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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Sonnet Pasithea, Soundaware D30Ref SD card transport & USB bridge; Preamp: icOn 4Pro S w. hi/lo-pass filter; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 mono, Enleum AMP-23R; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Aurai Audio Lieutenant w. sound|kaos DSUB 15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Cube Audio Nenuphar Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; 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: Soundaware D100Pro SD transport clock-slaved to Denafrips Terminator +; DAC: Kinki Studio; Preamp/filter: icOn 4Pro + 4th-order/40Hz hi-low pass; Amplifier: Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; 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: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headamp: COS Engineering H1; Headphones: Final D-8000; Powered speakers: Fram Audio Midi 120
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl SD-9 transport; DAC: iFi Pro iDSD Signature; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Simon Audio; Loudspeakers: German Physiks HRS-120; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m
Review component retail: £120/0.6m to £260/5m; 7.5/10m by request

I²S for prez. If you're driving Denafrips DACs, that's become the prevailing wisdom and bumper sticker. You just need a matching source.

Once I'd upgraded our main DAC with Sonnet's Pasithea, the Denafrips Terminator+ moved upstairs. Downstairs it had always connected to a Soundaware D300Ref USB bridge via HDMI. Upstairs Soundaware's smaller D100Pro lacks such a socket. So I used coax into T+. Then I realized that the D100Pro does have I²S: on RJ45. So does T+. Bingo. A day passed for that penny to drop deeper.

Didn't I have a 6-meter stretch of Furutech LAN-8 NCF cable? On my desktop I'd not heard much difference to a SOtM CAT6 variant when running the cable between router and PC. How would it work in I²S mode? Couldn't I now move my SD-card source right next to the listening chair to have its display in full view? It's how I have my music iMac set up downstairs. It sits right next to my chair for full and easy control without squinting. Not having a 6m coax, I'd tried to replicate that layout with a microphone-style AES/EBU cable upstairs but suffered dropouts. I had no proper digital XLR cable of the necessary length so resigned myself to the faraway small display in coax mode. But now I had a properly long cable of extreme speed and bandwidth whose specs are really intended for data centers. Wouldn't that make for an ideal I²S link?

Convenience + great sound = win/win!

And so it came to pass that the wicked witch didn't roast the child in the oven but I suddenly had my SD card transport right next to me fronting the upstairs system by four meters. It works a treacly treat. Would CAT6 be as good? I have none on hand to find out. Today is simply about sharing that the Furutech aces this job at a distance where I'd feel leery over using a digital coax.

CAT8 for I²S prez? In my book, absolutely!