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$2,500 Ethernet Switch Isolates Audiophiles From their Cash


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3 minutes ago, acg said:

@El Tel, interesting. 

 

The shielded cable with the metal connectors did sound better to me than the shielded cable with plastic connectors or the unshielded cable with plastic connectors (normal 50cent patch lead).  I wonder if it is something to do with the path of the noise rather than the magnitude of the noise itself?  Perhaps the more direct box to box ground connection via the patch lead shield and metal connectors causes a more benign reaction to that noise in the streamer/dac than having to go in the back door via the mains cabling?  Just thinking aloud really...not really sure how I could test that.

 

Now this, this is excellent. I love the thought process and admit it is not one I had even thought about before. I very much appreciate being able to spit-ball this kind of thing with no agendas on either side.

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I use a $30 Tp-link ethernet switch in my system, and it works exceptionally well. It's also inside a cupboard so you can't see how cheap it looks compared to the hi-fi gear it's serving.

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8 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

I seem to recall reading a review of a fancy switch, where they opened it up, and inside was a normal cheap switch.  They just upgraded the case and power supply IIRC.    

 

As a general comment, "cheap" electronics these days is often of truly excellent quality.

 

Yeah - one of the guys on the Roon forum who has a background in laser and optical electronics (and is an actual scientist) pulled apart 2 switches that claim audiophile credentials only to find both of them had Zyxel internals. Zyxel is a $30-40 switch and its internals are found across many other consumer switches too. Fact is that there are very few factories in the world producing Ethernet interfaces (the actual assembled port component for soldering onto other circuitry).

 

These really are commoditised items now. If anything non-standard in terms of was implemented with the switch ports and the processing thereon, then they would not work like an Ethernet device should and would fail to communicate up or downstream with other Ethernet devices.

 

I fully encourage anyone to go and play with whatever kit floats your boat though, but go armed with a little knowledge.

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1 hour ago, acg said:

The shielded cable with the metal connectors did sound better to me than the shielded cable with plastic connectors

 

Try uncoupling the confounding effects of a shielded cable versus direct chassis grounding ie

1. overall chassis grounding vs

2. cable EMI shielding with ground draining

 

One method would be to

A. Mod the shielded grounded etherent cable to break the inter-chassis grounding eg at one end only, insulate the R45 plug eg cover the grounding strips with insulation tape (still allowing EMI shield drainage at one end). Compare with the open cable and with:

B. Connect a pure grounding scheme from each chassis to a dedicated ground strip (independent of the power system). 

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13 hours ago, Assisi said:

 

I aspire to quality and get a quality outcome.  If you and others are willing to accept something in your or their system that “performs well enough” and not better then you and they are definitely missing out.

 

John

I find this problematic because we are not defining what "quality" means.   Does it mean best sound quality or more a prestige/price thing?  By not being clear about this  our frame of reference can swirl around between the two meanings which gets confusing.

 

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1 minute ago, El Tel said:

Yeah - one of the guys on the Roon forum who has a background in laser and optical electronics (and is an actual scientist) pulled apart 2 switches that claim audiophile credentials only to find both of them had Zyxel internals. Zyxel is a $30-40 switch and its internals are found across many other consumer switches too. Fact is that there are very few factories in the world producing Ethernet interfaces (the actual assembled port component for soldering onto other circuitry).

 

These really are commoditised items now. If anything non-standard in terms of was implemented with the switch ports and the processing thereon, then they would not work like an Ethernet device should and would fail to communicate up or downstream with other Ethernet devices.

 

Prima facie, advertising a product as having audiophile credentials when it is merely a reboxed non-audiophile unit would be misleading and deceptive behaviour under Australian consumer laws. (https://www.accc.gov.au/publications/advertising-and-selling-guide/advertising-and-selling-guide/avoid-misleading-or-deceptive-claims-or-conduct/misleading-or-deceptive-conduct#:~:text=It is illegal for a,a result of your conduct. )

 

However the ACCC seems to focus its limited resources on issues potentially affecting tens of thousands of consumers. Something likely to affect only a handful of buyers of boutique products would be unlikely to come up on its radar. And someone would need to complain to set the ball rolling for an official investigation. 

 

Buyers of ordinary grade electronics worth $20 reboxed and sold at say 100 times the price as audiophile grade electronics will likely never become aware of the deception.  They will have the feeling of being assured they have bought the best, and very possibly their ears will tell them that the sound has improved. The great danger for such a buyer would be to attempt an A B comparison under blind conditions. That could bring grief.

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4 minutes ago, MLXXX said:

 

Prima facie, advertising a product as having audiophile credentials when it is merely a reboxed non-audiophile unit would be misleading and deceptive behaviour under Australian consumer laws.

 

I reckon they'd get away with it.  A new metal enclosure (vs plastic) and a fancy power supply.  Probably enough to claim it is "audiophile".

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38 minutes ago, El Tel said:

 

Yeah - one of the guys on the Roon forum who has a background in laser and optical electronics (and is an actual scientist) pulled apart 2 switches that claim audiophile credentials only to find both of them had Zyxel internals. Zyxel is a $30-40 switch and its internals are found across many other consumer switches too. Fact is that there are very few factories in the world producing Ethernet interfaces (the actual assembled port component for soldering onto other circuitry).

 

These really are commoditised items now. If anything non-standard in terms of was implemented with the switch ports and the processing thereon, then they would not work like an Ethernet device should and would fail to communicate up or downstream with other Ethernet devices.

 

I fully encourage anyone to go and play with whatever kit floats your boat though, but go armed with a little knowledge.

 

I don't think many would expect an audiophile switch these days to use anything but run-of-the-mill technology to do the actual work (like you say, these thing likely only come out of a few factories on the planet) but they would expect some effort in terms of power supply and sometimes with aesthetics.  You only mentioned the switches themselves, not the power supplies etc.; where they any different?

 

Saying that, there does seem to be one or two trying to do it from scratch but I am unaware if there are products actually on the market right now...

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2 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

 

I reckon they'd get away with it.  A new metal enclosure (vs plastic) and a fancy power supply.  Probably enough to claim it is "audiophile".

 

Ah yes, an audiophile grade power supply.  And audiophile grade shielding.    And an audiophile to testify they heard an improvement.  Yep.

 

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, Tony M said:

 

I'm not taking sides here, but making a general comment.

 

The crux of the argument here is whether or not the changes associated with so-called "audiophile products" actually make any difference to performance, not whether "good enough" is an acceptable objective - the very fact that most people here are genuine audio enthusiasts means most would not agree with the latter premise.

 

I, too, aspire to quality - but generally only where it makes a positive difference.  This could be with regard to audio quality but things like aesthetics, tactility, convenience and reliability come into it too   I don't think anyone here is advocating "second best" as an ideal.  But an audiophile label, fancy casework and assertions re construction quality may or may not be worth it to each individual.  Similarly, any associated performance gains are subjective and arguable.  If you experience these and it makes the cost worthwhile to you, then it's your discretionary spend and IMO not subject to critical judgement.  If I thought you might be wasting money, I'd also conclude that's none of my business. 

 

Mainly, I'm pointing out the fallacy of suggesting that others who do not share your enthusiasm for these products are just not discerning enough to aspire to the best audio quality they can achieve (within the usual constraints). 

 

To illustrate, I have added an Innuos Phoenix USB reclocker thingy to my system.  I'm reasonably convinced it has resulted in a significant SQ improvement and that's good enough for me.  If someone wanted to do a direct comparison of my system with and without it and concluded they heard no difference, I might be a bit surprised/disappointed but not too fussed.  In particular, I think it would be a non-sequitur to accuse them of being willing to settle for second best should they decide they didn't need one themselves.  

 

 

There is a fundamental question in this topic.  How many of the posters in this thread who express scepticism or doubt of the impact of quality network audio switches have actually experienced the utilisation of these level of switches?  My prediction is none of the doubters.

 

 

Some of what has been said in this thread has been said regularly by the same posters in various threads on this and other forums.  Often the denial comes from posters who have had definite experience in IT data communications, Ethernet protocols etc.  To me it is not about how the Internet works and the integrity of the audio files transmitted.  Everything gets through correctly on time as intended.

 

 

It is all about problems such as noise, interference, resonance, distortion whatever that can be present in all or most aspects of our systems.  The problems can be in the network and if they are not mitigated end up in the amplified sound.  As a consequence, you hear the noise along with the music.  The impact is on the relative SQ.  Lowering the noise floor is the Holy Grail of Audio SQ.  Until you experience a lowering of the noise floor it is not easy to appreciate the benefit.  I still remember the first time it happened for me some years ago.  It was a hallelujah moment.

 

 

 

I now have and have had various switches over time.  I can assure you as you have found with your reclocker that there are SQ benefits.  My bets are that the reclocker has resulted in that your hearing and brain is experiencing a lower noise floor.

 

 

The opening post to this thread is an attempt to mock based I assume on no actual experience.  To me it is not about mockery or whether others are discerning enough to aspire to the best audio outcome.  It is about what is their experience to base their negative assertions in the context of switches and audio streaming?

 

John

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40 minutes ago, acg said:

You only mentioned the switches themselves, not the power supplies etc.; where they any different?

 

To be absolutely fair, I don't recall and don't readily remember the specs of kit I have seen sub-optimal outcomes with. I don't want to name the switches in question (not wanting to upset anyone), but I will dig out a link to the tear-down and add it in here via edit.

 

EDIT: https://community.roonlabs.com/t/do-router-and-ethernet-cables-affect-sound-quality/92544/2467 Post 2233

 

When galvanic isolation through transformer coupling is in effect, power supplies and their effects would be more likely to influence nearby kit rather than colour what the switch itself is doing and certainly be limited in onward detection when using the right type of cable (Ethernet is a dumb, agricultural topology/methodology designed for fault recover and error correction - it genuinely is fool-proof through iterative generations of IEEE standards as demands for speed have increased).

Edited by El Tel
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3 hours ago, El Tel said:

On the few occasions I have experimented with introduced EMI and gauging its transmission between devices using shielded cables, it was noteworthy that some combined streamer and DAC devices obviously had a bleed of the introduced EMI into their analogue circuits and some did not. Whilst not 100% correlating, I found the more compact devices seemed to be the most susceptible (older Bluesound and Sonos Connect). ...

 

Congratulations on introducing EMI for the testing! That allowed you to measure the resistance to it in various combinations of devices and cabling.

 

*            *            * 

 

One reason I tend to struggle with reports of improved sound with a change of Ethernet switch or cable is that they often use the description "noise floor".  That phrase in engineering means the residual noise and is a measurable quantity. However In modern day audiophile parlance it is a vague term that encompasses an auditory phenomenon referred to as "blackness".  To the best of my knowledge, no comparative recordings exist on the world wide web demonstrating a change in "blackness".  That is a curious situation. There are certainly recordings to demonstrate other phenomena, such as a poor signal to noise ratio, high harmonic distortion, or brightness or dullness in the frequency response. 

 

 

Does anyone in this thread know of recordings illustrating differences in "noise floor blackness"?

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1 minute ago, MLXXX said:

Does anyone in this thread know of recordings illustrating differences in "noise floor blackness"?

 

Maybe take @TerryOup on his offer earlier in this thread and go visit.  You are both in the same corner of the same state.

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2 minutes ago, acg said:

 

Maybe take @TerryOup on his offer earlier in this thread and go visit.  You are both in the same corner of the same state.

 

I wouldn't want to take up his time when the term "noise floor" is used every day, routinely, in posts in audiophile forums around the world.  It appears frequently in magazine reviews. And it is a phenomenon on the lips of many audiophiles in 2022.  It should not require a private demonstration!

 

I simply would like to access recordings of the phenomenon, extreme examples if needs be (to overcome any possible adverse "noise floor" in the equipment used to listen to the recordings). 

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12 hours ago, MLXXX said:

I do not consider that swapping to an audiophile ethernet switch would make any difference to the sound I get from streaming.

 

Your system, Assisi, from what you have written, presented you with a  "noise-floor" issue that you have been able  to  alleviate with a specialist switch.

 

My system works fine with a basic switch. There is no "noise floor" phenomenon that I experience.

 

I would hope that if you tried an audio switch that you would experience a listening benefit.   I am sure that your system and that of others works fine with a basis audio switch.  If there is a problem with a basic switch then there is a fundamental issue with the setup.  By working I assume you mean that you hear the music.  Without realising it, I suggest that you will also hear noise that becomes part of the sound reproduced and will spoil you listening experience.  All systems "have" noise.  I know that you struggle with idea of the system noise.  I thought that it is worth repeating my perspective.

 

John

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5 minutes ago, MLXXX said:

One reason I tend to struggle with reports of improved sound with a change of Ethernet switch or cable is that they often use the description "noise floor". 

 

I hear you. I've tried numerous switches in varying setups from domestic environments through AV presentation suites, outside broadcast suites and entertainment venues too. Yamaha EtherCON (Dante), English Electric, Silent Angel, EtherRegen, and a forgettable multitude of others from across all consumer, enterprise and audiophile offerings. I've just never detected a difference in any environment that was attributable to the network and none of my colleagues or customers did either including a couple of studio engineers.

 

The biggest finding I've had recently is one particular audiophile switch had a lower resistance at shielding itself from an EMI source in close proximity than a few consumer switches did. In turn, the consumer switches did a worse job than a couple of enterprise grade Cisco switches at shielding themselves. It's just that nobody in their right mind would house a 35xx or 37xx Cisco switch with its noisy fan anywhere near your listening spot 😆

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6 minutes ago, MLXXX said:

I wouldn't want to take up his time when the term "noise floor" is used every day, routinely, in posts in audiophile forums around the world.  It appears frequently in magazine reviews. And it is a phenomenon on the lips of many audiophiles in 2022.

 

Definitely.

 

This is probably the most over used term in  audio parlance and I am not convinced that most people who use the term, actually understand what it is  and  be able to accurately describe what they are, or are not hearing.

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2 minutes ago, Assisi said:

All systems "have" noise.  I know that you struggle with idea of the system noise. 

 

I don't struggle with the idea of system noise, which is measurable as SINAD, and which can be heard for example if you place your head next to a loudspeaker when no music source is playing.

 

 

I struggle with the audiophile phenomenon of "noise floor", an apparently unmeasurable phenomenon in the ear of the beholder.  It exists in magazine reviews and audiophile forum posts. It would be nice to to be able to access recordings illustrating it. Surely that isn't too much to ask!

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1 minute ago, rantan said:

This is probably the most over used term in  audio parlance and I am not convinced that most people who use the term, actually understand what it is  and  be able to accurately describe what they are, or are not hearing.

 

This applies to many, many audiophile terms. 

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8 minutes ago, MLXXX said:

 

I wouldn't want to take up his time when the term "noise floor" is used every day, routinely, in posts in audiophile forums around the world.  It appears frequently in magazine reviews. And it is a phenomenon on the lips of many audiophiles in 2022.  It should not require a private demonstration!

 

I simply would like to access recordings of the phenomenon, extreme examples if needs be (to overcome any possible adverse "noise floor" in the equipment used to listen to the recordings). 

 

Well, he offered.  You've refused.  In-room recordings of any hifi system are pox ridden and are not in any way a suitable method to display minor differences in sound.

 

I've never used a fancy switch either, but I am not closed minded enough to dismiss it on mantra alone...

 

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1 hour ago, RoHo said:

I find this problematic because we are not defining what "quality" means.   Does it mean best sound quality or more a prestige/price thing?  By not being clear about this  our frame of reference can swirl around between the two meanings which gets confusing.

 

I am interested in best sound quality.  Like most things in life though there is cost aspect to quality.  In the context of audio there tends to be a correlation between the quality aspect of the components and the SQ.  It is all about affordability and required outcome.  Everything matters and the weak link in the chain will mar the potential benefit of the rest.

 

John 

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Just now, acg said:

In-room recordings of any hifi system are pox ridden and are not in any way a suitable method to display minor differences in sound.

 

That is a usual response to a request for a recording of an audiophile phenomenon. 

 

Note however that if the effect is in the signal sent to the loudspeakers, that a recording would not need to be made with microphones.  There would be no need to complicate the recordings with room acoustics.

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Don't get me started on over used audio terms,but noise floor is right there as one of the worst I have experienced.

The funny thing is that,over the years, my system has improved to a point where I am satisfied, within my fiscal restraints and I have never once had an issue or an acute awareness of the noise floor.

 

Shame on me!:classic_sad:

 

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