Permutations & Findings
With a natural obsession with testing this kind of stuff, I tried a number of configurations in the network. I even had cable (Spectrum) and fiber (AT&T) internet services active at the same time to test differences.
Keep in mind, these are just my findings. Please let me know what your experiences are in the comments. YMMV.
- The power supply to your modem and router have a much larger impact over your Ethernet cable.
- Fiber internet sounds quieter, tighter, and more detailed – but thinner. Cable internet is softer and warmer – but doesn’t have as much detail or depth. This is even obvious when streaming music to smart devices such as Google Home and Minis.
- Although more subtle, changing the Ethernet cable between the modem and router – affected the sound even when the router is connecting to the Innuos via a wireless bridge.
- This part didn’t make any sense to me. Especially when the bridge is galvanically isolated from the main system. The only thing I could think of is how the interaction between the radio antennas was impacted by the Ethernet cable.
- Tonal differences were subtle but there’s no doubt that the “detached” Ethernet cable still impacted the music server that was connected wirelessly.
- Direct vs. Wireless: Using a longer run of cheap 25 ft of generic Ethernet cable from the Netgear X4S router to the SOtM switch vs. connecting it wirelessly to the Asus EA-N66 wireless bridge.
- This was interesting. I feel the tonal quality is better with a direct connection – even when using generic Ethernet cable. It just sounded more solid. But the sound was pancake flat and transients were obliterated.
- Using the bridge had a more “HiFi” sound. It was much quieter, had a larger soundstage, and provided much better focus. However, it was cooler, coarser, and thinner. A SOtM iSO-CAT6 did help smooth it out a bit – but adds to the cost.
- I was a bit torn here. I enjoy the richer tone of the direct connection, but the delineation and outlining with the bridge was much better.
- Now, what would happen if I power the bridge with a better power supply? I feel it’ll make the wireless bridge the better (and more convenient) option. But that’s an experiment for another day.