Country of Origin
Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" November 2020 iMac (i5, 256GB SSD, Ventura 13.3, 40GB RAM), 4TB external SSD with Thunderbolt 3, Audirvana Origin, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 switch, Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe, Sonnet Pasithea DAC; Active filter: icOn Gradient Box 2; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos, Goldmund/Job 225 on subwoofer; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox; Phones: HifiMan Susvara, Meze 109 Pro; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf + sound|kaos DSUB15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Qualio IQ [on loan] 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 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 into Soundaware D300Ref SD transport to COS Engineering D1, iFi iDSD Pro Signature or Denafrips Terminator Plus 12th Anniversary firmware; Preamp/filter: Vinnie Rossie L2 Signature or icOn 4Pro, icOn 4th-order/80Hz active filter; Amplifier: Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini or Acelec Model One + 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; DAC: legacy Auralic Vega; Head/speaker amp: Enleum AMP-23R; Speakers: EnigmAcoustics Mythology M1; Headphones: Final D-8000
Upstairs headfi system: Source: Shanling M3 Ultra, Soundaware D300Ref; DAC/headamp: iFi iDSD Pro Signature; Headphones: Meze 109 Pro
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: SW-6 $794, SW-10 $1'349, OCK-2 $749, $49/1m clock cable
No LHY. When Joël rated for us the $6.6K Cybershaft OP21A-D clock, he preferred his LHY SW-10's performance with it over a triple cascade of Aqvox SE⇒Silent Angel N16 double switch; over Silent Angel's top Bonn/Genesis NX combo; over his previous Waversa SmartHub.
No LHY. My resident LAN distributor is a $594 SW-8 to make it today's unit minus its optical SPF inputs minus its 50Ω 10MHz clock i/o.
We can thus say that the SW-10 is the hotrod version of my switch. It means the same carved-from-solid aluminium chassis just wider and deeper; the same general concept just tweaked up. It's why the price goes up to $1.35K.
What LHY? The brand is a budget subsidiary of China's Jay's Audio and marketed by Vinshine Audio's subsidiary Beatechnik also out of Singapore. It means direct sales in US currency. LHY is short for lãohu yú or Tigerfish. That pugilistic aquarian eyes us as a symbol on the internal temperature-controlled oscillator's big cowling.
In the small pond of audiophile network switches, the SW-10's attractive ratio of price to build quality and features makes for a big fish. Being able to dispatch an optical transmission to a Lumin or other server or streamer equally appointed gives it a fanciful fin up over exclusive RJ45; and 10MHz clock ports open the narrow byway of home-based clock syncing.
That's a contentious topic with top digital engineers like Eelco Grimm and Ed Meitner. In Stereophile's interview with the latter, "…you don't believe in using an external word clock. Why?" "Because I think this is the stupidest thing I've ever heard in the audio business. That means you have a precision clock that you must connect to a wire to connect to a DAC when the clock should be where it belongs, inside the DAC beside the DAC chip if there is such a chip; not through a cable in a different box. This is so idiotic, it's not even funny. It's a money grab."
In Ed's view external masterclocks belong in studios where they synchronize multiple digital workstations during audio or audio/video mastering/mixing edits. They were never intended to improve a single component's performance. In Meitner's and Grimm's view, the best clock always sits within centimeters even millimeters of circuit trace from the silicon handling conversion. The clock signal does not exit a chassis down an external cable through two connector junctions to be exposed to cable jitter, impedance mismatches and airborne EMI/RF. But audiophiles love cross shopping other industries and there'll always be brands to serve them. This could mean €35K for Esoteric's external atomic rubidium clock. The SW-10 welcomes less loaded shoppers with the stablemate $749 OCK-2 clock in matching livery. Equally contentious is the rationale for fancy network switches. If generic routers couldn't deliver bit-perfect data, the stock market would collapse goes the argument. The audiophile counter argument cites incoming noise on the Ethernet pipeline and more noise generated by nasty switching supplies powering generic routers. In that view an intermediate 'clearing house' becomes necessary to isolate the World Wild West from our FussyFi via optocouplers, linear power supplies and reclocking. Hello audiophile network switch. In my still short experience with the genre via my SW-8 and a competing Taiwanese switch from COS, there's something to it. Also true, I find that inserting a quality music player like Audirvana Studio to bypass MacOS's core audio engine contributes more to achieving parity between cloud and local files than an audiophile network switch does alone.
Because ours is a WiFi-allergic household, the three computers hanging off our router hardwire via industrial CAT8a along floorboards. The longest run is 30m to my wife's office. My SW-8 hangs off a 20m run then connects to my iMac via 1m stretch. Certain installs could need a switch just to create extra feeds beyond what the freebie router of their Internet provider facilitates. Now a switch's primary function is as outlet multiplier like a generic power bar. It's why I think of network switches as LAN distributors. A single signal goes in then splits out into as many parallel feeds as we need. Just as audiophile power bars may add filter/regenerator functions or just superior parts for lower impedance and better electrical contacts, so audiophile routers may pack performance incentives beyond basic port multiplication. At least that's my view. And I sit by it; literally. My 27" music iMac with Audirvana and external 4TB USB3 SSD lives to the right of my listening chair, SW-8 switch right below it. I see it each time I listen. That's no lie; nor that without it, playing local files sounds better than cloud streaming. Which isn't about dropped bits or any altered or 'improved' 1s 'n' 0s.