Network Switches


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Thank you all for a very interesting thread.  I'm working with a 1Gb wired network that connects:   > Commercial server running Win10 hosting 5Tb of shared media files
    available to all the devices on the network
  > 1080 TV and media player A fed by network
  > 1080 TV and media player B fed by network
  > 4k TV home theater setup with media player etc fed by network
  > a small system running a BlueSound Node 2i fed by network
  > a large system with DAC fed by another Node 2i (fed from network)                             and s/pdif directly from the server sound card (not ethernet, no USB)
No WiFi, no BlueTooth.  All this entails a couple switches (commercial Cisco unit, can't recall what exactly, and another switch on the HT).

Recently I've been playing with hard-to-verfy and possibly faith-based tweaks that may have some impact but aren't very expensive - speaker elevators, fancier (but not crazy expensive) power cords, replacing digital RCA connectors with BNC's, etc.  All this has convinced me to ignore the network switches.  Now on to the next tweak.....
I have been obsessed with this issue and have tried all kinds of network switches and streamers....I could write a book.  Here’s what I have been using with awesome results.

Central Panel on Dedicated Circuit:
  • AT&T Fiber Modem
  • Ubiquiti UDM
  • Ubiquiti Switch 8-150w

Listening Room on Separate Dedicated Circuit:
  • Ubiquiti Switch Flex Mini Powered by POE from Switch 8-150w
  • Sonos Port with Factory Power Supply (Furman Power)
  • Bluesound Node 2i with Factory Power Cord (Furman Power)
  • Linn Klimax DSM with Factory Power Core (Furman Power)
  • Apple Mac Mini (2020) with Factory Power Core (Furman Power)

Interconnects & Cables:
  • iFi SPDIF iPurifier with the iFi Power Supply (Furman Power)
  • Lifatec Glass Optical Toslink
  • Custom Cardas Analog & Digital Interconnects (WBT Connectors)
  • Custom Cardas Speaker Cables (WBT Connectors)
  • Custom Power Cables (WBT Connectors)
  • Custom CAT6 Ethernet Cables (Platinum Connectors)

Amplifiers & Speakers:
  • Luxman NeoClassico II CD-N150/SQ-N150 with Klipsch Forte III
  • Nagra Classic INT/DAC with Franco Serblin Accordo
  • 47 Labs Shigaraki DAC/AMP with Lens
  • Mytek Brooklyn DAC+/AMP with Harbeth P3ESR

My favorite combination:
Sonos Port (WiFi) - iFi SPDIF iPurifier - Custom Digital Interconnect & Power - Nagra Classic DAC/INT - Harbeth P3ESR

I also got great sound from the Mac Mini (Apple Music/ALAC) using USB.  The Franco Serblin Accordo speakers also sounded wonderful, depending on my mood.  They are just different speakers.

What has really surprised me is how good the Sonos Port sounds with the iFi SPDIF iPuifier.  I was not expecting the Sonos and iFi to sound so good.  I prefer it over my Linn DSM and the Bluesound Node 2i.  I know that I’m limited to 16/44, but that’s what my CDs and Apple Lossless files are, so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

I’m aware this goes against a lot of “audiophile” thinking and that using a Sonos Port with Nagra/Harbeth might sound silly, but after MONTHS of listening, this is what I came to.  I also tried (and have though the years) lots of different cables, but I just make my own with excellent results.

Please note that I use the Sonos Port in WiFi mode, which works flawlessly.  Does WiFi sound better than wired Ethernet?  No.  Again, after MONTHS of listening, I can’t tell a difference.  I tried most of the “audiophile” switches listed in this thread, and some of them (maybe) had a subtle improvement, but the iFi always sounded the best no matter what switch I used, and it really made the Sonos Port shine.

What I learned is that power supplies and galvanic isolation make a difference. It’s not only about bits/data, but the power/current in the signal.  I think that’s what several people in this thread kept stating.  Power, especially in digital, makes a difference.  I don’t think we have to spend a lot of money on switches and cables, but making sure they are powered and terminated properly goes a long way.
Now....I’ll duck and dive to avoid the sticks and stones heading in my direction.  Be easy, I’m just a music listener that spends too much time playing with audio.

Thanks for reading!