Ethernet vs. USB

If you’re looking for the best sonic solution for streaming music it matters how that music gets delivered.

For example, if you’re connecting with USB then the computer matters: faster, quieter, better built will sound better. And the USB cable matters. And then there’s the requirement of an interface buffer to maximize sonics (the Matrix works great).


If you connect via ethernet or WIFI then everything’s in reverse. The computer doesn’t matter any more than does the cable.

The problem with USB is pretty simple. It is a hard-wired two-way communication link between a noisy computer and a quiet-demanding DAC.

Ethernet, on the other hand, doesn’t care. You could have the noisest of ancient computers spitting out the data and you can send that signal through multiple switches and routers and miles of cable. It all comes out the same—often regenerated over and over again along the journey.

Take for example Octave Studios. Everything in that studio is connected via ethernet. There’s absolutely zero sonic difference between long or short ethernet runs or the many switches in its path or the type of NAS it is stored in, or whether or not we use POE (power over ethernet – and yes, we do).

None of that matters.

If you have a choice, go with the better sonics.

Paul McGowan / PS AUDIO

Leave a Reply