Need more ethernet ports

A couple of years ago, based on suggestions here, I got an Airport Extreme. Sound quality was indeed better than the switch from the office store and I have been happy. The AE is fed by an ethernet cable that comes from my router located elsewhere in the house, and I run it in bridged mode (as a switch). It also supplies my wifi signal. I got an external PS for the AE that improved things even more.

For the last few months I have needed five ethernet connections. One of these is for the computer in my audio rack that I use rarely, so I have been unplugging one other cable when I need the computer. A pain but it’s been OK. Now I am about to install a Power Plant and it wants a network connection, so it’s time to fix this.

The obvious solution is to buy another network switch–combined with the AE, that would give me seven connections. But I am suspicious about the SQ of the cheap switches; I also have no place to plug in yet another power supply. (The back of my audio rack is a hairdresser’s nightmare.) I could replace the AE with an 8-port switch but I would lose wifi and perhaps impact the SQ.

So: any suggestions for more-capable (and good-sounding) alternatives to the AE, or any good tricks to get a couple more connections?

How about moving some users to an Ethernet Bridge. It might free up 3 ports?

Thanks for the suggestion, Frode. Unfortunately none of my components (except the Airtport Extreme itself) have wifi capability. Well, maybe the computer does – I’ll check but I’ve never used it and don’t think it has a wireless card.

I have a switch that seems to sound fine. I think that you’ll be OK but the power problem is still an issue unless you can locate the switch somewhere else in your network.

As far as I understand you do not use WiFi (and I take it it’s the main feature of AE), so why not to try an 8-12-16-port “office” switch in a metal case with a linear power supply (e.g. from HD-Plex or Streacom)?

I use wifi for my iPad and Android tablets that run control point software, so I do need to keep the AE. All other equipment is wired.

I realized that I can buy a used AE, identical to the one I have, and stack them (and put some spacers to allow ventillation for the lower unit). Just have to find a place to plug the second one in.

You can connect the AE to that new switch. I wonder if the SQ of the AE is that much better than of a “usual” switch with a linear power supply + Cat7 cable to the Bridge.

When I replaced a standard switch from the office supply store with the AE, I did hear an improvement – not earth-shattering, but definitely there. Also, space in my audio rack is now at a premium with all these new digital gizmos I have. Being able to stack the second AE on top of the first would help. There is no room for a larger switch, unfortunately.