The detrimental effect of wi-fi on SQ

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Pastafarian, May 10, 2019.

  1. Pastafarian

    Pastafarian Forum Resident Thread Starter

    As you've probably guessed my funds are very limited so the thought of money I may need to spend to equal my previous Meridian 507, seems like another potential dead end and a "This isn't good enough" scenario.

    The Rega does sound fantastic on many albums but I'm finding others don't have the "Yes" of the Merdian. In the past when hi-fi retailers were everywhere I could easily get enough time with the new component in my home, now that's not going to happen.

    With one issue coming up before I do wonder if I'm listening too critically but previously I've found you just get immersed in the music and want to listen to more, computer isn't producing that effect on a significant number albums.

    Early days really as I've only had it up and working for 5 days but I'm becoming concerned I should have bought a cheapish CD transport to partner it. At a push I can afford to go that route but again I won't be able to have it in my system to evaluate it properly.

    The positive side of computer, all my music is on hard drive and the ability to see it means I've had a few I've forgotten that moments, it is a great asset and very cool.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
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  2. D700

    D700 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Ohio
    Same here (old Mac Mini instead of a Pro). Any Squeezebox, discontinued since 2012, still holds its own against majority of streaming devices/platforms being sold. Logitech really screwed up that acquisition. They could have been Roon/Sonos 5 years ahead of the competition. Squeezebox Touch goes for $100-$125 used on eBay, great way to go. 24/96 over optical gives galvanic isolation. Will do 24/192 over USB with additional software mod. Qobuz, Spotify etc available via plugins for the free Logitech Music Software.

    I bought a Blue Sound 2ii NAD unit, returned it. Looked at Yamaha and Marantz streamers...ended up just buying a used SBT to go with the Classic I already had...going to wait out the digital/streaming solutions for another few years.
     
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  3. Pastafarian

    Pastafarian Forum Resident Thread Starter

    The app issue was mentioned by my fiend who's a electrical engineer but his knowledge is connected to diagnostics and repair on electronic equipment in RAF aircraft. He also mentioned cables and the possibility of transfer into my amp, however he didn't know how that may effect the SQ, "It's too specialised and the land of Voodoo".
     
  4. Hymie the Robot

    Hymie the Robot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Have you tried another connection to DAC besides USB?
     
  5. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Since he is using his computer, I don't think he has any other options.
     
  6. I don't have the option of testing my stereo system in an environment away from wifi. I live in a condo. All my neighbors have wifi. I'm bathed in wifi from other people. I can't avoid it.

    My setup is a Windows laptop in the audio rack and it's connected to the DAC(s) using USB. I've tried the laptop with both a wired ethernet connection and a wifi connection. I've found that wifi requires is more CPU intensive and driver/kernel level exclusive blocking intensive. So using wifi takes more of a hit on real-time OS performance compared to wired ethernet. So in my setup I've got the laptop wired with an ethernet cable and have the wifi disabled. I've also disabled bluetooth on that laptop since I'm not using any bluetooth devices with it. Using ethernet on that laptop results in fewer digital audio glitches where the computer takes too much time to processes something else and doesn't get back to processing the audio soon enough before the audio buffer runs out. Those glitches result in obvious audible glitches when listening. Whether the extra load and unpredictable load on the computer and OS causes subjective sound quality issues (like subjective harshness) is more difficult for me to determine. Nevertheless, I use wired ethernet with the laptop and disable the wifi and bluetooth.

    Some info on DPC latency:
    DPC Latency Checker
    Resplendence Software - LatencyMon: suitability checker for real-time audio and other tasks
    Troubleshooting DPC latency

    Perhaps the detrimental effect you're hearing with wifi is due to the computer needing to spend extra work and resources to process the wifi signals rather than due to the wifi radio waves themselves. Leave the wifi on on your router. Plug the media computer in using ethernet and disable the wifi and bluetooth on the media computer. Then see if you still hear the same sonic problems.

    With the laptop running JRiver Media Center I can still use Gizmo on my Android tablet or the Android environment on a Chromebook to control playback. I've still got the wifi enabled on my router. And the Android table and/or Chromebook are connected to my home network using wifi.
     
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  7. Vignus

    Vignus Digital Vinylist

    Location:
    Italy
    I think nowdays it's more uncommon not too have wifi then the opposite...
    I have a powerline in my room and, even though I take the network from the LAN output, the powerline send a wifi signal out for other devices (phone, laptop, you name them).
    However, I never noticed the sound quality to deteriorate when I switch wifi off
     
  8. Sterling1

    Sterling1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    I have three methods to get Apple Music downloads or streams from iTunes Library on laptop to my Prepro: usb>X-FI HD S/PDIF @ 24/96>Prepro, Airport Express S/PDIF @ 16/44.1>Prepro, and usb>OPPO-205 usb DAC up-sampling to 24/192>Prepro. The OPPO route seems to produce the most compelling sound. At any rate, I have no impression that Wi-Fi operation, i.e. modem/router connection to my laptop computer is producing any interference/noise; therefore, I've not had an interest in connecting laptop's to modem/router by wire.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
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  9. jtw

    jtw Forum Resident

    That makes sense, except in his case, if I'm not mistaken, the only wifi signal the computer is receiving is a 'play this song' command. At that point, the music is found on the hard drive of his computer, and hard wired the rest of the way.

    Once he selects a song to be played, wifi is out of the loop, again, if I'm understanding his situation correctly. I've had issues with other tasks running on a laptop causing hiccups in music (schedulers, automatic updates, etc.), but does wifi consume laptop resources if nothing is being sent to that laptop via wifi?
     
  10. Pastafarian

    Pastafarian Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Fantastic understanding of my rambling unclear nonsense.

    Anyway in case I've given a very negative impression of the Rega, what it does do is the fundamental attribute of PRAT:hide:.

    I've just has a session and it sounded mighty fine, however if you choose to listen closely there's a very subtle hard edge to some instruments and vocals (wi-fi off).

    I only know one person who has a 'real' CDP, Arcam I think and at some point he'll bring it round so I can feed the digital output to the Rega and see if a separate transport is the way to go.
     
  11. The wifi driver is always processing network data and always managing the radio. The wifi driver never just sits around doing nothing. It is always doing something. For example, the wifi driver needs to always watch what wifi channel it is connected to and be ready to change to a different channel if your router changes the wifi channel. The wifi driver is also constantly monitoring all of the other SSIDs around you. If you open up the wifi connection screen you'll see all of the other wifi networks around you that you could connect to. New ones will come in range. Others will go out of range. The wifi driver is constantly monitoring all of that. Constantly. Even if you're not currently connected to wifi but the wifi driver is still active.

    So when my media playing laptop is connected to ethernet I disable the wifi driver so the wifi driver isn't running all of those background management tasks.

    Network drivers are also very chatty. They don't sit around doing nothing while you're playing music and then only wake up when you use the wifi tablet to hit pause. Put a network packet trace or capture utility on your network and you can see that your laptop will always be receiving and sending and processing network packets. All the time.

    Using a tablet to control the audio playback on a laptop isn't like using an infrared remote control. The tablet is a network device and sending network commands constantly. And the network protocols used are very chatty. Constantly talking and processing.
     
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  12. D700

    D700 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Ohio
    Its not voodoo folks. If its digital out (which USB is) from the computer its 1s and 0s. If WiFi arbitrarily impacted digital out, your word documents would have garbage in them every time you opened them from the network. Either this is a perceptual issue (reverse placebo) or there's something going on with that computer's electrical isolation or ground...USB is an electrical connection after all....and the DAC is passing that electrical noise on to the AMP. That's not likely scenario though given OP's description.

    If you can connect through optical cable to your DAC, try that. If that fixes it, then something going on with the USB/computer/cable. They sell USB cables with "chokes" on them to help with that sort of thing. That's where WiFi streaming to a DAC directly (like Squeezebox's do) can be superior to a wired (electrical) connection.

    Some DACs, AMPs have USB connection shielding to help with that sort of thing. But as I understand it, this shows up as noise, not symptoms as described by the OP.
     
  13. Hymie the Robot

    Hymie the Robot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    SPDIF
     
  14. Hymie the Robot

    Hymie the Robot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Yes, try that to troubleshoot the problem...
     
  15. Sterling1

    Sterling1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    Relevant to your comment, the other day I connected my turntable to the phono input of my Creative Sound Blaster X-FI HD. It's ADC converted analog to 16/48 and sent data via usb to recording software on laptop. Just one's and zero's; but, I forgot to ground the X-FI HD to the turntable and some of those one's and zero's were hum.
     
  16. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I don't know that I ever had a computer with a SPDIF connection.
     
  17. Carl Swanson

    Carl Swanson Forum Resident

    I have one.
     
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  18. Hymie the Robot

    Hymie the Robot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Many motherboards have the connector but you still need the jack. It doesn't always come with the board. USB spdif dongles are cheap and work well from my experience. I no longer use it. I go PC HDMI to Oppo HDMI input. Sounds great. I like the sound better than my two DAC's with USB, one stereo and one multichannel.
     
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  19. Pastafarian

    Pastafarian Forum Resident Thread Starter

    A word document is a pretty clunky analogy, as a dedicated mains supply won't improve your grammar in the word document.

    Placebo (?), not sure about why you'd have a neurotransmitter to impair your auditory processing system a more likely scenario is that the neuro transmitter would increase your acuity , thus getting you closer to the 'truth', previously I said I may be looking for fault perhaps my ability to find it may come from a positive (?) placebo effect.

    However I don't see where this leaves us apart from questioning the nature of our internal constructs and what is 'truth'.
     
  20. John76

    John76 Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I have three Sonos rooms going and there are times I stream lossless files to all three systems at once. I purchased a Sonos Boost which plugs into my router. This allows you to create a Sonosnet which is a mesh network that you can set to operate on a dedicated channel separate different from the rest of your other 2.4 traffic. This has worked well for me and I no longer get the dropouts I was getting previously when all three systems were playing with lossless files.
     
  21. Pastafarian

    Pastafarian Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I'm sure everyone knows my knowledge of computers is small but a questuion regarding using a different imput for my digital music files..

    My understanding of the usb input, which activates the Amos audio drive only when connected, causes the DAC to do all buffering and clocking.

    So would another input disabled Window 10 drives and do I have usb connected but the other input selected, I certainly don't know if it would still do buffering etc.
     
  22. Apesbrain

    Apesbrain Forum Resident

    Location:
    East Coast, USA
    In all likelihood, USB is your only option. What model Lenovo laptop are you using?
     
  23. Hymie the Robot

    Hymie the Robot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Not 100% sure what you are asking? I will answer by saying you can have both USB and SPDIF connected at the same time and switch to either audio device within the software.

    jRiver actually allows "zones" and you can set up zones for different devices. Choose a zone based on which connection you are using and load songs within that particular zone. Like separate playlists for each input/output you are using.
     
  24. Pastafarian

    Pastafarian Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Sorry about that, hope this is better.

    Data coming in via the usb is asynchronous so data buffered and clocked by the DAC, I'm doubting that would happen with other input because as I understand it CD transport for example would buffer and clock data.
     
  25. Hymie the Robot

    Hymie the Robot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Since you are just troubleshooting this wifi thing, don't get hung up on that would be my advice. USB from PC to a DAC isn't the end all. Other options exist, SPDIF included, that works just as well.
     

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