Ethernet cable for EX/CX combo

As some may have noticed in a thread nearby, I have recently acquired a CX/EX/P2 Oladra combo that proved to a fantastic upgrade from my standard issue EX.

I have decent USB and Coax cables from Ansuz but the Ethernet cable is still the one I found in the box.

When I had the lone EX I figured the Ethernet cable should not matter much as it only served for remote control purposes. My switch is fair enough and I did not spot any difference when unplugging the Ethernet during playback.

Now, with the EX/CX combo things are quite different as they are connected by an Ethernet cable and so this time around the music actually flows there during playback.

I am therefor drawn towards an Ethernet cable upgrade and since most of my other cables are now Ansuz that is probably where I will go.

I am however very interested in your insights, and of course in particular whether my theory matches with reality :slight_smile: Any EX/CX people out there who tried ?

Much obliged

The cable that is supplied with the EX or CX is actually a very good cable. It has even been sought by purchasers of used Antipodes equipment that were short the cable. I have also tried cables that I have made and heard no difference. In theory there should not be a difference in sound but subjectively many hear one.

That is a good start, thank you!

However, I bought mine used, how can I be sure it’s the right cable? It’s blue …

The ones that came with my EX and K30 were black and CAT 6 I believe.

Use my EX as server/streamer to S30/60 as player connected with a Sotm Ethernet cable. From network switch to EX I have a Curious Ethernet cable which I prefer to the Sotm. Having played with all sorts of different Ethernet cable configurations in this setup(EX with S30/60 or each of them individually as server/player), the Curious is the most natural and unforced sounding one. The cable supplied by Antipodes is as good as the Sotm, so it’s rather good despite it’s ordinary and unspectacular looks….or in other words, the Sotm should be considerably better if price is a reference.

1 Like

I have Oladra upgraded CX-EX combo with the CX connected to a satellite mesh wi-fi unit.

My first step was to upgrade the ethernet cable to the CX which made a big improvement. So much so that I was hesitant to upgrade the cable from the CX to the EX thinking I could be badly bitten by the law of diminishing returns.

When I added the second cable I was amazed to find it made a further well worthwhile improvement. I’ve since grounded the mesh wi-fi unit and noticed only a very slight improvement at best.

Cables are Quiescent and I would certainly buy again.

Andy

Hej Kjetil,

Below some things to consider;

Network Optimization:
To improve sound quality, ensure your network is optimized from the point it enters your house (usually the router) to the player or server. This includes, but is not limited to, upgrading the router, switches, power supplies, and cables, and eliminating unnecessary devices along this path. For instance, isolating the network using a Wi-Fi access point with a high-quality power supply and DC cable or a fiber connection can make a significant difference. In my experience only then using high-quality Ethernet cables to connect both the server and the player can significantly enhance performance.

Connection Configuration:
When connecting the EX-CX combo to the switch (with a high-quality power supply and DC cable!?) going from the switch to the server makes more sense, as this setup allows the player to have a direct Ethernet connection to the server and only a USB output (via an optional reclocker) to the DAC. But sometimes you do not want a direct connection between player and server devices (try replacing with an unshielded UTP cable to find out).

Alternative Setup:
Instead of a direct connection between the server and the player, you can connect each device to an audiophile-grade switch. This configuration may yield different results and is worth experimenting with.

Streaming Considerations:
If you stream with Roon or use a streaming service, investing in better Ethernet cables can be more beneficial compared to when you already prefer or are mostly playing local files from an SSD installed in the server.

Cheers,
Paul

PS. In my last setup I connected a short “ very neutral, without any harshness or coloration” Pink Faun Digital interlinkbetween the EX and CX, and an SR Atmosphere X Reference Ethernet “ significantly reducing the noise floor and allowing a purer signal to transfer with less grain providing more warmth and detail” between the Etherregen switch and CX. Honestly, I think these cables are in a higher price range than the combo and I keep hoping they won’t change the sound but they did.

Thank you all for the feedback!

As much as I understand the EX-CX cable, I have more challenges to accept the CX-switch cable as long as I only play from the SSD in the CX - I generally don’t stream.

The only explanation would of course be noise filtering but I have a decent switch and I rely on the CX being well built in this regard. That said, I will probably get one for the EX-CX so I can always do the test!

In my experience, with the network everything really can matter.
If there is a cable connected to the CX, it will most likely be transmitting noise into the CX and degrading its performance in some way - regardless if the cable is carrying audio data. The noise is coming from the device on the other end, and whatever noise penetrates the cable onto the signal. Grounding of the cable shield can also be detrimental.
What is your 'decent switch"?

It’s all about the noise, isn’t it.

My “decent” switch is a Buffalo DS-GS2008 (unmodified) with a HDPlex linear PSU. So I guess there are things to be done there as well…

As @dbastin2605 mentioned, it depends on how the noise from elsewhere in your network is traveling and affecting your CX, regardless of whether you’re streaming or not. Users of Etheregen and Innuos Phoenix NET switches have reported benefits even when playing local files, which is worth considering.

Using an unshielded twisted pair (UTP) or a shielded, grounded ethernet cable between the CX and the switch might help reveal some of these issues. If you did not separate or isolate in an audio network, what other devices are connected upstream of the Buffalo, leading to the router/modem? Are there any other home devices with SMPS, tablets, servers and so on?

I had a version of the Buffalo 2008(the “P”) that required a lot of power, and generally, I prefer low-power devices to help reduce noise. Trying out a different switch (one with a 30-day trial period) but with your good LPS might expose any weaknesses in the Buffalo switch.

Additionally, the placement of the CX and its immediate environment could also be a factor. @dbastin2605 made significant efforts to eliminate local interference, which might be something to consider as well.

I have the 5V version of the Buffalo so hopefully the low power and the Buffalo is dedicated to the CX only. It is connected to my ISP box/router on the other side (that should have its own linear supply one day maybe).

What did you switch to replacing the Buffalo ? And what do you have, dbastin ?

I’ve experimented with many options (including the Innuos Phoenix NET, which features an excellent clock and one of the best integrated linear power supplies available—it was hard to resist), but ultimately, I’ve had to balance performance with affordability.

In the meantime, I’m continuing to use an EtherREGEN near the server/player. Recently, I’ve also added a MikroTik CRS305 as a switch/router, positioned closer to the modem, specifically for audio purposes (big thanks to @dbastin2605!). Although I use fiber for isolation, I’m aware it doesn’t block everything and might impact sound quality differently compared to copper. For LPS choices, I’m using the Uptone JS2, iFi Elite, and Farad, always with a better DC cable (this is one of the most rewarding and basic tweak I know). When it comes to Ethernet cables, I currently favor Pink Faun and SR.

I’ve added a Mikrotik mAP lite, a low-power Wi-Fi access point (AP), to my setup for controlling with my iPad Pro. Incorporating an AP into the audio network also allows for the physical disconnection from any home network when playing local files with Squeeze but without Roon. However, given the recent improvements in Roon that have been discussed here, I might not need to play local files anymore. This shift allows me to focus entirely on enhancing my network performance.

Additionally, the mAP can potentially be used to isolate a server/player and stream over Wi-Fi, bypassing the Ethernet cable, to devices like your CX!

For the future, and maybe this gives some more ideas to explore, I am considering isolating my device using an audio-only Wi-Fi modem with an integrated SIM card, as SIM data is very affordable in Europe. I’ve heard good things about this approach. Additionally, I have been exploring passive devices with ferrite cores, which do not require power. This approach, similar to the Muon Pro I think, seems very promising. Although it might be familiar to some, it’s new to me, and I plan to investigate it further this year.

@Kjetil , if you can get 2 generic Cat 6 cables from the same manufacture, one STP and one UTP, you could use those to compare the affect of the shield. - sort of trouble shooting to discover how different devices respond. Some folks disconnect the shield from the connector at the downstream end to prevent connecting the ground planes. Audiophile ethernet cables seem to be inconsistent doing this, and instead gain more benefit from the shielding and other noise repelling/absorbing ‘sheaths’ they put the conductors in. As an example, AfterDark does a bit of both - carbon fibre, shielding and disconnect the shield.

I did this more with the ISP modem and router, my CX is yet to receive ‘the works’ in this regard. So far it has Telos Macro Q, Synergistic Research Tranquility POD Carbon and some caps and footers, but more caps, grounding, better footers, Synergistic Research ECTs and grounding still to come. I did also change the fuses and and interesting thing was …

I use Synergistic Research Atmosphere UEF Level 3 Digital power cable, which has ‘tuning bullets’, I changed the module from standard gold to SX Silver for a quite surprising improvement. This is an SX version just to illustrate.

You could try to use a USB Power Bank to power it. It might save you all the expense of the LPS etc and prevents noise from being transmitted via shared AC.

IN simple terms it goes …

national fibre broadband termination >1 > Mikrotik CRS 305 (router) > fibre > Ether Regen Side A >2 > CX
Ether Regen Side B >3 > Mikrotik mAP lite > wifi > Devialet
(this wifi is dedicated to the Devialet only, there is another WAP elsewhere for general wifi access)

Cables
1 and 2 are both Synergistic Research Atmosphere X Reference grounded
3 is Shunyata Sigma

There’s a lot more supporting this that at this stage in your journey might just hurt your brain if I go into. But on the topic of this thread, I found I got better results from CX to player via EtherRegen SIde B than direct out of CX … that is with the wifi set up unchanged. So between by CX (server) and plyer (Devialet) is a EtherRegen Moat and wifi (powered by battery so off the AC grid). The Sigma is ‘floating’ between the ER and mAP and its shield/s are connected at both ends but that cable has CMode filters.

2 Likes

Allow me to add that @dbastin2605 has the CX Oladra currently in use.