For audiophiles and music lovers who love to read...
Country of Origin
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, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, Sonnet Pasithea DAC; Active filter: icOn 80Hz/4th-order hi/lo-pass; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 mono, Enleum AMP-23R; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf + sound|kaos DSUB15 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 D300Ref SD transport clock-slaved to Denafrips Terminator +; Preamp/filter: icOn 4Pro SE; Amplifier: Goldmund Job 225; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini or Acelec Model One + 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: 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: $594 incl. worldwide shipping
Got milk? Sure. But it's sour. Cue cop show. The heroine's dad shows up unannounced in her flat. He checks up on the contents of her fridge then shakes his head in exasperation. Oops. Wrong flick. We're a hifi channel. It's not milk that's sour. I am sour; on cloud streaming in the main rig. It's a far second to local files which Audirvana frog-marches down the USB pipeline into a decontamination area of Singxer SU-6 super-cap powered USB bridge. Whilst my Qobuz Sublime subscription hits the same reclocker before it sees the Sonnet Pasithea DAC, it opens a backdoor to the world wild west. In our case that's a fiber-optic router by local provider Eir. That always-on box with switching wall wart but WiFi disabled shakes hands with my music iMac via 20m run of proper industrial CAT8a. Still, sound quality suffers by contrast to off-line listening. So I do most my Qobuzzing over the desktop's Final D8000 headphones. It's how I scope out new music to add to my local library. At just shy of $600 to the door, Jay Audio's network switch under their accessory brand LHY Audio—for Tigerfish—looked like a relatively painless critter to see/hear whether Qobuz streaming in the big rig could get up to local snuff.
The SW-8 is based on an 8-outlet Linksys LGS108. It guts its SMPS and cheap casing for a linear variant and milled-from-solid enclosure then adds an ultra low-noise SC-cut oven-controlled crystal oscillator aka OCXO. Could this sleek FMJ box minimize even eliminate the sonic discrepancy between streaming local and cloud files? I was curious enough to take one for the home team. Perhaps Qobuz could finally be more than a try-before-buy shopping resource? Some of us with superior CD transports as reference demand more than the WiFi-streaming majority who apply different sonic standards. I do have the top-tier Qobuz subscription also in the main listening room but simply don't feel inclined to use it for serious listening. It's not up to par. Clearly better is accessing local files hosted on the iMac which Audirvana buffers in 32GB RAM. It's no matter of belief or tech arguments. It's about being sour on less and firm that bolting Ethernet and a generic router to music playback needs more help than USB. Feel free to disagree. That's simply been my experience. Now I'll check out whether a ~$600 helper from a trusted Chinese designer can shine up my Ethernet pipe.
Its destination was obvious: at the end of my 20m CAT8a cable, with just a short Ethernet link from it to my iMac's network card. Would the SW-8's buffer action 'shut the backdoor' on the ungrounded worldwide web? Outside my office it manifests as a big black box on an electrical pole. It's a repeater node which distributes fiber down our estuary front road another 2km past our house. I know because our local provider recently trouble-shot then replaced the cable downstream from us. A nasty neighbor who for questionable sport shoots birds on a wire had hit it. The tech who reconnected new cabling to the node outside my office window showed me the sorry evidence to bring back to their corporate office. Two buckshot pellets embedded in a 2m stretch.
Clearly our careless culprit isn't a high-speed Internet user. Otherwise he'd refrain from such self-defeatist vandalism. This anecdote visualizes the many users which hang off a hardwired feed even in a sparsely populated area. Thankfully the folks upstream from us don't fire at cabling; or harmless creatures. Country living. Like cow dung on a westerly wind and the occasional gun going off, it's got its own attractions.
With LHY's compact monolithic case, the attractions include the $749 OCK-2, a 10MHz master-clock generator whose 3 each sine/square-wave ports can all dip-switch configure internally for 50Ω or 75Ω. Like the SW-8, the internal chambers segregate the primary power supply, voltage regulation stage and output/clock stage. Also like the SW-8, the oven-controlled crystal oscillator is said to stabilize after 30 minutes of use. Now the Vinshine/Beatechnik men have a master-clock which works outside the Denafrips/Soundaware preference for word-clock-integer freqs to interface with all other gear that runs the 10MHz studio standard.
To welcome the SW-8 into my fold, I bought a short link of Viablue silver-plated OFC copper CAT7 network cable with Telegärtner MFP8 T568B connectors from audiophonics. Less than €100 bagged it though Amazon had generics for all of €6 prior to shipping. Should the fancier spread taste better, I now felt all set to sample it. If it took gold-plated cables instead before anything happens, I'd never know. That's off my beat.
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