Audiophile network switches. Jeez. That’s a tricky subject. IT people will laugh very hard when an enthusiast reports that he or she has spent a few hundred or even more than 1000 euros on a switch. Honestly, we’re struggling too. Cause it’s almost impossible to explain. Yet there are differences. Sometimes big, sometimes (very) small. And sometimes not at all. To find out where the differences are, we made a measurement setup. Have we discovered the secret? No. but we’re going to take you along on this journey. Here’s the start: part 1
We started the research by utilizing a scope on the data lines, the clock and the coaxial output of a Metrum Acoustics Baby Ambre. This last measurement can be seen in the pictures of the scope. You will see the spdif signal on the screen and then a zoomed-in version of the bottom of the square wave. No difference is immediately visible between the standard Netgear GS108T and the Bonn N8 Silent Angel. At least we haven’t been able to see it. We do see a difference between a 1000 mbit signal and a 100 mbit signal. And funnily enough, we also see a difference between the earth’s points. You can see that on the video.
But the fact that we cannot see any difference between the spdif output and between the two data lines on a scope does not mean that there is no difference. Because looking at a block wave and not seeing any difference doesn’t say anything. There are numerous measurements. Think spectral analysis. Or an image on a scope with much more bandwidth. In short: this is only step one in our search.
What we’ve also done – and what you can see in the video – is measure the adapter on our Blue Horizon power meter. And yes, there’s certainly a big difference. The medical grade adapter is measurably quieter and better than the power supply of the Netgear. In short: if you install the switch near the set, you will at least benefit from the much quieter adapter. However, that is worth less than 400 euros: a sbooster performs better and is cheaper than a complete Silent Angel Bonn N8.
Also, the switch of Thunder Data seems a little better shielded. There is some special foil to the bottom to keep radiation inside and collect excess energy. Our power noise meter shows that this is no nonsense: it spikes immediately if we keep the print of the switch close by.
And now what?
What are we going to do now? First of all, of course, listen. Is there a difference? And then we’re going to continue to investigate to see where the differences are. After all: if it is audible, it must somehow also be measurable… but where to look?