Wi-Fi Versus Wired Internet

JackTrip works best when your computer is connected to your Internet router via an Ethernet cable.

Wi-Fi is a technology that uses radios to wirelessly connect your computer to the Internet. It's incredibly convenient, especially for laptop users. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi is currently incapable of providing the quality of service (QoS) required for low-latency audio.

We strongly recommend that everyone using JackTrip connect their computer to the Internet using an Ethernet cable. If you are using a laptop that does not include an Ethernet jack, we recommend using one of these adapters from UGreen: USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt 3.

The biggest problem with Wi-Fi is that it is very inconsistent and unpredictable. It depends on things like:

  • the Wi-Fi access point (hardware) connected to or built-into your router
  • the Wi-Fi hardware and software drivers that you have in your computer
  • how far away you are located from your Wi-Fi access point
  • how many other people are using your Wi-Fi access point, and what for
  • interference from any other radio signals that are nearby

You can use Wi-Fi with JackTrip, but even in the best of circumstances:

  • You will have higher latency, at least 5ms (WIFI 6) but can often be much higher
  • You will experience high jitter and dropouts (static, glitches, etc), sometimes for multiple seconds at a time

More recent JackTrip releases include a "loss concealment" feature that uses artificial intelligence to attempt to clean up audio signals impacted by bad Internet connections, such as Wi-Fi. This helps, but it's not always possible to recover. The worse your connection is, the more likely you will hear it.

Wi-Fi 7 May Change Things

Some good news: the hardware certification process for the latest Wi-Fi 7 began in January 2024. For the first time, this new standard promises to offer much lower and more consistent latency versus all of the previous Wi-Fi standards.

A few vendors have already launched Wi-Fi 7 access points. By the end of 2024, we expect to see more Wi-Fi 7 hardware appearing in new laptops, mobile devices and external USB devices.

Even if Wi-Fi 7 lives up to all the hype, it will take a while for people to adopt it. It requires all new hardware: replacing all your access points (router?), and replacing your computer (or possibly using an external adapter). The best case scenario is that it will just narrow the gap with Ethernet, which will continue to be the most stable and lowest latency option available.