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Ethernet switches for audio - Part B: why a regular switch will suffice.


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4 minutes ago, Stereophilus said:

What does science suggest we do when confronted with a large body of experience that contradicts the expectations of accepted theory? Cry "snakeoil" and refute the experiences of a great many? Or investigate further?

The latter of course, but the key thing is that it will be a proper scientific investigation.  They will not assume the majority opinion is the truth, something else that happens around here far too often. In fact, no assumptions at all should be made.  You might be surprised, btw, that "accepted theory" agrees with much more than that for which it is usually given credit in audio.  This is partly because we often hear mis-applied "accepted theory". People use semi-plausible sounding arguments to make their case without full examining the situation - sometimes intentionally.

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Firstly, a preamble.  My system is definitely serious.  It is now significantly reliant on Ethernet for connectivity for the 2 X NASs, Roon Core, DSP Box and a network player before anything reaches t

I’m just baffled at how many people really don’t get that a switch is typically sending audio to a device with a significant buffer for playback. The traffic traversing the switch is not “real time” a

I don't think they have the right knowledge in what they are trying to apply to because anybody who knows how network and switching works will know that no matter how fancy the ethernet cable is, it w

13 minutes ago, Stereophilus said:

What does science suggest we do when confronted with a large body of experience that contradicts the expectations of accepted theory? Cry "snakeoil" and refute the experiences of a great many? Or investigate further?

 

Ah, I don't think it's that bad, more a few gaps in what could cause anything audible. 

 

The networking heads are right. Getting the data there is easy. Getting the data there better and on better timing is handled by pro-grade gear that has done this for eons because it has to. Regular cables get it there just fine. Nothing wrong here. 

 

That people's ears are hearings things does not make it wrong... so we investigate there, no?

 

Part of the hard divide here IMHO is that we're really 'down in the flys**t' here for measurements; if the data is good then jitter is really the only possibility, and we're talking differences so small as to be very difficult to measure in terms of any device stuck across DAC output terminal - this doesn't suggest there aren't differences! Or that they're not audible. 

 

And some people won't hear differences. Sometime because owing to their stuff there is nothing to be heard.

 

It'd be good to get some measurements that make sense, though we're probably looking in the wrong place (cough cough ASR :P )

  • Packet jitter, we'd probably want a Linux kernel built with tracers etc to log when packets land - I'd wonder if we can get sufficient timing accuracy in that measurement?
  • Some similar measures of USB packet content/timing? Maybe the same limitations?
  • Induced crap in the Ethernet wire - would we be looking for some sort of characteristic of CPU or other circuit duly powered analysed?

 

Maybe this space gets so much (not unreasonable) skepticism as 'audiophile' solutions in the space are so indirect relative to what they could possibly effect. 


Science says dig deeper and look for direct cause/effect. Ethernet switches and DAC output are a long ways away from each other! 

 

We're all better as theorists then :D 

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6 hours ago, rmpfyf said:

 

Helps but not definitively. Dropping the volume of Ethernet interrupts also directionally correct.

 

@sjay read up. Your comments aren't completely incorrect though some inconsistencies exist. I use the same cable FWIW and am looking at Cisco Meraki or Juniper for switching.

Meraki is rubbish. Use juniper over Meraki.  Meraki is smb Cisco crap. Designed for click click admins 

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55 minutes ago, rmpfyf said:

Ah, I don't think it's that bad, more a few gaps in what could cause anything audible. 

There's always room to improve our knowledge of the real world.

 

55 minutes ago, rmpfyf said:

The networking heads are right. Getting the data there is easy. Getting the data there better and on better timing is handled by pro-grade gear that has done this for eons because it has to. Regular cables get it there just fine. Nothing wrong here. 

Yeah.  This is one area we we constantly see pseudo scientific reasons to convince us to spend our money.

 

57 minutes ago, rmpfyf said:

That people's ears are hearings things does not make it wrong... so we investigate there, no?

Not sure what you meant, but I would think it IS worth investigation?

 

58 minutes ago, rmpfyf said:

Part of the hard divide here IMHO is that we're really 'down in the flys**t' here for measurements; if the data is good then jitter is really the only possibility, and we're talking differences so small as to be very difficult to measure in terms of any device stuck across DAC output terminal - this doesn't suggest there aren't differences! Or that they're not audible. 

A good experiment would be to test that assertion that differences so small they can barely be measured, actually ARE discernible in a controlled test. 

 

59 minutes ago, rmpfyf said:

And some people won't hear differences. Sometime because owing to their stuff there is nothing to be heard.

I would contend that some people won't hear differences, even on the same equipment, side by side with someone who can, or who claims they can.

 

1 hour ago, rmpfyf said:
  • Packet jitter, we'd probably want a Linux kernel built with tracers etc to log when packets land - I'd wonder if we can get sufficient timing accuracy in that measurement?
  • Some similar measures of USB packet content/timing? Maybe the same limitations?

As you know, I think, I am still sceptical that this is not obviated by any downstream buffering.

 

1 hour ago, rmpfyf said:
  • Induced crap in the Ethernet wire - would we be looking for some sort of characteristic of CPU or other circuit duly powered analysed?

 

I am missing something here.  As long as the digital signal is not put outside the acceptable tolerances, by the noise, what is the problem?

 

1 hour ago, rmpfyf said:

Maybe this space gets so much (not unreasonable) skepticism as 'audiophile' solutions in the space are so indirect relative to what they could possibly effect. 


Science says dig deeper and look for direct cause/effect. Ethernet switches and DAC output are a long ways away from each other! 

This is a good example of something that is in need of theoretical explanation.  Yes, until cause and effect is demonstrated, there is lots of room for doubt. A reasonable theory on why would help convince the naysayers.

 

 

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14 minutes ago, recur said:

I should really think of a way to rig this up to do a proper ABX test, fully automated. It would put this all to bed for good.

Only for you. No one else would be convinced, you should know that.

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14 minutes ago, recur said:

I should really think of a way to rig this up to do a proper ABX test, fully automated. It would put this all to bed for good.

 

Done. On mine, proven to be a real thing. Trying now to engineer it to be not a thing at all!

 

@aussievintage I put up a reasonable theory though it pertains to my setup only. There are many potential scenarios. What I experience also explains why downstream buffering typically doesn't work. 

 

(Crap down Ethernet line - wire acts as an antenna, conducts EMI - the four wires used, the four inactive and any shields inherent.)

 

If one were to have a true, independent and isolated downstream buffer - something sized large and with properly independent reclocking , with awesome clocks and great implementation and all that - then it's likely it'd not be required at all. I'm having something like this installed in my DAC because honestly it costs less than what some people pay for USB/Ethernet/whatever trinkets. 

 

The penalty is a longer-than-usual lag between command and playback - which for many people or products is not acceptable. 

 

That some can and some can't hear differences is just what it is, and no definitive cause for doubt.

 

34 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

A good experiment would be to test that assertion that differences so small they can barely be measured, actually ARE discernible in a controlled test. 

 

That's essentially the rub with jitter performance. 

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1 hour ago, sjay said:

Meraki is rubbish. Use juniper over Meraki.  Meraki is smb Cisco crap. Designed for click click admins 

I agree. I have 300mm racks tho, and Juniper's latest FW runs 'em a bit loud :( Going to get a s/h 2200 to try first. 

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Umm, I dont want to discourage disucssion, however I feel some of this discussion is drifting a bit far from the topic.  Take the discussion where you will (I dont own it), but consider who will benefit from it. 

 

I think it would be helpful to members to focus efforts of this thread on developing solid recommnendations for using a regular switch that the average audio lover can implement (without needing a degree in networking/programming) to judge for themselves.  As this thread is about switches (and related hardware and tweaks), perhaps focus should be on switches and how to make them perform for maximum enjoyment of audio.

2 hours ago, sjay said:

Use juniper over Meraki

So, which would you suggest?  EX2300 (fanless)? EX 2200?

As some people will choose to use costly ethernet cables in short runs, and thus locate the switch close to their audio gear, are these switches conducive to being in the listening room?  And easy-ish to manage?

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1 hour ago, dbastin said:

Umm, I dont want to discourage disucssion, however I feel some of this discussion is drifting a bit far from the topic.  Take the discussion where you will (I dont own it), but consider who will benefit from it. 

 

I think it would be helpful to members to focus efforts of this thread on developing solid recommnendations for using a regular switch that the average audio lover can implement (without needing a degree in networking/programming) to judge for themselves.  As this thread is about switches (and related hardware and tweaks), perhaps focus should be on switches and how to make them perform for maximum enjoyment of audio.

So, which would you suggest?  As some people will choose to use costly Ethernet cables in short runs, and thus locate the switch close to their audio gear, are these switches conducive to being in the listening room?  And easy-ish to manage?

I guess the optimum would be a switch thats well designed, not blurting out noise and runs quietly ( fan wise, or fanless) would be a good starting point.

 

Lets strip away the various brands first and see what we can identify in the market place that meets the following requirements;

 

1.  VLAN support (segment family/house traffic from the music streams)

2. Spanning tree support ( protects from idiotic cabling choices)

3. Must run quietly so not to affect music enjoyment

4. must be user friendly and support CLI config

5. Contain a simple and elegantly designed mainboard using quality parts ( think this one is quite important)

6. Gigabit enabled

7. Not sure if this will help but perhaps a switch with an external power supply might help.....I know some of the lower end Arubas come like this much to the disdain of the team at work.

 

If you demand ultra low latency port to port expect to pay MSB level pricing. Arista Networks does that sort of thing at the mid market level but I doubt anyone here is crazy enough to drop that sort of coin on home switch. 

 

I think this is a helpful starting point.

 

thoughts?

 

 

PS I left POE out as from a purest perspective, its safer to do so at this stage.

Edited by sjay
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16 minutes ago, dbastin said:

Umm, I dont want to discourage disucssion, however I feel some of this discussion is drifting a bit far from the topic.  Take the discussion where you will (I dont own it), but consider who will benefit from it. 

 

I think it would be helpful to members to focus efforts of this thread on developing solid recommnendations for using a regular switch that the average audio lover can implement (without needing a degree in networking/programming) to judge for themselves.  As this thread is about switches (and related hardware and tweaks), perhaps focus should be on switches and how to make them perform for maximum enjoyment of audio.

 

With @sjay here, a 'good' solution is not consumer grade. Ethernet changes are probably better experienced if you're able to change Ethernet-related settings at the receiving end.

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Thanks @Ejay.  Thant's very helpful.

The bramds you've mentioned dont seem to have options for DC input (or if they do its uncommon voltage?)  Eariler in this thread someone suggested Ubiquiti.  Would these meet the criteria listed?

- UniFi Switch 8

- UniFi Switch 8 150W

- Unifi Switch XG 6PoE

- EdgeSwitch 5XP

- EdgeSwitch 10X and 10XP

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42 minutes ago, dbastin said:

Thanks @Ejay.  Thant's very helpful.

The bramds you've mentioned dont seem to have options for DC input (or if they do its uncommon voltage?) 

There’s plenty of dc switches but they are typically service provider switches, running 48V DC as that’s what is in telephone exchanges.

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This Aruba 2530 8 port gigabits looks like a good starting point..Kogan has them going cheap

 

https://www.kogan.com/au/buy/bigredtech-aruba-2530-8g-l2-managed-ethernet-switch-itzpswhhpclpdc/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=product_listing_ads&gclid=Cj0KCQiA7OnxBRCNARIsAIW53B8mQsN0ZvQ6xLhkIzE61e6m8bJsHdTPebFnyVFjDusbRxoimOsgw2kaAov7EALw_wcB

 

Has an external psu and the features needed for a solid home network. Also comes with easy to drive user interface.

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3 hours ago, sjay said:

This Aruba 2530 8

Great, that is helpful. 

 

I was led to believe Level 2 switches are not appropriate (or necessary) for what we need for home audio/hifi, I cant recall why though.

 

Are the HP variants equivalent?

 

There is the 2530-8 and 2530-8G, do they differ in a way that might natter to audio?

 

What DC voltage input do they need? And what connector is required for DC input? (the connect seems unusual but I cant find good images).

 

Cheers

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Aruba and HPE are the same company, sort of. Aruba has all the network products under it and HPE has the compute, storage and other enterprise stuff (think software).

 

The 2530-8G is the Aruba branded version, it comes with POE. I have one a work I can probably loan out for testing if someone wants to test it. I do not have time for this at the current time so wont be able to myself.

 

It comes with a DC power supply BTW, at least the POE version does for sure.

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12 hours ago, sjay said:

Aruba and HPE are the same company, sort of. Aruba has all the network products under it and HPE has the compute, storage and other enterprise stuff (think software).

 

The 2530-8G is the Aruba branded version, it comes with POE. I have one a work I can probably loan out for testing if someone wants to test it. I do not have time for this at the current time so wont be able to myself.

 

It comes with a DC power supply BTW, at least the POE version does for sure.

I'd certainly be interested to try it out if the it runs off 12v DC and I can find a connector for the DC input, so I can try it with my LPS.

 

@Assisi and/or @Stereophilus might also be able to compare with their experiences with Paul Pang and EtherRegen to see if the Aruba switch will 'suffice' (to their ears).

 

Ive seen not only Aruba and HPE variants but also HP.

20200207_190104.jpg

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Part code ending 77A is on the bench at work. 

 

Anyone in Sydney got time to test it?

 

Sadly it's a poe model. I rekon without poe is the way to go. 

 

I can order Aruba juniper Cisco etc.. at global discount levels, so up to 88% off list.  Surely one of these rereference level.vendors has a nose free switch with uber low latency ...

 

Note I run poe at home as I need it for my access points but my cloth filled.ears would not notice the difference 

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On 06/02/2020 at 5:51 PM, sjay said:

This Aruba 2530 8 port gigabits looks like a good starting point..Kogan has them going cheap

 

https://www.kogan.com/au/buy/bigredtech-aruba-2530-8g-l2-managed-ethernet-switch-itzpswhhpclpdc/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=product_listing_ads&gclid=Cj0KCQiA7OnxBRCNARIsAIW53B8mQsN0ZvQ6xLhkIzE61e6m8bJsHdTPebFnyVFjDusbRxoimOsgw2kaAov7EALw_wcB

 

Has an external psu and the features needed for a solid home network. Also comes with easy to drive user interface.

is this one POE?

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On 07/02/2020 at 10:02 PM, dbastin said:

@Assisi and/or @Stereophilus might also be able to compare with their experiences with Paul Pang and EtherRegen to see if the Aruba switch will 'suffice' (to their ears).

The information provided re the Aruba switch did provoke an interest in me.  Initially though I am more interested in a a switch developed for audio purposes notwithstanding the doubts expressed by others.  What I heard a couple of weeks ago with the twp Paul Pang switches was seriously special. 

 

Supposedly according to some people, two switches are even better than one.  Then it might be worth me considering the Aruba.

 

I note that Paul Pang has a new switch for 2020.  It has four banks of 5 connections.  Twenty in all.  A circuitous route from Router to player/streamer

 

John

 

IMAG2782.jpg

 

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9 hours ago, Assisi said:

The information provided re the Aruba switch did provoke an interest in me.  Initially though I am more interested in a a switch developed for audio purposes notwithstanding the doubts expressed by others.  What I heard a couple of weeks ago with the twp Paul Pang switches was seriously special. 

 

Supposedly according to some people, two switches are even better than one.  Then it might be worth me considering the Aruba.

 

I note that Paul Pang has a new switch for 2020.  It has four banks of 5 connections.  Twenty in all.  A circuitous route from Router to player/streamer

 

John

 

IMAG2782.jpg

 

 

John, that quite literally looks like four unmanaged DLink switches - these in particular https://www.dlink.com.au/home-solutions/DGS-105-5-port-gigabit-desktop-switch-metal-housing

 

They can be had for $25/ea. There is nothing special about them. Shared PHYs, no special software, no speed regulation.

 

The most you can do is change an oscillator to something more resolute and power them from a linear supply. 

 

An LPS is $100 in parts. The oscillator and circuit at most $50. So $200 all in and placing four switches in that proximity we're talking some decent EMI if we're counting audiophilia and fairy dust.

 

This isn't designed ground-up for audio, this is a hack - and a very poor one at that.

 

All it can do in terms of dealing with packets is limit broadcast packets (which happens after the first switch anyway) and more isolation. 

 

All it can do electrically is provide some isolation through usual RJ45 connector magnetics. If seeking that, just get a proper isolator - start with one of these (https://www.ebay.com/c/664727134) and work up (preferably one with the beaded cable). 

 

I am all for solutions that throw some rigour at potentially valid audiophile ends, but what you've linked is a p***take. Sorry. Not having a go at you, more annoyed that people would sell it - what's new for 2021, 8 switches stacked together and $200 cables to link it all up? Come on. Customers deserve better engineering.

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12 hours ago, Assisi said:

I note that Paul Pang has a new switch for 2020.  It has four banks of 5 connections

I am particularly puzzled why it relies on external ethernet cable connections rather than internal direct connections.  But hey, there's a lot of stuff that is illogical but works wonders.

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5 hours ago, dbastin said:

I am particularly puzzled why it relies on external ethernet cable connections rather than internal direct connections.  But hey, there's a lot of stuff that is illogical but works wonders.

It’s because he’s daisy chaining these switches all together as they have no backplane connectivity. If you can’t see how much of a cludge this is and still believe there is magic happening, it might be time for a long hard look at what you believe in.

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8 hours ago, rmpfyf said:

John, that quite literally looks like four unmanaged DLink switches - these in particular https://www.dlink.com.au/home-solutions/DGS-105-5-port-gigabit-desktop-switch-metal-housing

 

They can be had for $25/ea. There is nothing special about them. Shared PHYs, no special software, no speed regulation.

 

The most you can do is change an oscillator to something more resolute and power them from a linear supply. 

 

An LPS is $100 in parts. The oscillator and circuit at most $50. So $200 all in and placing four switches in that proximity we're talking some decent EMI if we're counting audiophilia and fairy dust.

 

This isn't designed ground-up for audio, this is a hack - and a very poor one at that.

 

I am all for solutions that throw some rigour at potentially valid audiophile ends, but what you've linked is a p***take. Sorry. Not having a go at you, more annoyed that people would sell it - what's new for 2021, 8 switches stacked together and $200 cables to link it all up? Come on. Customers deserve better engineering.

Are you denying that John experienced something "really special" in his words with 2 of these cheap crap dlink switches daisy-chained?

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19 minutes ago, Ittaku said:

Are you denying that John experienced something "really special" in his words with 2 of these cheap crap dlink switches daisy-chained?

 

Nope. It's completely possible. Much in the same way we have people on the forum that believe power cables make a difference and those that don't, and somewhere in the divide there are people that point out 'well if your amp's power supply is sensitive to mains quality then it's just poorly designed' - it's possible to have a streamer or whatnot that's sensitive to e.g. packet jitter, and another that is designed with measures not to be similarly effected..

 

The means to this end though are ridiculous. Paul Pang is quite literally changing power supply and oscillators (with cheap 25MHz units mind you) in a freakin' $25 switch and selling it for a mint. The current 'double' item appears to be is two DGS-108's (A$44 on eBay) with replaced clock and a power supply in a new box. Freakin' USD$1190?! I'm in the wrong business!!

 

Hell, I have a good supply of some (decent) Stratum 3E 25MHz OCXOs if anyone wants to try. 

 

And really what's it doing? Reclocking and filtering, with the latter dependent on cables etc. The former effect is only as good as the last clock (assuming firmware etc doesn't get in the way) and any filtering is... within Ethernet standard, so a decent isolator would smoke it.

 

It's just such an epically poor design intended to extract money from people. 

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4 minutes ago, rmpfyf said:

Nope. It's completely possible.

 

It's just such an epically poor design intended to extract money from people. 

But he's providing hardware that regular Joe can't put together, and he's extracting a "completely possible" improvement as you've said yourself then. He can charge whatever he wants for it, if people are willing to pay for it. Same goes for $5 worth of cables being sold for $5k.

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2 minutes ago, Ittaku said:

But he's providing hardware that regular Joe can't put together, and he's extracting a "completely possible" improvement as you've said yourself then. He can charge whatever he wants for it, if people are willing to pay for it. Same goes for $5 worth of cables being sold for $5k.

 

He can, he will, that's consumerism.

 

It's incredibly poorly designed to the point of being disingenuous though. It's a hack in a box. 

 

There are quite decent attempts out there to design something ground-up for purpose, and if having an understanding of what's being specifically solved there are many solutions from other technical application domains that work just fine.

 

It's very sad that this is counted among those as being somehow equal.

 

I've met and spoken with some of the people on this forum thread and they're good people. They deserve better.

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From what I have seen of Paul Pang switches, they are likely to be highly modified IT switches, not ground up designed for audio.  Aqvox ssem simllar approach.  Ether Regen, SOtM, Melco seem to be purpose designed and built for audio.  M12 appears to be a special industrial switch modified for audio.

 

Commercial pricing is likely to the value of the benefits the product provides relative to other audio products that provide similar benefits - if that's a lot more than the value of parts, then that's the cost of the R&D, and IP, to realise that benefit.

 

How much for your rock @recur?  Do they work like Shakti stones? Or Stein Harmonizer stones?  :lol:  Umm, maybe you're on to something?

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On 11/02/2020 at 7:26 AM, Ittaku said:

Are you denying that John experienced something "really special" in his words with 2 of these cheap crap dlink switches daisy-chained?

yep thats what it is 2 cheap crap d link switches glued together and he charges 2 grand for them whos the clever boy now?

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This came up on Part A thread and I've been curous to know ...

On 10/02/2020 at 12:35 PM, Snoopy8 said:

Many there are using the Cisco 2960 or variants.

... why is Cisco 2960 popular with audio people?

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I made a post a couple of weeks ago regarding a small trial I did with Two Paul Pang switches.  I now have some more to say and I will post in the other thread regarding switches as that seems more appropriate.

John

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So, has anyone come across switches similar to Cisco 2960 that are still relatively   Cisco 2960 cheap, quiet and quality switch from a tier 1 manufacturer of quality networking equipment  For instance newer but not çurrent models, other manufacturers, etc.

 

And while we're at it, what about routers/gateways with more than 4 ports?  This is because, as per Paul Pang, and several trials by other people in audio, there seems to be evidence that the switch or router that is upstream of the switch audio gear is directly connected to can affect sound quality, so it might be worthwhile to get a solid performer there.

 

BTW, Ive read about people trying different combos of dual audiophile switches, and a favourite seems to be Melco upstream a with SOtM downstream which seems to be a good combinatiin of each of their sound qualities. Thats $6k of swutches plus cables and lps/psu's.

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On 27/02/2020 at 8:38 PM, dbastin said:

So, has anyone come across switches similar to Cisco 2960 that are still relatively   Cisco 2960 cheap, quiet and quality switch from a tier 1 manufacturer of quality networking equipment  For instance newer but not çurrent models, other manufacturers, etc.

 

And while we're at it, what about routers/gateways with more than 4 ports?  This is because, as per Paul Pang, and several trials by other people in audio, there seems to be evidence that the switch or router that is upstream of the switch audio gear is directly connected to can affect sound quality, so it might be worthwhile to get a solid performer there.

 

BTW, Ive read about people trying different combos of dual audiophile switches, and a favourite seems to be Melco upstream a with SOtM downstream which seems to be a good combinatiin of each of their sound qualities. Thats $6k of swutches plus cables and lps/psu's.

 

Any large network manufacturer has an 8-12 port fanless option. Cisco, Juniper etc. 

 

Many gateways with 8 ports or more, including those in the same series used by PPA and others. Pick one, ship it to PPA or whoever tech you like, have mods done.

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On 31/01/2020 at 5:45 PM, dbastin said:

So you could be comparing:

- Netgear (base)

- EtherRegen

- Paul Pang x 2

- EX/CX internal switches.

 

Sounds fun, I wish I wasn't so far away.  Any chance one of you can try to get a Melco S100 to try too?

Given the switches being compared, maybe report your findings in Part A.

@Stereophilus

I'm wondering if youd be prepared to share your findings from trying these?

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58 minutes ago, dbastin said:

@Stereophilus

I'm wondering if youd be prepared to share your findings from trying these?

Corona Lockdown has hampered the extent of any comparisons.  I’m in healthcare, so I’m really trying to limit my contact with others unnecessarily, perhaps even more-so than the average person.

 

I did post an initial finding on the EtherRegen page.  That is, in my system, I did not hear an audible difference between the Netgear switch and the EtherRegen.  I am now using an optical converter to feed into the ER directly, but I have also found that approach is no different with SQ.

 

One thing that did make a difference to SQ was putting the ER between the CX and the EX.  Or in other words, having the CX on the A-side, and the EX on the B-side.  To me, using the ER in this way, SQ was a bit less dynamic, a bit more dull and less life-like.  Only a small difference, but definite.

 

These findings lead me to think that the Antipodes gear and my downstream tweaks have made my system mostly immune to ERs purported benefits.  The one thing that may also be important, which I haven’t yet experimented with yet, is the JCAT USB+LAN ground conditioner, attached to the EX.  This device made a big difference to my system when I added it... it may also be reducing / excluding any audible changes that could be found from using the ER.

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