Changing to Digital and Audiophile Network Switch

After making changes to our Hi-Fi system, as below, we decided to do some listening tests.

  • Selling the Linn Sondek LP12 deck
    • Oak plinth
    • Keel
    • Karousel
      • Tiger Paw Tranquility
    • Ekos SE
    • Krystal
    • Urika
      • Chord Shawline RCA to DIN Phono Lead
    • Tangerine Audio Khan Top Plate
    • Radikal (Akurate case)
  • Selling the Naim CD5 XS
  • Buying a Linn Klimax DS3/Katalyst Streamer

The following tracks were chosen for the listening tests;

  1. Women In Blue; Motherless Brooklyn; Various
  2. Cantaloupe Island; Empyrean Isles; Herbie Hancock
  3. Birdland; Heavy Weather; Weather Report
  4. A Love Supreme Pt. 1; A Love Supreme; John Coltrane
  5. Everybody Wants To Rule The World; Elevate; Lettuce
  6. The Road To Hell Pt. 1; The Road To Hell; Chris Rea
  7. Joys Of Christmas; Dancing With Strangers; Chris Rea
  8. Telegraph Road; Love Over Gold; Dire Straits
  9. Kalimba; Recycling The Blues & Other Related Stuff; Taj Mahal
  10. Ca’Purange(Jungle Soul); Bad! Bossa Nova; Gene Ammons
  11. Hey Laura; Liquid Spirit; Gregory Porter
  12. Unsquare Dance; Classics; Dave Brubeck
  13. Limbo; Toy; Yello

The present system set up is;

  • Linn Klimax DS3/ Katalyst
    • Chord Co; Signature Tuned Array RCA to DIN Interconnect
  • Naim NAC 282
    • Naim SuperCap
    • Naim NAPSC
      • Standard Naim Cables
  • Naim NAP 250 x 2
    • Naim SNAXO 242
    • Naim FlatCap XS
      • Standard Naim Cables
  • Naim Headline
    • Naim NAPSC
      • Standard Naim Cables
    • FOCAL Elear
      • CustomCans Headphone Cable
  • Kudos Titan 606
    • Naim NAC A5
  • All mains cables were Naim PowerLine Lites
  • Simon Price SimRack
  • The Network is Fibre to the house with an LAN (Ethernet) speed of around 230mbs and a Wi-Fi speed of around 200mbs.

Many thanks to Cymbiosis for setting up the system and for loaning me the English Electric 8 Switch for the test. The Naim PowerLine was picked up on eBay for the test at a good price. (If it didn’t work, we could re-sell on eBay and get the money back).

However, for the test, the Focal Elears were initially used to cut out any background noise.

The first session was with;

  • TP Link Switch (original Network Switch)

The second session was with;

  • EE8 Switch
    • Chord Co; C-Stream Ethernet Cable

The third session was with;

  • EE8 Switch
    • Chord Co; C-Stream Ethernet Cable
  • Naim PowerLine to the SuperCap

The fourth session was with;

  • TP Link Switch (as Session One)
  • Naim PowerLine to the SuperCap

The fifth session was with;

  • TP Link Switch (as Session One)

The results were;

  1. Set as the base, reference value. The fifth track appeared harsh
  2. Improvement in detail and instruments seemed to be more defined. Appeared to be more calm. Soundstage had increased However, still some harshness on the fifth track
  3. Built on the improvements from Session Two. Appeared to be even more laid back (not rushed) and detailed, could hear more background information and more subtle sounds. (These appeared to be more subdued on the first two sessions). Bass was more controlled and louder, but not boomy, particularly with the Yello track. Overall, tracks were very clear and well defined. Comparable with the old Linn Sondek LP12. Still some harshness on the fifth track.
  4. Some of the detail and definition was lost. Was better than Session One, but not better than Session Three. Hard to tell difference from Session Two. Still some harshness on the fifth track.
  5. Sounded far less detailed then Sessions Two, Three and Four. A bit like someone had put some wet ex-army blankets over the speakers. Still some harshness on the fifth track.

Did some further investigation into the fifth track and found that when played on the second system, as below, the track also appeared to be harsh, so must just be the original recoding.

  • Icon Audio Stereo 25 Mk II Integrated Valve Amplifier
  • Q Acoustics 2020i Speakers
  • QED Performance XT25 Speaker Cable
  • QED Performance Interconnect
  • Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100 Digital To Analogue Converter
  • iPad Pro
  • Qobuz
  • Amazon Prime Music

Overall conclusion
For our ears, the Linn Klimax DS3/Katalyst sounded better with the English Electric 8Switch and the Naim PowerLine connected to the Naim SuperCap. The preferred results were;

  • Session Three
  • Sessions Two / Four
  • Sessions One / Five

We played the tracks again set up as Session Three, but this time through the speakers and have to say that we are enjoying the system. It was just as enjoyable listening again to the same tracks, but even more so, with the speakers as there was greater depth, detail and sound stage. The bass was very much controlled but you could really hear the deep base from Yello, without any distortion.

Consequently, we have decided to keep the English Electric 8Switch and the Naim PowerLine to the Naim SuperCap.

It was great fun undertaking this listening test and Mrs DG and myself enjoyed the various sessions. It is appreciated that the tests are subjective and non-scientific based. It is also appreciated that there are two camps with regard to believing cables / switches make a difference. However, we are trying to convince anyone to change their opinions or thoughts, but rather just report what we have found with our simple test.

Finally, the conclusions are based on our personal opinion on the listening sessions and we have tried to be as objective as possible in the reporting of these.

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Got a bit lost in all of this

Questions

(1) why did you decide to move away from LP12 and Vinyl ?

(2) Does the Linn Klimax actually sound “better” than the analogue set up ?

Thanks

Bevo

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Nice analysis. Try connecting a quality power 5v power supply like a MCRU or Farad to the EE8 and an audiophile Ethernet cable like a Sablon 2020 to take things further but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…!

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This thread is a precursor

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Well depending on budget Aren probably naim NDX2 streamer with XPSDR power supply

That would sort you I would think on reading all the threads on the topic on the Forum

I’m a bit like you not having a streamer - being LP12’s and CD5XS based but considering adding one

That’s why I asked the OP the 2 above questions on how their decision came about to move from analogue to streaming

Was it just convenience or greater overall sound on balance ?

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@Bevo

To answer your questions as best as I can:

  1. Eyes aren’t in the best of condition and unlikely to improve. Had a vinyl system since the 1970s and got my LP12 in 1986. Albeit that and the system has been upgraded a bit since then.
  2. I wouldn’t say better, but very similar in this set-up. Mrs DG thinks it does sound better.
  3. A mixture of both. It is much more convenient to use and the sound quality is very good. Plus another option of having more albums / tracks to explore and play using Qobuz.

@Aren

Have ordered the Chord Clearway Ethernet cable to try next.

Have also ordered some Naim PowerLines to try in my two Naim 250 DRs. Can’t use one of these on the Klimax so have ordered a Titan Audio Nyx with a smaller IEC plug to try, which arrived today.

Will look into a different power supply for the EE8.

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Thanks DiggyGun

Comments greatly appreciated, food for thought down the track

Bevo

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The Titan Audio Nyx mains lead has been fitted to the Linn Klimax DS3/Katalyst streamer and it’s a beast of a cable.

Letting in run for 24/7 to burn it in and will then do some comparison listening against the Naim PowerLine Lite and report back on this.

That sounds like a great set up. The only thing I’d also suggest is trying the Chord GroundArray Plug (Ethernet version) direct into the EE8 switch. I’ve just done this, and gosh……

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I didn’t knew that the English Electric was suffering of constipation :grin:

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Gosh as in ‘that’s brilliant’, or gosh as in ‘that’s bollocks’?

G

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Probably ‘gosh, I’ve just been relieved of another half grand’ :slight_smile:

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Chord GroundArray Plug (Ethernet version)…does it really did for you so good?

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Really pleased with. It just does what is says it will do, removes RF noise and lowers the noise floor by a surprising amount really. More detail, freshness and cohesion across the frequency range. I have another one on the NDX2 and need to test removing that one (that was the one I tried first before the EE8).

I’m especially pleased with the lift in the top end sparkle and more detail, but the bass has tightened up more too.

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I am glad you like the sound of your new system by adjusting your home network appliances, but I do think you need to be cautious about stating lowering noise and removing ‘RF noise’… how have you determined that, what was acting as the RF generator that you have now removed and how did you establish that.

It’s worth while noting that noise is sometimes added to productions to make them sound more appealing to listen to…

Also where is this RF interference coming from that state you have reduced… and how do you know it was RF and how do you have reduced it?

It’s great to hear how members have tuned their systems to sound as they prefer, but surely we should be guarded about banding about potentially misleading or erroneous terms or reasons… just because they are cliches in vogue in audiophile communities currently.

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I pretty much go by listening to music I now well as reference material and determine whether I discern an improvement. I haven’t followed the science too closely, though in simple terms it about creating an additional grounding pathway to dissipate. There are more details on the Chord web site and on-line reviews for those that are interested.

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As I say, no issue with anyone stating how they get their hifi system to sound more like how they can best enjoy it… absolutely.

My observation was you stated this was achieved by lowering ‘noise floors’ and reducing RF interference. I was asking how you substantiated these rather bold assertions. These specific criteria require very specialised tools to measure, and variance at low levels in my opinion is unlikely to be detectable. But a fundamental change may be due to removing a fault or identifying a fault elsewhere which is good to know. Replacing sources of common mode noise or replacing a network device with a relatively unstable clock would be worthwhile changes, but again one would need to determine whether it was achieved.
Improving how your system sounds doesn’t necessarily mean these things have been achieved.

BTW general grounding paths don’t necessarily present a low impedance to high frequency signals. In fact the length to ideal ground has to wavelength/4 or a multiple thereof to be seen as a low impedance. If the path is wavelength /2 a grounding path will have no effect. It is another audiophile myth that a ‘ground’ sinks or carries ‘RF’ away.

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Update;

I’ve decided to not use the Titan Audio cable as too thick and not suitable. So back to the Naim PowerLine Lite for now, while still investigating alternate mains cable.

However, we are keeping the EE8 switch as we like how it sounds.

One surprising benefit we’ve found is the as the switch is on the hi-fi rack, we took the opportunity to connect the TV to it with an Ethernet cable. We were using Wi-Fi previously, around 200mbs. This for some reason has increased the definition, sharpness, detail, colours significantly when watching Amazon Prime. For information, the Ethernet cable speed is also around 200mbs.

We not claiming any miracles, but do like the improvement. Whether it’s the connection, switch, Ethernet cables, who knows, but we’re not going to change anything. But just enjoy this new level of detail, which was unexpected.

Thats easily explained, higher bandwidth. Most services such as netflix detect at the app level how how much data they can receive and adjust quality of picture and audio accordingly. You will see the same level of improvement with a 15 quid netgear switch.

But surely that noisy TV with its switch mode power supply connected to your precious switch will have ruined the audio from your hifi?

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