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Home A (very!) deep dive into network switches- listening and measuring

A (very!) deep dive into network switches- listening and measuring

45

Dlink DGS-108

The Dlink DGS-108 is a well-known model in the audio world. For example, Paul Pang uses them as the basis in his audio switches. And also AQvox has used them to modify. We understand that, since the price is interesting AND the switch itself performs nicely in the measurements.

Sound-wise, the Dlink 108 does an excellent job. It even ends up in the Top-3! Martijn is particularly impressed with the piano piece: “Magic in the first notes: I can even hear the pedal work. Rhythm is very good”. And he is right: it really clicks beautifully with the Dlink. In the first song – Talking Heads – it’s a bit variable. The interpretation seems a bit different. But in the end, the Dlink just does it very well. (Link to Amazon)

Dlink DGS-108 – Switch noise

Dlink DGS-108 – Power supply noise

Dlink DGS-108 other PSUs

We took a little more measurements on the Dlink. But let’s start with the standard measurements. Dlink shows that the basics are just fine: the noise in idle mode is very low. And under load, it’s under control. Higher than the Netgear, though. That one performs ridiculously well there. The power supply noise is just fine. And in load also, though we see a crazy dip. No drama after that. Great product.

If we connect other power supplies to the Dlink you can see what happens: completely different characteristics. And that is immediately audible. Anyone who has experimented with this knows what a different power supply on a switch does. What is immediately noticeable is that the Sbooster lets through more noise than both the standard and the IFI power supply. However, port noise drops with the Sbooster. It shows the trade-off well. A linear power supply can be better if the design is also good. But shielding the power supply is crucial! And filtering the noise as well.

Type test
Multitest
Features
  Cisco SG110D-05
  • Build: Simple, small and light
  • Sound: Restless, sharp
  • Imaging: Bit flat
  • Overall: Not very nice. Bit sharp. Too expensive
  • Price: 71
  Cisco Meraki YETI
  • Build: Sturdy, bit boring.
  • Sound: Lively, airy, detailed
  • Imaging: Large, sharp image
  • Overall: Nice sounding switch. Decent upgrade
  • Price: 929
  Dlink 1210P
  • Build: Decent, sturdy
  • Sound: Restless, detailed, but sharp
  • Imaging: Okay, but not special
  • Overall: Bit sharp sounding switch. Lacks bass
  • Price: 199
  Dlink DGS-108
  • Build: Decent, no-nonsense
  • Sound: Very nice. Fluid, detailed, nice image
  • Imaging: Large and sharp image
  • Overall: Very nice switch with a decent price
  • Price: 39
  Edimax 5500G V3
  • Build: Plastic, cheap
  • Sound: Average. Nothing special. Doesn't 'click'.
  • Imaging: Bit flat and boring
  • Overall: Not a very nice product. Cheap build and dull sound
  • Price: 30
  LHY SW8
  • Build: Very nice build. Sturdy
  • Sound: Very detailed presentation. Light footed
  • Imaging: Very large image. Impressive
  • Overall: Bit fresh sounding, but loads of detail and air
  • Price: 849
  Netgear GS108E
  • Build: Sturdy, no-nonsense
  • Sound: Nice balance. Robust and coherent
  • Imaging: Stable image, tight focus
  • Overall: Very nice product. Sounds coherent and nice! Measures extremely well
  • Price: 27
  Pura Amonite
  • Build: Sturdy, industrial look
  • Sound: Airy, large image. Bit fresh and sharp sometimes.
  • Imaging: Large and airy
  • Overall: Nice product, but tad sharp sometimes.
  • Price: 1900
  TP-Link 1008D
  • Build: Plastic, cheap
  • Sound: Sounds fun! Airy, not really precise, but good.
  • Imaging: Large image. Airy
  • Overall: Weird. Sounds decent, but measures bad...
  • Price: 17.50
  TXE064
  • Build: Metal, but ugly
  • Sound: Sounds really bad via PoE ports. It's okay with normal ports.
  • Imaging: Flat.
  • Overall: Sounds bad. Measures bad.
  • Price: 39
  Delock Fiber
  • Build: Sturdy, no-nonsense
  • Sound: Tight, detailed, but bit dry
  • Imaging: Wide, but low image. Feels like 16;9 TV
  • Overall: Nice calmness, but tad dry sounding
  • Price: 90

45 COMMENTS

  1. Hey, great review very detailed. Back in the late 80’s I worked with Western Digital on the first 100M Ethernet boards for PCs. We had a dial up system that used their boards. Hey it was the beginning of the internet what do you expect.

    Back then it was all about common mode noise as the culprit of quality on a network switch or controller. Was wondering why you didn’t do any of that testing on these units?

    Your test sets would allow differential and common mode testing.

    Thanks,
    Gordon

  2. Hi,
    I’ve been absorbed by this review and video for several hours! 🙂
    I’ve bought a GS108Ev3 today and want to improve its perfomance by upgrading the power supply. Do you recommend a switching or linear power supply and which one(s)?
    Thanks!

  3. Hello.
    Very interesting article.
    I tried a different approach for my network connection, the idea was to simplify the network eliminating the switch that was close to my Chord 2GO/2YU streamer but keeping it visible from home network.
    I use Roon, and in the past I tried on my MOCK the double network card strategy that you, but also others, suggested: the motherboard RJ45 port was connected to the ISP generic router and a PCI RJ45 card to the streamer. It’s very easy to configure and in my opinion it gave very good sound improvement, but it requires to have the 2 ethernet cards on a different subnet.
    That means that the streamer was “isolated” from the home network (on a different subnet so not reachable).
    Investigating further, a guy from the Roon community told me it’s possible to keep the streamer on the home subnet using the “ethernet bridge configuration”, but while this can’t be done on ROCK, Linux supports it.
    So I spent some hours (I was not familiar with Linux and also didn’t know how to bridge the 2 ethernet cards, so I had to learn), but at the end I’ve been successful.
    I also added another thing: the PCI exp card is now an SFP adapter , a very cheap one from Amazon, and also the SFP fiber modules are 2 cheap single-mode devices.
    I use a fiber connection between the Roon server and the streamer, then I had to use a TPLink media converter between fiber and streamer, which has been powered with a homemade linear psu based on a modified board I bought on Audiophonics.
    The RJ45 adapter from the motherboard is directly connected with a CAT6 cable to the router.
    This gave an incredible sound improvement and allowed me to keep the streamer on the home network and use it to stream film soundtracks from my MacBook via airplay. Some weeks of test made me understand that this is just another step to make the system sound better, but there is still some work to do as the harshness is reduced but still there.
    Now I’m wondering if it’s better to increase the quality of the devices I’m currently using keeping the same optical/copper configuration or instead install in the Core a high quality double net card like the JCAT XE directly connected to the streamer with high quality network cable obviously using a 5V linear PSU for the card.
    Thanks

  4. Hi, thank you very much for all your efforts.
    I am interested in purchasing a Netgear GS108E. Actually, I discovered such a item has reached the v4 version. Which version was used in your tests?

    Thanks

  5. Mooi stukje!

    Hebben jullie ook de Dlink DGS108 al eens vergeleken met de Cisco SG110D?

    Van beide hebben jullie vgm al eens een review geschreven.
    Zelf heb ik de Cisco met Ifi Ipower voeding maar zou graag willen weten of het zich loont om de Dlink te proberen.

  6. Mooi stukje!

    Hebben jullie ook de Dlink DGS108 al eens vergeleken met de Cisco SG110D?

    Van beide hebben jullie vgm al eens een review geschreven.
    Zelf heb ik de Cisco met Ifi Ipower voeding maar zou graag willen weten of het zich loont om de Dlink te proberen.

  7. Hi,

    Thanks for the awesome switch test. I acquired an LHY SW-8 switch some weeks before your test. I use it with an R26 DAC and a Mac Mini M1 serving Roon/HQP. It brought great improvements to my system that were consistent with what you described, particularly in Martijn’s separate review of the SW-8: a broader and deeper soundstage, longer reverberations and sense of space, whilst being a more natural sound with less glare. Amazing what a good switch can do.

    So just last week based on your test findings & recommendations as an experiment I got a Netgear GS108E switch which I paired with a spare Ifi Power X PS and placed in series with the LHY I.e. Generic router > Netgear GS108E > LHY > R26.

    Wow. The soundstage focus tightened considerably with a seemingly quieter background, more detail and improved micro-dynamics, a bit leaner, but still retaining the characteristic LHY natural and easeful sound.

    Flicking back to the LHY alone it was warmer and smoother with a more generous if slightly bloomed bass. It took a few minutes to get used to the shift – the two switch combo is definitely more resolving and feels balanced so is staying. Oh, and adding a small grounding tube to the Netgear further relaxed and focussed the sound (doing this with the LHY had a negative effect, perhaps due to its already well sorted power section).

    I am constantly amazed how upstream improvements in the digital chain, even seemingly minor ones, can seriously and cumulatively improve a streamer’s & DAC’s performance.

    Will try adding FMCs next, further down into the rabbit hole I go! 😅

    Keep up the great work chaps.

    Jake

  8. Hi,

    Thanks for the awesome switch test. I acquired an LHY SW-8 switch some weeks before your test. I use it with an R26 DAC and a Mac Mini M1 serving Roon/HQP. It brought great improvements to my system that were consistent with what you described, particularly in Martijn’s separate review of the SW-8: a broader and deeper soundstage, longer reverberations and sense of space, whilst being a more natural sound with less glare. Amazing what a good switch can do.

    So just last week based on your test findings & recommendations as an experiment I got a Netgear GS108E switch which I paired with a spare Ifi Power X PS and placed in series with the LHY I.e. Generic router > Netgear GS108E > LHY > R26.

    Wow. The soundstage focus tightened considerably with a seemingly quieter background, more detail and improved micro-dynamics, a bit leaner, but still retaining the characteristic LHY natural and easeful sound.

    Flicking back to the LHY alone it was warmer and smoother with a more generous if slightly bloomed bass. It took a few minutes to get used to the shift – the two switch combo is definitely more resolving and feels balanced so is staying. Oh, and adding a small grounding tube to the Netgear further relaxed and focussed the sound (doing this with the LHY had a negative effect, perhaps due to its already well sorted power section).

    I am constantly amazed how upstream improvements in the digital chain, even seemingly minor ones, can seriously and cumulatively improve a streamer’s & DAC’s performance.

    Will try adding FMCs next, further down into the rabbit hole I go!

    Keep up the great work chaps.

    Jake

  9. On fiber – I have a similar finding. Quieter but also a bit of a hard edge to the music that is uncomfortable (much like the digital glare of old). This is improved with a better fiber converter on the streamer end (Sonore Optical Module Deluxe) – but even improved, that hardness was still there. I have to think it is a noise problem of converting from optical back to copper. My testing was with a Bricasti M3 DAC with network renderer. Copper with a passive noise isolator (Network Acoustics ENO) was less quiet (blackground) than the fiber but didn’t have the hard edge.

    That said, when I upgraded to a Bricasti M21 DAC with the same network rendering technology as the M3, I could use the fiber with the Sonore module and didn’t have the hard edge. Must be better noise isolation in the M21, although the network card is supposed to be same between the two.

  10. On fiber – I have a similar finding. Quieter but also a bit of a hard edge to the music that is uncomfortable (much like the digital glare of old). This is improved with a better fiber converter on the streamer end (Sonore Optical Module Deluxe) – but even improved, that hardness was still there. I have to think it is a noise problem of converting from optical back to copper. My testing was with a Bricasti M3 DAC with network renderer. Copper with a passive noise isolator (Network Acoustics ENO) was less quiet (blackground) than the fiber but didn’t have the hard edge.

    That said, when I upgraded to a Bricasti M21 DAC with the same network rendering technology as the M3, I could use the fiber with the Sonore module and didn’t have the hard edge. Must be better noise isolation in the M21, although the network card is supposed to be same between the two.

  11. Thanks Jaap,

    I await the next testing with considerable interest. The what is happening and then the why is it happening (if it exists) fundamental. For me there are definite listening benefits with audio rated quality switches, cables and accessories. Those with data centre enterprise networking experience say no way.
    John

    • I have worked in IT for 40 years (since before it was called IT!). When it comes to network switches used for audio purposes, it’s actually a disadvantage to work in IT as our world is all about digital of course. The impace of a switch in an audio chain is to kill (analogue) RFI/EMI noise. No 1s and 0s are harmed or enhanced by a network switch and super-accuracy clocks in switches can’t affect sound quality because of the way ethernet works (in data frames, with error correction, asynchronously). So the data centre guys are right when they look at this through a digital lens but wrong in the world of music reproduction.
      In our world, a switch is there (and there must be maybe 0.5 to 1m cable to the streamer not next to the router) to kill noise – or at least to minimise it. The better a switch is at killing noise, the more effective it is for audio purposes. All an “audiophile” switch can do is to kill noise more effectively than a basic switch: a well-designed case to stop noise getting into the switch, and quietened cicruitry so the switch itself doesn’t become part of the problem.

  12. Thanks Jaap,

    I await the next testing with considerable interest. The what is happening and then the why is it happening (if it exists) fundamental. For me there are definite listening benefits with audio rated quality switches, cables and accessories. Those with data centre enterprise networking experience say no way.
    John

    • I have worked in IT for 40 years (since before it was called IT!). When it comes to network switches used for audio purposes, it’s actually a disadvantage to work in IT as our world is all about digital of course. The impace of a switch in an audio chain is to kill (analogue) RFI/EMI noise. No 1s and 0s are harmed or enhanced by a network switch and super-accuracy clocks in switches can’t affect sound quality because of the way ethernet works (in data frames, with error correction, asynchronously). So the data centre guys are right when they look at this through a digital lens but wrong in the world of music reproduction.
      In our world, a switch is there (and there must be maybe 0.5 to 1m cable to the streamer not next to the router) to kill noise – or at least to minimise it. The better a switch is at killing noise, the more effective it is for audio purposes. All an “audiophile” switch can do is to kill noise more effectively than a basic switch: a well-designed case to stop noise getting into the switch, and quietened cicruitry so the switch itself doesn’t become part of the problem.

  13. I have received and read to post re the testing of various Ethernet switches. The comments were useful and interesting. The switches tested all seem to be at the lower end of the what is available especially for audio networking purposes.

    It would be of more interest to me and probably other readers of the Forum if you undertook a similar evaluation of some higher quality more expensive audio network switches. I suggest the following Brands as examples. There are others
    Melco
    SOtM
    Paul Pang dual or quad
    Silent Angel Bonn Pro
    Waversa
    Renolabs

    John

  14. I have received and read to post re the testing of various Ethernet switches. The comments were useful and interesting. The switches tested all seem to be at the lower end of the what is available especially for audio networking purposes.

    It would be of more interest to me and probably other readers of the Forum if you undertook a similar evaluation of some higher quality more expensive audio network switches. I suggest the following Brands as examples. There are others
    Melco
    SOtM
    Paul Pang dual or quad
    Silent Angel Bonn Pro
    Waversa
    Renolabs

    John