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Do I really need an " Audio Grade Network Switch "?

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preston8452

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I think it's been a quite controversial topic for years, like what's the difference between normal network switch and an audio grade network switch, the price difference is certainly obvious though...
Anyway, I've done some researches, most audio reviewers say that under this " new digital streaming era " that an network switch is a must for an audio system, which is understandable for me, I mean because if I wanna play Tidal or QoBuz or Spotify, I gotta use network so I can stream these online services, so yeah I get that if the network quality is good enough, it can possibly level up the music performance.

But anyhow, I'm new to this area, so I don't like to spend big bucks on my first purchase hahaha... there's a very wide range of the prices though, the top one is Ansuz Power Switch I think, the inner circuit and design look pretty sharp, and surely over my budget lol

So I'm choosing between Bonn N8 and SW-8, these two both got good reviews, and the prices seem so darn much friendly to me as I'm looking for an entry level switch now, do any of you have any insights to share?
or should I just go for the higher level ones?

Best,

 

Tony_J

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Short answer: no.

Long answer: over the years I have used various network solutions, wired and wireless, including extenders and power line adapters where direct connection was difficult. Never been able to detect any audible differences between network equipment used or between WiFi and ethernet connections. My current setup uses EE 4G broadband, beamed about 20 miles across the sea from Colonsay to a MicroTik directional antenna, then to a Mimosa G2 router which feeds an Ethernet backbone based on TP Link POE switches that connect to and power 4 TP lInk Omada  WiFi access points. All of it is normal consumer-grade stuff at consumer-grade prices - the complexity is only to give good and even WiFi coverage across all rooms of the house. I'm streaming all my music - some from local hard drives, some from Quobuz, using R-Pi based streamers, mostly WiFi connected but my test rig in the study has 2 streamers, one is directly connected by Ethernet and the other by WiFi. A/B comparison on that rig doesn't show any audible differences to me.

 
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killie99

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I don’t think Spotify or any other streaming service or network provider uses anything other than bog standard business switches and the music miraculously still comes out the speakers. The ‘Hifi switch’ people can’t explain to me why after passing through hundreds of switches the last one in my house needs to be £1000 .

 

rabski

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I think it's been a quite controversial topic for years, like what's the difference between normal network switch and an audio grade network switch, the price difference is certainly obvious though...
Anyway, I've done some researches, most audio reviewers say that under this " new digital streaming era " that an network switch is a must for an audio system, which is understandable for me, I mean because if I wanna play Tidal or QoBuz or Spotify, I gotta use network so I can stream these online services, so yeah I get that if the network quality is good enough, it can possibly level up the music performance.

But anyhow, I'm new to this area, so I don't like to spend big bucks on my first purchase hahaha... there's a very wide range of the prices though, the top one is Ansuz Power Switch I think, the inner circuit and design look pretty sharp, and surely over my budget lol

So I'm choosing between Bonn N8 and SW-8, these two both got good reviews, and the prices seem so darn much friendly to me as I'm looking for an entry level switch now, do any of you have any insights to share?
or should I just go for the higher level ones?

Best,
There has to be some mechanism though which an improvement is possible, and I can't think of one. The amount of data in an audio stream is incredibly small compared with many applications, and both ethernet and WiFi protocols can basically be summarised as work/fail frameworks.

I don't usually buy into the 'nothing makes a difference' camp, but in this context, I can't see any way a switch can be 'improved' on. The only potential area is in added interference, usually gounding. However, any competent equipment should isolate suitably, and ethernet connections do so. WiFi obviously provides total isolation in this regard.

I've tried various methods here, and now simply use WiFi. I can't hear any difference between that and ethernet, or between ethernet connected to our cable modem, switch or either router in our setup here.

 

andrew s

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While I can see how WiFi breaks ground loops the arial is still in a potentially noisy RF environment (mobile phones,  TV etc) so it has to rely on effective filtering as much as wired connections do. 

I do agree both seem to work perfectly well though.

Regards Andrew 

 

StingRay

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There has to be some mechanism though which an improvement is possible, and I can't think of one. The amount of data in an audio stream is incredibly small compared with many applications, and both ethernet and WiFi protocols can basically be summarised as work/fail frameworks.

I don't usually buy into the 'nothing makes a difference' camp, but in this context, I can't see any way a switch can be 'improved' on. The only potential area is in added interference, usually gounding. However, any competent equipment should isolate suitably, and ethernet connections do so. WiFi obviously provides total isolation in this regard.

I've tried various methods here, and now simply use WiFi. I can't hear any difference between that and ethernet, or between ethernet connected to our cable modem, switch or either router in our setup here.
I don't get it either but on the Linn forum some members report big improvements or it does not even work without adding a switch, but that is Linn.

Here is a youtube test: 


 
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rabski

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While I can see how WiFi breaks ground loops the arial is still in a potentially noisy RF environment (mobile phones,  TV etc) so it has to rely on effective filtering as much as wired connections do. 

I do agree both seem to work perfectly well though.

Regards Andrew 
WiFi is itself of course RF technology, so is actually more capable of excluding extraneous radio interference than many other bits of equipment, as it needs to limit its receive and transmit bandwidth in order to work correctly.

 

StingRay

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I don't use  a switch and I don't use WiFi, Wifi is less stable and slower than ethernet here, so probably have dropouts, which is very rare with ethernet from router to streamer. Possibly get inference as well.

 

StingRay

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I think it's been a quite controversial topic for years, like what's the difference between normal network switch and an audio grade network switch, the price difference is certainly obvious though...
Anyway, I've done some researches, most audio reviewers say that under this " new digital streaming era " that an network switch is a must for an audio system, which is understandable for me, I mean because if I wanna play Tidal or QoBuz or Spotify, I gotta use network so I can stream these online services, so yeah I get that if the network quality is good enough, it can possibly level up the music performance.

But anyhow, I'm new to this area, so I don't like to spend big bucks on my first purchase hahaha... there's a very wide range of the prices though, the top one is Ansuz Power Switch I think, the inner circuit and design look pretty sharp, and surely over my budget lol

So I'm choosing between Bonn N8 and SW-8, these two both got good reviews, and the prices seem so darn much friendly to me as I'm looking for an entry level switch now, do any of you have any insights to share?
or should I just go for the higher level ones?

Best,
What sort of system do you have?

Bonn N8 are about £400? This post is about Bonn network switches: 

 
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rabski

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With tongue firmly in cheek, one could point out that some forum members have partners who ask them what has changed in the system when they've tightened the printed circuit board mounting screws to the correct torque.

Obviously, your system has to be 'resolving' enough for you to be able to hear all these night and day differences.

 

rabski

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I am sure the compliance between tongue and cheek effects ones hearing.

Another variable to investigate? 

Regards Andrew 
The 'joke' here is of course that making any facial gesture will slightly move the alignment of your outer ear, and will thereby almost certainly make a greater audible difference than half the things being discussed across the forum.

We all, presumably, want to get the best possible replay of music within our budget and ability. Sometimes though, it is worth a gentle reminder that what we actually 'hear' is constantly affected by internal and external influences that are likely to be far greater than the differences (or not differences) that we can make by throwing cash at things.

 

StingRay

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With tongue firmly in cheek, one could point out that some forum members have partners who ask them what has changed in the system when they've tightened the printed circuit board mounting screws to the correct torque.

Obviously, your system has to be 'resolving' enough for you to be able to hear all these night and day differences.
You mean ones with little feet, who come in from the kitchen? 😀

 
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bencat

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I use a network switch in may case for drop out issues with my fibre broadband . I used a £15 TP switch and it worked very well as can be expected it was plastic cased and used a wall wart power supply . After about two years the TP switch failed and I needed a new one . In the first instance I bought a used Cisco Switch which was metal cased and had its own internal power supply . This was an old business unit and the build quality was whole world away from the TP . I did feel it improved the sound by making background hash drop away . I then went on a very long process of only using LPSU power supplies for all things in the streaming chain including the router. This all improved the noise floor even more . I then was alerted to an E-bay seller who was selling NOS of the same Cisco Switch at £30 including P&P so i bought one and mived the used one to down stairs and put the NOS close to the router . It all works and is wonderfully quiet and drop outs are a thing of the past .

I will not say that a very high priced switch will make no difference because I have never tried one and have no access to one to use. I have been caught recently by changing a single thing which made a difference when I really was convinced it would not so not going to repeat that. However the music I am listening to now is the best I have heard on all my systems and unless a dealer (unlikely as there are none in Liverpool) or a friend or mfg company comes along and is prepared to lend me a unit to trial then I am not going to look very hard . I think any decent quality business switch used or otherwise will be as good as anyone will need and i see no reason to spend more than £50 to get a high quality and reliable unit. I do think the cheap switches are excellent but as noted with my TP they can fail and I would be adding an LPSU if they have a wall wart PSU but that is just my paranoia and need not apply to any other user.

 

andrew s

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The 'joke' here is of course that making any facial gesture will slightly move the alignment of your outer ear, and will thereby almost certainly make a greater audible difference than half the things being discussed across the forum.

We all, presumably, want to get the best possible replay of music within our budget and ability. Sometimes though, it is worth a gentle reminder that what we actually 'hear' is constantly affected by internal and external influences that are likely to be far greater than the differences (or not differences) that we can make by throwing cash at things.
I think we need a thread on plastic surgery to optimise ones head transfer function. Regards Andrew 

 
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killie99

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With tongue firmly in cheek, one could point out that some forum members have partners who ask them what has changed in the system when they've tightened the printed circuit board mounting screws to the correct torque.

Obviously, your system has to be 'resolving' enough for you to be able to hear all these night and day differences.
Yep, mad as a box of frogs. From wrapping cables in tin foil, sticking bits of god knows what on top of IC's, tightening screws (better have used a hifi only screwdriver at £1000 or it's pointless) and all other sorts of nonsense and everyone of these 'made a huge improvement'.

Makes you wonder how bad it sounded to start with. Was a Linn system so maybe that's the answer.

 
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garn63

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A switch alternative ?

Woolly hats rolled up at the sides above the ear...,so as to flick the ear out slightly, can "genuinely" lift the sound quality of all systems.

My Auntie will knit these to a perfect fit in any colour. They do cost £400 but audio playback is improved by at least 24% for the wearer ?     +£25 for embroidered Bonn logo version.

"The neighbours wont hear these leaps in sound quality, but they will hear you whooping with joy (in wintertime) when you wear these hats".       P.M. me for details/brochure.  Let's keep it real/warm this winter.        HI👲HATS.   

Worn by@rabski @Tony_J @Bazzer and most connoisseurs of fine knitting.

 
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