Ethernet cables to Bridge II

I couldn’t find any recent posts on whether it matters what quality of cable I run from my computer to the Bridge II. Seems like it shouldn’t but various reviewers have noted differences with other systems.

Maybe kind of a wee bit, but if your looking for real change I would put my money elsewhere. I recently swapped out an Audioquest Cinnamon with a Rosewill (cheap) cable while evaluating the uRendu vs Bridge II and really felt that I heard no difference when changing these two ethernet cables. I did this to make sure that I was not comparing cables while I compared the two renderers… A smarter way would have been for me to use identical cables but, none the less, I could not distinguish the two cables.

I replaced generic CAT5e cables with Audioquest Cinnamon, later replacing the Cinnamon with Vodka. Each change cleaned up the sound; not an enormous difference, but clearly audible with careful listening. (I replaced the cables between my NAS & network switch and between switch and Bridge at the same time.)

If the Bridge is your main (only?) playback method, I think it’s worth experimenting. Get cables from a place that lets you return them, or borrow some different ones from the Cable Company. It’s impossible to predict what will happen in your system (note that wglenn’s experience was the opposite of mine).

I hope it doesn’t make a difference. There’s at least 200’ of cat 5e run from the server in my office next door and my listening room in my house and the bridge II sounds wonderful. Although I’m temporarily down because my server has been locked up and infected with ransom ware. I will have a new computer next week rather than pay the bandit in bit coin. All files are backed up.

Given that Ethernet is asynchronous, well-terminated, and heavily buffered at both ends, I’m gonna stake out a position that one would be unable to hear a difference between ethernet cables or ethernet speeds in a blind test.

One would think, but similarly excellent rational arguments have been made against hearing differences resulting from cables, high-resolution audio, dither, etc.

Ethernet is balanced and (usually?) transformer-isolated–two big advantages over (eg) USB. That should make it far more cable-agnostic, and although Paul and Ted will have to speak for themselves, I’m thinking that’s a big part of the advantage they see in sending data over ethernet to the bridge instead of USB.

I don’t find much, if any, difference in the sound quality into our DAC by changing different Ethernet cables.

Thanks. One of the reasons I went for the bridge was the hope that I wouldn’t have to lay out more money on expensive cables. Been there and done that.

EldRick said I'm gonna stake out a position that one would be unable to hear a difference between ethernet cables or ethernet speeds in a blind test.
The Audioquest Vodka cables were a significant outlay of money, and I was entirely prepared to send them back. I've been around long enough that I've heard cheap stuff that sounds great, expensive stuff that sounds very average, and some that makes no difference; I rely on my ears, not the brand name or price. The Vodkas gave me more transparency, more delicate treble, more details. I clearly remember how the sound changed when I installed them, and they did not go back. Could I tell the difference in a blind test? I'd like to think so, but who knows. And the limitations of blind testing have been well documented. I stand by my experience and my suggestion that if you want to get the most out your Bridge, you might wish to experiment. I'm sure in some systems ethernet cables won't matter, and in some cases it's not realistic to spend money on long runs. If one listens mostly to the Bridge (as I do), it is worthwhile to maximize the SQ from that source.

I am not moved.

I’d certainly agree that cheap ethernet cables aren’t ever worth the trouble they cause, as any network guy will tell you, but the issues are reliability and signal-level losses, neither of which are particularly relevant.

The results of low-quality cable issues are dropouts or connection-loss, not audio quality, because, just like the PSA Digital Lens, there is a large memory buffer between the Ethernet receiver and the audio component at each end. Occasionally, retransmissions on a noisy or busy network will result in a packet delay or loss to the point where audible dropouts could occur, but this should be rare with any router made in the last few years and reasonable network quality.

The issues (just like most cables for digital audio) aren’t about errors, they are about groundloops (much less of a problem with Ethernet) and transmission and reception of noise (especially RFI) which greatly depends on the quality of the cable’s shielding and terminations to the connectors. Any RFI entering an audio component can be folded down into the audio band by any nonlinearities encountered, this is more likely a problem in a preamp than a DAC since a DAC expects a lot of HF hash in it’s environment. Routing of the network cables away from the audio system is a good idea as is avoiding wireless networking and Ethernet over your power lines. Still we have other concerns in our houses that may override what might be best for the audio system.


If I play my own devil’s advocate, does that mean that Audioquest’s cables might be better sounding because of their higher quality terminator’s?

There’s always the possibility. Much of the time for me personally, especially with companies like AudioQuest which put some serious tech into their cables, as I go up the line I keep hearing improvements, but there’s a cost vs. benefit knee that’s probably different for all of us. After getting reasonably good Ethernet cables (maybe a Belkin cat 6 with gold plated connectors) I may audition some other Ethernet cables, but I’m likely to spend my extra money somewhere else in the system. Perhaps some room treatments, dedicated audio outlets, mechanical isolation for some component… If on cables, I can’t believe than in practice often power cords make a bigger difference than speaker cables or audio or digital interconnects…

Going up the line doesn’t always produce a good change: A while back the local AudioQuest store gave me some of the high end AudioQuest optical cables to try. I needed three (at $1000 per cable) to go from my EMM transport to my EMM DAC6e. I think they were hoping I’d hear something too good to pass up. Anyway there was a difference compared to my $14.99 optical cables - the AudioQuest soundstage was a little more diffuse and slightly harder (crispier, but not in a good way.) The EMM equipment does a darn good job managing jitter so I was actually surprised that I heard that much of a difference. They were a little surprised that I passed on the cables :slight_smile:

By the way, as a soon to be owner of the DS (should show up today) and an old grizzled audiophile I can’t even begin to express my appreciation for the prompt and informative posts by Ted and Paul.

You will go crazy when you hear it - I’m almost kinda hating mine, because it makes me realize I’d been listening to music reproduced badly for so many years. I sorta feel embarrassed that I had brought friends over to listen before I had the DS…