Why Your Cat6/5e Network Cable is Slowing You Down: An Interview with Blue Jeans Cable

Discussion in 'A/V Interconnects, Cables & Power Conditioning' started by admin, Aug 28, 2013.

  1. admin Audioholics Robot Staff Member

    admin
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    After reading Blue Jeans Cable's article showing that 80% of the Cat6/5e network cables on the market fail to meet spec, we decided to reach out to them for a followup interview. While we have covered the difference between HDMI and speaker cables to death, we have never really thought about or written anything about network cables. However, network cabling is now an integral part of any modern AV system, but there is a lot more to it than most people think. Read on to see what one of the most reputable cable manufacturers has to say on the topic.
    [​IMG]

    Discuss "Why Your Cat6/5e Network Cable is Slowing You Down: An Interview with Blue Jeans Cable" here. Read the article.
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  2. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Warlord

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    Whats most worrying for me (for IT purposes) is that several 7ft Cat6 cables failed to pass Cat5e test = aka 1Gbit speed. :(
    I have yet to see this issue in the field much, but I could easily see how longer runs could be even a bigger issue

    This is another reason to let professionals (with expensive 10k in Cat6 cable validation equipment) install cat6 in your house
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  3. Irvrobinson Audioholic Ninja

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    While most of us don't have cable testers, you can effectively test a cable with the netstat command on Windows or OSX. Initiate some large uploads and downloads, or file copies, and look for statistics on dropped packets and retransmissions. If there aren't any drops the cable is as good as it needs to be. If there are drops or retransmissions it could be an end-to-end issue, and not on the cable, but if you use a local device, such as a NAS or another computer on the same switch, netstat probably suffices. If there aren't any drops or retransmissions you aren't slowing down the network connection. Be sure to also verify that the link speed is what you think it is; Ethernet auto-negotiates, so most devices will attempt to connect at the highest speed (usually 1Gbps), but if there are errors at that speed you might find your link auto-negotiated down to 100Mbps, or even 10Mbps. I've only seen auto-negotiation downward once, and that was several years ago, but I still look to be sure.
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  4. adamrc Enthusiast

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    Great interview/information. I currently have been using 'Cat 6' cable from Monoprice over the past few years. Yes it was very cheap and it appears to be good quality but I truly don't know unless I had it tested professionally. I might make the switch to Blue Jeans Cable Cat 6 cable soon and I know it has been tested and made with good quality material.
  5. adk highlander pessimistic optimist

    adk highlander
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    Well I for one know the failures of cheap CAT5 cable and will not be skimping again. When we did our garage a couple of years back. I had a box of Belden cable and when I found it was not enough I ordered some no name cat5 off from ebay. I ran 6 cables. 3 belden and three cheap. Guess what: all three of the cheap stuff did not work. I would only get 1 or 2 of the pairs to work. All of the belden worked without issue.
  6. KurtBJC Audioholic

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    By the way, adk highlander, one of the things we're likely to do in the next couple of months is pick up, and test, bulk cable sold in the hardware stores. I've been given a protocol for testing these on our Fluke DTX-1800, and while we can't measure all of the parameters we'd like to (e.g., characteristic impedance) or run a full proper "certification" test per the bulk cable spec, we should be able to do useful comparisons to some of the Belden cables. We strongly suspect that most of the bulk cable sold in popular outlets is junk, but haven't done the testing yet, so we'll have to see.

    Kurt
    Blue Jeans Cable
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  7. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Warlord

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    Speaking of bulk cables.
    Belden's CAT6 1000FT 550MHz cable rolls on ebay now for 100 + shipping. Why get anything of lesser quality ?
    Belden Media Twist CMR CAT6 Cable 1872A 23 AWG Bare Copper Riser 1000 FT | eBay

    Kurt, I understand the issue with potential legislation, but I am dying of curiously what brand cables are the 7ft cat 6 and cat 6e cables which both failed cat5e tests?
    Could give us a hint please?
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  8. KurtBJC Audioholic

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    That price for 1872A on eBay is superb. I suspect someone must have had a few boxes left over after a job, because that's ridiculously cheap. 1872A is "Mediatwist," which means reduced skew, at some cost to crosstalk (though whenever we've made cables with it, the performance has been just great, so I don't mean to suggest that it's a large drawback). Two small caveats: (1) some people hate 1872A because it's more difficult to terminate into standard RJ-45 connectors due to its wide flat profile, and (2) many RJ-45 connectors will not easily accept 23 AWG bonded pairs, so termination could be a struggle depending on your connectors. But it's great cable as long as having to learn a slightly different assembly routine (and/or maybe needing to change what connectors you use) doesn't bother you.

    Hints. Hmmm. Well, of the three seven-footers that failed not only their applicable specs but also failed 5e, one was from one of the three largest office supply chains in America; one was a venerable brand name in consumer electronics which used to be a byword for quality, now available at hardware stores among other places (I bought it at one of America's largest hardware store chains); and the third was from a well-known online-only brand. As I indicated in the article, I did not try to cheap-shop these--it would have been very easy to find failing cables by buying from poorly known outlets with questionable-looking product, and instead, for a reasonable comparison, I thought we had better buy cables that our customers are likely to have seen, from stores where they are likely to shop.
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  9. nickboros Junior Audioholic

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    Kurt,

    Very nice interview and article. Can we expect that the service technicians (from AT&T, Verizon, or whoever the provider is we are using) will get us good cabling and terminations up to the router?
  10. KurtBJC Audioholic

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    I certainly would hope so. My guess, and it's only a guess, would be that since bad cable can lead to service calls, they probably are careful to use good cable stock.
  11. jinjuku Moderator

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    Field service personnel have testing units that they throw on to validate their terminations. Wavetek is a popular maker of QAM measurement equipment.
  12. jinjuku Moderator

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    Looks like Kurt is getting ahead of the field with certified CAT5/6 cables. With the advent of 10Base HD it is smart to position ahead of competitors like AQ and Kimber that will undoubtedly invent some terminology why audio and video sound and look better on their $300 30ft run of the stuff.
  13. jinjuku Moderator

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  14. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Warlord

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    Well $80 for 5ft Ethernet cable is just "a tad bit" expensive, but if these tests have shown than cable category and standards behind them is apparently meaningless for many manufacturers in pursuit of quick buck.
    I know I will insist on purchasing Belden interconnects for all my work gig networks and hopefully soon 10gig backend
  15. Irvrobinson Audioholic Ninja

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    Wow, I'll say. Claiming to hear audible differences between cables carrying analog signals is one thing, but for packet-switched protocols like 802.1 and 802.3 with CRC support claiming to hear audible differences is the worst nonsense. These people have no idea how stupid they seem to anyone with only very basic knowledge of how the signals are transmitted and what happens to those signals once they're received.
  16. jinjuku Moderator

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    Holy Cow AudioQuest went there:

    DIRECTIONALITY: All audio cables are directional. The correct direction is determined by listening to every batch of metal conductors used in every AudioQuest audio cable. Arrows are clearly marked on the connectors to ensure superior sound quality. For best results have the arrow pointing in the direction of the flow of music. For example, NAS to Router, Router to Network Player.

    Ok I really can't stop laughing.
  17. KurtBJC Audioholic

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    That's pretty doggoned silly. And the Nigel Tufnelism in selling "Cat 7" cable with RJ-45 connectors is a nice twist, too.

    Cat 7, by the way, is so obscure in actual use right now that Belden doesn't even make any in the US. They've got a European division that makes some, which we could get if we wanted, but nobody actually uses the doggoned stuff. I've been thinking about grabbing a few of the so-called "Cat 7" cables on the market and testing them--we couldn't test to the Cat 7 spec with our current equipment, but could test 6a, and I would not be very surprised, based on what I've seen so far, to find that they don't pass that.
  18. jinjuku Moderator

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    Seimon's Tera connector
    figure6.jpg

    GG45
    LANmark_7A_GG45__4a447b96831c3.jpg
  19. KurtBJC Audioholic

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    Yep, that's the Cat7 connector I've seen--it isn't compatible with a conventional RJ-45 jack, but I believe there's a hybrid jack made which can take either that or an RJ-45--if I recall correctly, on the four-pair connector pins 1 and 2 map to one pair, 7 and 8 to another, and 3-4-5-6 are used if an RJ-45 is plugged in, while the other pin locations, on the "top" of the connector, are used if this type of connector is plugged in.
  20. Irvrobinson Audioholic Ninja

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    It's especially silly because Ethernet is full duplex; there's information flowing in both directions at the same time on two separate sets of conductors.
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