Cheapest way to enhance SQ with digital streaming

I could not stop but post my observations on remarkable SQ improvement with just a small change. I have been using digital streaming predominantly and have tried many things (cables, conditioner, room treatment). Everything does matter and they all did improve the quality without doubt and are definite investment. But after going through some reviews of fiber optic for Ethernet and their noise reducing properties compared to copper cables, I thought of giving a try. I connected Ethernet cable from router/Ethernet switch to media converter and fiber optic from this media converter (need SFP module) to second media converter (with another SFP module). Then regular Ethernet cable went from this second media converter to server/streamer. Basically the idea is to add fiber optic cable between the router and streamer, which will reduce the noise. But, wow, the difference was huge and amazing. Not sure how to explain the improvement, but the SQ was more fluid, melodious, fast, clean and separation of instruments were clear. The total cost for this was less than 150 (on Amazon). Apparently, as the fiber optic cable conductors are made of glass, they carry less noise compared to copper and also cost very cheap. Compared to money spent on other component in my system (have spent quite a lot), this is the most cost efficient and gave more improvement in the SQ. I am still amazed by this and very happy with what I heard. I feel negligent not to share with my fellow audiophiles, who are trying to get the best out and improve their system, sometime spending quite a bit for small difference. I guess, since the cost of trying this is so cheap (please don’t make me feel guilty for telling 150$ is cheap), try yourself and see the difference. On a different note, have been reading that use of Ethernet switch also does some “saucery” (I am no technical guy, but do read quite a bit of articles on audio) to reduce this noise to improve SQ and combination of fiber optic and the Ethernet switch takes SQ to different level. Will try some audiophile Ethernet switch sometime (may be uptone ethergen or Sotm snh-10g) to try out as I am very intrigued. 
That’s my findings as well Romney, to go a step further put ur router, switch, FMC on both sending and receiving on linear power supplies with good power cords and if you want to go even further put a bybee IQSE inside the LPS,s and a MUST’ put all the above on good shelf and footers. The footers well make a huge impact as well.

Check out  my systems page for the lengths I have gone with the above .
I saw your system and looks well planned and organized. I will definitely buy LPS for routers once I get new ethernet switch: yet to decide between Sotm/ethergen/melco S-100. 
How do you put or install Bybee IQSE. Do you open the unit and put it inside or just place it next to it. 
Yes I just unscrewed the top on the W4S PS 1 and attached the IQSE On the top . 
It’s all about execution , attention to detail and imagination.
Over on whatsbesrforum in the computer based music server forum there is a lot of high praise for the melco S100.
Hi @romney80,

Would you mind sharing the specific Ethernet > Fiber > Ethernet items from Amazon you used resulting in your SQ improvement?  If your are more comfortable with private messaging this, please do. 
Here are the items: 
2 of “Gigabit Ethernet Multi-Mode LC Fiber Media Converter (SFP SX Transceiver Included), up to 550M, 10/100/1000Base-Tx to 1000Base-SX”
Fortunately this comes with SFP module so you don’t have to buy that separate. 

One of “FiberCablesDirect - 15M OM4 LC LC Fiber Patch Cable | 100Gb Duplex 50/125 LC to LC Multimode Jumper 15 Meter (49.21ft) | Length Options: 0.5M-300M | 10/40/100gb mmf sfp+ 100gbase dplx ofnr om4-lc-lc”.

Then you can use Ethernet cable of your choice. 
Yes, I have been following those threads on ABF and they went through great deal on the above ethernet switches. As per those discussions, Melco S-100 > Sotm > ethergen. Will get that sometime and try it out.

Bumping this thread to say thank you @romney80


Just picked up exactly what you described, fantastic improvement is right!

Best $80 I’ve spent!

2 of these between my switch and Sonore UltraRendu:

Gigabit Ethernet Multi-Mode LC Fiber Media Converter

With this cable:

FiberCablesDirect - 1.5M OM4 LC LC Fiber Patch Cable | 100Gb Duplex 50/125 LC to LC Multimode Jumper 1.5 Meter


@fmzip i am glad you tried and worked. Digital “noise” is more than we imagine. We don’t know unless we hear “minimizing the noise”. Since my last post, I have done a bit more in the digital chain. Router > sotm with cat 7 > ethergen with fiber optic > English electric 8s > ENO acoustics > streamer. Not every step is superior but synergistic and now more organic (less “digital”). 

I'm moving on from generic fmc and Sotm sms200 neo to the Sonore Opticalrendu, replaces one FMC and it's lps and sotm. Next will be optical out server such as Small Green Computer Sonictransporter I9 or diy solution with optical out, this gets rid of second fmc and it's lps, and upgrades present server. At this point all optical post server. At some point I'll get router with optical capability, lps on this, no switch. My goal is all optical post modem.


Full optical is way to go!

Hi All-I am reading this thread with great interest. Thank you for all the info and recommendations. At the price point I am reading about, this is worth trying out. I have a question-

Does the fiber cable need to be run in a straight line? My router/switch is about 50' away, in a different room. To run the cable I would need to make 4 right angle bends to get it to my Aurender streamer.


Do you think this would make any difference when using a mesh network?  My aurender is wired with an ethernet cable to a mesh node and it is the only piece of equipment plugged into the node.     

Wharfy ,

no the fiber cable doesn’t need to be perfectly straight you can put slight long turns in it and if the fiber cable is to long don’t wind it up in a small coil rather loosely rap in say a 1 meter long loop.

Finally had chance for first listen with opticalrendu running off Uptone JS2 LPS. Don't like hyperbole, but this is major upgrade over two TPLInk MC220 with Sotm SMS200 neo (all with LPS). Certainly one of best digital upgrades I've experienced, another level of resolution together with more relaxed, analog like sound. Easily worth the extra cost over the generic FMC.

@romney80 I gave your suggestion a go…Thank you sooo much for sharing this asylum tip.  It is insane how these 2 Fiber converters and the Fiber cable improve the sound quality in my system.  If I told someone for $80 if you buy these 3 gadgets your system will be transformed they would lock me up.  I don’t know if it just my system, since it’s not real hi end, but I am blown away with what I am hearing. I did not think this was possible or that my speakers had this in them.  I no longer feel a need to upgrade my DAC or buy a dedicated streaming. (for a few days anyway;) I am using a Macbook pro with Amarra software and Tidal Hi Res

Input set up: basic ethernet cable into Linkysis mesh node>fiber converter>fiber cable>fiber converter>Basic ethernet cable into ethernet to usb converter into mac. 
Output set up: Mac>Audioquest jitterbug >Audioquest forest usb cable>Black ice fx glass tube DAC>Raven Blackhawk tube amp


@car123 i set mine into a mesh node into a Mac (not a dedicated streamer) and it worked wonders.  $80 … Worth a go!  Cheers!


Why not ethernet into the Mac, instead of fiber converter>Basic ethernet cable into ethernet to usb converter into mac?

@docknow my Macbook Pro does not have an ethernet port built in.  You have to use either usb or thunderbolt port with a converter/adapter.  This worked fine



+1 for me. Many thanks to both of you for suggesting this cheap but dramatic improvement to my network audio setup. It was so easy to order exactly what was recommended on Amazon. I am thrilled at the sound quality. I switched to playing my local music files from my computer directly to my dac via usb to streaming them via an ethernet lan connection through a dedicated streamer (Zen Stream) about six months ago. I added an inexpensive D-link switch a few weeks ago with excellent results for $25. Adding fibre optics for about $80 has been the icing on the cake. The sound is even more relaxed yet more detailed, dynamic, and three dimensional. If I heard the total improvement from behind a curtain, I would think it was a mega mega buck new setup with state of the art components.

@sns Trying the Opticalrendu would be next, but the expense of it is a deterrent. Thanks for sharing your extensive knowledge and insight.

@dbb I am really glad you tried and worked. Sometimes people are used to digital noise and they might not like it when using fiber optic because of “change” but at least it is least expensive way to try in expensive hobby. Once you get used to noise free digital, it’s hard to go back. 
Another good thing about the fiber optic is that it is made of glass and no amount of purification/ processing will change the character and hence works out cheap, unlike copper or silver cables, where you see the price going Uber high with different manufacturers and how they build it. 

Yes, ethernet vs optical cable cost is important variable to consider. Prior to optical I tried various classes of generic ethernet, worked up through Supra, Wireworld, and various AQ from Cinnamon on up to Vodka. Vodka substantially better from generic, cost becomes consequential when you add up all the individual runs. Optical cable cheap, and more importantly, higher resolving than any ethernet cable due to complete isolation. Per Romney80, noise free cable has a different sound, it is the absent of sound, you're only hearing pure signal.


The only thing that can alter the sound of cable is the converters and power supplies used with them, whereas ethernet cables have sound of their own. Ethernet cables have various shielding schemes and metallurgy, all effect the sound. I'd rather have the zero variable of optical cable.

I just got a streaming system setup and would like to try optical, but streaming is new to me and despite all the specific advice in this thread there is enough jargon that I don’t understand what I need to do.  I have a single Ethernet cable running to an Innuos streamer/server (I don’t even really know what those words mean), then USB to DAC.  There is talk in this thread of so many different pieces of equipment, I basically have one thing, an Innuos.  I do not know what I would need to incorporate optical.  

@kingofgix  try this easy set up for only $80 on amazon.  Jaw dropping improvement for me.  The other suggestions listed are even better but cost a lot more and more involved.  Maybe down the line I will head there…

Purchase these:

2 of these between your router and Innuos:

Gigabit Ethernet Multi-Mode LC Fiber Media Converter

With this fiber cable between the 2 fiber converter boxes:

FiberCablesDirect - 1.5M OM4 LC LC Fiber Patch Cable | 100Gb Duplex 50/125 LC to LC Multimode Jumper 1.5 Meter

So it would look like this. Router>ethernet cable to first black converter box>optical fiber cable to the second black converter box>ethernet cable from second converter box to Innuos>Usb from Innuos to system


Thank you so much.  Dummies like me need this sort of clear and specific info.  That said, in reading further on ways to improve the streaming quality, I am wondering also about adding something like an Etheregen unit upstream of the Innuos.  Anybody have any thoughts on that?  Would doing the optical + Etheregen be beneficial, or are these two ways of accomplishing the same thing?

tksteingraber thanks for the response.  I may give this a go, seems worth a try for $80.  Any recommendations for LPS that won't be disproportionate to the other gear?

@car123 I couldn’t find many LPS options on Amazon so ordered a generic from China.  At $50 we’ll see how it works out.  One unit will power two FMC’s and looks credible.

Does anybody have a source for a white version of this cable? I will have to run it along my baseboard and the wife won’t go for blue or orange. Also does anybody know if the connectors could be taken off so I could sleeve then reinstall the connectors?  

Post removed 

Ok have I missed an update to this thread?  I thought it was “Cheapest way to improve sound quality”.  Oh wait …🤔 we all have a different definition of what “Cheapest” means.  I do appreciate all the expertise and education on higher end digital fiber products though.  

OK, my report.  I bought the two optical gizmos and a relatively short piece of optical cable to connect the two.  Running some supra from my mesh node into the first optical gizmo and then a 1.5 meter AQ vodka out of the second and into my aurender A10 yielded to me on my initial 30 minute session no difference. 


Replacing the supra with the vodka straight out of the node into the aurender yielded more detail and ease, it was a worthwhile upgrade.  But, "cleaning" the digital signal out of my node by "filtering" the signal through the optical devices hasn't made a noticeable difference.  I'll keep it in the system for a while and do some A-Bs but this far its just more clutter.  

@car123 Try lps on second fmc, this should be worthwhile improvement. Don't need to spend a lot of money on this, Teradak or something similar fine.Not surprised didn't hear much difference with fmc in front of server. Adding switch and fmc after Aurrender would make more difference. But then this requires adding usb renderer.

If one wants to both reduce clutter and optimize sound quality, two ways to go. FMC after server, this requires two computer setup, aka separate server and streamer, both optical enabled. The second is one computer setup, optimized usb out of server. With optimized usb out of server, add on filters shouldn't be needed.  This assuming one using usb dac.

As described, this is a simple and inexpensive solution for connecting an audio server to a home network that offers the benefit of immunity to RFI/EMI (except at the converters).  My run is 45 feet long and I am using this fiber into two of these converters.  In my system, I have a hard time discerning a difference between the optical solution and 45 feet of CAT8, but every system is different with different levels of quality and design on the inputs/outputs, connectors, power/grounding, and other factors.  This may not be as much of an improvement for me since my system does not seem to have noticeable noise to begin with.  As some have pointed out, the addition of two converters and two power supplies may have an effect on one's system. I am using LPS to power the converters. I am glad the fiber is working out for your system.  What you described is an example of how to accomplish something without spending big "audiophile" money.

I recently added the Network Acoustics ENO Ag Ethernet filter and their 1M cable.  That filter will not work with the 1000Mbs MC200CM converters so I had to purchase 100 Base converters in order to use the fiber with the ENO.  Also, make sure the fiber cable you purchase matches the converters since there are a couple of different types of cable and I believe I had to switch when I purchased the MC100 converters..  I typically do not like small boxes cluttering up my signal chain, but the ENO is seeming to improve the sound from the incoming Ethernet, although for quite a bit more money.  I am also using a switch after the second fiber converter and before the ENO, with very short CAT8 cables between.


I'll add if your intention is best sound quality, perhaps more clutter provides better sq. Simpler may be betterr, or it may not. I see so many positive reviews on so many setups, if someone has proof of the definitive best setup I'd like to hear it. I'm all for experimentation and reporting results, adds to knowledge base.

Thinking about running these fiber optic cables between rooms, requires cutting holes in walls or floors.  The fiber optic cables have largish terminations because of the clips that hold the two cables into place.  Does anybody know whether one can disassemble the cables from the clips, run them through smaller holes, and then reassemble onto the clips?

@car123 sorry to hear you didn’t get improved results as others have.  It made a noticeable difference for me.  It might be your Aurender cleans up the signal prior to sending it on to the DAC where my MacBook Pro doesn’t and needs the assistance.  Don’t know the electronics science just a guess. I plan to add LPS to the FCC’s in the near future as well to see if any more gain can be enjoyed.


Does anybody know whether one can disassemble the cables from the clips, run them through smaller holes, and then reassemble onto the clips?

The answer is yes - that is what I did.  Here you go.

For those using usb out of servers direct to dac, many have found various usb filters, reclockers and better usb cables are nice upgrades. Usb ports direct off motherboards are perhaps weakest link in most music servers.


I'd go this route vs. optical network conversion in front of server. Optical conversion is most likely to work in network AFTER server. Servers are noise makers, the reason why usb filters and optical conversions after server are so effective and popular. Cleaning network prior to server only to reinstate noise produced by server is somewhat ineffective and illogical. I've even found it somewhat ineffective after treatment post server, one audiophile switch I tried resulted in diminished sound quality. On the other hand, adding quality lps to my router improved sound quality, so mixed results here.

I'm using the aurender dac.  I'm using stock ps on the fmcs for the moment.  I may try lps but my suspicion of no improvement is essentially twofold--the mesh node is pretty clean and is feeding only the aurender; and the aurender caching the signal is also clean.  My system sounds excellent, I was just trying to make it that bit better. 

The system--sans non-streaming sources-- is joule la 300 ME, into pass X150.8, into quintessence shadow prototypes through siltech cables.  Electronics (except for the amp which goes straight into the wall) are plugged into an mit z center.   

It often depends upon the DAC as to whether all or any of these measures will be useful or just a waste of time.

Just as we saw how the use of asynchronous modes neutralized jitter and clocking issues, more and more of the better DACs now include opto-isolation as one of their built-in features.

@romney80 and everyone else - thanks for the tip!  I installed the two FMCs and fiber this afternoon.  It sounded horrid (extremely tilted up) the first hour but then started to mellow. I was curious about the burn-in time because it’s still tilted up sonically. 

But then I remembered that I had to use a never-used-before power receptacle on my Furutech power bar for one of the FMC wall warts. When I first got the Furutech it had a very long burn-in time. So that’s probably what is causing part of the sonic problem. And wall warts require burn-in.  I’m very optimistic. I’m only 1 ¾ hours into my first listen and it’s rapidly improving.

Anyone else experience sound quality issues during burn-in?   For how long?

@txp1 Not sure I had experienced like you. I had almost immediate improvement. Give it time and see if it changes better. 

You'll find diverse opinions on most streaming products, in the end one has to determine for self. The good thing about the FMC experiment is it can be done for less than $100, where can you find such a deal in audio! If experience promising you can then optimize with linear power supplies, from there you can go to even further optimization with product like Sonore Opticalrendu.

The ethernet route has its own set of basic equipment and further optimization.

@sns agree this may not get results for all depending on how well your system is already performing.  For me it was a definite improvement way above it’s $85 price point.  I do have LPS on order to see what they can do.  After that, any suggestions on what is the best way to convert to fiber after the streamer at reasonable cost?  Did find a similar FMC set (2) converting USB 2.0 to fiber at $300.   Not sure how much more it will gain. It is sounding really nice now.   Sonore looks nice but pricey...maybe down the road if I upgrade my system. Thanks to all for this enlightening bargain tweak.

@tksteingraber Not sure what you mean by after streamer. Streamers generally do usb straight into dac, if you converted usb to fiber you'd have to have fiber input on dac. Generally, fiber is used to convert ethernet to fiber, this goes into server/streamer or separate server or separate streamer.


Now if you're talking server, you can do FMC AFTER server ONLY by using separate streamer (examples my Opticalrendu) which has fiber input, usb output to dac. Without separate streamer FMC can only be done UPSTREAM of server/streamer.


I think people get mixed up by all the different words applied to streaming equipment. Servers are most common of streaming equipment, vast majority have streamer built in, if one is using usb or another port direct into dac, this has built in streamer. Streamers are a separate computer that is placed downstream of server and just prior to dac, steamers also called Roon endpoints, usb renderers. Streamers have their own  operating system since they're computer, this allows them to communicate with the Roon Core installed in server, why they're called Roon Endpoint, they also convert ethernet or optical to usb, reason they're called usb renderer.


Three theoretical advantages to separate streamers, one is removing Roon endpoint duties from server, means less processing by computer within server which means less noise produced.  Two is ability to do FMC after server, noise produced by server can be completely eliminated. Three, the usb rendering process is generally filtering and/or reclocking of usb creating improved usb rendering vs. what may be untreated usb coming directly out of motherboard on server, result is better feed to dac, cleaner, less jitter.

 So, one has option of keeping it simple, using general service computer or computer optimized for music, this is called the server. take usb straight to dac. The other way is more complex as I've tried to explain above.