News $2,500 Ethernet Switch Effectively Isolates Audiophiles From Cash

JamesJones44

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I going to start with, I am no sound expert, not even by a long shot. However, music from streaming services is encoded digitally, transmitted digitally and then decoded into analog signals once it reaches its final destination device (phone, tablet, AV unit, TV, etc.). So how exactly does this do anything for that digital signal in transport? Seems like it would have little effect me based on what I know, but maybe someone can enlighten me.
 

_dawn_chorus_

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Listening to streaming services on that kind of setup seems a bit backwards.. lol. Every streaming platform slaps a limiter on every track to somewhat normalize volume, flattening the dynamics in general. You can often here a distinct difference in depth comparing a quality file on your hard drive to the streamed version, assuming the master wasn't already sausaged. Unless you have more money than you know what to do with this seems like a pointless way to spend it.
 
I going to start with, I am no sound expert, not even by a long shot. However, music from streaming services is encoded digitally, transmitted digitally and then decoded into analog signals once it reaches its final destination device (phone, tablet, AV unit, TV, etc.). So how exactly does this do anything for that digital signal in transport? Seems like it would have little effect me based on what I know, but maybe someone can enlighten me.
It doesn't. It's more snake oil. A digital signal either arrives intact or it doesn't. And while you could make the claim that this helps improve the chances of a digital signal not being corrupted while in transit, this is only something you have to worry about if you're in adverse conditions. Which I'm pretty sure most audiophiles wouldn't allow their setups to be in the first place.

If anything the quality of the cable is more important, but at the data rates required for audio, you don't need to go that far either.
 

BillyBuerger

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Oh man. I was looking for a specific USB cable recently and came across audiophile priced USB cable and the same crap was being spouted about them. If spending this much money on something to make you feel better, whatever, go for it. But it's sad seeing "fake news" articles like this. There's no analysis to try to explain why it's better. It just is because the "reviewer" feels it's better even if there's no explanation for why that is.
 
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hokierif

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LOL!

I DO consider myself an audiophile and this seems like a complete joke and the very last thing I would ever invest in for my setup. Digital is digital and this doesn't affect that. MAYBE the power conditioning and isolation makes this slightly less susceptible to interference, but that may only result in a few packets needing to be retransmitted. Even IF that happens there is this thing called caching which every single modern streaming device has, and specifically to pad for retransmitted packets. Nah - this isn't for me.
 

donner

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You see it smooths out the signal, so it is harder to tell the difference between a 1 and a 0. So, yeah, umm... that makes it sound better.

And, clearly the ethernet switch is a critical component in the path of that digital data to your computer and make a huge difference compared to the industrial rack mount switches in the data centers and ISPs, hundreds of miles of fiber and/or copper, conversions from fiber to copper, source storage to akamai storage, etc... etc...
 
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PiranhaTech

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If the audio playback programs are coded correctly, this does nothing. If the music is playing and is continuous, it doesn't matter how the data comes to you. Here's why.

CD player motors can be horrible for audio quality, but it's still digital. Why? It's because the 1s and 0s get buffered into RAM, which will smooth it out. Once it's in RAM, it's solid state. In terms of audio streaming software, if the RAM buffer is large enough, then it doesn't matter if the packets come in at a sporadic pace. If the source audio is streamed faster than the playback pace, which is very easy to do, if your connection is stable, you can write the software to where there's no lag once it starts playing.

You can probably make a really precise CD player motor, but the reality is that the motor has to compete with the likes of 256 megabytes of RAM, and that RAM would probably be much cheaper than a precise CD player motor. I suppose I digressed there, but still, if you can store 1/3 of the CD into RAM, then you can have a really crappy motor as long as it's fast enough

If you have a program coded like I mentioned, if your connection is stable enough, then this Ethernet switch won't do anything, especially if have a large RAM buffer. Also, streaming often uses compression, so that shrinks the needed RAM buffer. 100 megs of RAM is enough for around a 4 minute FLAC file at 24/96. Most audio formats also have built-in checksumming
 

jefferzbooboo

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Listening to streaming services on that kind of setup seems a bit backwards.. lol. Every streaming platform slaps a limiter on every track to somewhat normalize volume, flattening the dynamics in general. You can often here a distinct difference in depth comparing a quality file on your hard drive to the streamed version, assuming the master wasn't already sausaged. Unless you have more money than you know what to do with this seems like a pointless way to spend it.
He wasn't using a streaming service like Spotify, he was using a self hosted Aurender N10 music server that streams. Other than the Aurender costing $8k, I know nothing about it and why it's so much better.
 
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Eliad Buchnik

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Now this is complete joke. Knowing a bit about digital signal and networking. Digital signal is either intact or not, and there are mechanisms for errors detection and corrections that are meant for deal with transmission errors. Now let say this some how eliminates all possible errors and packet (frame) loss, what is next? What about your router, the communication lines, all the equipment in the middle and server in the end. This switch does nothing to deal with any potential issues with those devices (and most likely there will be issues on the way rather with your current switch).
 

eriksquires

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I really do get the skepticism but this non-review of gear you never had in your hands would have been a lot more interesting if it actually had at least a tear down of the parts and components inside it. For instance, proving it the equal of my TP-Link switches would be a good start, as would investigating whether it was more/less prone to creating AC noise compared to a regular switch.

Also, who pays $2,500 for a $40 switch? :D

My point is, yeah, I get the angle, but this is Tom's, so show us the guts.
 
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InvalidError

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My point is, yeah, I get the angle, but this is Tom's, so show us the guts.
This is just a 'news' thing - a report of something reported elsewhere, mainly for the purpose of making fun of it in this instance. Chances are nobody related to THG ever was anywhere near the same room, building or even city block at any point in time.
 

JarredWaltonGPU

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I think several of you are missing the point of this news post. We're here to point out the idiocy of claiming an "audiophile switch" can do something to a digital signal. We didn't get this for review, but the headline should clue you in: $2,500 Ethernet Switch Effectively Isolates Audiophiles From Cash. We are NOT recommending anyone spend $2500 on this switch. If that wasn't clear, we apologize, but give the text a second read with the knowledge that we at Tom's actually do think this product and the "review" are highly suspect.
 
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I going to start with, I am no sound expert, not even by a long shot. However, music from streaming services is encoded digitally, transmitted digitally and then decoded into analog signals once it reaches its final destination device (phone, tablet, AV unit, TV, etc.). So how exactly does this do anything for that digital signal in transport? Seems like it would have little effect me based on what I know, but maybe someone can enlighten me.
It is literally impossible for this device to improve sound quality, thanks to the magical power of checksums.
Checksums ensure that the device receiving data from this device is getting unmodified bits. At best this thing could be claiming to be a man in the middle attacker on your audio stream, but such an attack could only reduce fidelity to the source. Maybe you could stretch things and say that by reducing fidelity you make the sound 'better' than the original artist crafted it, but .... to me that's not audiophile at all. Audiophile is supposed to be all about perfect reproduction of a studio recording.
 
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InvalidError

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to me that's not audiophile at all. Audiophile is supposed to be all about perfect reproduction of a studio recording.
Same here, the holy grail should be perfect reproduction of the source material.

In the audiophoolery world though, an A-class tube amplifier with 1% THD adds "warmth, fullness and presence to sound" only because the amplifier's characteristic distortion profile is something favored by that particular reviewer. By strict scientific/engineering standards, it is technically hot garbage compared to decent hi-fi semiconductor amplifiers that typically do better than 0.05% THD+N.
 

atmapuri

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Between the signal transformers that Ethernet cables typically terminate into at both ends and all of the buffering that audio software and hardware has to do to mitigate network IO latency, there is basically no way in heck that a fancy switch can have any meaningful effect on audio quality.
Well, some people have reported that there is in fact a difference. The question is only "where" this difference comes from. Of course you are correct and this does not come from affecting the digital data as is. Some ideas:

a.) Inside the switch for 2500 USD you could have a bunch of DSP logic, to recognize audio, unpack the network packets, modify the audio and repack it back. Maybe there is some typical fault in the streaming audio, which can be fixed algorithmically. For example:

  • Increasing sampling frequency by 2x by using bandlimited (perfect) interpolation. Many audio receivers do 96kHz or more up-sampling before playback.
  • Use a harmonizer to introduce higher harmonics from existing audio in to the new higher frequency range. (above16kHz)
  • There could be any number of algorithms that can take the mp3 and aac faults and try to mitigate the problems and improve something.
Why to put that in to a switch rather than a special driver? Maybe its not possible to do on all devices?

b.) There is also this thing called "power supply". You can affect the performance of any device on the power grid, by plugging in one more device. Each new device and even every power plant which is on or off the grid will have an influence on the power supply and the frequency spectrum of the 50/60Hz signal. You can tell exactly which power plants are online and which devices in your houshold are working or not, just by looking at the power grid voltage signal. It is possible that some of the power supply issues (1 or 2 bits) could leak in to the D/A converter (the soundcard) of the computer, which is playing back the audio. The source of that can also be the ethernet connection.

This does not mean that the 2500 USD switch does any of this. As much as the internet is overwhelmed with false information, you could have hustlers selling anything.

Atmapuri
 

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