Digital/Etherent Connectivity in the Audiophile World

For many years now, the pro audio world (radio, TV and PA) has been using digital standards for routing audio - this includes IP protocols like Dante, AES67, Wheatnet-IP, Livewire+ and probably a few others I haven’t mentioned.

Early digital in the home environment was introduced to us via Toslink and S/PDIF formats. As we’re all getting on board with streaming, which is maybe the 2nd big leap that home audio encounters with digital hookup (the 1st being DAC’s), does anyone know of any home based amplifiers or pre-amps that have now incorporated digital inter-connectivity using the above mentioned IP protocols? If anyone is using these methods (Dante, AES67, etc.), what is your opinion on them when it comes to sound quality vs analog connectivity? Will the audiophile world ever accept or gravitate towards an IP protocol method of inter-connectivity?

I will admit, my home environment is still based on an extremely (balanced) analog driven routing scheme, and I’m not sure I’ll ever sway from it. I realize one can still live in that world while using ethernet or optical cables to deliver balanced and unbalanced analog audio on, but I haven’t even felt it necessary to make that switch yet.

What are the benefits of AES67?

How does Dante work?

What is Livewire+?

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Whirlwind Catdusa 4-Channel Analog over Single CAT5 Snake Box




I think you may be overthinking this.  The needs of pro and home audio can be quite different and what works for one doesn’t always translate to the other.  But, most importantly, if the guys making the the better streamers, etc. found that incorporating a certain protocol, etc. sounded meaningfully better you can bet they’d be using it.  Get a good separate streamer and DAC and just get started.  Streaming is like audiophile crack — once you start experiencing worlds of new music from the comfort of your chair, listening to the same stuff over and over seems a bit boring.  Just my $0.02 FWIW.

Old thread but I’ve been thinking about this topic also.  I saw somewhere that Storm Audio is incorporating Dante/ AES67 into their new Evo model.  The promise of a single cable carrying the digital signal and power is very attractive, especially when the channel count starts to creep up above 7 channels.  However, it is my impression that the audiophile community is reluctant to get into powered speakers because you loose the ability to play around with different equipment—this is a hobby to a lot of us after all.

JBL has Dante in their SDP 55/58, and Genelec has a few PoE Dante speakers.  That would be a slick way to build a home theater.  I did read somewhere that bit rate is fixed after set-up, a bit of an issue those that want bit perfect delivery to their DAC.

PoE is limited to 90 watts I think, so we’re not talking about driving huge speakers.  Crown makes an amplifier with Dante input however, so there’s lots of ways to approach the design.

Anybody else have thoughts on this topic?