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Hi-fi Ethernet cable - does it help with network streamer?

FreakyKiwi

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TCP protocol has redundancy, as it transfers packets: either the received data is good, or it isn't.
Yes I'm well aware of that with my 30 years working in IT so far.
I don"t expect this cable would make the slightest difference.
OP - spend your money elsewhere.
 

Frank2

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These cables aren’t really trying to protect against lost data, or at least that’s not why people buy them. They are trying to reduce noise on the line which might contaminate the destination streamer/Dac, In theory this could then impact the analogue audio section. Similarly people might use internet fibre converters to eliminate all potential electrical noise. If you subscribe to this site then likely this is not a real issue to you, if you subscribe to some other sites then your streamer is near unusable without such network isolation.
Ground:
The theory is that noise is transferred to the DAC via the ground of the connection. But Amir has already shown with measurements that this grounding theory does not hold for a properly designed DAC. Even if the theory would have been correct, any cable needs a ground connection so no cable would be able to solve this (non existing) problem; it can only be solved by proper design of the DAC.

Signal:
The signal cables of any ethernet cable are already fully optimized for noise rejection. They are twisted in pairs. One of the pair will carry the signal S while the other one carries the same signal with opposite sign, i.e., -S. At the receiver the signals of the pair are subtracted, so you get S - -S = 2S.

Now, if the twisted pair picks up noise N along the route, this noise signal will be the same for both cables in the twisted pair since they both have the same distance to the source of the noise (they are twisted to ensure this is true even for noise sources very close by).
One cable of the pair will carry the signal S + N
The other cable of the pair will carry the signal -S + N

At the receiver side the signals of the pair are subtracted, so you get: S + N - -S - N = 2S
The subtraction eliminates the noise signal N

Every ethernet cable is constructed this way, hence the name "UTP cable" which means "Universal Twisted Pair cable".
There is nothing to improve here, it works best if the cables are thin and twisted to ensure both have the same distance to any noise source. Making them thicker makes things worse. Additional shielding helps some more, but for shielding you do not need to buy audiophile cables since shielded UTP cables are commonly available at low cost. But as already stated by others, the twisted pair principle is more than adequate in an average home; additional shielding is overkill in most situations.
 

ChrisCables

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Additional shielding helps some more
additional shielding is overkill in most situations.
That's a great, clear and concise explanation and partly answers my own question.
However, I'd still be interested to qualify/quantify the two statements you made as above, if it proposes or supposes that potential improvements can be implemented in mitigating EMI/RFI.
 

antcollinet

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Has anyone here conducted tests/measurements with regard to data packet-losses due to network queuing/congestion or external influences and if it has a quantifiable effect on QoE?

I'd be particularly interested to learn if cable shielding or geometry has a beneficial influence on whatever the acceptable loss threshold is. I understand anything from 5-10% losses are considered unacceptable for streaming applications.
How do you think the internet would work, or banking or any part of the modern world, if there were significant problems caused by lost packets even over the internet. Then a cable such as this is used in your own home over short distances, where the bit error rate will be close to zero..

Audio is trivially low data rate compared with even only 100mb/s ethernet - and no-one is using that any more. Retransmission of the very rare lost packet is a non problem.

No, special ethernet cables are not needed and have no conceivable benefit in audio applications. Can you imagine a data center using cables such as these to enable them to support streaming applications?
 

ChrisCables

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It's actually UNSHIELDED Twisted Pair by the way.
Correct. But for clarity there are a number of variants of ethernet cables available including STP and S/STP.
If memory serves STP has each pair shielded and S/STP has an additional shield layer and there may even be another one but it's 00.36 here and I'm on my 5th Duvel so I can't rememblub.
:D
 

Greenman

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Even if the theory would have been correct, any cable needs a ground connection so no cable would be able to solve this (non existing) problem; it can only be solved by proper design of the DAC.
Hence the use of fibre optic Ethernet, to eliminate all upstream ground noise and then high quality converter power supply and short cable to connect to streamer to minimise any possible noise induced into the now clean short Ethernet run!….as you say DAC and streamer design is likely more important, but you can show this method does in fact remove noise from the cables.
 

ChrisCables

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special ethernet cables are not needed
Ok, so why are there at least 3 different types of ethernet cable that all perform the same function, but are differentiated by varying levels of shielding?
UTP - unshielded twisted pair
STP - shielded twisted pair
S/STP - shielded+shielded twisted pair

and possibly even another variant


EDIT: I remembered! No I didn;t lol. I just looked it up - FTP! ...and S/FTP, which have an additional foil layer.
 
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JP

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Ground:
The theory is that noise is transferred to the DAC via the ground of the connection. But Amir has already shown with measurements that this grounding theory does not hold for a properly designed DAC. Even if the theory would have been correct, any cable needs a ground connection so no cable would be able to solve this (non existing) problem; it can only be solved by proper design of the DAC.

UTP has no cable “ground”, only the differential pairs. And as noted earlier UTP stands for unshielded twisted pair.
 

JP

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Ok, so why are there at least 3 different types of ethernet cable that all perform the same function, but are differenciated by varying levels of shielding?
UTP - unshielded twisted pair
STP - shielded twisted pair
S/STP - shielded+shielded twisted pair

and possibly even another variant

IMG_2740.jpeg
 

ChrisCables

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Stripping these tiny wires can be a real headache. If the metal gets nicked the wire can break easily and can be really hard t track down because it's nearly invisible.
That's where a calibrated cable-stripper comes in handy.
;)
 
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antcollinet

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There was a series of articles covering a public blind test, technical measurements of the cables involved and finally a teardown to see the construction. Short version: in controlled listening tests nobody could tell the difference between the audiophile cable and a cheap 'CAT6' patch lead that didn't even pass CAT5e tests. Start here: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/201...ile-ethernet-cables-to-the-test-in-las-vegas/

Your OS will keep count of dropped packets, errors and overruns. If you check you'll probably see zeros for wired interfaces, even after GBs of data transfer over cheap cables.
Indeed:

Screenshot 2023-10-14 at 23.48.38.png


That is zero errors in about 4GB of incoming data (mainly continuous music) this evening. Internet > copper telephone line > router > cheap unshielded 10m cable > cheap switch > cheap unshielded 10m cable > cheap switch > cheap unshielded 1m cable > belkin dock > Thunerbolt ot USB3 adapter > Mac.

How much better than 0 errors could an audiophile ethernet cable make it? And where should I put the cable?

:rolleyes:

Oh - and here is my wifi connection - currently running at the same time as ethernet - also zero errors:

Screenshot 2023-10-15 at 00.13.45.png
 
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Beave

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No, I'm referring to the shielding variants, not the geometry/speed variants ... and whether they quantifiably could/should be applied for audio data applications.

Huh, I could have sworn my first link talks about shielding.

It has nothing to do with audio or not-audio applications.
 

ChrisCables

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I think there's some crosstalk occurring in this thread now. I propose some clarity may be required.
For network cables there are speed variants (CAT 3, CAT5, CAT5e, CAT6 etc) and there are also shielding variants applied universally to those individual speed variant cables.
SO 'CAT 5e S/STP' 'CAT6 FTP' for example.

My interest lies predominantly in quantifying which type (let's say in any case shield type AND speed type for arguments sake) could be the optimal cable applied to an audio data transfer application.
Are we all on the same page?
 
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