Analogue audio is delicate. Digital audio is just as delicate, plus digital data needs to be treated with the utmost respect to achieve the results that today’s high resolution digital music files promise.
The reason is simple
Behind the 0’s and 1’s, hi-fi electrical signals are still analogue, and just as susceptible to the influence from noise and interference. This additional noise damages the integrity of the pulse edges. This uncertain transition point, of a noisy pulse edge, results in timing errors and jitter. Audio designers go to great lengths to minimise noise problems within hardware, but external influences are a different matter. Network-connected components are at risk from noise and interference, as well as malformed data.
Using a high-performance audiophile data switch, such as the Melco S100, ensures that the data is as pristine as possible and switch management ensures that errant data packets are not presented to the hi-fi system. But, the Ethernet cabling is still a risk, being connected to noisy IT-type devices in the home and the cable is also an effective antenna, capturing EMC from the environment. Copper wire, used for Ethernet cables, is effective at conducting data, but is equally effective at conducting all manner of interference as well.
The solution is to break the conducted signal, including interference and isolate the hi-fi system. By using fibre optics, the data can still be communicated to the digital components, but without any risk of introducing any conducted interference and noise.
Fibre optic isolation kits
Only a short length of fibre is necessary to achieve isolation and the standard DOT kits have a 1.5m fibre included; much longer fibres can be supplied to allow even a totally fibre link from the main router or even between buildings.
The principle is again very simple
The Ethernet cable from the router, which normally connects to the data switch feeding the hi-fi system, is simply broken by the insertion of a media converter which converts copper to fibre, and then, after a length of fibre which gives the isolation, the data is converted back to copper, but without any noise or interference.
Don’t worry if your system doesn’t use a Melco S100
All audio and control data is transported without any degradation, including external streaming services and file management by a networked PC if required. But, all electrically conducted noise is completely eliminated. Systems that do not have a Melco S100, will require a second media converter, available as an accessory to the main kit. This applies to installations using network players that normally simply connect to the residential network.