Those pesky 0s and 1s.. ethernet cables

Having worked with computers from the time when there were no “commercial” cables (I had to build my own), I understand that the ethernet protocol essentially assures accuracy of the data per se. Hence, I was highly skeptical that an ethernet cable could offer any improvement in the “sound”, especially the final meter from switch to Rossini. Hence, until the last month, I used a “Amazon” cat 6 unshielded cable and enjoyed what I thought was outstanding sound. But having recently noted the marked improvement in my system from the Shunyata Everest, Altaira and interconnect and speaker cables, I was willing to try the Shunyata ethernet cable. Richard at Shunyata kindly provided both a Sigma and Omega ethernet cable(s) for me to audition. Importantly, I listen to classical and some jazz and my system is based on the Rossini feeding a ARC Ref6SE preamp and Rogue Audio Apollo Dark mono amps with Sonus Faber Il Cremonese speakers. My digital music is stored on a Mac Pro and fed to the Rossini via Audirvana software running on the Mac and connected via the ethernet switch (which is also an “Amazon” ).
While I listened to many tracks, I will cite two as they were representative of the results from nearly all others auditioned: Laszlo Marrosi, 3 Dances Roland Szentpali (track 7 of the CD) and Peter Boyer, London Symphony, track 7, Ghost of Troy.

There was more separation, more detail, deeper soundstage (equally wide), with better sustains and attacks, more natural tonal qualities and clearer, more articulate, more resonant bass and for chamber or similar compositions/recordings, the musicians were truly “in the room”, and for orchestral, my seats were around the 10th row, center, with the Shunyata cables. These differences were more apparent with the Omega vs the Sigma cables.

But, this result is contrary to my computer education and since I could not do a “blind” test on myself, I invited the sales manager of a local high end audio store (about 30 years of experience) which does NOT sell Shunyata but it’s competition (Nordost) to be my “blinded” test subject. I only told him there would be three cables “#1, #2 and #3” and asked him at the end to tell me IF he heard any differences, what the difference was and to rank the cables. I did not present the cables in order of cost. Within a minute of listening to the amazon, he said he had “heard enough” and to switch. I then (again, unbeknownst to him) switched to the Omega. He listened through the entire track and even wanted to go into the next track. I then switched to the Sigma and he again wanted to continue to listen. I then asked for his findings: He stated what I have mentioned above as to the attributes of the Shunyata cables and then ranked them precisely in the correct order by price!

So, we know that the 0s and 1s cannot be altered and that the ethernet protocol assures that the 0s and 1s are correct. The Rossini can buffer the input to assure that IF there was a problem, retransmission could occur. Given this, what is happening that the sound is clearly improved and why does changing only the last meter of cable make any difference?

I assume that there must be a means by which “noise” can be introduced in a way that even the Rossini cannot completely filter or block, that this noise does not involve the 0s and 1s per se, and that it is this noise that the Shunyata cables are removing.

But, I am open to other interpretations or explanations.


well…:popcorn: :slight_smile:



Why do you assume “removing”? Yes, having ruled out the 1s and 0s, it has to be noise of some kind - what else is there - but why do you assume the Shunyata cable is removing it rather than adding it?

The Sigma is £2,000 and the Omega is £3,000. If you plug one of those in, you’ll expect a difference. But for now, let’s set aside the expectation bias which we know is an actual thing which can make us actually hear differences we want to hear (regardless of your valiant attempts to make any test blind) and assume you heard what you report. How do you know this is due to less rather than more noise?

Noise is not inherently bad. To some ears, and particularly in an otherwise neutral system, added noise can present as a more exciting, impactful sound (think the forward sound of Naim). Over longer term listening however, this exciting sound can very easily fatigue, despite having impressed in a comparative listening test.

I have no idea what might be happening here of course; I wasn’t there. But I won’t automatically dismiss it as you kidding yourself. Let’s assume this is very real. Ultimately, it isn’t about whether the Shunyata removes or adds noise, it’s about whether you find yourself listening for longer in nomal, non-evaluation, music appreciation mode.

Let us know what you decide to do.


So far, I have between 50 and 100 hours of listening, often up to three or four hours at a time. Thus far, no fatigue but considerable enjoyment.

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I bought the Shunyata Alpha for my Auralic Aries G2.1, after a home demo between Shunyata Delta, Shunyata Alpha, Network Acoustics ENO (which I already had) and a simpler but still audio-grade ethernet cable from NA. This was with the ISP’s router powered by a Plixir LPSU, but no switch (audio or otherwise) in the chain .

I subsequently added a Pink Faun/Buffalo switch (similar internally to a Melco S10) that did bring greater definition than without it. I had also previously introduced the fibre optic tansceivers from ADOT into the chain and I tried different SFP modules from Finisar and ADOT.

When I changed to the Lina 2.0 I found that I was better off without the Shunyata Alpha (which has an inline filter) and directly connecting the Lina to the Buffalo/PF with a dCS-provided UTP ethernet cable led from the final ADOT transceiver.

Changing ISP from PlusNet (BT) to Vodafone, both FTTC, also improved by chance the clarity of internet streaming - of course once cannot test this in advance and each locale will be different in this regard.

I do have Shunyata power cables which I am happy with.

Sometimes less is more, YMMV.

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