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#144648 - 08/04/06 12:50 AM Ethernet vs. Digital Audio Out
disposablethumb Offline
regular

Registered: 12/29/05
Posts: 9
So I'm curious if anyone can tell me if there is going to be an audible difference between using the digital out of a soundcard (say a decent $100 card from M-Audio or SoundBlaster) to the digital in of a receiver vs. using a receiver with an Ethernet port and adding that receiver as a client (such as with http://www.yamaha.com/yec/products/productdetail.html?CNTID=451033&CTID= )




The soundcard itself will be the biggest wildcard, I suppose, which is a point in the favor of using a network connection...but I don't understand the fine points of information transfer over coaxial/optical audio lines vs. raw data transfer over CAT5 copper. Or whatever.

I'm seeing more and more of these LAN connections on receivers popping up on cheaper and cheaper models, and I'm assuming in a few years time it will be a standard 'input'. So at some point it will no longer be a matter of whether or not I want to spend the money for the feature--since *both* will be standard--rather a question of which is better. Right?

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#144649 - 08/04/06 10:11 AM Re: Ethernet vs. Digital Audio Out [Re: disposablethumb]
chesseroo Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 05/13/02
Posts: 4738
Loc: western canada
Optical carries a digital signal (zeros and ones). Coax can carry digital or analog signals. Cat5 can also carry both and some people use it for more than computer networks (digital). It has been used as speaker cable connections (analog) as well.

Digital signals will carry the most true set of information as it is hard to degrade except over long distances. Analog signals are necessary for many applications (e.g. speakers) and will be perfectly fine as long as there are no significant sources of outside influence (e.g. do not place strong magnets or power boxes near analog wires in use).
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#144650 - 08/05/06 08:01 PM Re: Ethernet vs. Digital Audio Out [Re: disposablethumb]
LightninJoe Offline
aficionado

Registered: 10/28/05
Posts: 558
Loc: Portland, OR
I believe the ethernet jack on newer receivers are for the purpose of making the unit part of a "digital home entertainment" setup. In other words, you can play mp3 files stored on a computer or play streaming internet radio directly through your receiver. In other words, straight data.

Coax is used to send either digital (data) or analog signals between components. It acts as a point-to-point interconnect. Fiber does the same, but is digital only. I don't see Cat-5/5e becoming an alernate standard for interconnects per se, but I do see them becoming a standard feature on more and more devices.

Let's say as time goes on more devices are embedded with chips that can decode digital audio signals. Say your CD player has ethernet capability. You set it to bypass its DAC and send a compressed digital stream onto your network. Now any device connected to your network can pick up the stream, decode it, and play it. So you could have little "mini-receivers" all over the house, in the back yard, etc. Or even more likely, powered speakers that take the signals and play them back directly. My guess is you will start to see wireless ethernet antennas sticking out of receivers in the near future as well.
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#144651 - 08/15/06 02:55 AM Re: Ethernet vs. Digital Audio Out [Re: disposablethumb]
jmone Offline
veteran

Registered: 01/08/06
Posts: 148
Loc: Sydney Australia
I looked at both building a MCPC VS purchasing various "MediaPlayer" (very tempted by www.z500series.com). I went for the MCPC in the end (Win XP with Nero Home) using S/PDIF(will go for HDMI later) for sound to a Yami Amp (V2600) due to the flexibility you get from software. I can play almost anything on the MCPC and away it goes.

If you decide to use the RX-N600 as a combined MediaPlayer / Amp you may be disappointed in the future as its firmware only supports playing MP3, WMA and WAV files from a server over E'Net. So you WILL NOT be able to stream other files types including MPEG's etc over ethernet. You will also still need a PC to stream the data from.

You should not notice a quality difference as both Ethernet and S/PDIF are just a digital transport. You will use either:
1) A PC Software player's CODEC is used to covert MP3's / WMA's to PCM or extract the DD / DTS and transmit these data streams over S/PDIF where the Yami will decode and amplifiy it.
2) The Yami acts as a fancy MP3 player by reading (streaming) the MP3's / WMA's from a network attached drive where it's CODEC does the conversion then amplificaiton.

The sound quality is determined by the "quality"/brand of CODEC used but I doubt you will be also to tell the difference. I've found that compressed music (eg MP3's) sound poor in comparison to the original CD's on the Axioms. I am now using WMA Lossless as my CODEC and can not tell the difference!

Thanks
Nathan


Edited by jmone (08/15/06 03:07 AM)
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#144652 - 08/16/06 01:38 AM Re: Ethernet vs. Digital Audio Out [Re: jmone]
LightninJoe Offline
aficionado

Registered: 10/28/05
Posts: 558
Loc: Portland, OR
Yes, they are both a way of transporting data. The difference is that ethernet is a networking standard that uses a specific scheme of timer cycles and carrier detect sensing to send packets of data across a wire while not interrupting transmissions from other nodes on the network. The listed 2-meter minimum/100 meter maximum distances for copper-based ethernet node distances are a careful balance of distance needed for 1 timer cycle (1 meter), capabilities of the copper transport, and distance covered before timeout (100 meters). Not the best way to do high-bitrate point to point data transfers. SPDIF is a high-bitrate digital point to point connection. It doesn't have or need the overhead necessary to run on a network. With SPDIF you don't have frames, headers, carrier sensing, collisions detection, etc. Just the 1s and 0s.
_________________________
"That's some catch, that Catch-22." "It's the best there is." M22ti VP150 EP350 QS8 M3Ti

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#144653 - 08/24/06 12:42 PM Re: Ethernet vs. Digital Audio Out [Re: LightninJoe]
cava Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 08/23/06
Posts: 33
But do those added features necessary for networking really degrade a digital signal? I think if it is digital and the transport process doesn't compress the information it will sound the exact same as it would through any other type of cable. That is one of the major benefits to a digital signal and to take full advantage of it you should convert to analog at the last possible point in the system, thus minimizing chances of noise getting into the signal.

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#144654 - 08/24/06 12:52 PM Re: Ethernet vs. Digital Audio Out [Re: cava]
Ken.C Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 17697
Loc: NoVA
I imagine that it kind of depends on how the data is encapsulated. Is it using TCP? UDP?

I mean, if they can do phone calls over TCP/IP (using UDP), they may well be able to do audio just fine.
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#144655 - 08/26/06 12:08 AM Re: Ethernet vs. Digital Audio Out [Re: Ken.C]
LightninJoe Offline
aficionado

Registered: 10/28/05
Posts: 558
Loc: Portland, OR
Using UDP, yes, but with the QoS bit flipped. This gives Voip priority on the wire. Which in turn could squash an audio stream. But I guess most home networks can handle uni- or multicast streams ok. But you're still dealing with compressed data instead of a full-width digital data stream. Unless you mean sending the data uncompressed? Not sure too sure about that. Remember the ethernet nodes listen to the wire for traffic before sending packets out. You might get some gaps. Plus you would be flooding the wire to begin with. To reiterate, data sent over ethernet is sent in discrete packets with all the associated overhead. Digital interconnects send raw data, just a raw stream of 1's and 0's with no excess information. I just don't know that ethernet is the most efficient way to do this uncompressed.


Edited by LightninJoe (08/26/06 12:16 AM)
_________________________
"That's some catch, that Catch-22." "It's the best there is." M22ti VP150 EP350 QS8 M3Ti

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#144656 - 08/26/06 12:55 AM Re: Ethernet vs. Digital Audio Out [Re: LightninJoe]
pmbuko Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 04/02/03
Posts: 16227
Loc: Leesburg, Virginia
You sound like a man who knows that "all people seem to need delicious pizza". Or perhaps that "people don't need to see Prince's ass".


(somebody besides Ken will get this, I'm sure...)
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#144657 - 08/26/06 01:19 AM Re: Ethernet vs. Digital Audio Out [Re: pmbuko]
LightninJoe Offline
aficionado

Registered: 10/28/05
Posts: 558
Loc: Portland, OR
While it's true that all people seem to need delicious pizza and doubly true that people don't need to see Prince's ass I'm not sure what you're getting at.
_________________________
"That's some catch, that Catch-22." "It's the best there is." M22ti VP150 EP350 QS8 M3Ti

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