Audiophile Ethernet cables snake oil

I have earlier posted about Audio trends and snake oil. What annoyed then and still today in marketing and media that too often today then talking on hi-fi, science is replaced by bizarre belief structures and marketing fluff. It seems that there too many snake oil rubbish products marketed in the name of hifi. It is irritating to watch the stupid people in the world be fooled with things like exotic materials, directional cables, thousand dollar IEC power cables, and all that rubbish. “If you pay ridiculous money for these cable you will hear a difference, but don’t expect your friends to”

I can agree that in analogue interconnect cables there are few cases where better cables can result in cleaner sound. And there are very many cases where there is no objectively noticeable difference.

In digital interconnect cables story is different than on those analogue interconnect cables. Generally in digital interconnect cables the communication either works, does not work or sometimes work unreliably. The digital cable either gets the bits to the other end or not, it does not magically alter the sound that goes through the cable.

But this digital interconnect cables characteristics has not stopped hifi marketers to make very expensive cable products that are marketed with unbelievable claims. Ethernet has come to audio world, so there are hifi audiophile Ethernet cables that do not make sense to me. With Ethernet the data either gets through the cable without any changes to it, or it does not get through at all. Ethernet has checksum on every data packets to detect for any errors (which are rare) in the transmission and all the packets that have data changed in any any way are discarded. So Ethernet cable can not not magically slightly alter the digital sound that goes through the cable.

Here are links to two articles on such expensive audiophile Ethernet cables:
Is streaming cable more or less expensive than $1000 audiophile snake-oil ethernet cable ?

Gallery: We tear apart a $340 audiophile Ethernet cable and look inside

Apart from the absurdly high price tag and more mechanically robust connectors, I see nothing special on those cables for carrying the data signal. I suppose those does look quite attractive to some users and this makes them willing to pay the high price.

Despite the fact that some people desperately want there to be audiophile Ethernet cables, there simply is no such thing. The IEEE standards do not include a superset of specifications that make a regular Cat-7 cable into an “audiophile” Cat-7 cable. If you still believe those “audiophile Ethernet” cables sounding better, please inform yourself how an Ethernet and Ethernet cable works.



  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    There’s also this by Rod Elliott, if you want something slightly easier to digest:

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    All technically correct. Must assume modern capacitors are made differently than they were 40+ years ago. Time for a reevaluation?

    So true actually. Most caps these days are used for power supply bypassing and filtering. The quality of ones that are in the signal path are far better than ones 40 years ago. Also the materials used today are less diverse and packaging has changed as well. Still all valid info in the article though, and worth the read!

    Modern capacitors work the same today as they did in 1980. This paper covers mature and proven technology that will never need a reevaluation. The paper is difficult to read and hard to understand for an audio amateur, DIY Audio homebrewer, and laymen. Perhaps it could be transcribed and re written without all the hi math in a way so that more people could understand, benefit, and apply it.
    Skip the math and technicals unless you are designing a circuit. His discussions are quite clear without them and apply now as then to the currently available cap offerings.

    The most important takes: Most of the discussions about which cap is better for what are foobah based. Electrolytics for power supplies, foil rather than filp caps for speakers (far more current capacity), poly caps are not high frequency limited,

    Ok. Very good Larry.

    I might add mylar polyester caps for small signal op amp and transistor audio circuits. And, never ever use the old “ceramic disk” caps in or near any audio circuit.


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