Well here comes another possibility for a contentious item

2022 The WAM show

bencat

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Visited the North West Audio show yesterday and saw the below gadget and have to say I was intrigued . I already have and use a Network switch between my router and streamer and found the sonic advantages of this to be both real for me and beneficial .

I liked the idea of having the connection between the two as an optical one given that this will break the ground chain between the Router and Switch and also in my case increase the speed of the switch (not that i have had any problems with the speed to date) . The set up looks to be quite simple and there is also the option to use a better power supply to the Adot MC1 box which may also make a difference (in the spirit of investigation I will compare an iFi switch mode to an LPSU ) . Now I havbe looked and I could quite easily buy these items from Amazon and do it myself but I am getting a reduced deal from the show and the designer has indicated that the quality of of the SFB plugs makes a difference and these are chosen not for sped but to be quiet not always the priority in large networks.


Now lots of those with real computer network knowledge and skills will be rolling their eyes and saying waste of time it can not make any difference and you may well be right . This will a small upgrade for me anyway and anything above that is a bonus . The cost is not very low like the £30 switch but in the scheme of things it is not huge either and will most likely benefit my whole network system as well as the music side as well .

Once I have it ordered and then installed will write on how difficult it was to fit and then make my own views on if it makes any difference .

I should really not be doing this as I have a three way active that should be worked on and returned to full working order but I find myself distracted to new shiny things so will give this a try .
 
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bencat

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Well just an update Alan who I talked to on the stand was as good as his word and has contacted me and offered me an MC1 Kit at the show price including delivery which I have paid for today and as they are in stock I should get mine later this week . I talked to my younger brother who is the IT Manager for Northwest NHS Service which runs the networks for Surgeries , Drop in Centres and all other NHS place except the Hospitals . To my surprise he agreed that there can be a wide difference in both price and performance with SFP connectors and that for large networks the main criteria is speed and noise is very low on the requirements . He says that low noise SFP's would amke a difference in a small domestic network and would in his view be a very good thing .

So while I have now seen that if you have an SFP on your switch then about £60 would get you the same sort of set up and even if your switch has n0 SFP then £75 woud get you a kit with two conversion units and an optical cable and Two SFP's which would work. What I have bought is much more expensive than that and on the surface looks to be the same level of kit but as a fully tested and it would appear sorted plug and play item I am fairly happy with the cost and will comment on what it does when it is fully installed .
 

audio_PHIL_e

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Hmmm ...
an optical link would be free from electromagnetic interference
but ...
unless it carries digital data it relies on a decent ADC at the source and a decent DAC at the sink,
and if it does carry digital data you need decent error detection and recovery

... so you're exchanging one problem for others
 

bencat

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Hmmm ...
an optical link would be free from electromagnetic interference
but ...
unless it carries digital data it relies on a decent ADC at the source and a decent DAC at the sink,
and if it does carry digital data you need decent error detection and recovery

... so you're exchanging one problem for others
In this case this is just digital signal nothing else and just replaces the ethernet connection from your router to your switch . If your switch or server does not have an SFP connector then you will need two media convertor units which does add to the complexity but would still offer the noise reduction you are looking to achieve.

In my case my network switch already has an SFP input so I will just be converting the ethernet output from my Router to optical and then the switch will accept that optical signal intact and then distribute that over my network but the current ethernet network . As at no time are the files being used as analogue files all of this will be contained in the digital domain and in the MC01 unit it rebuilds the digital input signal minus any noise before sending it off so everything in my system will get the benefit of lower noise . One thing no one has mentioned and will be interesting is that lots of my TV watching is streamed from Amazon / Now TV etc so will I get a better picture due to the noise reduction ? Not really sure but one thing is certain it is often much easier to spot a change in picture quality than it is to hear audio changes . All of out optic pathways are wired the same and route to the brain the same way so most can all see differnces . None of our audio paths are anything like the same so differences can be heard in different ways by different people .
 

bencat

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Does he have my system ? Does he have my ears ? Are his better than mine ? Sorry but you exhinbit a constant view that measurments are everything then link to a full blown subjective view from someone who i do not know . Any reason for this ? if you have a view and have tried something and you have your own view then please share but links like this are just not adding to what this thread is about . The links I used have been for reviews of exactly the product I am buying and the others are for people who have changed to an alternative optical connection . This is none of those .

This is the sum total of his comments which frankly are not that helpful or indeed relevant as Cisco switch appear to be agnostic to what you use and not limited as stated .

"Using Optical instead of copper Ethernet from Cisco switch to EtherREGEN. This is better than the cat 8 Ethernet but the difference is less marked than going from cat 5 to cat 8. I am currently testing this but my wife is not keen on the bright orange optical cables on the carpet! Apparently you can roll your SFP modules to alter the sound. I have not tried this. With the Cisco switch you are fairly limited to the modules which will work."
 

tuga

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Does he have my system ? Does he have my ears ? Are his better than mine ? Sorry but you exhinbit a constant view that measurments are everything then link to a full blown subjective view from someone who i do not know . Any reason for this ? if you have a view and have tried something and you have your own view then please share but links like this are just not adding to what this thread is about . The links I used have been for reviews of exactly the product I am buying and the others are for people who have changed to an alternative optical connection . This is none of those .

This is the sum total of his comments which frankly are not that helpful or indeed relevant as Cisco switch appear to be agnostic to what you use and not limited as stated .

"Using Optical instead of copper Ethernet from Cisco switch to EtherREGEN. This is better than the cat 8 Ethernet but the difference is less marked than going from cat 5 to cat 8. I am currently testing this but my wife is not keen on the bright orange optical cables on the carpet! Apparently you can roll your SFP modules to alter the sound. I have not tried this. With the Cisco switch you are fairly limited to the modules which will work."

What are you on about?
 

TheFlash

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There used to be lots of stories around of people trying optical (mainly as device interconnects rather than as network cables) and being disappointed, though I guess it comes down (as in much of hifi) to the quality of the implementation. The critical component seems to be the circuitry which converts electrical to optical at one end and optical back to electrical at t'other. Is this the SFP thingie? The issue which disappointed is that the additional conversion circuitry at the destination was generating its own noise, negating some of the benefit of having a no-noise signal coming in.

If the conversion circuitry is fabulously quiet, this could reveal the full potential of optical connections.

In similar vein, I have reported elsewhere how adding in even a budget Zyxel network switch just before my streamer sharpened up the sound nicely. I hadn't realised how much noise an ethernet cable can pick up. I suspect you're in for a nice surprise, Andrew.
 
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bencat

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Firstly Nigel this s not converting music this s a straght conversion of one digital transfer (ethernet) to another (Optical) The MC01 box does the trancode and the SFP is the connector . Ths is much more advanced and better quality than TOSLINK whch seems to have always been made down to a price . This is very much a network IT thing and is used manly for speed . According to what have found out from three different very experienced and knowledgable IT people speed is the main driver for these SFP connectors / adaptors (I am not certain about the terminolgy) . But all three 'experts' did say that among those produced there were certain makes that majored on low nose which is what we want for our networks. almost inevitably there s already audiophile SFP connectors at over £100 for one that other are already saying are the only ones you should use . But two of the 'experts' I have spoken to have indicated that the SFP's used n the MC01 kit have the same low nose measurements as the £100 units so will give these a go and if I suddenly get flush may well at a very later date try the £100 plus units

What I have found to be interesting is that the length of the optical cable matters under a certain length (1.2Mtr) there is reflections and issues very similar to the length of the ideal RCA SPDIF cable . This has been accounted for in the MC01 Kit but may well be something to bear n mind if you go down the cheaper make up your own kit .

My feelings about this is to do with noise in the system , Nicks cables(Wave) show themselves to be a very good way of suppressing that noise but what if that noise could be lessened in the first place by this option and then the cables can still do a job as well ? Overall what I want to achieve is a similar or even better noise reduction than using Nick's cable but perhaps that is a little ambitious but aim for the stars and if you only reach the moon be happy you got out the atmosphere.
 

bencat

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Right just to keep you all up to date the Kit arrived today but there have been a couple of issues which are now being sorted. Nothing wrong with any of this just the fact that we are all human and errors do happen . The response and help offered has been fantastic and Adot / Melco have been superb in trying to put things right and get me up and working. As a result I will have things connected tomorrow but with not the full approved kit (optical cable will be a replacement courtesy of my brother till the full approved one arrives) . I will not be making any comments or review until everything in as per what the original kit would be so would be looking at Thursday / Friday before I give my views . Sorry this is a bit longer than I thought but these things happen .
 

bencat

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Okay this may prove to be little longer of a read than was my first intention but by detailing all the things warts and all it can act as sign posts for anyone else .

Right the Kit sent to me by ADOT was their MC02 kit and this came as 2 x MC01 Media Convertors , 2 x SFP adaptors/plugs , Linear Power Supply but no Optical cable . Now what I had wanted and discussed was their MC01 Kit which would have a single MC01 Media Convertor box , 2 .x SFP Adaptors /Plug and an Optical cable , I was going to use my own LPSU . The box for both is the same just a tick on the outside indicating which kit it was . So an easy mistake . ADOT in all my contact both with Alan who I met at the show and the admin in the office were superb and very quick to react and I am sure they are like this with all customers . I have always said as I think a real human being we all make mistakes and it is not this that defines things but how those mistakes are reacted to and dealt with . In this case the response and action has been as good as it gets.

Now on to the problems I was not aware of and the issues that others might well have . My router is an Archer VR2800 which is a very powerful and modern DSL Modem/Wireless Router. My switch is a Cisco 2940 which is NOS but at least ten years old and sadly compter tech moves with great speed . Any current Network Switch with SFP input will have gigabit Auto-Negotiate as does my router and this will make a simple and automatic connection in the network chain - Router - MC01 via Ethernet cable - MC01 - Network Switch via Optical Cable using SFP . This will most likely work first time and be all that is needed . However as I noted my Cisco Switch though top class and working is outdated and for the SFP to work there need to changes to the Router Output and the setting of the Cisco that match each other . Sadly this is well above my technical ability but I am hoping that a little chat with my brother who knows about these things will produce a solution .

So my brother provided me with a nice 2 mtr Optical cable and because I had the MC02 kit I could get a system using the optical connection up and running by the following chain - Router - MC01A via Ethernet cable , MC01A - MC01B via Optical Cable using the two SFP inputs on each unit , MC01B - Cisco Network Switch via Ethernet cable . Having the optical exchange in the middle gives the reduced noise advantage . The LPSU supplied has a y splitter so it can power both MC01 units which is a boon . So all of the above was much harder to describe than it was to do and when connected and switched on everything worked as it should with all the correct lights on and my network around the house working without any issue.

Now this all took place on Friday and I have left the ADOT system in place and used it since then . First thing to say is for me at least in all of my systems the sound has improved and become much more natural and times better . Things move at a much more organic and believable pace and both instruments and voices sound less forced and easier to listen to . The improvements are across all systems but seem to be easier to hear the better the system is . So in my quite basic kitchen system I can hear the changes and recognise the improvement but in my full music system the changes are just more obvious and noticeable . One thing is for sure I will not be going back to the way things were this network stays .

Now for a side effect I was not expecting but has to be noted . In my front room I have my TV and full AVC system using both Plusnet Freeview box and an Amazon Cube box . Not all the channels are streamed some are via the aerial but not with the Cube . The picture is better and clearer now with the ADOT inserted than if it is not there . I have switched this back a couple of time with my wife watching the TV and both of us agree with the ADOT inserted even though it is probably not the ideal arrangement would prefer a direct Optical to my switch but even this way it just gives a more stable picture with better colour depth . Sound is also better meaning I was able to reuce the volume from my normal setting by a couple of levels (from 55 down to 50 on the on screen volume) but I did not lose any clarity it just did not need to be loud to heard.

So my view is that there is very much a plus in my systems and with my network in adding in an optical break from my router to my switch . Having looked I know that this can be achieved much cheaper using standard kits . If that give all of the advantages of the ADOT kit i just do not know as I can not do the comparison . What I can say is that the ADOT Kit works and is relatively simple to use if you have the right equipment in your system . I am more than happy to have paid what I did and will be just fitting this and enjoying the music going forward . Anyone could try this using a standard kit set up for not much money and see if it makes a difference if it does then it is for them to decide if they want to leave things as they are or look at the ADOT Kit .
 

bencat

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Just finished the above missive and my Wife pointed out an obvious thing I has missed which is one of my systems uses a Logitech Squeezebox Touch connected to a MiniDSP DDRC 24HD then 2 x Quad 405 powering a pair of Linn Sara 9's . Because of the sockets being used this has always been connected Wireless and as it is close the the room my router is based in no issues have ever cropped up .

Now using a Wireless Signal should have the same noise reduction as making the optical break as there is no wire connection between the player and the server . However as i noted before this system still showed an improvement in sound quality not as great as my main system but still there . No real explanation for this and does raise the thought that I may just be fooling myself about the sonic improvements (I know it can happen) . So I wired the SBT up with Ethernet change the Touchs network setting to make sure it was using the Ethernet and rebooted the system . Well now I can hear the same sort of improvements as i heard in my full system this was much better now than even the Wireless connection . So I am now sure that things are quieter across the whole network and things will be staying .

I have however decided to ask my GP for a referral to a trick cyclist and will undergo some therapy to hopefully contain my madness .