Well, another weekend in lockdown has driven me to system tweaking, and it has ended with rather pleasing results. Albeit, I think the results may have highlighted another issue, but more on that later…
If I’m honest, I don’t really know why I even tried this - I must have read something which whetted my curiosity, but Saturday morning I decided to streamline my home network to see if I could squeeze any more performance out of my system (source first!).
I have an ISP router which feeds into a Sitecom Gigabit switch. This switch feeds all the wired items in the house, T.V’s, Freeview boxes and the like, then provides a link to the trusty Cisco 2960 switch, which solely serves my Naim system, which is fronted by a Melco N1a/2.
Now, I know that if I switch my Melco into direct mode so that it disconnects from the outside world/cuts out internet traffic (so it just provides a LAN link providing upnp between it and the NDS), I get a sound improvement. Therefore, whatever is going on around my network clearly affects system performance when the Melco is in normal network mode; which is how I use it 99% of the time so I can control things via iPad and stream internet radio etc.
So, leaving the Melco fully connected in network mode, I played a reference track then simply turned off the Sitecom switch and played the same track again. Wow, quite a reasonable overall improvement, with a clearer window on the music. I switched the Sitecom unit on and off a few times playing different tracks and it was clear that it was somehow generating noise on the network (it’s power supply?) when it was switched on.
After a bit of reorganisation and a re-siting of the Cisco switch, I got rid of the Sitecom switch and connected everything into the Cisco. The Cisco then linked back to the router for internet connection, but basically all wired devices including the Melco, were now connected to the Cisco. The same components were all still on the network, just one less switch.
The final tweak involved moving the 250 to the lowest shelf on the fraimlite, leaving a space between it and the NDS. (Although I have actually filled that space with a Fono MC and power control unit for my turntable, these remain powered off unless I’m using the turntable, so they won’t affect streaming performance).
Overall, this has given a surprisingly pleasing improvement… dare I say it’s not so different to a box upgrade, with a big lift in detail and definition.
Upshot is, I’m really chuffed with the results and it has cost nothing.
Now for the caveat! All that extra information has highlighted that perhaps my 14 year old 282 or 12 year old 555ps (or a combination of both) may be ready for a service. Things sounded rather harsh for a day or so after everything had been turned off for only half an hour, whilst I moved the 250. It’s never sounded that harsh before; it was nearly unlistenable. Happily though, it’s all settled down again and is sounding better than ever for the moment.
Anyway, that’s just my two penneth to provide some reading during lockdown! Stay safe all.