Isolation of Network Equipment

For some time I have wondered if moving my Draytek Router from it’s wall mounted position onto some spare Stillpoints would make any difference to the sound coming from my endpoints.

So, having also found a spare IKEA Bamboo chopping board I lifted the router off it’s wall screws and placed it horizontally onto some Ultra 6s, which were on the chopping board. An insane test, given that if I were to buy the Stillpoints today they would cost 16x the price of the router.

And it made a difference! I would guess greater than the LPS powering the router.

This might be an easy one to try, perhaps even with some squash balls, before going to more expensive feet. Nice little bonus.

I suspect there is more to learn about getting the best from or buying the best router for audio.

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Hmm, I wonder if most of the benefit is from the ikea chopping board, the stillpoints, or the fact the router off the wall (depending on how the wall is constructed).

In my experience it is worth attending to each variable in the network. Some benefits are small but it all adds up.

I am using a Mikrotik CRS 305 (SFP+/10Gbe) as router which made quite an impact. It is more involved to set up than a basuc router, but with patience it delivers way more than its cost would suggest.

Please note that the widely used ‘audiophile’ IKEA APTITLIG chopping boards are partially hollow inside. You could expect some unwanted resonance. If you want to absorb vibrations try to get heavy material, massive bamboo would be better, or 2 - 3 layers of high density board glued together (if you do not want to spend much), a piece of marble/stone maybe?

If you try to isolate from vibrations (not the same as above) get Iso pucks mini or something alike. But you do have the spare Stillpoints, I would think they need some weight to perform though.

I am not familiar with the Draytek brand modem but I would not really focus on trying to improve the modem but instead improve the chain (Ethernet or WiFi) that is coming after the modem by avoiding interference from other devices connected to the same network.

Further isolation of network equipment to greatly improve sound quality:

  • With the Draytek Router modem/router you can create a VPN ‘tunnel’ only for music streams. That could stop interference from all other activity on your home network.

  • You can create an exclusive audio WiFi channel either on the less used 2.4GhZ, or 5Ghz if that is less used in your area/home.

  • You could also hook up to the Draytek a (WI-Fi) switch only for audio AND feed that with a Linear Power Supply (see below). Switch can be placed either right after the modem (short Ethernet Cable) or closer to the audio equipment.

  • If that switch has an SFP cage and the receiving end as well you can further isolate with fiber optics.

  • You can change your network to ipv6 instead of ipv4 *

  • Some people recommend well isolated CAT8 ethernet cable and some will go with UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair Cable) that almost has no isolation at all between modem or switch and streamer .

  • And last but not least: Much more (probably most) improvement to expect from a 12 volts linear power supply to replace the standard SMPS unit. Idealy one for the switch and a second one for the modem as explained above.

You did not specify your setup. Audible improvements to expect from isolation and these measures are very system dependent, but in general they all help improve the sound quality.

The chain with modem all the way to the receiving audio device is many times ignored but very important to take care of by isolation and other measures. When introducing an audiophile switch (+ LPS) and further isolating components from the home network I would guess when streaming (Roon, Tidal ea.) up to 30% (!) of the sound quality can be improved. For exclusively local file listening (SSD mounted) improvement is probably more in the 10-15% range.

Hope this helps.

Paul

Note *: I realise that switch or modem configuration can get more complex but just be aware that the configuration/software/firmware of a switch or modem can make or break the quality of the network. But that would be an other subject. Except for virtual isolation that has been briefly adressed above.

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Would you please share the evidence that supports this?

The chopping boards are very heavy, so I would be surprised if they were hollow. But even if they were, it doesn’t detract from my sense that placing the router on Stillpoints on the chopping board was beneficial to the sound. The router is connected electrically with an SOtM Cat 7u to two SOtM switches, clocked by a Mutec Ref 120, to various endpoints. That’s why I was impressed by moving the router…it was the one item that hadn’t had any attention.

I should also add that we live in a mansion flat, built in 1895, with really solid walls, about 12" think…so I thought the router would escape vibration issues mounted there. Perhaps the Stillpoints are draining away something that was having an impact?

But in our ‘YMMV’ world, the main point was that it may be worth seeing if doing something similar for your router may be beneficial. Or not.

I think it would cost more to make them with a hollow inside. I just picked one up … and yeah the weight seems to dispute that they are hollow. It looks like it’s just what it is: Glued together pieces of solid bamboo with some beveling cut into one side.

But what that board really represents to us is about the best deal in audio. Stillpoints respond exceptionally well to them …. or to bamboo generally. I have all my components sitting on Stillpoints and pretty much all the Stillpoints sitting on bamboo. The shelves in my Quadraspire rack are made from bamboo, but with my previous rack Aptitlig boards were under everything.

In his excellent review of the Aptitlig boards, Roy Gregory explains why bamboo is such a good choice:

What makes bamboo so effective in the audio world is its structure and the process that allows us to turn what is basically a massive fibrous grass into a flat board. The bamboo itself is formed from long bundles of cellulose fibers, bound together by lignin, a natural thermoplastic resin. The closer to the surface you get, the greater the density of those fibers. The result is not unlike natural carbon fiber, but considerably heavier. Take that structure and cut it into strips that can then be stacked face to face to create a single flat board and you have a random, composite, variable-density material – which is just about ideal for dissipating mechanical energy effectively without converting it into a single, dominant resonant frequency the way that glass or MDF does. Great in theory – how does it work in practice? Better than you are going to believe – which is exactly why Atacama and Quadraspire have made it central to their product lines.

https://www.theaudiobeat.com/blog/ikea_aptitlig.htm

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I’ve got a Quadraspire bamboo rack, too. Great synergy with Stillpoints. But also great on its own, and the chopping board gives many a great way into trying out what bamboo could do.

Great you can hear it and (now) knowing that you already had chosen a very good Ethernet cable and switches it also explains why you can hear it. Since I did not have that information I thought it was a good occasion to highlight the importance of modem, router, switches and cables and so on, for users who had not tried this yet.
Now I know a little more about your setup I realise you probably paid a lot of attention to the rest of the ethernet chain as well. Like you I encourage users to try improve this, even more if they stream audio over internet.

I wonder if the modem isolation did also affect local streaming from SSD in player/streamer in your setup? Since that could be possible as well.

Both SOtM (sNH-10G?) switches are fed with a better PSU? DC power (and better DC cables) is way more important to assure the switch oscillator working at its best reducing noise (jitter) that will be send to the streamer/DAC. No (=low) power is even better in switches.

I do not doubt the quality of the SOtM Ethernet cable but note that the SOtM ethernet cable screening if attached to the connectors on both sides could be counterproductive in isolating switches and attached devices from ground and influence sound (hence my suggestion to try also UTP cable).

Having not the details I assume the DrayTek is a modem - router combination. If this device can change the sound by putting it on stillpoints and an IKEA cutting board, it’s effect on the sound is too important. I would avoid using the Draytek and consider an audiophile (router) solution and separate modem (or at least use it in modem only mode). Or have SOtM replace its main clock and Ethernet clock. Just my 2¢.

Maybe all these points above are not relevant to you leaving your question about hanging the modem- router? on the wall. If you try, use 4 slightly tensioned rubber bands and o-rings in each corner, in a way it will be hung from the wall without touching it.

Again, I don’t want to push you but you seem to be curious about possible improvement. You might be interested in the recent developments at Taiko regarding their new switch (and modem)? https://taikoaudio.com/taiko-2020/product/taiko-audio-extreme-switch/. And here how to beat a double SOtM switch setup; Mono & Stereo © 2022: Taiko Audio SGM Extreme experience (scroll down 2/3 to Network).

YMMV :wink:

I am glad you asked and please trust me that I am not debating that people do get good isolation results with the IKEA APTITLIG chopping boards (specially since I know they are widely used). As you can see the hollow boards are filled with little planks, spaced and glued in an alternating pattern creating voids in two directions.

So once I knew this I did not want to use IKEA APTITLIG anymore preferring boards without air gaps. I ended up replacing them with same thickness extreme high density Panzerholz boards. No honest comparison, Panzerholz being more dense, with a lower transmissibility and higher internal damping then other types of wood (it does not even float in water).

  • Density bamboo plywood : 650-850 kg / m3
  • IKEA APTITLIG bamboo plywood: 575 kg / m3 (my guess)
  • Panzerholz : 1350 - 1400 kg / m3

Thanks for that. Panzerholz is the better choice but it’s expensive. What makes the Aptitlig so special is bang for the buck.

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Yes, should have said, Paul Hynes SR7 Turbo, with Audio Sensibility DC cables for router and switches.

I’d be interested in what is considered an audiophile router…Draytek is popular in the UK for reliability. I tried an Edgerouter, but I just couldn’t configure the damn thing. But as we are about to get fibre in our area, I am waiting to see what that implies…I think a modem and then the router?

Our hobby causes much shame at the best of times, and I think lawyers might get involved if I try this…

I am a bit wary of the idealisation of Taiko, and the extraordinary praise lavished upon anything they do. The comments here regarding Antipodes are much more balanced, despite, I suspect, comparable levels of genius behind the products. Taiko are also rather late to network switch developments (and I still don’t understand why it is called a switch with one input, one output) and SOtM, amongst others, have been learning about network issues for quite a few years now. I trust my dealer has done some of the checking out of other products, and in our world of online influencers, I am relieved by that.

However, I will continue to tweak, and enjoy these occasional discoveries.

I honestly don’t think that SOtM or any of the other switch makers have figured much out. There are too many users who report that they hear benefits from using several daisy-chained switches. That wouldn’t be the case if the problem had actually been solved.

Taiko’s late entry is largely the result of them trying to solve the network problem once and for all. They believe they will be doing something unique with their switch. I think we will know if they succeeded if 1) we hear that additional switches provide no further benefit and 2) we begin to see Taiko owners lavishing all kinds of praise on Roon’s sound quality.

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We can only hope :rofl:

Yes, should have said, Paul Hynes SR7 Turbo, with Audio Sensibility DC cables for router and switches.

I could/should have known :+1: except I do not understand what modem/router or separates you currently use?

I’d be interested in what is considered an audiophile router…Draytek is popular in the UK for reliability. I tried an Edgerouter, but I just couldn’t configure the damn thing. But as we are about to get fibre in our area, I am waiting to see what that implies…I think a modem and then the router?

You already tried more than I thought. They are not widely available as the audiophile switches are. Separating into a unique audio stream after the internet enters the home with no interference from other devices on the home network is what counts it seems. But as mentioned above the SOtM upgrade for a better router could be an idea?

Our hobby causes much shame at the best of times, and I think lawyers might get involved if I try this…

As long as you do not screw it direct in the wall. Would it evacuate micro-vibrations better than the Stillpoints, who knows?

I am a bit wary of the idealisation of Taiko, and the extraordinary praise lavished upon anything they do. The comments here regarding Antipodes are much more balanced, despite, I suspect, comparable levels of genius behind the products. Taiko are also rather late to network switch developments (and I still don’t understand why it is called a switch with one input, one output) and SOtM, amongst others, have been learning about network issues for quite a few years now. I trust my dealer has done some of the checking out of other products, and in our world of online influencers, I am relieved by that.

However, I will continue to tweak, and enjoy these occasional discoveries.

Great! I suggest you read about the Taiko Audio Extreme Switch development at WBF, in general it helped me to understand why routers and switches can (or could) sound better. Low noise levels , low power consumption and excellent EMI shielding all elevating sound quality was never in the design brief of common switches. Add to that the awareness at Taiko that home network can influence your analog playback chain and how to eliminate this.
In the end we all want the influence of networking on sound quality to be zero. Streamed files to sound as the best local files so we have access to everything at the same level of high sound quality; that’s clearly what Taiko in 2023 and onwards is moving towards to (without excluding others).

And thanks for the replies.

Taiko switch info:

I have read that thread. I find it interesting that a product that has yet to reach consumers is already held up as the ultimate solution, not available (yet) to non-Extreme customers? Taiko have done well from a marketing perspective.

I would suggest we are seriously off topic, if compared with the original suggestion of trying to see if your router, placed on vibration isolating supports helped YOUR system sound better?

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Marketing is easy when your customers have been consistently impressed with your ability to execute.

I think if you got to hear the impact of some of the upgrades Taiko has delivered to their customers, you would understand. I have. It was unbelievable, actually, to hear what their USB card combined with a software update did to sound quality.

Were Antipodes to announce a new class of product, I think you’d see the same kind of enthusiasm - because Antipodes has repeatedly proven themselves through their ability to execute.

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I picked up some solid bamboo cutting boards from Coles, here in Sydney.
The boards under my S30 and S60 are about 1cm bigger all round and the board under my DAC, whilst smaller than the DAC, is large enough for the 3 feet to sit comfortably on it.
All up, about AU$20.

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Have you compared this with an Oladra?

It seems to me questionable that someone posts such views on another products forum. I am more than familiar with the giddy effulgence of the WBF thread…perhaps the lack of oxygen in such rarified atmospheres helps.

I hope you get your Extreme soon, but please spare those of us who think Antipodes are doing a fine job, and may have more to come, albeit without the self-promoting trumpets.

I was just sharing my honest opinion based on my actual experience with their product. That’s what I do regardless of the product or the forum I post on. I’m sorry that my experiences have me seeing things differently than you.

I have been delighted with my Antipodes products so I have no intention of buying anything else. The Oladra is beyond my reach financially and so is the Extreme. Also the Extreme with all the bells and whistles is more expensive than the Oladra. Both can be great products at their respective price points.

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The topic is : ‘‘Isolation of Network Equipment’’.

Come on @RDG, then this comment is also off topic and why have @kennyb123 apologize here for sharing his experience? If the OP was bothered by that it could have been said directly in the first posts of this thread.

I did enjoy this ‘‘Isolation of Network Equipment’’ discussion and I thought it was not about being better or worse, or brands for that matter or even having the wrong attitude on other forums like WBF. I am now aware of OP’s rule of not discussing other brands here. Unlike those other brands Taiko seems very transparent in what they are after and so customers know what they will design the coming year and they deliver according to users. That opinion is as much true as OP’s about Antipodes. And I do not recall Taiko ever called their design the ultimate. But you don’t have to believe that of course or share that way of thinking.

Thank you for your time. I am sorry too.

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