Country of Origin
Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: late 2020 Retina 5K 27" iMac with 40GB RAM and Ventura 13.4, 4TB external SSD, Audirvana Origin, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 network switch with SOtM iSO-CAT7 isolator, Sonnet Pasithea DAC; Active filter: icOn Gradient Box 2; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos, Goldmund/Job 225; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Qualio Auido IQ + sound|kaos DSUB 15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex; Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Furutech RTP-6 on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioner; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: Shanling M3 Ultra, Soundaware D300Ref SD transport, Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe; Preamp/filter: icOn 4Pro + 80Hz active filter, Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature w. ER50; Amp: Enleum AMP-23R; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustics SuperMon Mini, Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF, Akiko Audio Corelli; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; Headamp/DAC: iFi iDSD Pro Signature; Headphones: Final D-8000; Active speakers: DMAX SC5
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl Dp5 transport; DAC: Auralic Vega; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a; Active DSP speakers: Fram Midi 120
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m
Review component retail: €2'000
Switched on; conscientiously contentious. It's an apt entry for a network switch review against collective pushback in hifi circles. More recently we saw such on darko.audio even Vinshine Audio. The latter market my $594 Lhy Audio SW-8 switch which for me works nicely, thanks for asking. In their video they simply make no claim that it actually improves our sound. Nor do they explain why then we'd still want one. The topic is contentious so they prefer not to get jammed up in arguments. They simply offer audiophile switches without noisy sales tactics. Defining what we want/need is left to us. Here generalized endorsements and counter dismissals will never cover all scenarios. Just because something works for me—or not—is no guarantee that others will have the same result.
The most current award for the firm's D10 v2.
COS Engineering of Taiwan are the makers of my H10 and D1 head/DAC and DAC/pre. Already last year I knew them to be working on improving networked audio via dedicated switch, fiber-optic module and outboard linear power supply. With specialty firms from Melco to Silent Angel, SOtM, Waversa and Clones Audio sister brand Zayin of Taiwan, the ubiquitous router/modem which Big IT Corp give us with our Internet provider contract has fallen seriously afoul as a source of noise and bad sound. Like free toilet paper, contrarians hand out explanations that RJ45's mini transformers already disrupt all noise; that the Ethernet protocol is error-proof in the first place or the stock market would crash. Those of us without deep tech knowledge hear conflicting arguments. We join whichever herd's stance resonates more with our own beliefs or prior experience. Then there's that other 'heard' of f-it, let's simply listen for ourselves. Throwing that kind of fit to stay mentally alert is my idea of good practice. So when Stephen Gong of COS hit my gong on whether I'd review their network switch, I agreed without hesitation.
"Our fiber optic module runs at 100Mbps. Sadly it didn't work with Melco switches which claim to support 1'000 and 100Mbps. Contacted them but no reply. It does work with SOtM switches but on their entry-level model we didn't think the sound that impressive yet. Didn't have their dearer stuff though. It works very well with our own switch of course. Now we find the light connection to outperform copper. As a separate module it'll price at €1.2K for two and include a 3-meter optical cable. We should send you that with our switch to test a number of different scenarios." Just as Toslink is S/PDIF's light-based transmission, fiber optics are Ethernet's. Where routers and servers don't include matching socketry—certain Lumin's servers are an exception—we must bring our own adapters to convert copper Ethernet to light and back. Incidentally Bel Canto were early adopters of fiber optics to transmit digital inside the home beyond generic Toslink. In commercial data distribution, optical fibers have far higher bandwidth than copper, suffer less long-distance power loss, are virtually noise free, highly resistant to electromagnetic interference and thinner and lighter. In domestic scenarios of just a few meters, many of those advantages could be moot but lack of a ground connection is still considered a benefit. Detractors insist that no format/process conversion is ever zero loss. If we want to know for ourselves, it's back to trusting our own ears. We just shouldn't assume that whatever we find true for our situation is globally so.
As the name suggests, the black or silver S10 packs ten ports so 8 x RJ45 copper (1'000/100/10Mbps) and 2 x optical (100Mbps). Its internal power supply is linear not switch mode. Not surprising against the above, COS even give their multi-awarded 5-in-1 D10 v2 a fiber-optic option to avoid the need for an external box. That active box is rather more than a passive RCA/XLR adapter plug where Ethernet would go in and light come out. If it can be included inside a component, we have one less box and power cord to fuss over.
Pre-production switch and fiber-optic module.
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