What Ethernet cable are you using into you streamer?

Since posting my comparisons last January (post 435) in which I concluded that the SOtM cables were a good price/performance compromise, I’ve auditioned several more less expensive SOtM cables in my ‘HiFi’ LAN. Attached is a screenshot of my findings on sound quality which I’ve added to the spreadsheet. I ended up with a complete run of SOtM cables from the Wireless access point to the renderer / DAC. I also inserted a SOtM isolation transformer (ISO CAT6) immediately upstream of the renderer. The improvement wrought by each change was not major but the sum total improvement was very worthwhile, adding noticeably to my enjoyment of my music.

Of course as before, I should add the caveat that these results are for for my system, in my listening room, with my music and my ears.

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Thanks for sharing. BTW, I love your notes. I’m always creating spreadsheets to evaluate everything.

I bought the same ethernet cable - the Belden into my Bridge. I was using generic cable before and I have seen a discernible improvement. That’s a great result for about £30

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I’ve been on a Ethernet cable quest after I read about the Belden cable from Gentaudio.( 90 us) and results many are hearing. It revealed more details but remained musical over the cable supplied with my Bartok. I then ordered the ViaBlue for another 100us. It was more musical yet and I couldn’t stop listening to it. This is great value. The Belden might improve with a longer burn in, but the ViaBlue was great listening. Feeling on a roll I bought a Sablon 2020 for 400us. I was bummed when I first installed it as it was promising, but tizzy. I had investment bias as I paid more for it so I let in continue to burn in and listen to it. In my system the Sablon has become the hands down best of the lot. Very musical, detailed, great tone and bass authority, I love it. That said the ViaBlue is a super deal. I have not entered my system profile, but I use a Bartok, Qobuz and a Wadia as a transport, into an ARC REF 10, to parasound JC1+ monos, to Sasha 2s, signal also sent to a miniDSP crossover running two 18 inch subs powered by a Krell KSA150. Power conditioner and most wires are Shunyata. speaker and interconnects are Townsend F1s and speakers, preamp and Bartok are on Townsend Podiums and Platforms. I mention my components only to point out that it should be fairly revealing. I have read here that many people contend that the Ethernet cable does not effect sound, but in my system it does.

I guess, for those prices, that’s a good thing then. But given the way Ethernet audio works, and the engineering in dCS network boards, why do you suppose that is?

Greg, I’m so glad you engaged! I have been reading your posts since I discovered dCS. Thank you for sharing you knowledge. While WHY things work are interesting to me, I decided years ago that the technical pitch easily swayed my thinking being a sales guy not an engineer, so I just use my ears now. I have also come to believe that every part of the system including the room interacts with it’s components and things that work in one system may not work in others. Also the perception of sound and what we think is ideal is personal. I know am also susceptible to listening bias as I tend to notice a change with something new and assume it’s better, but I have to be careful as it’s not all ways better, just different. I am happy to send you the Belden and the ViaBlue cables to try if you haven’t tried them to see if you hear a difference. I have a deposit on a used Vivaldi stack so I hope I can continue to lean on your experience as I get that going. I won’t give up the Sablon, but seriously send me your address and I’ll send you the two cables to evaluate.

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Alan, that’s a kind offer :heart:, but “been there, done that.” I’ve tried expensive digital cables [including Ethernet], and once I spent enough time with “wash, rinse, repeat,” and got as much of my expectation bias out of my brain as I could, I had to admit to myself—and my wife—that the cables didn’t make my system better, and that some in fact made it worse. [She heard clocking differences instantly; not digital cables.] When the people who build the equipment—this amazing equipment—tell you that what you need is a compliant Cat 6 unshielded Ethernet cable, we should ask ourselves “okay, why should I believe that an Ethernet cable can make this DAC/Upsampler/Clock sound better?” What is the basis for thinking that the device is made in such a way that one make of digital cable makes it sound better than another? I can see the case for a poorly constructed cable making it sound worse or injecting problems that the DAC works harder to correct, but even a crummy Ethernet cable, or a shielded one, is likely to deliver a bit perfect stream. So, what’s happening to make your brain and ears hear something different? I don’t know. I believe you hear it; I also believe that psychoacoustics are the more likely explanation. As you said:

I know the audiophile mantra all too well: “I don’t understand why or how, I only know what I hear.” And it is completely valid, because each of us is the only person who has our ears and brain. No one else can hear what we hear. I also believe that everything matters. It does. The physical world quite literally cannot exist unless everything matters. But that doesn’t mean everything produces a discernible difference. The simple test of unplugging one’s Ethernet->DAC cable demonstrates that certain physical changes can stop making a difference. Two different 110 Ohm AES or 75 Ohm BNC cables can produce visually different, but sonically identical, eye test patterns. Every thing matters, but some differences don’t.

Good luck with that Vivaldi stack. I have reason to believe you will love it! :wink:

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Since this topic asks: I have been using quite a variety of manufacturers Ethernet cables for a number of years from my sources (PC and later MacMini, Aurender, Sonore, and now Roon Nucleus). Always a pair as one goes into a switch (lately etherREGEN) then to dCS Upsampler. Eventually, I found that Shunyata Sigma delivered the best sound (and I won’t bother getting into the why’s and wherefore’s). Upgrading a year ago or so to the Shunyata Omega’s has been great. For me it’s all about producing the most realistic performance on all levels from timing, low noise, width, depth and height of presentation, etc. Seems that Shunyata’s product R&D has led to a line that succeeds in all the power related details to achieve what I’ve sought over the years.

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I love the Etheregen as well. Is the cable supplied by dCS an unshielded cable? If so I’ll go back to it and see how it compares. BTW based on this forum I ordered Van Damme clock cables and AES cables in expectation of me Vivaldi stack. I’m now officially “hobby broke” so exotic cable experimentation is off the table right now so the Van Damme cables were a welcome change. I have not tried Shunyata Ethernet cables, but I love their power products and have owned Alpha speaker cables to good effect.

In neither instance is an Ethernet cable supplied by dCS or Uptone. I do believe that CAT 6A is recommended by many (it’s UTP and fast enough for even long runs). As for cable “experimentation” I have found using The Cable Company lending library a very good means for this activity and not terribly expensive https://www.thecableco.com/lending-library
I know, at least in my case, everything in the system has the potential to be improved upon. But, as with all systems, you never know where a weak link resides. That is until you try something else. It’s the bane of our existence. Frustrating…

Would people contributing to this thread please read it from the start to avoid us going round in circles.

To try to get this on track:

  1. It is not recommended that shielded ethernet cables are used with dCS equipment.

  2. Shielded ethernet cables can result in EMI/RFI noise entering the system as dCS equipment does not ground the shield . One reason that the cables may sound different.

  3. Virtually all “audiophile” special type cables are shielded and are thus not suitable.

4.Despite their claims many “audiophile” ethernet cables are not actually certified as Cat anything.

Cat 6a being shielded is unsuitable. Cat 5e or Cat 6 unshielded is preferable.

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As far a point 2 goes, In my set-up I guess I prefer to go against dCS’s recomendations and stick with a Shunyata’s Sigma Ethernet cable. Whatever it is doing is right by me.

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Actually Cat 6a can be either shielded or unshielded. Shunyata’s Ethernet cables are all Cat 6a.

… You forgot to mention they’re CAT 6A shielded unfortunately (at least Omega and Sigma are, I’m not sure about the lower end ones).

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According to their home website the ethernet cables in all of Shunyata’s cable ranges ( Omega, Sigma, Alpha, Delta, Venom ) use a cable which they brand as PMZ ( PMZ = Precision Matched Impedance, Z being the conventional letter denoting impedance). PMZ cable is described by them as having a braided shield.

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I certainly understand what you’re saying but can you describe the specific implementation of shielding that is “unsuitable”? I’ve seen many instances of shielding that differ. Some shield only one end of cables, while others shield against specific forms of interference. What exactly are you referring to that will somehow violate the function/performance of an Ethernet cable. As I understand it UTP is lighter and cheaper to produce but subject to more data errors due to EMI. As for grounding, if the cables are not well designed or executed they can cause crosstalk and added electromagnetic interference. However, for our heavily wired home audio environments, it would appear that the use of well designed STP Ethernet should be preferable for the benefits shielding can provide.

This is what dCS say, so they advise unshielded cable that passed certification.

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Steve, the Shunyata Omega and Sigma Ethernet Cables use the Telegartner MFP8 IE connectors coupled with Braid shielded cables; which means, when you use those cables, you’re literally connecting your Ethernet switch’s chassis ground to the dCS’ chassis ground - thats a recipe for ground-plane noise to potentially get into your dCS gear. Bad idea. :laughing:

A certified Cat 6A UTP cable can support 10GbE Ethernet up to 100 meters, with zero errors. Unless you’re running your Ethernet cable alongside power cables over an extended distance, or have heavy power machinery nearby, EMI is not going to be an issue, especially when you consider that most homes only need a tiny fraction of that length, and the dCS Ethernet ports are only 10/100/1G.

ps: If anyone’s interested to see how the Telegartner RJ45-plugs are crimped, you can see how the braided shield is handled.

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I’ve asked someone at Shunyata for a response. I can only tell you my experience in using the Shunyata Ethernet cables, from entry Venom to current Omega. Rather than introducing any noise, they’ve actually lowered the noise floor among many other benefits.

Steve, I know your intentions are good, but who cares what Shunyata’s response is? They’re going to justify their product. And you already like it—which is really all that matters—so what does it matter? Maybe they will offer us some rational information that makes it worthwhile. Maybe. But seriously, does anyone here honestly think that Shunyata know more about audio over IP than dCS?

Such as?