When you think...
If you think you know it all and can predict it, think again. Now we already know that a network has an audible influence on the playback. A good set-up brings more peace and definition. What helps is good nutrition and solid cabling that protects neatly. After all, it’s all about keeping noise as low as possible.
However, what we could not have predicted is the difference in rest compared to the optical tweak. It does go a long way towards this. But before we go any further… let’s start at the beginning.
The ordinary network
Just a brief introduction. Streaming audio is package based. This means that data in data packages is put into the package header with the purpose, origin and content of the data package.
In case of ROON, it is possible to use TCP as protocol, which makes error correction possible. Then there’s also a CRC check in the data stream. In short: data errors in streaming are virtually impossible.
The reason we mention this is that the audible differences we are going to indicate have NOTHING to do with data. The data is the same in all cases. Just like the source; a Synology DS1618+ with 8GB of RAM. Roon runs on a dedicated machine with an SSD, quad-core cpu and 8GB ram.
The only difference in this set-up is the last metre of cable. Or in the case of the M12 Switch magic: the last two meters, since we also have to make a link from the basic network to the switch.
With our standard – slightly tweaked – set-up, everything sounds just fine. No funny stuff. Staging, sound, punch and energy are well balanced. However, it’s not really magical. In any case: not for us, because we know it can be better. As we often say, stepping back is more difficult. In short, we don’t get caught that fast anymore. If we played like that for a week, we’d get used to it again and maybe talk about it differently. But for now, good, but not magic good.
The optical tweak
For those who don’t know what we mean by the Optical Tweak: here’s the article.
What we hear immediately is more definition and more ‘flow’ in the reproduction. After-sales are clearer and easier to follow. Think of the little guitar in the beginning of Adele, Love Song. Partly because of this, the intro is much more interesting.
It is also noticeable that the staging is larger: everything comes loose better, which makes it easier to get into the music. And that’s what it’s all about in the end: experience, emotion… Conclusion; the optical connection brings more music. And that for about 220 euros if you go for two converters, a pair of SPF modules, a decent fiber cable and a neat power supply on the side of the streamer. Still an investment to be made, it seems to us.
The M12 Switch Magic
Then JPlay’s magic switch. An upgrade of 2550 euro. Then you get two cables and the switch that is powered by a medical-psu. We plug the Telegärtner Ethernet cable into the Ambre and press Play in the ROON app.
OKAY. …this is pretty clear… this brings peace and focus
It’s quite extraordinary for your editor to hear this. Even more rest, even more definition, even more refinement. Are they world-shattering differences? No. It’s not, but it’s audible. And sometimes it only takes small differences to get goose bumps. Or to get involved.
So the intro to Adele, Love Song – yes, that track is very suitable for tests, that’s why we use it a lot – is perfect to follow. And honestly: this is the first time that the penny really falls on the intro. The flow and rhythm of the guitar is so perfect with this switch… we hear it for the first time so self-evident and relaxed. The resonance, how the next tone is turned on again… gorgeous.
And so it goes with the rest of the tracks. There seems to be something in place. The whole thing’s just better. More peace, a better sound image, tighter focus… everything just that little bit more precise. And that makes the whole thing just… more interesting… more musical (if you can call it that.)