Laptop/media player > Ethernet > Bridge-II: Optimization

First: Cheers everyone!

Second: I apologize if this has already been covered (heck, I may have even asked this before surprised-011_gif)

I may have read something about an Ethernet to the Bridge setup as effectively ‘bypassing’ any negatively induced artifacts of a media player’s audio section: What I ‘think’ I read may have conveyed the idea that via this kind of interface only the raw music data (the bits and such!) is transferred from the laptop/media player to the Bridge. If this is true, then the need to ‘tweak’ the laptop/media player may be a moot point. However . . . well, you see what I’m getting at!

From what can glean from a myriad of topics, posts, and various ramblings, I understand that USB audio is a different animal than is the Ethernet/Bridge option. I plan on staying with the Bridge-II/DS. I would like to better understand though, whether there is something I can do to optimize this setup.

And, yes. I have been following the topic about the forthcoming PS Audio Streamer. I do, however, currently have three children in braces - orthodontist is making a killing - and college x 3 is just around the proverbial corner. Tweaking may be my best optionsurprised-014_gif

Big thanks.


Current setup: Ext HD>USB>Laptop: Windows 7 running JRiver>Ethernet>Router>Ethernet>Bridge-II/DS

I think you’re basically on the right track, but ethernet is not perfect either.

My own experience as well as various things I’ve read indicate that USB has a lot of problems as an audio interface; it can be made to sound good but requires quite a lot of tweaking. Un-tweaked ethernet feeding the Bridge is better than un-tweaked USB, but it is not without its own limitations. If it were flawless, people would not hear differences between various ethernet cables or network switches. I have heard such differences in my own system, although they are not huge (but definitely audible with careful listening).

It’s not clear to me whether you are connecting your laptop directly to the Bridge with a crossover cable or whether the signal goes through a network switch; this may affect sound quality also.

There are a couple of threads here where people discuss the benefits of optical or galvanic isolation in an ethernet/Bridge setup. The optical isolation is not expensive and might be something to try if you feel like it. I’ve thought about it but am sufficiently happy with my B2 sound that I haven’t done so yet.smiley-music005_gif

Thanks, Magister, for the reply. I am running my setup through a router: (HDD>Laptop/JRiver>Ethernet to Router>Ethernet to Bridge-II). My question is kind of twofold:

  1. In (this) setup does the media player (JRiver in my setup), or the laptop/computer itself, impart any signature on the audio stream? Or, is the audio file (bits) being sent on to the Bridge unaltered - effectively ‘bypassing’ the media player’s, and computer’s, audio signature?

  2. The second question has to do with the Ethernet cable itself. I’m not familiar with optical or galvanic isolation of an Ethernet connection??

  1. I will let JRiver users, of whom I am not one, speak to this. My impression is that there are so many settings and options in JRiver that you certainly can mess up the sound. Using it as a simple UPNP server should not, theoretically, do much if anything to the SQ.

  2. Here is one thread about the fiber optic converters. The topic has been discussed as part of other threads also. Searching will turn up some of these.

I have a bit of experience with fiber optic converters. As it turns out, I got some benefit from isolation when isolating between the switch and the server (Mac Mini) and isolating between the switch and the DS Sr. Ultimately, however, I found the best connection was a direct, “bridged” ethernet connection from the server to the DS Sr, bypassing the switch. What was interesting was that I found that I didn’t get a benefit from the optical fiber in between the server and the DS Sr, but I did with the fiber still in place in between the switch and the server. I guess the main point is that optical isolation is beneficial when connected to the switch. I detailed my way through optical fiber isolation in this thread:

Please note that only the TP-Link MC100CM model worked when connected the the DS Sr, and not the MC210CS , for some reason, although I think it has worked for others. Also some more of my thoughts regarding optimizing ethernet connection are here in post #21.

Good luck!

1 Like

magister said

“…there are so many settings and options in JRiver that you certainly can mess up the sound. Using it as a simple UPNP server should not, theoretically, do much if anything to the SQ.”

That’s what I am hoping. I just can’t recall if I ever read anything specific about it. Did Paul or Ted ever touch on this?

amgradmd said Ultimately, however, I found the best connection was a direct, "bridged" ethernet connection from the server to the DS Sr, bypassing the switch.
Can you explain exactly what this is?

It’s a way of connecting the server (Mac Mini in my case) to the DAC directly while keeping WAN connectivity so you can stream. I really believe it cures the potential ills of ethernet connectivity and streaming. This method, plus optical isolation in between the switch and server, keeps any switch noise from reaching the server and DAC. There is a detailed explanation on how to do it on OS X in this thread:

Also you can peruse the epic thread on the matter at that goes into detail how to do it in Windows and Linux. Keep in mind the tread wanders off base substantially after the first couple of pages. Like here:

Let me know if you have any questions.


Thanks for the link. In using that method is the DS also connected to the LAN for firmware upgrades or do you have to manually connect it to the network?

DS is connected to the internet so firmware updates are available.

Hi amgradmd,
Could you please share your set up on optical fiber isolation, your two links cannot be read any mỏe.
Many thanks.

In so far as you are using JRiver as a media controller it should have minimal effects on the sound.
I don’t want to muddy the waters, but I always seem to: Still anything you are running on a computer anywhere near an audio system may have a small effect even with no direct connection - the fewer computers the better, but that’s certainly not the way society is headed :slight_smile: I certainly wouldn’t worry about things like that until you’ve done a lot of other tweaking (perhaps never - I have to have my laptop so I put up with the changes in sound when I’m using the net, etc.)

I’m a big fan of the Fidelizer software. It is customizable to fit your needs for the particular computer and is non-destructive. You can switch between levels of modification freely if you need more horsepower for other tasks. I did quite a bit of software modification on my own but Fidelizer provided this without all the glitches that I encountered by doing it myself.

I too have had good results with Fidelizer and, as wglenn says, it’s easy to use.