Whilst waiting for my Bartok...Thinking of upgrading Switch, RJ11 and Ethernet cables

Whilst waiting for my Bartok to arrive, I thought it would be a good opportunity to ‘refresh’ and assess my network cables and hardware.
At present I am using a cheap (£16) Netgear, unmanaged, 8 port plastic Switch. I originally bought two together, but one has since failed. I had one in the system rack feeding my old streamer, the other was near the TV/Sky box etc… I don’t want to spend hundreds on a switch, but it appears that Cisco are well respected with fellow streamers. I will go for a metal case Switch on this occasion.
Should I get a switch dedicated to dCS, and locate it near the rack, or keep the Switch well away and feed everything into the one Switch?

Does the RJ11, bog standard modem cable that came with my Sky Router, need an upgrade?

I normally use AudioQuest Cinnamon/Forest Ethernet cables, but at the moment the cable feeding the Network Bridge, is a £9.99, flat grey cable, that is ten meters too long! So it needs to be upgraded.

Thanks

I’ll leave the switch to experts on that subject. However I have auditioned the cable between my router and a network Bridge ( when I owned one) and would agree with your plan for an upgrade.

If you need a very long run ( you mention 10 metres) many of the ethernet cables offered by the big brands become very pricey. For example, AQ Vodka which is often cited here is £1,489 in that length. have used AQ Forest in various types and although think it is decent their Carbon cables seem to be quite an advance upon Forest or Cinnamon. However the recommendation below is excellent, well made, actually meets the Cat.x specification ( unlike many audiophile recipes) and is highly recommended in every review I have read and is not insanely priced. Also normally available from stock in the UK ( though 10m may be a special order):

Or there is this. I use 10m cost about £60.00

I realize this will likely be an unpopular opinion here, but please do not waste money on snakeoil “audiophile” Ethernet switches and cables. Further, you don’t generally want shielded cables, which is one of the things most of these purveyors push as an advantage of their cables. Shielded cables need proper grounding, or they basically turn into an antenna, which is the opposite effect of what you want. They are usually used in infrastructure runs, particularly when said runs go by sources of high EMI, like equipment in a factory. (Most people don’t have things like arc welders or large motors at home…) Ethernet already has galvanic isolation built into the PHY standards from day one; you will not have electrical “leakage” between devices.

For switches, it mostly boils down to “will it drop frames or not?”. Cheap switches cannot forward high packets per second without dropping frames. But steaming audio, along with most other things people do on a home network, will never come close to exceeding the PPS limit of the cheap switches. You should be looking at switches from a “how many ports do I need and do I need Power-over-Ethernet on any of them?” perspective.

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Thank you Pete…I probably didn’t explain myself properly. I need just under three metres. In a previous life, I bought a cheap, 15 metre cable, which I am using at the moment as I’ve run out of AudioQuest cables. (Pearl, Forest and Cinnamon)
I read an old post over the weekend, where you mentioned the MeiCord cable. Thanks for the link.

Thanks @lazyscott

Thank you @cwichura…Yes, I was was reading up on the option to have Power Over Ethernet, on the TP Link site. No idea what it does, or what the pros and cons are? :thinking:

What do you think about having a dedicated Switch on/near the rack, for the dCS. Then another one for Sky box, TV etc…?

The great thing about the Designacable, is you can order it with the shield floating. So as i understand, this gives some protection from the cable acting as an aerial whilst also preventing grounding issues.

A dedicated switch for just the dCS? No way. Zero benefit. If you have multiple devices in your audio rack/room that can be wired, then it is not uncommon to have small ‘distribution’ switches deployed around instead of home-running everything back to a central switch. (Remember that 1GB Ethernet supports runs up to 100 meters over CAT5e. There are no special requirements here, so long as the cable you have meets CAT5E (or better) specs. I include this disclaimer because many of the “audiophile” “Ethernet” snakeoil cables do NOT meet the specs…)

A switch with PoE is useful if you have PoE devices, such as IP security cameras, wireless access points, etc. If you have none of these, then switches without PoE are cheaper.

Perfectly explained, thank you. :+1:

Yes you can get benefits from a decent switch. I noticed a good improvement in my setup going from a standard net gear to an EE 8Switch.

I have a Supra Cat8 which I really rate; better than my BlueJeansCable.

Both are cheap enough in longer runs.

I’ve heard good reports of Supra cables…Not sure that I could justify spending £450 on a switch though.:thinking:

Buy online try and if no good, return. If it makes a worthwhile difference then keep the item

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IMHO, and as a DCS owner, this is one of the topics where a DCS engineer or moderator should weigh in and state for the record, if it is the case, that DCS has conducted tests on various ethernet cables and sees no reason for spending on “audiophile” ethernet cables.

I am interested in the response…

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They did actually;

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[quote="[FAQ] Do I need special Ethernet cables for my dCS product? Mosaic FAQs, post:1, topic:1312"]
This means that provided an Ethernet cable has passed certification
[/quote]

What body certifies practical cables as having met the standard? AFAIK ( until someone tells me better) an IEEE committee sets the standard but the cable manufacturer decides whether his cable meets it ( more or less :wink:). AFAIK There is no independent laboratory testing and certifying such cables.

Of course there are Pete, plenty of independent Cable certification labs and integrators all around the world in fact.

Ethernet cables that get installed in Enterprises and Data Centre are usually fully certified, either through independent labs, or by the systems integrators.

Vendors like Fluke (among others) sell Ethernet cable compliance certification test equipment.

Good idea…I may email James@dCS

I see Pete has already kindly linked to the FAQ on this, but just to reiterate, you don’t need audiophile network cables.

Until the network data hits the DAC or the endpoint, it is just network data, not signal; it behaves no differently to any other network data being sent via TCP. If there was any sort of improvement that could be made to the integrity of the data packets being sent over a network by introducing additional shielding to the cable or different material conductors or any of the additions such audiophile cables tend to include, it would have been picked up by the IEEE and incorporated into the Ethernet spec as, for example, it would save banks billions a year in random lost transactions.

Aside from this, audio (even hi-res audio) is so low-rate compared to what most residential networks can handle that there is no reason to need anything above CAT5e for speed purposes. Purchasing a CAT7 cable doesn’t help anything other than lightening your wallet when it comes to audio. To put it into context, both Andrew and I have access to almost any cables available on the market, and we both use cheap and cheerful Ethernet cables from Amazon.

Networks are one of the few places where keeping things as simple as possible is usually the best way to go. You are striving for a network which is stable and reliable, not one which sounds good. Much better to put that money into some really good AES cables, or perhaps a good bottle of wine or whiskey for the evening.

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Thank you James for explaining that. You may want to discard the email I sent you, as you have answered the question perfectly. :+1: