How To Optimize Digital Streaming With Optical Fiber

Kewl article! I cannot wait for my Sonore OpticalModule to arrive. It will be switch to Sonore OpticalModule to EtherREGEN side B to server side A to UltraRendu.

And it will be good, Al.

I’ve had my oR going for 24 hours now. I can’t live without it.


You’re tempting me to finally open my oM and give it a try in place of the ER.

Are you planning on running optical fiber out from a switch to OpticalModule and copper ethernet from it to the ER and copper again out to UR? My understanding is you can run copper to OM and fiber out or vice versa. I will be curious of your opinion of essentially double stacking filtration with OM and ER before the UR.

I am running copper from a switch to B side of ER and then A side copper to microRendu as well as optical fiber out from ER to a Lumin X1. I am only using 1 DC output from my SOtM pS1000 to the ER and per suggestion from Alex at UpTone have run a ground wire from the ER to the pS1000. I use separate power supply, LPS-1.2 for the microRendu.

I think optical fiber is a great connection option and really like the results. I can see myself going to fiber optic output server in the future.

Good luck

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I am currently running Ethernet from a switch to an inexpensive optical module, and then fiber from that optical module to the EtherREGEN. The B Side of the EtherREGEN goes through a Cat 7 cable to my Euphony server, the A Side to an UltraRendu. I am hoping to avoid buying an OpticalRendu but with my tendencies I doubt I will be able to avoid it. :wink:

Hi, I read your post on EtherRegen. I got an ER and I am purchasing Lumin X1 to go with it. It sounds like you are connecting ER B side to the switch and A side to optical fiber to X1. Is it a problem to have the B side>optical fiber>X1, which is the usual set up?

BTW, do you think ER makes a significant SQ improvement on X1?

thanks, Jay

There seems to be a lot of rubbish written on this particular subject.

My modem and music server are located 25m from my audio and AV. I have three cables in use:
Cat 5 - for our TV for streaming things like Amazon and films
Cat 6a - for audio
Fibre optic - for distributing satellite TV and wifi

The main benefit of fibre optic is distributing data over more than 100m, which many recommend as the limit for copper ethernet.

Fibre optic also offers protection in high EMI/RFI environments. This includes things like oil rigs, power stations or places with large motors and transformers. If you live in such a place, I’d sell the stereo and get a pair of noise cancelling headphones. In the relative order of things, our homes are very quiet in this regard.

My audio ethernet cable is Cat 6a. Most of the cable run is nowhere near power cables. Where it is, it’s just low power stuff and there is not going to be any issues, even with unshielded Cat 6a.

Belden will tell you that Cat6a is better for audio than Cat 7. Something to do with impedance. I’ll tell you its better because it’s cheaper. I use AudioQuest Pearl Cat6a simply because it was the cheapest I could buy locally in a 25m length with professionally connected and tested RJ45 plugs.

The ethernet cable between server and streamer is coming from an optimised server so is ultra low noise at the source. I’ve compared Cat6a and fibre optic in in this environment and could not hear any difference in sound quality at all.

The person who wrote this article has been using a Mac Mini as a source. This puts him at a big disadvantage as as it is chucking out noise into his music data before he’s got started. Looking at his audio system, which is not cheap, he should get a decent server to start with. It would be one of the cheaper upgrades to his system.

I suspect some PS Audio equipment could be quite big emitters of RFI/EMI pollution. Fortunately I have a Devialet Expert that is completely sealed, mostly in copper. Even the base, often the weak point, is 4mm thick solid copper. The only other powered components are the power supply for my turntable and a low-powered valve phono pre-amplifier. I had a PS Audio regenerator and replaced it with a Shunyata Venom to clean up the mains supply. I do wonder how much interference a regenerator throws out that can result in electrical noise.

This is also very old news. Andrew Everard, a proper audio writer (audio editor of Gramophone for the last 25 years, amongst other credits) posted a fiber optic solution 5 years ago, when he was using a Mac mini.

He’d been reviewing a Melco, which has a RJ45 streaming data output, and wanted some of the benefits without the £6,000 price tag.
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In my experience with Chord Electronics DACs (and I will get a DS Sr. again to confirm), the benefit of optical is all about transparency. Do not discount how much better a DAC can sound when its not in the presence of either galvanic or radiated RF noise. So I would always connect a DS with optical …use as long as possible cable (20ft i believe is TOSLINK max). Then get the DS off the AC Mains since RF noise is both injected to DS (from upstream digital) and emitted from the DS as well. Its quite possible to use a GoalZero or similar large capacity LiOn battery to run the DS for many hours. Then on top of that, you have to realize that cables tethered to the DAC are antennae. And this is why better/different interconnects or power cables make a difference: they reduce the cable’s efficiency as an antenna. In this regard you can go to extremes with shielding like these.

A low noise mains supply is the one thing I have invested more than a trivial amount in, a Shunyata Venom and Delta NR power cables.

Before my Devialet Expert had a streamer upgrade in 2017 I used an external streamer, an Auralic Aries with an external power supply and sent the data wirelessly with the components inches away from each other. That is, of course perfect galvanic isolation and the wireless equipment does not necessarily inject additional noise into the system. It’s more a matter of a reliable connection compared to a wired connection.

Devialet told me that 80% of their support requests end up being due to wireless connectivity, so it’s best to avoid it.

The next best is wired ethernet, whether using a Cat5 or Cat6 cable or optical. It is galvanically isolated by design, but tests show (see link) that if you wrap the Cat ethernet cable around a power cable you still only get a very small 60Hz spike. It is probably inaudible and can be removed with a cheap isolation device. The Innuos include an isolation transformer on its ethernet data output port.

Tests also show that even with battery powered devices you can still get a small mains frequency spike. You may well get it from Sonore devices and media converters and it is only one very specific 60Hz and very low level spike. Again, whether this is making any audible difference is highly questionable.

The best DAC I have ever heard, and possibly the best DAC on there planet, is the dCS Vivaldi stack. It will set you back $120,000. It has a level of transparency that is clear and obvious and really quite remarkable. The standard recommended set-up is to feed the DAC with the dCS Bridge using dual AES/EBU and feed that with any off-the-shelf server, for example a QNAP with SSD (SSD for reliability and a Roon Core). A $20 ethernet Cat5 cable will do the trick. All the magic comes from the DAC, not from fancy switches and the like.

dCS do not implement usb or Toslink, usb because it is a computer format and Toslink because of its limited data rate, both being sub-optimal for audio.

The Chord DAVE measures supremely well and measures far better than the DSD DAC. The measurements put me off even trying the DSD DAC what I was in the market around 2014. I would expect the Chord DAVE to be far more transparent, even with a usb connection.

As I mentioned earlier, unless your server is half a mile away or you live in a power station, I’m not sure what there is to gain from optical cabling.


You are correct I am using ER connecting copper input to the B side and fiber to optical. There is not a negative issue doing this. I think early on many users thought the connection would be using A input to B output. Alex (SuperDad), UpTone Audio, later clarified the moat works both directions. I also connected copper out on A side to microRendu for the dac in my Vinnie Rossi preamp, but per recommendations read on the UpTone forums on AudioPhile Style forum, I used separate linear power supplies for this and ran a grounding wire from my ER to one of the power supplies, a SoTM sPS 1000 that is powering the ER. Alex approved of the set up per my posting, #1055, I do believe the ER has been beneficial both for the X1 and for my VR dac. I already had it prior to purchasing the X1, and it’s a plus that it allowed me to implement fiber connection to the X1 so easily.

My fiber setup followed the recommendations from Chris the forum Administrator and Owner. I referenced it two posts lower from the one shown above.

The VR dac has been enjoyable, but the Lumin XI has surpassed it. With that said, it took a lot of hours on the X1 before I got there. I had read about that, but it still stunned me how many hours went on. Early on I was nervous whether I made a good decision, and my VR dac was superior. I now just listen to the X1. I am very pleased. Please be patient.

I also have tried running the X1 to my active crossover and from there to the amps. I waited till I had several hundred hours on the X1 and after the software Lumin released for LEEDH. I considered selling my VR. I made some XLR cable moves, additional one from AudioSensiblilty running into VR and using existing Triode Wire Labs from VR to active crossover input. I also picked up a pre-owned power cable with Bybees made by AudioSensibility. I first put it on the X1 but was taken with it. I swapped the Triode Wire Labs one from the VR to X1 and used the AS cable on the VR—very good dynamics, detail, and voice textures improved for me.

I have made two other changes with the X1. Early on I used Herbie’s Tenderfeet under the X1 body, which I preferred to the X1 feet. I later tried Daedalus DID’s which I liked better for that usage. Later still, I purchased a set of 4 Audio Room EVP’s, mediums. I liked those even better and was perceivable to me right away. Pretty soon I picked up 2 more sets of 4, this time light weight for the X1 power supply and my SonicTransporter i5 CDR. While I think they added improvement, the ones under the X1 provided me the biggest perception of improvement. As an additional aside, I have found that changes in position on any add on feet under the units can have some changes in perception. I believe the DID’s displayed this even more than the Herbie’s and the EVP’s very much so. Even micro movements on the DID’s and EVP’s had audible (to me) differences. At least these movements are very easy to do and not involve turning off power like cable changes and allow nearly immediate feedback.

I made one other change, and questioned my impulsiveness at the time. I purchased an AudioSensibility shorter DC cable for the X1 power supply. The change did not seem to be initially very noticeable. I do not believe there was any cable burn in on this one from AS. I left it in for a month. On a Lumin forum on Audio Shark, I read some inquiry on a shorter DC cable, and I volunteered I had purchased one from AS. I fessed up I had not done a direct comparison between the OEM cable vs the AS since I had purchased the AS one. Part of that is the reluctance to do cable changes on the X1. It’s a bit awkward with the rear “roof” of the X1 plus I do not have easy access to the rear of the unit in my setup. I decided I needed to do a comparison and replaced with the OEM. If you are interested, see , post 38.

This is a lot more info than you requested, but thought I would pass on my journey. I would encourage you to allow the X1 to settle in for at least a couple hundred hours before making changes. It seemed to me to continue to evolve past 400 hours. If you have not tried direct to amp before, I suggest it is worthwhile, but I would wait till you have some considerable burn in first. Early on the unit seemed a bit strident to me as well as flat in initial imaging. That has really changed as the unit accumulated hours.

I am very pleased with the X1. I have not done any further tweaking. I am keeping my VR in the loop. I most likely will look at upgrading server in the future, but thankfully do not feel compelled to move on that.


Actually, they do, but they do not recommend those connections. My Vivaldi stack [DAC/Upsampler/Clock] offers Toslink and USB connections, among others. dCS was the pioneer in asynchronous USB for audio, but will happily tell you that Ethernet-based streaming is superior to USB, though both can be done well or poorly.

My apologies, I was thinking streaming and I don’t think the dCS Bridge has usb or Toslink outputs.

I agree that usb can be done well, my modest Innuos device does it well and their Phoenix device apparently does it very well.

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Right. The Bridge is intended as a network-enabling device for components without a network connection. It can deliver files from a network or a USB storage device via its digital outputs: SPDIF [RCA], SDIF [BNC], and Dual AES/EBU.

Dear Will

I just got the X1 and I started burning it in (3 days). I have it hooked up directly to my Pass Labs X250.5. Sound is so so, but I am trying to wait for 400 hrs before judging.The thing that is annoying about the Lumin app and Leedh is that the volume control is very awkward: have to go to setting, then option, then scroll to Max Vol and adjust. I jump track to track and they all have different loudness levels and it is really difficult to rapidly control the volume without a remote. Do you find this to be a problem? Using a preamp seems to defeat the purpose of X1. Love to hear your thoughts.

best, Jay

When I went straight to my active crossover, bypassing my preamp, I used Leedh and would adjust volume way down before turning off so as to ramp up volume when I began playing music again. I did play with volume a lot with changes in music, much of that me listening more critically as I evaluated bypassing the preamp. I made some additions and cable movement and brought the preamp back. Now I have Leedh processing off and volume 100% with the X1 and control volume from the preamp. I use the VR remote with the preamp, which I prefer to needing to use my iPhone or iPad to adjust volume.

The X1 does seem to take a long time to break in. The dac in my VR preamp sounded superior for quite some time as I would periodically check. The X1 does really improve with several hundred hours on it, and I find it now much better than my prior dac and microRenu streamer end point…

Hang in there,

It is a shame to “pay” for Leedh, and not use it. I may have to use my preamp and its remote. But, doesn’t having VR between X1 and the amp and the interconnects degrade the sound? I thought that was the purpose of Leedh.


How did you “pay” for Leedh? Was it an available feature when you bought your Lumin or a recent free add on.

I am just saying that the cost was built into the price point for Lumin. By the way what is VR?

Leedh was released as a new feature almost two years after the release of the newest Lumin model so definately not built into the price. Don’t have any idea what VR as that’s further’s preamp but I suspect he is referring to Vinnie Rossi.

The X1 was released in May of 2018