physically comes in) and loft, from the loft there are feeds into each bedroom and into the upstairs hallway for a ceiling mounted access point, there’s also an Ethernet feed out to the garden shed for a backup NAS and garden WiFi access point.
The issues that people have (which then eventually become “networking is a black art and I need to spend lots of money to make it work right” and enshrined in internet networking lore) generally come down to not wanting to do things right or using kit that doesn’t actually work correctly.
The only “known” environment you’ll generally come across in domestic / consumer networking is a length of network cable - it has known properties that can be tested and verified and kit is built around working with that known environment and a system can be built around network cables and network switches and you’ll know that it will work unless you’ve messed things up. Ethernet networking is not a “black art” … it is so far from being a black art that it makes an IKEA Kallax storage unit look like brain surgery while parachuting … networking is incredibly tightly defined by documentation and RFCs that specify in the most minute detail how everything is to work, talk to each other and otherwise function correctly.
(Of course if a manufacturer is a bit lax interpreting those RFCs then that is somewhere issues can arise…)
As soon as you start using “uncontrolled” media for extending your network - and by that I mean things like mesh networks, ethernet over mains, ethernet over coax etc. - then you really have lost all control of what your network does and how it will perform.
WiFi (for example) is totally at the mercy of your environment so “fixing bad WiFi” by just putting in a WiFi repeater / extender and not understanding what the actual cause of the “bad WiFi” is is like going to the doctors and him simply handing you a prescription for paracetamol without even seeing you or talking to you.
As an example, I used to live in an annexe to a bigger house and I couldn’t even get WiFi from one room to the next - it turns out that when the annexe was refurbished it was insulated with foil faced Cellotex but they also used that same foil faced Cellotex to construct / insulate the internal walls and partitions so there was no significant WiFi interference from outside (YAY!) but also your own WiFi couldn’t get between rooms, even mobile phone reception was pants unless you were by a window!
Similarly Ethernet over mains should be treated with extreme caution - it NEVER reaches its advertised speed anyway so your 1Gig EOM devices might hit 500meg if you’re lucky, they also work like the old style network hubs (or even like “WiFi down a pipe”) so data collisions are commonplace and this is really bad for “serious gaming” (does anyone else find that to be an oxymoron?) - Ethernet over mains devices have caused me so much grief over the years!
It always amuses (?) me that when trying to diagnose networking issues where people have used wireless extenders or Ethernet over mains devices the first thing I’ll ask (out of experience) is to take those devices out of the equation by temporarily running a network cable and that is almost always greeted with “I can’t do that…” (or similar) “… what else can we check instead?”
The other thing that I have intense suspicion of is ISP supplied routers and their accompanying network extenders … ISPs don’t give you a router because it’s a good router, they give you it so that they only have to produce one set of diagnosis scripts for their “tech support” staff to work through and if you don’t use their kit then you are on your own. It’s produced down to a cost so that it can be given away free (on the whole) and when ISPs actually advertise that if your WiFi is bad then they’ll give you up to four WiFi extender discs for free too then that just shows that they are really not producing a properly designed and thought through solution. I’ve seen too many ISP supplied routers that work to a point and then once they get a bit swamped with traffic they curl up and go and cry in the corner until they’re rebooted…
So, just to be absolutely clear, you DON’T need anything special in the way of network kit to stream audio, streaming audio over a network generally takes up a fraction of a percent (maybe 0.2% for CD bitrate FLAC) of your typical gigabit network bandwidth … you just need kit that works, follows the really very well defined rules and is reliable!
I shall discretely avoid getting involved in the conversation about audiophile network switches and audiophile ethernet cables…
Haha, no offence taken Phil, but I am a bit peeved. I was thinking about kicking off a thread about networking issues in general, but you have pipped me at the post and have now made many of the points I was going to make there. I probably still will, but since you’ve “stolen” much of what I was going to say I will have to focus on other areas!
I totally see where you are coming from and trust me, the dangers of leading unsophisticated users into sophisticated solutions is certainly not lost on me. I have installed networks at friends’ houses as well as businesses like offices, warehouses and even a subterranean gym (so no mobile phone coverage). If they don’t become “self-playing pianos” all the problems land back in my lap extremely quickly!
Haha, I hear you, but I have a sneaky suspicion that this is more what you actually need. As a dCS support engineer what you need is the an environment with all possible variables removed from the equation so you can determine if the dCS kit is actually misbehaving or if the problem is, as I suspect it is 99% of the time, elsewhere. However this may or may not be the best solution for a given user, once one looks beyond a troubleshooting scenario. Simplicity is indeed a virtue, but it is not the answer for everything. You may disagree, but I’ll lay out my thinking in another thread and you can take issue with me there if you want to!
guilty as charged. But I not have taken the path I have taken solely because I am a network geek. Most of the choices in my network have been about domain segregation (both physical and logical), i.e. separating people and things, real-time and non-real time traffic, and things that could potentially do or be used to do harm from the things that I really care about. I honestly don’t think some people reflect on how dependent they have become on their home networks, how much of what they treasure (family photos, financial information, sensitive documents, not to mention large music collections) are accessible from them, nor realise how open they are to misuse or attack (intentional or inadvertent) and how much that could ruin their day.
Snap. My network is all Ubiquiti and have used Ubiquiti in all my customer projects. I have worked with Cisco and Meraki equipment as well and have had all sorts of the usual consumer gear at home through the years but the Ubiquiti is my current choice, for work and play.
For readability I have cut out a huge swath here because I have nothing to add or comment.
Amen to all of that. Agree 100%.
Haha. …and any other “audiophile” product categories not served by dCS…
No, only joking. That’s fine, I promise not to bait you. And I agree, if we let the discussion drift off in that direction the fireworks will start, the thread will crash and burn and we’ll never get folks back to a polite discourse about basic networking.
If you and I ever get to meet maybe we can sit down together with some test instruments and duke that one out in private!
Please do go ahead … I’m happy to throw in my £0.02 and I suspect @Anupc may well do too … it would actually be quite fun to do a bit of brainstorming / braindumping!
Hopefully not - I’d say that’s what ANYONE with a home network should have set up to have a reliable and quick home network setup … of course the point of all my seemingly random waffle after that was covering why that DOESN’T end up happening and why stuff then ends up going wrong.
Remember, I’m a dCS support engineer “at work” but I have an other half and kids at home and don’t want to be asked to “reboot the internet” or have a step-kid complaining that “the WiFi isn’t working”, I heard enough frustrated screams of “GLITCHING!” from them years ago (when I wasn’t in a position to just set the system up as it wasn’t my system) to last me a lifetime …
Removing the variables even in a customers system is easy enough (if it’s appropriate) as one of the tools in my work network diagnosis “armoury” is a case that I put together with a preconfigured router, cables and a really simple set of instructions that I can send out on a courier wherever it’s appropriate to be able to take a system totally off the customers network and just use the customers network for internet access, it’s a really handy razor to use when diagnosing where a fault is being caused.
Agreed but that sort of thing is also very difficult to explain without an end user doing an Austin Powers “Oh no I’ve gone crosseyed” kind of thing … especially when their ISP or their friends aren’t telling them anything about it and ISPs are actually telling them the opposite - “We’re giving you this kit and all the security and reliability that you and your family need” … that’s certainly the mantra of most ISPs in the UK at least.