For wi-fi streamers--a discovery to increase wi-fi strength

It was previously reported in a thread here that putting a piece of aluminum foil  behind a router can increase wi-fi signal strength, and I verified this with the Bluesound app for my Bluesound Node streamer.

Today, because I was having some internet speed problems, I experimented with the orientation of the base router of my mesh network, and found this made a significant difference in the wi-fi signal strength, going from "Good" to "Excellent."

Then for the first time I added a piece of aluminum foil behind the extension router unit nearest my streamer, and that further improved the wi-fi signal strength from -48 dBm to -43 dBm, the best reading I've ever gotten with this mesh network.

Given that an "Excellent" reading is considered by Bluesound to be necessary for streaming hi-res files, this is an important consideration for those doing wi-fi streaming.  And perhaps some members who have been disappointed with wi-fi streaming didn't have adequate wi-fi signal strength.  I suspect the audible differences (at least with the Node streamer) lie in problems with dropouts and buffering rather than sound quality, but I'm not certain of that or whether that would be the case for all streamers.


I'm hard wired from my gateway to my Node and from Node to preamp.

AT&T gigabit service. I've never experienced buffering or dropout. If you have to use wi-fi I suppose that can throw a monkey wrench into things.

I am not running an ethernet cable to my streamer.

Occasionally, my wi-fi strength drops and that sometimes causes problems with the streaming, but generally that isn't an issue and the wi-fi usually remains in the "Excellent" range.  When the wi-fi signal weakens, a quick reboot of the Node often fixes the problem, and that can be done with the BlueOS software.

The Node was described as a wi-fi streamer, and it may be designed to work better that way than other streamers, I don't really know.  It is about 45 ft. from my modem, so I think wi-fi is the way to go rather than running a 45-ft. ethernet cable, although I could run a 10-ft. cable from the mesh extension to the Node if wi-fi didn't work well.  I had to do that at one point with a so-called "Smart" TV that wasn't working well with my wi-fi network, but an update of the router firmware solved that problem.

I recommend placing an WiFi extender next to your streamer and running an Ethernet cable to that. WiFi receivers in streamers tend not to be very good. I have used WiFi streamers of much higher quality than yours and switched to a wall wart WiFi extender and got much better results. In fact both of my systems work off of WiFi extenders and work flawlessly when I can’t get a page to change on my iPad.

although I could run a 10-ft. cable from the mesh extension to the Node

Bingo!!!  That’s absolutely something you should try. As @ghdprentice mentioned, and whose streaming setup costs more than my entire system, I’d take his advice very seriously.  BTW, here’s an Ethernet cable that’s highly regarded here and won’t break the bank, and you can easily return it via Amazon if it doesn’t provide a meaningful improvement…

How many potentially significant upgrades cost like 50 bucks in this nutty hobby?  Just sayin’ and FWIW…

Agree that the more you can take WiFi out the equation, the better. WiFi can be a tricky to setup and troubleshoot in general. I can understand not wanting to run a 45 or 50ft Ethernet if it can be seen and you don’t like the aesthetics of that, but if you can run a cable, Ethernet is rated to over 300ft from a networking perspective and a good cable will likely give you better and more reliable performance.

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Many years ago I dived into "network playing" (streaming) with a Bluesound Node. I quickly abandoned wifi as soix’s solution (mesh router) was an incomparably better connection. When I moved the Node outside I grabbed another mesh node on eBay for it. Out in the shed the Bluesound could hardly connect via wifi, much worse than my $100 phone.

Try a tin foil hat.

As I mentioned in the original thread, a free Wifi analyzer for your PC or phone can really help you here.  Not only do you need a strong signal, you want to move your router to unused channels to prevent Wifi congestion from your neighbors.

@erik_squires  I have not found a wifi analyzer that actually works.  Do you have a link or name?   Thanks!

@tbick  They all do!  Just need to know how to use them correctly.  I have them for PC, Mac and Android.

They have multiple views, some of which try to recommend channels, but I don't find that very helpful.  What you want is the channel / signal strength charts which look like a bunch of overlapping hills. 

That will show you the relative strength of your router plus all the other signals competing for the same channel.

The screenshots on this Android app will show you what to look for.


Thanks for the recommendation of the ethernet cable.  I can move my mesh extender and use a shorter ethernet cable I already have to see if it makes any difference.  I'm skeptical that it will, although I think even a Bluesound tech support person said it could, and there seems to be a consensus on Audiogon that hardwired is better.  So I will experiment with the cable I have, and maybe order the one you recommended, since I presumably could return it if it's not helpful.

Man, I’m getting old…

anyone else here remember hanging aluminum foil flags from rabbit ear antennas to improve VHF signal reception?

@soix  @ghdprentice 

I tried to connect the Node with an ethernet cable to my mesh extender, but couldn't get the BluOS app to work.  I've put in a support request to Bluesound,

Today I reviewed my notes about the Node and see I already tried using the 5e ethernet cable that came with the Node.  I listened to the MQA version of CSN's
"In My Dreams," and heard no difference between the cable and the wi-fi connections, but this was using the Node's DAC, which I think is pretty good, actually, and which does unfold MQA.  But perhaps a test with classical music, with genuine room ambience, would be more revealing.  Does anyone have evidence that ethernet cables require a break-in period to sound their best?

So it is still possible that a higher-quality cable, DAC, or source material might reveal a difference  between ethernet and wi-fi. I'm using a Denafrips Ares II DAC, but I haven't heard a noticeable SQ difference between it and the Node's DAC, even though I'm using my best interconnects (Cardas) with the Ares II.  I thought the Ares might have sounded better than my Cambridge Audio CXU's DAC on one classical CD, but that could have been because of the difference in the interconnects connecting each component.

I think I'm pretty good at detecting sonic differences when they exist without being too influenced by auto-suggestion (like thinking something should sound better because of deductive reasoning or because of its higher price).  My system is transparent and good enough to reveal differences in soundstage depth and other aspects of ambience that I pay attention to.  In addition to having spent decades comparing audio components' and cables' SQ, I've also honed my hearing by learning guitar and other musical passages by ear, as well as figuring out how to replicate various guitar tones.  I've also spent a lot of time comparing the tones of various electric-guitar pickups and other musical equipment.  Fortunately, I haven't spent so much time performing live as to ruin my hearing, although I admit I have damaged it some and have some slight tinnitus that I rarely notice.  I can still hear triangles and other high-frequency sources. A hearing test decades ago showed some loss around 7kHz, if I recall correctly.

I ran my BS Node for 3+ yrs on FAIR signal strength with zero problems with any hi res files, and no dropouts or buffering. I didn’t plan on wading into the Ethernet vs Wifi fray but there are actually some manufacturers that suggest a well designed wifi module is a better streaming interface than ethernet from a potential noise perspective - Auralic for instance. The argument is that 1) the noise in your router is likely high by audio standards so why connect to it and the ethernet cable is also subject to noise/jitter and 2) wifi can be cleaner if there is error correction and that error correction only needs to be used sparingly (otherwise it produces internal EMI - which I doubt can be heard). But as long as files arrive intact, I can’t understand how it makes any practical difference, at least in my modest $20k system.

@normb Sorry, no.  I had a 10' Radio Shack antenna on a motor to turn it and got excellent FM and TV

You can get a wifi relative quality reading with a mac computer about this mac,

system report wifi it will tell connection quality mine next to node -31 dbm signal

-98 dbm noise

@drmuso I started my streaming journey a few years ago with a Node and Ares II. Actually had a Cambridge DAC Magic briefly before sending it back after the trial period and getting the Ares. Based on what I remember you should: (1) Hear a nice improvement over the Node using the Ares; and (2) hear an improvement using a mesh extender over wi-fi but the difference is not as significant as the difference between DAC’s I don’t remember reading what your electronics or speakers are but if you’re not hearing a difference in SQ between DAC’s I’d be looking at improving those components.


Thanks for that tip.  I also have a MacBook Pro, but didn't know you could test the wi-fi that way.  My readings aren't quite as good as yours, though, so you've got great wi-fi.