I have a confession of a positive nature: I’m 99.998% certain I have maxed out my current Naim-based system. There’s just nowhere else to upgrade—analog or digital. Now, going separates (a different hierarchy altogether) within the ecosystem, obviously, there’s much that can and would be gained; but for an Integrated and source(s), it seems to have reached its zenith.
What made me decide this? Well, completing the final leg of isolation within my network, and it has really paid dividends, like obvious ones, which is something I do not say often. I recently experimented with fiber of sorts. They’re FMCs, actually—the single-mode TP-Link MC110CS, and I purchased a new fully online double-conversion pure sine UPS to add to my network, which is a Tripp-Lite 1500vA model. I believe this unit has really made the most impact after listening with it in for the past week. It is without a doubt contributing to a truly crystalline view of nearly every recording, albeit in different ways and each according to their respective strengths and weaknesses. What cannot be disputed is its consistency in providing such a listening experience, especially in terms of true sound effects and instrumental separation. Also noticeable is a sheer volume shift. I’ve had to adjust my volume knob because it has definitely increased in loudness across the board. I don’t mean it in a negative way, as in ‘loudness wars’ type of increase. It’s just I don’t seem to need to have it quite as high; and shrill recordings I auditioned have lost most if not all glare. I can quite easily pick out details in the treble and other parts of the spectrum that seemed subdued or altogether absent from before. It has been simply remarkable to discover the layerings of background vocalists or an instrument suddenly become quite easily identified within the stage that had otherwise been veiled or ‘hiding’ from before. But what really kills me lately is the obviousness of venue space that has opened up. Within certain recordings it was there, just not like this now. I am at a loss to describe how enjoyable it is to listen to such things effortlessly. It would appear to me that the uber-noise suppression/low capacitance of the Topaz in conjunction with the steady voltage regulation and especially my AC receiving a continuous pure sine wave has taken things in an extremely positive direction, which leads me to believe in such measures to get the best out of one’s network audio.
To get back on track, I’ll admit that I already have gone a bit overboard with my power cleanup/preservation and isolation techniques for streaming audio, but really wanted to eek out that last bit of potential and get to the cleanest, purest AC signal within the audio chain, which now includes the networking components and LPSs, and look something like the following (now with the addition of the UPS), starting with the components, followed by the LAN components, and finally the FMC and overall networking chain. I’ve separated them out first, then attempt to illustrate how they all come together:
• Google Nest Home Router & Teddy Pardo 15/2 LPS
• Ubiquiti Cube AC Modem & Sbooster BOTW ECO MK2 LPS
• English Electric 8 Switch & Paul Hynes SR4 LPS
• TP-Link MC110CS FMCs (x2) & Teddy Pardo 5/3 LPS, Jameco 5W
LAN medical isolation chain:
• LAN Isolator #1: Google Nest (WAN out) > BJC Cat5e > Baaske MI 1005 > BJC Cat5e > Ubiquiti Cube AC (LAN in)
• LAN Isolator #2: Google Nest (LAN out) > BJC Cat5e > Baaske MI 1005 > BJC Cat5e > EE8
(far right port #8)
• LAN Isolator #3: EE8 (far left port #1) > BJC Cat5e > Baaske MI 1005 > In-Wall Ethernet (to Ethernet Keystone Jack 3rd floor)
• EE8 (far left port #1) > BJC Cat5e > TP Link MC110CS #1/Jameco 5W > 1.0M Tripp-Lite Fiber Patch Cable (SC/SC) > TP Link MC110CS #2/Teddy Pardo 5W > BJC Cat5e > Baaske MI 1005 > In-Wall Ethernet (to Ethernet Keystone Jack 3rd floor)
The power supplies are connected with either AQ NRG-Z3 or Schaffner ferrite-coated PCs and plugged into a standard power strip going to the output of a Topaz 1kVa Ultra-Isolation Transformer, which is fed to a receptacle of the online UPS. Overall, it looks like this:
Network Room 20a Wall Receptacle > Tripp-Lite SU1500RTXL2UA UPS >
Topaz 1kVa > Tripp-Lite PS-602-HG power strip <—Hynes SR4/EE8 switch;
Teddy Pardo 15w/Google Nest; Sbooster BOTW ECO MK2/Ubiquiti Cube AC; Jameco 5w & Teddy Pardo 5w/TP-Link MC110CS FMC #1 & #2 (last leg)
So this has been my digital isolation journey and has led me to wonder what everyone else is doing or has done? Maybe some aren’t doing anything at all, other than Ethernet cables and switches, which has obviously been enough for many. I’m interested to hear people’s experiences. Mine has been an absolute revelation thus far, and one I can only highly encourage regardless of what iteration one takes.