Anyone Interested in a Free Black Box Upgrade?

OK, I might be exaggerating a bit, but I thought it was worth grabbing your attention, as it has had a rather dramatic positive effect on SQ in my system (NC222/300/250).

So what have I done for free that gives such an uplift? Not that much really. My black boxes, server and speakers have already been well set up with good supports (Fraim and good, spiked speaker stands) and a high quality power block, but my peripherals (router, 2 x switches, Sky Q box and power strip for these) have all been packed together in a rather small space, although I had managed to separate one of the switches (EtherREGEN) and the router. However, the rest of the peripheral kit was basically stuffed into an open draw under the TV, which I suspected wasn’t helping SQ.

I had some space behind the TV, so I bought a cheap 2-tier plastic storage basket that would fit. I relocated the Cisco 2960 switch to the lower tier and the EtherREGEN to the upper tier - see photo. The Sky Q box, power strip and router remained in their separate locations. A bit of cable dressing separating power, signal and digital cables as much as possible and that was it.

I wasn’t expecting much when I sat down to listen, but I couldn’t quite believe the uplift from such a minor change. All I can think is that cramped little open draw under the TV housing so much digital kit, immediately beside a power strip was causing an issue.

So why not have a look at how your peripherals are arranged (ooh, err, missus) and see if they could be further separated.


Have you got wall warts powering this little lot???


The supplied wall warts power the BT HH 2 router and Cisco 2960 but I have put an iFi iPower X on the EtherREGEN.

I realise better (linear) power supplies would help, particularly on the EtherREGEN and have been looking out for a pre-loved 12v Plixir or Farad Super3.

However, always best to try out free upgrades first.:wink:


I have had solid results on my Netgear GS108 switches with both the iPower X and new iPower2 from iFi. Not on the level of a true LPS, but solid improvements for not a ton of money (or space).

1 Like

try low gauge springs, can be found on fleabay. work well for hifi but remove a little Naim dust from the mix.

Do they come in other colours @NigelB :thinking::joy:

1 Like

You can also take some guesswork out of identifying what needs separating by getting EMI and RF meters. They aren’t expensive. You’d be amazed at some of the oddest culprits (Electric piano’s with 500v/m fields over they keys, I am thinking of you). If you’ve got mild OCD and limited time, these devices can really help focus your efforts.

As for switches, mine is located centrally on a circuit dedicated for low current distribution board stuff, not even on the same floor or CU as the hifi and from there direct to each room’s CAT6A port.

1 Like

I tried the Farad Super3 LPS with my EE8. Initially I thought it sounded better, but in the end swapped back to the supplied SMPS as, for me, it made the music more involving.



When I read about Cisco2960 switches EtherREGEN, SkyQ boxes etc and lots of extra cabling in some of the posts on the forum I often wonder if I’m missing out on something. I have the same 222/250/300 system and stream around 5000 songs from a simple Western Digital hard drive plugged into the back of the 222. It seems to work extremely well and is easy to back up etc. Is there any advantage in terms of SQ to having a dedicated network with the above or similar components and any published explanation as to what they all do and how would one set up a dedicated network (ie similar to the Fraim instructions once written by a forum member and circulating the forum) as it is all a bit of a mystery to me. Apologies for the naivety…

Nothing wrong with simplicity, but I have found a UPnP Ethernet network sounds better.

Keeping it simple, plug in an Ethernet cable into your router and then plug the other end into your 222. Plug a second Ethernet cable into your router and plug the other end of that into your NAS (e.g your WD or QNQP or Synology NAS) containing your music files, or better still a pukka server, like the Naim Core. I assume your WD NAS has music server software on board. There you have it, the simplest of music UPnP networks. Your dealer can help with set up.

Once you have this working well, you can play with ‘better’ Ethernet cables (although there is much debate over VFM with posh cables) and the addition of a switch (or two) to ‘isolate’ your streamer (222) from the rest of your network, which might contain other ‘noisy’ components, like a TV streaming box, for example.

1 Like

Hi NigelB, while your lead managment idea is neat, may be you would get even a greater lift in SQ if you didn’t coil your leads. I have understood that coiling leads is a bad idea as the leads electrical character is changed so could adversely affect the sound. On the other hand, the uplift in sound you are experiencing might well be that you prefer the sound when your leads are coiled. Best wishes Amer

It is certainly true that audiophile circles dictate cables should not ever be coiled. However, I believe this is incorrect. A loose large coil won’t appreciably change the inductance.

If the cables were uncoiled they would be fouling several other cables (analogue, power and digital), potentially causing additional related issues.

My understanding is that issues with coiling cables relate to analogue cables, particularly higher power cables carrying higher currents (e.g. power cable, speaker cables etc.), but I am happy to be told differently. I am not aware of issues with modest coiling of Ethernet cables. The cables you see in the photo are screened with floating shields.

1 Like

What are they?

1 Like

Does that mean that the screen is earthed only at the source end?

Er, Nigel - I think something’s missing.

Where have you hidden your pipe lagging?

1 Like

You could try an English Electric 1 network noise isolation device if you fancy it (on sale in return).

I’ve never heard them, but they are new and quite popular on here.

As regards the explanation of how any such devices or cables can improve sound in the digital domain, it’s because the digital signals are coded in analog voltage waves, and these devices can in some cases reduce (or modify) distortion or Electromagnetic noise in the system.


You have a good memory, Jim.

I have moved and simplified the system since the pipe lagging days.

Anyway, foam pipe insulation is sooo yesterday.


maybe i should’ve called them low compression springs, put some bicycle tube around them and cap each end with something shiny oh, and put directional arrows on them of course! call them “magic Hifi”charge £400 a corner.

1 Like