Good sound quality with streaming is not possible without using optical fiber

Discussion in 'Audio Science' started by econaut, Aug 14, 2022.

  1. econaut

    econaut Facebook Friend

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    Thanks. Your digital vs. analog comparison made me wonder if you had some bottleneck(s) in your digital setup.

    I don't have a turntable anymore, so I am not qualified to make any comparisons here.

    But let me recommend something that made the biggest improvement in my two channel setup with Yggdrasil A2 - and I believe would bring your digital more to the desired analog level.

    What I have learned is that you need to get rid of (electrical) noise that enters the DAC at any level and feed the best possible signal into it.

    The best (and cheapest) way to isolate the DAC from the network is to enter a short optical fibre connection between the DAC and the rest of the network. This way you completely eliminate one of two (or more?) modes of electrical noise.

    I am oversimplifying here, because I am not an electrical engineer and I just want things to work and sound great. Entering optical fiber into my setup made such an improvement that for the first time I closed my eyes and thought, "hey, this instrument sounds as if it was in the same room with me". This was never a goal for my two channel setup, but just happened by itself.

    I talked to a German guy this year who is more knowledgeable than me who said that good sound quality with streaming is not possible without using optical fiber. I tend to agree.

    If you are intrigued, this article is a good start: https://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/how-to-optimize-digital-streaming-with-optical-fiber

    The other thing that is really worth investing some money in is good linear power supplies. With my streamer and my network switch, while also having used different streamers and switches, what really made my two channel system shine is when I got Farad Super3 linear power supplies and took out all switching mode power supplies, even from the router. You can get them used, at least in Europe one does not need to buy them new. Also Mattijs of Farad is a great guy and very glad to help with anything. I don't have enough experience but I could imagine that different PSUs with the same streamer might make a bigger sound difference than different streamers with the same PSU. By now I would also say that paying more for the PSU than for the device it is powering is absolutely sane (in the "madness" of this hobby).

    Other stuff worth mentioning is the upgrade from the Schiit PYST USB cable to Audioquest Diamond and using an Uptone Audio Ether Regen switch.

    What all these devices improve, sometimes drastically, is stage, stage, stage, blackground and less (digital) harshness.

    I don't have time to contribute here often, but maybe this helps to get your digital setup moar similar to your turntables :)
     
  2. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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  3. econaut

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    TLDR: Everyone with two channel systems should try single mode fiber and judge for themselves.

    Long rambling:

    What's the problem with Absolute Sound? Honest question, since I don't know them. Just this article which I find very comprehensible and can agree with because of personal experience.

    Concerning the article you posted:

    Actually the Silent Angel Bonn N8 switch was my first audiophile switch, because I wanted to see if I could hear a difference (and wanted to save some money and not get an Ether Regen right away). I could not hear a difference with or without it in my system and I have no problem with admitting that. Same with some speaker and interconnect cable experiments I did - I couldn't hear a difference.

    I upgraded many things since then and maybe I would hear the difference with these same components now. I don't know.

    I send the Bonn N8 back and and got the better device: an Ether Regen (sometimes I adhere to the German saying "Viel hilft viel = a lot helps a lot). Although the difference was not huge, it was a slight improvement and I kept it. Now about a year later with many things upgraded in my system (for example Tyrs instead of Aegirs, opticalRendu instead of SMS200 ultra neo, great LPSUs, no more SMPSs) I can clearly hear if the Ether Regen is in the system or not. Also if one defeats its "moat" or not (it has an A and a B side, devices have to be plugged in according to the manual or one sacrifices sound quality).

    When I got a cheap TP-Link FMC and a multi mode fiber cable the difference was abvious. Great blackground, all digital glare was gone. But after some listening I had to admit that the life of the music was gone also, it sounded dull and lifeless. So there were great improvements on the one side, but also sacrifices on the other. I wondered if this was the correct sound now and if I had just been accustomed to digital noise, that it added some spice to the music that I prefer.

    I shared this observation over at audiophilestyle and immediately got the tip to switch to single mode fiber instead of multi mode fiber. So I got two even cheaper laser modules used from ebay and send my new laser modules back.

    Now I have the improvements from optical fiber but without the downsides how multi mode fiber sounded in my system.

    Less than ten years ago I said cables don't have a sound. Now I hear the difference between laser modules, switches and PSUs. It's indeed just a matter of experience and having the components being able to show all this. I can say that even with Yggdrasil A2 in my system, my old system was not good enough. Now with the same DAC, but almost everything else improved except for Freya + and my speakers, my system is on a level that may objectively not be endgame for me, but it feels like that and will last for a very long time (see gear list). I listen to music (and not gear) again and try to reduce reading audio forums to a minimum. Other hobbies emerge. Life is great.

    Anyway, the difference between no fiber, single mode fiber and multi mode fiber in my system is obvious. This is not subtle and nowhere near placebo. Optical fiber is a game changer in my opinion and everyone should try it if using two channel. It's cheap to check out. If you can hear the difference, you can upgrade to better stuff from Uptone and Sonore later.

    If anyone has questions about fiber I am glad to share more things that I learned, for example Roon stability issues and which laser modules to get.
     
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  4. Vansen

    Vansen Gear Master (retiring)

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    I've been wanting to get linear PSUs for the RPIs. I would not be surprised to see improvement there.

    ...Let's say I buy the wired Ethernet argument. Why is optical Ethernet a viable solution and Wi-Fi is not a viable solution? I am running my RPIs on Wi-FI. The article you linked doesn't convince me that Wi-Fi is not a viable alternative for the issue that it is claiming wired Ethernet presents. I've got Wi-Fi working at my place just as well as wired ethernet with high AP density at a low radio power.

    From the Absolute Sound article, but it doesn't provide any further context on why not to use Wi-Fi:
    Also, I'm curious to what makes single-mode fiber sound better than multimode fiber in your setup.
     
  5. Thad E Ginathom

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    My eyes are watering, due to allergy, not to any consideration of audio equipment. But it perhaps caused me to keep thinking I was reading "moral fibre."

    I don't know what to make of that.
     
  6. Pancakes

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    The only reason I could imagine wi-fi being inferior is if the receiver is noisy af and contaminates the rest of the device. But the same can happen with an optical receiver. Or any other component. Both wireless and optical are galvanically isolated (no physical contact with the sender). And they're both bit perfect. I'm not the guy to tell people what they can or cannot hear but sometimes bullshit is just bullshit. If your wireless is audibly inferior, you bought a pos and need to spend the big money on something like an RPi, or a $50 wireless receiver at your local electronics store.
     
  7. Garns

    Garns Friend

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    It's hard to speak about this stuff as different setups will perceive it in different ways. For me: (streaming local files from a NAS) wifi very marginally worse than wired cat6, which is the same as no connection at all (local playback from the pi2aes). I'd happily live with wifi but wired is more convenient as no random dropouts.

    So basically I'm not going to shit on what someone else is hearing, but I'm not going to proselytise about my approach either.
     
  8. econaut

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    I can't say anything about using Wi-Fi in a hifi setup, because I have never used it.

    You can find info on the technical differences between single mode and multi mode everywhere, but concerning audio quality I can only second an advice I just read: Listen to the network gurus. And they seem to say: use single mode fiber. Interestingly, small green computer sell multi mode fiber. So not everyone says the same. But since for my problem (dull sound) I got that recommendation and it exactly solved that issue I am convinced. Since there's no difference in costs in a home setup it seems like a no brainer to me, one just has to know it.

    It's interesting how different forums have different "knowledge". For all this network and fiber stuff I read the threads and asked questions at audiophilestyle. Optical fiber is a topic there since 2015 and by now there's quite some practical experience with it, even objectivist threads (although somehow derailed).

    For example, this post helped me: https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/...stions-thread/?do=findComment&comment=1181912
     
  9. Ksaurav402

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    This optical fiber has merit for use cases where we need to run long Ethernet cable. Instead of running Ethernet cable we now have to run optical cable which are thinner and easy to maneuver and won’t pick any electrical or RF noise on the way and as they say wired is still most reliable way of connecting devices.
    Many a times we use streamer in rooms which are far away from Router so we can use extenders or extenders with Ethernet out. Connect the LAN cable from Ethernet out of extender to media converter -1 which will take Ethernet in and send optical out and hence all the noise from extender is eliminated. Put this optical back in another Media Converter -2 connected to good LPS and get Ethernet back and connect it to streamer. So in this case we don’t need good LPS for router, switches etc and just need good power supply for Media converter -2. This is what I got from article mentioned above
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2022
  10. Pancakes

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    TLDR;
    Unless you have dropouts, you're ethernet (or wi-fi) signal can NOT be improved upon.

    Ethernet is bit perfect. This means the data is either good or it gets requested again - there's no in between case where you're left with "bad" data. Your 1000Hz tome will not suddenly become 997Hz. If the ethernet wiring picks up *enough* noise, the signal will be degraded and the receiver will ask for the data to be re-sent.

    I'm thankful the world is built by engineers rather than audiophiles. Did you ever wonder why paying for something over the internet (often over hundreds or thousands of miles - can you imagine the amount of RF noise picked up?) results in the exact correct amount being charged to your account? It's not because banks are taking advice from Audiophilestyle.
     
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  11. Beefy

    Beefy Almost "Made"

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    And the idea that only optical won't transmit electrical noise.... Are SPDIF isolation transformers not a thing anymore?
     
  12. Gazny

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    There is merit to Optical isolators, the galvanic isolation of Ethernet ports vs a SFP fiber optic module is different. You can find similar implementations in many digital inputs on dacs, ddcs, reclockers, decrapifiers. Both as a single approach or multiple.

    Not sure how RAAT, DLNA, or streaming services optimize their data transmission. But sure network data can be bit perfect, but it can also not be. Most of the time in streaming it isn't TCP but UDP instead.

    Also don't forget the cosmic rays
     
  13. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    These network isolation devices are not targeting the data, rather the noise that they introduce intro the downstream devices. IME, just like @econaut, I have heard worthwhile gains by adding optical isolation into my Ethernet network before the streaming device, and using the OpticalRendu streamer that incorporates the optical interface as well. I’ve never heard a blacker background with more dimension, timbral nuance (microdynamics/ plankton) and the absence of sibilance, even using other pricey Sotm streamers and relatively expensive LPSs.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 16, 2022
  14. Pancakes

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    For the record, this all started with optical being better than wi-fi. Please explain where wi-fi is picking up noise.

    If your wi-fi receiver is polluting everything with noise, it's badly designed - it's not because optical is better. You can easily use a component with a shitty optical receiver that will pollute the rest the of your device.

    What I find amazing about audiophile influencers is that usually they're better engineers than the people who built their gear. Anyway, I see no point in arguing further. You be you. Cheers.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 16, 2022
  15. Thad E Ginathom

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    And they are always better engineers than actual networking engineers. And they don't ask actual networking engineers, they endow each other with accolades like "network guru."

    :mad:

    By the way... Texas?
     
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  16. Pancakes

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    I changed it to "audiophile influencers". Audiophiles in general are decent people (plus I'm one) :)
     
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  17. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    With a Raspberry Pi, it is not so much the noise of the wi-fi itself, but moreso the on-board power switcher that is steering the voltage around to power things. Also the wi-fi is very close to all the rest of said things and not quite as isolated if it was a PCI-E card by itself or something. Those usually even have RF shielding around certain things that these small wi-fi radios do not. Most of the ones in a laptop are also shielded.

    I know with my Pi, I got better results when I turned off wi-fi and used the LAN connection instead. I flashed an unused wi-fi router with DD-WRT to use the router as a repeater in bridged mode.
     
  18. Ksaurav402

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    I guess this optical solution was more in use when streamer were without Wi-fi and were mostly using wired connection. I remember when I first got my Digione sig it was with Pi3+ board and that didn’t have good Wi-Fi and I always had dropout issue for hi res files and ended up using wired connection. Pi4 and most of the new streamer now a days have better Wi-Fi connectivity and hopefully with better noise rejection from Wi-Fi chips
     
  19. econaut

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    I invite everyone to my home for a listen. I would even buy a multi mode FMC again to demo the difference between single mode and multi mode fiber. (Un)fortunately, I don't live in the USA, but if you visit Germany, leave me a message.

    On the other hand I find it quite sad that some people seem to know it all and seem to not even try to do some basic research and be a little open minded. No offense, I just don't understand it. There are so many forums where many people are discussing audio networking, including the engineers who build these things.

    If you appreciate @rlow , read this awesome thread of his, because it's absolutely worth it: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...sports-shootout-with-unison-usb-and-aes.8810/

    If you can relate to his findings there or have made similar experiences, read up on optical fiber, because it further improves on these things.

    Here's some more theory on digital signals and sound quality: https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0...enson_EtherREGEN_white_paper.pdf?v=1583429386

    I know I sound like an Evangelist here, but I'll leave it at that now. I wish I had known many things earlier, but that's part of the hifi journey and one is dependant on other people who give tips and advice. But if you listen to them or not is your choice, of course.
     
  20. Ksaurav402

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    I, for one, am not questioning this approach as I see merit of it over normal Ethernet but just looking for opinion of this approach vs that of Wi-Fi in new modern streamers
     

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