Home network Fibre optic vs Ethernet


I have the opportunity to re-wire my home including network. 

I’m after any advice on fibre optic vs Ethernet, lessons learned, costs, anything you have. 

I have 3 rooms to do. TV room, music, and home office/ garden room.



First, 1Gig E is already overkill for any streaming device or service. Just keep that in mind in the sense that speeds and latency won’t matter very much at all once you are over 100 MBit/s which is already ancient.

Ethernet is best for convenience, and resale value. You aren’t going to find a lot of TV’s, receivers, etc. which do fiber directly.

Fiber’s biggest advantage is surges. No copper = no surge breakthrough possible. I use an Ethernet/Fiber converter pair between my modem and router to ensure outside surges have no path inside.

The next benefit is noise isolation, which is iffy and you may do better with a medical grade Ethernet isolator. I use one at the end of a 50’ run because that is long enough to pick up an EM induced surge (i.e. not directly connected) and it’s before all my expensive HT/audio gear.



My suggestions is, that unless your home is very large and you need multiple switches, wire with Cat 6a (10 Gbit/s) and use fiber converters only where needed. Using Ethernet to fiber converters to eliminate noise at your stereo isn’t without it’s own new challenges. Every wall power adapter has the possibility of introducing a new source of noise, so for me using an Ethernet isolator is the simplest, quietest answer. The place I do use Ethernet <----> Fiber <-----> Ethernet is, as mentioned, between the router and modem to protecte my gear inside.

Thanks Erik! 

I was expecting to come out of the fibre in to a Ethernet switch converter and then off to the units. 

oh the challenges (joys) of having blank canvas. I’m also splitting out points electrical points. 

OP: For the sake of simplicity and your sanity I might suggest you run both. They make 2 port wall covers that could accommodate fiber and Ethernet sockets, might as well get them both and then you can decide at the time of use which makes more sense.  I'm not sure what the cost for the fiber is, but Ethernet cable is cheap so if you are going to run fiber to the room, might as well put in an Ethernet cable too.

I have both Ethernet (CAT8) and fiber running from my router 45 feet to my system.  I have compared the sound from those two options multiple times and I have used a variety of filters as well as linear power supplies on all the FMCs and peripherals, and after all that I still could not reliably discern a sonic difference between the two.  I decided to stick with Ethernet because it is simpler without the need for the converters.  I do run the Ethernet into a switch that is near my system and from there into the Network Acoustics muon filter then into my server.  My suggestion is to keep it simple and not overthink it, either option should work fine.

If you have this opportunity please do your audio system a favor go with fiber!

I like the suggestion to run both and use ethernet for now.  Right now fiber has one vendor with a loyal group of followers but I (and many others) aren't convinced that the losses from the dual converters outweigh the gains.

but I'm open minded, and technology changes and it doesn't cost much to run the fiber so have it there for the future.  In 5 years we may all be running fiber.


I would also run both.    I use a ethernet switch with SFP fiber ports and a media converter to isolate my Aurender in my main room.  In my second system I use a pair of media converters to isolate my Vault 2i.   

I also don't think you hear a difference but I wanted to isolate my gear and this was an inexpensive solution.  

@oddiofyl ​​​​@carlsbad2 make a good point, fibre is incredibly inexpensive so running both should not add much to your initial costs and things do change.  For example, if my router had a fibre output and my server had a fibre input, maybe fibre would be a better option.

In addition to optical isolation there are several other filters that provide isolation, including the Network Acoustics products, and others such as the GigaFOILv4-INLINE Ethernet Filter that provides optical isolation in a single box.  

I would run both as well. It’s much easier with everything opened up. Another consideration is using grounded Ethernet cables. Remember, you can always run a line and leave it hidden behind the sheetrock until you are ready to use it. Take plenty of pictures before the sheetrock goes back up. Hope your renovation goes well. 

Fiber is fragile, does not like bends, requires skill and equipment to terminate and test,  and is expensive.  We used it in large data centers for Gig-E and higher. Also handy in very noisy, and I mean VERY noisy environments.  We use it for security reasons as you can't inductively tap it. If running fiber, then you have the added expense and failure modes of fiber to copper transceivers. Fiber transmitters and receivers are more failure prone than copper.  Do not forget all fiber is not the same. Multi-mode or single mode? For the specific layer one, how many fibers? Which connectors? Oh, yea, we had more issues with errors from the transceivers than the actual runs. 

But for a house? Cat-5. Cat-6 is actually an advertising made up term. 5+ is the same bandwidth but as the pairs are bonded, over long runs ( hundreds of feet) they have a more consistent impedance for Gig-E. Shielded cable is also only useful for long runs in terrible environments or where required for medical certification.  

I know there is a lot of talk about errors and noise, "audio" switches etc. But if running Ethernet, you are running TCP/IP which will with the protocol resend the packets until they all get the correct check sums and then deliver them in sequence.  Any bit drop or noise goes away in the first three layers of the stack. 

IF you have ground loop issues and you have not applied sufficient black magic to fix them, and if you can identify your network in a small domain like a house, then opto-isolators can help.  We used them on buss and tag lines back when IBM demanded their CPU to be on a different lines branch from third party.  Probably irrelevant in a house. 

Your money of course. Don't let audiophile rumor re-posters or armchair "seams reasonable" pontificators who spending your money overshadow reality. Just because something exists does not mean you need it.   I am not an expert, but I did have a career in industry and Government in failure analysis, R/W engineering, data systems architecture, SA and SE  in life-threat reliability systems so I know a little.  I have polished my share of fiber. :)

When I had this situation, for future use, I ran some flexible nonmetallic conduit since there were some tight turns.  I ran some string through it to give me something to pull with when needed.

@tvrgeek For data transmission in a home I’m pretty sure you are right that shielding doesn’t matter. My concern is that since these wires are around analog systems shielding Ethernet cable should reduce the chance that any noise transmitted from Ethernet to nearby analog interconnects or AC wires and supplies.

Phonograph connections and preamps are especially vulnerable.

It's like Wireless does not exist. Get a good wireless mesh network and stop listening to the worries of people concerned about the metal in their power plugs. Unless you have $1M system do you think your Ethernet connection is the biggest issue you got? Even if you have a $1M system I doubt it is.


@tvrgeek has his head on straight.  Ethernet is not going to make a ground loop unless you use a shielded cable which is what the audio paranoid are most likely to tell you to do. 

Tv Greek could not be more wrong. My home and our entires subdivision is fiber.

Fiber is fragile, does not like bends, requires skill and equipment to terminate and test,  and is expensive

So don't zip-tie your phono cable right on top of your ethernet  😀

OK, run your Ethernet down the opposite side of a wall cavity from your power lines. Just good dress.    If I had unlimited budget and was building a house, I would be running all my power in BX cable for safety and rodent proofing. BX is not that much more than Romex and a lot easier than thin-wall. 

Remember, CAT-5 is twisted pair so it's rf emissions are pretty low to start with.  Good cable dress, cross at right angles, minimize analog cable lengths etc.  Do the basics.  You can always do a test.  Listen to your record player while having an ethernet cable next to it streaming video or large file transfer. .Worse case.  High level interconnects are far less susceptible. ( well, maybe if running those silly Kimber unshielded twisted pairs as interconnects)   Pick-up in power lines falls under the fantasies domain. ( You do have twisted pair power cords, right? ).  How much WI-FI, BT, LED,CFL, PC emissions around your system?  Do you know how strong AM, FM and TV radiation is permeating everything?   Look at your system as a whole is all I am saying.  I had my DAC Velcro'd to the back of an all-in-one PC and it had zero interference. 

Of course, phone stage sensitivity is why I believe they should be built into the base of the arm. Many years ago, I was trying to build a gain of 10 buffer in the headshell but I could not afford the prototype ceramic substrate cost.  Design had 4 RF bare die transistors and 6 thin film resistors. SPICE said it would work! Then came CD's so I abandoned it. 

Upshift makes a good point. I did a similar, running 3 inch PVC from where my rack was to where my amps, speakers and TV sat.  Long string I could pull end to end from either end so I snaked my balanced lines and video through it. ( S in those days)  Up, into attic, over and down.  The other trick is to  a vacuum cleaner to suck a thread through a run, pull a heavier string with it. 

Jeffery, I guess you have not dealt with fiber yourself. I have. 

Do you have a cleave anvil? Polishing machine? Inspection microscope? Curing oven?   Have you looked into the specs for bend radius?   OK, LC connectors are cheaper than ST and mass production of fixed length patch cables cables has come down some. That does not change all the other parameters. 

Now, in MD. I had FIOS to the house. Professionally installed and the MODEM was hard mounted fixed to the wall unlike a Coax running to a stand alone MODEM/Router.  They did have to re-terminate one fiber as the polishing was not correct. A fiber network, overhead or underground, is immune from proximity strikes so a lower long tern support cost. 

Version put it in to replace the old Scripps- Howard twin-coax system. FIOS, and I assume the GOOGLE fiber being run close by, has way wider potential BW  ( short range 25G for multi-mode, 100G for single mode or 10G up to 6 miles.  So one can have full cable TV with hundreds of simultaneous channels, and several HD gamers on one node. A WAN network on fiber takes less power and fewer repeaters than copper which is most likely the driving force for neighborhood install.

Inside the house was RG-6 coax from MODEM to the router, CAT-5 distribution only because I ran out of CAT-3.  I can terminate Ethernet with a $12 crimper. 

A copper NIC for a PC is about $5 if you don't have one. Fiber about $150.  I am not aware of any streamer, AVR, or TV with a fiber NIC, so adapters. $$$$$  Oh, you need a fiber router?  Starting at about $6000.  Cisco makes good ones. OOPS, most cable systems probably don't support it. 

Of course, WI-FI and BT are in-house options. They work pretty well. But I am of the school like Bill Gates.  If it does not move, cable it. If it does, RF it.  Conserve the limited RF BW to where we need it. I had to reconfigure my WI-FI a couple of time to avoid surrounding houses and we are pretty spread out on multi-acre lots. 

Summary: Fiber to the house makes sense from a long term maintenance and future services needing insane BW.  Fiber in the house does not.  That may change in the future, but for now, it is what it is. 


If I was going to rewire my house, I would go with cat6/7 cable for future needs. We don’t know what bandwidth will be needed in 5 or more years. How about streaming 4K/8k for example. 
Fibre has many advantages and some hurdles. Fibre is hard for an end user to terminate, so the end user will buy premade fibre cables which are expensive or the connectors for self termination are expensive. Hardware to use fibre is expensive and I don’t know any dac that features a fibre input.

Benefits to fibre: no noise, less jitter, no/reduced latency, speed. 


Massive thanks to everyone involved on this topic. There is a lot to get through. 

I will be keeping things as simple and within budget. Even looking beyond any potential sonic improvements, this will be interesting experiment and build…

thanks again. 


For short runs Quality Ethernet cables Are around $1k x 2  sonically better then fiber optic I have tried the best fiber optic and plug in modules 

fiber loses its naturalness compared ,I am referring to a quality setup 

and a good LPS power supply to the morer-router, if you have older separate units 

get rid of them I bought a Motorola 8702 superior in every way 1 less power cord ,1 less Ethernet cable . The Linear Tube Audio 12v  up to 8 amp  at our audio get together compared up to $1200 Paul Hines units ,the Linear tube audio at $750 is by far the best best internally as well as sonically with a excellent DC cable to the router that the competition charge $150 extra , I also put in a synergistic purple fuse, and use a decent Pangea awg14 sig mk2 power cord , and a much better switch Jays audio and Alvin at Denafrips teamed up with their SW-8 Ethernet switch which has a Tumora LPS ,low noise regulators and a over controlled clock ,for around $600 an excellent value and another step for very good streaming . Everything counts in the audio chain ,being a dedicated Audiophile doesnot come cheap around $4+k just to get here the next upgrade the T+A 200 dac which is a bargain at $7200 retail price we have compared pretty much everything up to $15k, the T+A is very balanced. Myself have to save for my 🎅 🎄 Xmas present my pockets are not that deep.

+1 @mitch2 !  Except for the fact that I have not run fiber, my digital front is quite similar to yours.  My modem has WiFi disabled, M12 switch w LPS, 30 feet of Supra cat 8, Net Isolator from NA, then their Muon System.   All of these upgrades I can hear.  

Actual network professionals will tell you that you're not going to get a sound bump from fiber. Or any change in networking as long as the data is getting there. There may be edge cases where poorly designed or malfunctioning devices have some potential improvement, but in the real networking world with properly designed and functioning devices, the digital data is digital data until it hits the analog section of your DAC. 

Love the range of opinions here. Fiber works great for me and our entire city is on fiber, front to back. So why would I bother with Cat6 ? Other than 6 inches from my sNH-10G to my Innuos Zenith Mk3. 

@tvrgeek absolutely no reason to need any of that making the runs in my house. Purchased fiber in precut lengths and 96% of the runs are straight with very slight curve variations. As stated above our entire city is on fiber and has been for over 20 years. Cake and all Owens Corning FO.

Fiber is a pain. You need Fluke cleaners, I think they run about $100, and we usually hit a fiber end with it 3 times, so 33 cleanings and it's done, not to mention that you won't even have the equipment to test it to see how compromised it is. With so little data, perhaps it's irrelevant, but we use copper unless we have to use fiber due to the traffic load, and we're dealing with fiber issues all the time. We are an industrial environment, but our rule is fiber when needed, otherwise use copper.

WIfi mesh. 

Do you think the Internet connection to your system is the biggest problem you have? Maybe if you had dial-up. Go buy some better speakers and stop worrying about fiber or wired. Bigger fish.