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Bonn NX & Genesis GX

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/Studio, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 switch, 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 Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe; Preamp/filter: Vinnie Rossie L2 Signature and icOn 4th-order/80Hz; Amplifier: Enleum AMP-23R; 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; 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: €3'499 for network switch, €3'299 for the clock

On. Off. In. Out. Switched rhymes with the lot. Depending on whom we ask, when it comes to audiophile network switches—we might call them LAN distributors—today's landscape still falls somewhere in the pre Noel Lee era. Then lamp cord was all the ambitious audiophile needed. Suddenly the meteor of Monster Cable struck and dinosaurs died off en masse. Forward to 2023. Thunder Data  Co. Ltd. of Zhuhai are experts in hardware/software development engineering and project management dedicated to applying enterprise level storage technology to high-end consumer electronics. Silent Angel are a sister brand led by Eric Huang Jian who holds a PhD in computer science from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; and Chorus Chuang with a masters degree in electrical engineering. They launched their Quiet Celestial in Taiwan in 2014. Though their engineering background in packet tech told them otherwise, they noted that networked audio suffered sonically versus CD. As do others in this sector, they now focus on eliminating UHF noise, lowering jitter and designing superior power supplies to elevate digital music streaming. They've written their own audio OS for turning a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B into a Roon Core. Just three years ago they only had the budget Bonn N8 switch. Now they already offer various music servers/streamers, music storage, linear power supplies and today's network switch and optional master clock.

A Kaohsiung Audio Show system with Børresen speakers, Aavik integrated and Shunyata cabling and power delivery.

The full names of these components are Bonn NX and Genesis GX. We'll refer to them by just their suffix. External masterclocks are key in studios where multi-channel digital processors including video frames must sync to a shared clock. In the home where a single CD player or PC act as source, a real need for them was debatable. It's when digital separated into ever more pieces that pro-audio masterclocks from Antelope to Mutec made inroads and upscale purveyors like Esoteric introduced their own. There's still no consensus for optimal clock frequency. The pro standard is GPS's 10MHz. Most domestic versions adhere to it. Others propose 25MHz. Both 50Ω and 75Ω terminations are popular. Then outliers like Denafrips argue that having to synthesize 44.1/48kHz-related frequencies from such clocks introduces new error potential. They prefer pure integer frequency multipliers instead. Obviously send and receive aka master and slave gear must agree on the same clock.

The Silent Angel offers four temperature-controlled 369ps-jitter clock-distributing BNC, two each at 10/25MHz. The internal "radar-grade SMPS" can be bypassed with an external 12VDC linear supply like the firm's own Forester F2. There's a ground terminal for an external grounding box and a standard IEC inlet. Like the companion switch, the chassis combines an inner galvanized steel box with a curvy outer aluminium-alloy layer. The switch has 8 x RJ45 ports whose blinking LED can be turned off. Another rear toggle disables the internal clock when an external 25MHz clock connects. There again is a standard IEC and the same 2.5mm 12VDC input to bypass the internal switcher. What NX lacks is a provision to turn off unused RJ45 ports and their constant short link pulses. The switch weighs a solid full-size 6.4kg, the clock does it one kilogram better still.

This assignment came about in an unexpected way. Post HighEnd 2023, Hifiknight's Marek Dyba emailed. Krzysztof Owczarek, Silent Angel's Polish distributor who also handles Reimyo, Trenner and Friedl, Lavardin, Aurorasound and Thöress, had arranged with their brass in Munich that Marek review both units on his Polish site, then have me syndicate his findings. On his behalf, Marek now also asked for my own independent review. As to brand names, I find today's especially clever, evocative even. A silent angel elevates the concept of the perfect butler to the next octave. Invisible by lacking a physical body, an angel's benign influence here manifests as pure silence. That's audiophilia's synonym for absence of high-frequency noise and its deleterious impact on the optimal functioning of digital kit. Getting out of the way by absence of ego and physical limitations suggests a sonic guardian angel with no stretch of the imagination. Poetic and clever!