Does Wireless Streaming Degrade Sound Quality?

Does Wireless Streaming Degrade Sound Quality?

Anthony Nguyen
Jul 30, 2009

Q - After reading up on this article over at Computer Audiophile, I became a little concerned about the current state of my setup. I currently have my PC holding most of my lossless music files and HD movies and I want to stream it wirelessly to my PS3 and Squeezebox. However, all of these other devices are wirelessly connected. The article mentioned above spoke of sound quality being much better when it was connected directly over an ethernet cable when compared to wireless. Is there any scientific explanation to explain this phenonmenon? Or is it more audiophile junk I should just ignore? Thanks!

A - We believe your audiophile friend is confusing data signals vs. audio signals. For data transmission, such as through a wireless router, there exist such things as packet dropouts, but when they do, the data resent to replace the gaps. So, there should technically be no gaps between the millions of 0's and 1's being transmitted that would allow the LAN packets to receive "jitter" as seen on radio signals when blocked by walls, cinder blocks, etc. Additionally, wireless routers have CRC checksum and packet fragmentation, which aids in reducing corruption of the data transmitted.

To summarize, there should be no gross distortion when your PS3 or Squeezebox receives the digital data on the other side of the wireless router. And you will not see any improved subtle effects like "better bass" or dynamics vs. having it plugged in directly via copper ethernet. We hope that helps clarify a few things!

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