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Multitest – The best switch for streaming audio

Price: € Differes

High End

Contents

SOtM sNH-10G

We go to the top of the class in this test. A SOtM sNH-10G. This is the brand’s entry-level model. And that means you can add loads of options to it. Think of a custom clock (1800 euros total price). Or a better power supply (depending on the model).

This switch comes with a standard adapter that delivers around 9 volts. What is noteworthy is that this SOtM is the only one that also allows fiber. Although they themselves partly recommend against using it. We tested with standard CAT6a cable.

The SOtM sounds completely different from the NuPrime and English Electric. It seems more rhythmic and faster than most other models we have tested. However, 999 euros is a lot of money when we start looking at price / quality. You pay twice the price for a little more rhythm and openness. And if you adjust the power supply from a Silent-angel-like switch you will most likely go over the quality of the SOtM.

But… then we look further and adjust the power supply at the SOtM…. pooh: then suddenly a completely different device is playing! What an authority this combination displays! Slam, rhythm, tight, control…. tranquility. And now we hear that the SOtM plays more neutral than the other candidates after all. It just seems to use less sauce. And in a well-balanced system, that’s exactly what you want.

Nice device… with a decent power supply.

Paul Pang Quad

Paul Pang’s top model. The Quad Switch. It looks particularly impressive with four switches connected in series. This is done with cables on the outside. Internal wiring would perhaps have been nicer. And then on the front two simple ports: input / output. After all: in an ideal case you only connect the streamer to it. Now you have to watch how everything works.

Internal daisy chaining would not be difficult either: turn the switches around and loop two ports to the rear panel where they go into a kind of ‘rack-mount’ coupler. The power supply could also be redirected in the switches themselves and a separate soldered wire.

Back to the Quad Switch. According to Paul, this Quad-run has the advantage that actually no junk can get through. Four times reclocking, filtering … All that’s left are neat bits and bytes. Without noise.

During the test we immediately agreed: this is ‘End Game’. The Paul Pang Quad delivers everything with extraordinary calmness and authority. It just plays with a lot of ease. And a lot of transparency. James Taylor sounds like… James Taylor. And Jacques Loussier has the rhythm and layering we know from the best streamers. James Taylor’s recording is from the 1970s. And it’s audible, too. We can almost hear the type of microphone, that’s how good the recording is. And this Paul Pang shows that very well too…. Hats off.

The Quad has a built-in power supply, so upgrading is not an option. But you don’t have to either. The four times reclocking and extremely quiet internal power supply just complete this unit. No tweaks are needed. That also gives you peace of mind!

Meraki MS220-8P Fiber Setup

After all this network nerdyness, we are curious to hear our own Meraki with fiber tweak. Well… um… it simply does not reach the level of the Paul Pang Quad. Simple as that. We hear more restlessness and roughness than with the Quad. It is and always will be a lot better than pluging the cable directly into the router. And the Meraki can still be easily modded – unplugging PoE, for example – but the fact is: it doesn’t reach the level of the Paul Pang Quad switch.

It is especially audible in the touch of the piano: it is just a bit rougher and less refined and smooth than the Paul Pang Quad. Now piano is also very difficult to reproduce. It is therefore not surprising that it is most noticeable there.

With James Taylor, we hear equivalent differences: slightly rougher. A little less fluid. A little more restlessness, in other words. Perhaps it can be improved with a modification. Now it may seem that the Meraki with fiber is terribly bad. It isn’t. It is without a doubt much better than directly from the router. And it plays equivalent – or perhaps slightly more neutral – than the Bonn-style switches (and it’s equally priced if you mod it). In short: well worth it if you’re handy!

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