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Why Ethernet matters in a Wifi World!

Anyone who has attended my Home Studio Primer events, where Source Elements founder Robert Marshall came on to chat about Source Connect, got a first hand explanation as to why ethernet is key.

The story I will tell forever is when a voice actor friend asked him specifically why wifi wasn't good enough, as they had been using Source Connect over wifi for a while and had no issues. The very next day that person had a session where the connection was dropping and the audio was glitchy. The engineer they were connected to on Source Connect? Robert Marshall. The very next day after he explained why wifi can be problematic.

Ethernet is a steady stream of data marching packet by packet to your router. There is generally nothing that can interfere with that data stream. Robert had given an analogy of a boat on a river drifting smoothly along. With wifi, you're sharing your data with your house. So if, as was the case during lockdown, your kids are using video streaming for school or your partner is on Zoom all day for work- they're chewing into your bandwidth. And when Source Connect has a data drop, it is not a subtle thing. Your audio will completely drop out!

Speaking of data, Source Connect TECHNICALLY only needs 1/3 of 1 meg of data. You read that right. In a world where we all have 50meg speeds or even 500 meg to gigabit internet... Source Connect needs 1/3 of a meg to run! But that stream has to be rock solid. And that's where ethernet comes in.

Here's the rub! Most laptops no longer have ethernet ports. If you're on a Mac, you'll need something like this Mokin adapter, which not only gives you ethernet- but additional USB ports, HMDI video out and an SD card reader. On a side note, that HDMI video out is a handy way to add a second monitor so you can remove your laptop from your recording environment.

Another common problem that comes up when I discuss this in my class Demystifying Source Connect for Voice Actors is getting that ethernet connection to where it is needed. There are a number of ways to handle that.

The path of least resistance and the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Simply get an ethernet cable like this one and connect it from your router directly to your computer. This works great when the router is nearby, like if you're in a smaller apartment. When you're not using it, just wrap it up and tuck it away until next time.

But what happens when your router is further away? There are several options to consider. In my house, the router is a floor above me and across the house. We had already installed a Google Mesh system to spread signal evenly and extend it throughout the house. One of the benefits of this mesh network is that each of the relay pucks has it's own ethernet port on the bottom! I have one sitting on my desk that feeds my computer. You can read more about the benefits of this system here. And in the time that has passed, there are more updated options and competitors to check out as well.

Another popular option is a powerline adaptor. This is a brilliant and relatively simple solution. For example, the TP Link AV2000 has 2 gigabit ports on the bottom of each unit. One unit plugs in near your router and gets an ethernet feed via a short cable. The other unit plugs in near your home studio, and another ethernet cable connects to it. Now your whole home's electrical system becomes a long ethernet cable!

One of the interesting side effects of voice actors upping their game and making sure they've got dedicated ethernet for Source Connect is that EVERYTHING improves: Zoom, Source Connect Now, IPDTL, etc. While that

steady stream helps prevent Source Connect from dropping out, it will help your connectivity across the board.

If you have any questions about Source Connect vs. Source Connect Now, and how to set up and use it- feel free to reach out. You can either watch a replay of the most recent class I taught, or if enough people need help- I can set up a whole new class.

I hope this helps you! Feel free to comment with questions or your experiences.


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