Ethernet cable vs WiFi for streamer

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Katz, Mar 22, 2020.

  1. Katz

    Katz Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bucharest
    Hello.

    I was wondering if there is any study/measurement done by anyone online regarding what sounds better in connecting your streamer to the internet : cable or wifi?

    Many people prefer cable, and are set on it, however, some people, including the guys at Auralic, recommend always using WiFi, justifying it by saying that a physical connection (cable) to the router/etc inevitably transfers electrical noise from the source device (which is never really well shielded or silent at the same level hifi equipment is made).

    So is there any imperical data? I tend to agree with the logic - physical connection can definitely transfer electrical noise, and while I'm no expert, the guys over at Auralic, which make some of the best streamers on the market, are indeed experts.
     
  2. Veni Vidi Vici

    Veni Vidi Vici Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Ethernet cables do not transfer electrical noise - that betrays an utter incomprehension of digital technology.

    WiFi will be more prone to interference and latency issues.
     
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  3. rebellovw

    rebellovw Forum Resident

    Location:
    Prescott, AZ
    No difference as it is a digital signal - I use wifi with mine.
     
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  4. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Did Auralic perhaps mean “digital” noise for the Ethernet cable?

    Your WiFi needs to be strong without interference sources and to compete with an Ethernet cable, imo.
     
  5. Katz

    Katz Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bucharest
    Source: What is the preferred network connection?

    We always recommend wireless network as a preferred connection if your WiFi network is good for streaming audio.

    There are a a couple of reasons:
    1. The network router, the NAS and other network device directly attached to router using Ethernet cable can be quite noisy. If the streamer is attached to the router using Ethernet cable then the noise can easily been transmitted to the streamer as it is a physical link. The regular CE, FCC and other EMC standard only guarantee the device will work stably, but when are talking about sound quality, we are actually talking about the EMI noise that is 1/1000 of EMC's standard, so it affect a lot. That's why audiophile say different NAS, or different routers sound different.
    2. The Ethernet cable is a big trouble, it runs long and can pickup low frequency noise which there is just no way to get rid of. Those noise will transfer into low frequency jitter at low frequency even more difficult to get rid of. Low frequency jitter affects sound quality a lot.
    3. The WiFi sound better if:
      1. The engineer who in charge of design the streamer knows how to design the WiFi module right. The 'right' means the WiFi module will not create noise that can be picked up by other audio circuit of those which directly sharing same ground circuit;
      2. The WiFi signal between streamer and router is strong and stable. If you have a poor WiFi signal between streamer and the music server, the WiFi protocol will try to fetch the data again and again due to large error rate (Yes, we use TCP to transfer music data which has error correction policy). If there are too many errors, that add quite a lot of work for the WiFi module and it will also add additional load to processor which potentially generate more EMI noise and affect audio circuit.

    So am I to understand that the Auralic engineers do not comprehend digital technology? Hmmm....

    They are not trying to sell anything - their devices have both connections.
     
  6. mikept

    mikept Active Member

    Location:
    Boston
    Use either

    The bps requirement of even the highest quality of digital audio is miniscule in comparison to even the lowest grade of Wi-Fi’ capacity.

    Regardless of what you may be told by cable manufacturers, “electrical noise from the source” can not affect the audio contained in a digital stream, unless it is so bad that nothing works . That is the huge advantage of digital, be it audio or video, over Wi-Fi or Ethernet or USB or HDMI. It gets there or it doesn’t and if it does get there. it will always get there as it was sent.

    "Low frequency jitter affects sound quality a lot." ???? Oh please
     
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  7. Veni Vidi Vici

    Veni Vidi Vici Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Sorry, this is nonsense on stilts. The cable transmits 0 and 1's. It may have to transmit them more than once, because of noise, and WiFi is more prone to retransmission, but it will never ever transmit 0.99 or 1.01's. So sound quality is entirely unaffected by "noise" except through latency (retransmission). Or try this: keep hitting refresh on this page in your browser and tell me if the shape of the letters ever changes, or you sometimes notice misspellings.
     
  8. csawan

    csawan Forum Resident

    My experience is with a Bluesound item and I had fewer dropouts with a wired connection, that's about it for me, haven't tried to notice any sound differences between the two methods though.
     
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  9. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Can you not try out the difference yourself? Presumably both options are available?
    As often with these things it depends on your specific situation at home. And Auralic also uses a lot of “ifs”.
     
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  10. rebellovw

    rebellovw Forum Resident

    Location:
    Prescott, AZ
    I have absolutely no drop outs with my WIFI. This day and age - most routers are pretty good.
     
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  11. elvisizer

    elvisizer Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Jose
    if you can hear an audible difference between wired ethernet and wifi, something's broken- either your components or your ears. packets are not audio. they aren't even a spdif datastream lol.
     
  12. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Drop out depend on your provider. The WiFi and an Ethernet connection are both just fed by the router. If you have drop outs both options are affected.
     
  13. Peter_IT_Guru

    Peter_IT_Guru Active Member

    Location:
    uk
    Let me try to explain it for those new to digital audio

    The Ethernet cables (and switches) are transporting millions and millions of data bits (one/zero – on/off – high/low, terminology does not matter) from point A to point B , (you may have heard of IP addresses)

    The Ethernet cable (and switches) and WiFi have no idea at any point if the next bit is audio, video, Youtube, WhatsApp or from a printed page. The bit error rate of a digital network is approaching zero

    Hifi needs a connection maximum of around 5 Mbps to stream.

    My Ethernet network is 1,000 Mbps (around 200 concurrent HiFi audio streams)
    My wireless 802.11ac wireless network has a theoretical 1,300 Mbps, probably actual of around 400 Mbps (around 80 concurrent HiFi audio streams)

    If I can stream dozens of Ultra HD (4K) 25 Mbps video streams concurrently, why would I need special ‘Audiophile :~) hardware’ for a single FLAC file which needs around 3 Mbps?
     
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  14. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Location:
    Central PA
    Interference is always out of your control when you leave your audio within the realm of everybody else's devices and technology. That transformer up the telephone pole around the corner from your house. Neighbor's phones. Cordless phones. And it's not just nearby electrical and standard broadcasting sources. Your neighbor's wifi networks can also interfere with your own network's performance. I'm not even saying these things cause audible artifacts, just affect your wifi network. Even your own devices and wifi drains have a limit on performance.

    If you want your wifi to work its' best, why co-op that network with the audio you are most interested in, which for the most part sits at the same location in the house all the time? I'd rather relegate the connection of the NAS, the audio systems and the television to a hard-"wired" connection with an ethernet array set up throughout the house. I had mine wired when I moved in, with Cat 6a back when my electricians were telling me Cat 5 would be sufficient for my lifetime...and already some are saying I'm not "future-proof" anymore!
     
  15. rebellovw

    rebellovw Forum Resident

    Location:
    Prescott, AZ
    And your WiFi coverage too. Not just your provider.
     
  16. jbmcb

    jbmcb Forum Resident

    Location:
    Troy, MI, USA
    Not with that quote. I'd like to hear an explanation on how a twisted pair Ethernet cable can pick up and transmit low frequency RFI, or how low frequency RFI can effect Ethernet signalling at 100MHz, or how low frequency jitter can effect a packetized data stream that is designed to be specifically immune to packet loss, much less "jitter."
     
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  17. Peter_IT_Guru

    Peter_IT_Guru Active Member

    Location:
    uk


    I am watching a 4K feed from Netflix on my main TV while at the same time feeding a 3D film file (with transcoded subtitles) from my A/V server to my 3D TV in another part of the house while playing online radio in the kitchen. How special must an audio file be that I need to tell the neighbours to shut down all electrical items and ask my ISP to install a fibre from the exchange to my house to listen to it?

    There can not possibly be any change to the ‘sound’ of a digital audio file caused by cables or networks, other than an error that may cause an inaudible ‘click’ once in around 30 hours of continuous listening. My colleagues and I (all digital network experts) fall about laughing when we hear ‘deeper bass’ and ‘wider sound-stage’ The Emperor's New Clothes, me thinks
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2020
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  18. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    Location:
    Netherlands
    It seems like Auralic is saying that they have a proprietary design for their WiFi module?
     
  19. Veni Vidi Vici

    Veni Vidi Vici Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    The problem isn't that they don't comprehend digital technology very well. The problem is they comprehend audiophile marketing all too well.
     
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  20. Encore

    Encore Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denmark
    It's a can of worms but I would say that if your wifi connection is spotty, then probably cable. I am now running EoP, and what finally got me to try it out was that I was experiencing too many dropouts with wifi. And in my case it does sound better. Before that I tried with a long stretch of old ethernet cable that I had lying around--directly from the router to the streamer--but the cable must have been flawed somehow because I had even more dropouts than with wifi, and the sound was worse also.
     
    Joe Spivey likes this.
  21. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Location:
    Central PA
    Read the entire post again...you may find there was more than once sentence in there.
     
  22. Peter_IT_Guru

    Peter_IT_Guru Active Member

    Location:
    uk
    I am just trying to point out that either WiFi or Ethernet (or USB or HDMI) will acheive the same thing. That is perfect delivery of something that requires a minute amount of the available resourses.
     
    ds58 likes this.
  23. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Location:
    Central PA
    With an electric company transformer literally around my corner, as well as five cordless phones,two microwave ovens, four houses adjacent to me with satellite dishes, a shared Netflix account with a house across the street, 6 neighbor's wifi networks clearly within range of every wifi-enabled device I have in my house, and frequent wifi-checking from a good friend whose father who was an engineer supervisor at Adelphia Cable...I don't really have the option of taking your experience over mine.

    But, you're right...it's probably just swamp gas...:shrug:
     
  24. Peter_IT_Guru

    Peter_IT_Guru Active Member

    Location:
    uk
    Welcome to the world 0f digital, where you don't need those crystal speaker cable lifters made from the tears of Martian virgins

    If you can watch Netflix without constant interuptions, then you can certainly stream a tiny audio file
     
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  25. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Location:
    Central PA
    Were we still talking? No; no, I don't think we were...
     

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