Switches and Switch PSUs with 1st gen streamer (a 272)

Power supply tests: (Keeping the switch constant and changing the PSU)

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Netgear GS105 – standard unmanaged gigabit switch

Standard PSU > IFi iPower X
HF
Marginal improvement – less harsh, but also slightly “recessed” no improvement to detail
MF
no significant change
Disappointing, only marginal improvement.

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Netgear GS105E: ‘Simple’ L2 “Smart Managed” gigabit switch,
Power saving mode enabled (Reduces voltage on the Ethernet cable)

Standard PSU > IFi iPower 2
HF:
Less HF distortion – noticeably reduced ‘splashiness’
MF
Slight improvement in MF – just a little bit smoother without loss of resolution, standard PSU sounds slightly harsher
.

IFi iPower 2 > IFi iPower X
HF
Further reduction in HF distortion, further noticeable reduction in splashiness, better HF ‘texture’
MF
Significant improvement in MF distortion & smoothness with improved resolution and much better separation of tonality. Vocals are more understandable. Easier to listen at higher volume without increased fatigue.
Greater difference than Standard PSU > IFi iPower 2, this is a very useful upgrade with the GS105E version

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Switch tests, Different switches with the same PSU

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Netgear GS105 – standard unmanaged gigabit switch
Vs.
Netgear GS105E: ‘Simple’ L2 “Smart Managed” gigabit switch,
Power saving mode enabled (Reduces voltage on the Ethernet cable)
.

Netgear GS105 + Standard PSU > Netgear GS105E + Standard PSU
HF
Less HF distortion and better resolution – noticeably reduced ‘splashiness’, better texture & detail apparent
MF
Slight improvement in MF – just a little bit smoother without loss of resolution, standard switch sounds slightly harsher
.

Netgear GS105 + IFi iPower X > Netgear GS105E + IFi iPower X
HF
Smoother, less distortion and better resolution, better texture & detail apparent
MF
Smoother less distortion and better resolution, much better separation of tonality. Vocals are very much easier to hear. Standard switch sounds notably harsher and much more confused
A big improvement: this is a very worthwhile upgrade. This is a much bigger improvement than I have seen with any change of Ethernet cables.

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Switch tests, vs Cisco 2960

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Netgear GS105 – standard unmanaged gigabit switch
Netgear GS105E: ‘Simple’ l2 managed gigabit switch, Power saving mode enabled
vs
Cisco 2960 (white) (default configuration).
.

Netgear GS105 + Standard PSU > Cisco 2960 (white)
HF
More recessed but less distortion, slightly less ‘splashiness”, but this is marginal
MF
Slightly less distortion & more resolution, better ‘organised’, less muddled. Vocals are easier to understand.
Overall GS105 sounds a bit harsher and slightly more muddled, this is a useful upgrade
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Cisco 2960 (white) > Netgear GS105E + IFi iPower X
HF
Less distortion & ‘splashiness’, smoother without loss of detail
MF
Better resolution, significantly better separation of tonality and ‘organisation’. Vocals easier to understand.
Overall Cisco switch sounds significantly more muddled and also a bit harsher, this is a useful further upgrade

2 Likes

Order of preference:

GS105 (any PSU)
GS105E (standard PSU)
Cisco 2960
GS105E iFi iPower 2
GS105E iFi iPower X

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It’s unlikely to be confirmation bias as it’s not what we expected!

Particularly:

  1. GS105E + iFi iPower 2 slightly beating the Cisco
  2. How much better the iFi iPower X was with the GS105E
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A further observation on the GS105E + iFi iPower X combination is that not only does it improve the apparent resolution in the amplitude domain but also a big improvement in the apparent time domain.

For the amplitude domain, I often use Case Lang Veirs: Georgia Stars as a critical test, as there are many layered vocal parts but also even more layered instrumental parts, it a very complex piece; it’s easy for parts to get ‘lost’.

For the time domain, I’ve found that Gabriel’s Red Rain is an exceptional test track as it needs good timing otherwise it sends to sound messy; with a system working well in the time domain it sounds together and precise instead.

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It should be noted that jitter is a signal correlated noise in the time domain, and this interacts with signal correlated noise in the amplitude domain; so it’s not that surprising that improving one aspect will tend to give some degree of improvement in the other aspect.
Also note that these aren’t just ‘noise floor’, but rather noise that is correlated to the signal - it’s much harder for the brain to sort out correlated noise than uncorrelated noise.

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Fascinating findings! Thank you for sharing.

I am using a GS108 unmanaged switch to feed a GS108E, both powered by iFi iPower2. As I noted in the other thread, I did not notice much of an improvement with the GS108 or GS108E going from iPower 2 → iPower X. BUT, I have not enabled power saving mode on the GS108E and I think this is my hang-up.

I will toggle that setting and report back.

Okay, I am fairly shocked at the difference (improvement) “power saving mode” has had on the sound quality of the GS108Ev3. Same uplift as upgrading from stock SMPS to iFi iPower 2; which means a significant and obvious increase in SQ (in the same manner as Xanthe described above).

I am running one of the spare MI-1005 medical galvanic isolators between the switches and that, too, had an effect (uplift) in SQ that was equal to adding the iPower 2 to the first switch. Additive gains are so rare in this game…accepting the good results when they appear!

Debating whether to go iPower X 12v or iPower Elite 12v for the GS108Ev3. Mildly concerned the Elite is overkill and will be of minimal benefit over the iPower X.

EDIT: Ordered an iFi iPower Elite 12v at a large discount. Arrives next week.

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Quality bit of work Xanthe. If I didn’t have such sunk costs on my switch I’d be testing this. Your advice consistently proves good. Thanks for sharing.

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When I had the Netgear GS105, powered by Ifi power , then a high quality ps ( still much better), the first Cisco 2960 I bought sounded more edgy.
But then a more recent Cisco 2960 , white, like new, sounded better, with more bass and organic sound, more involvement vs the Netgear / linear ps. And no edginess this time.

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We’re pleased the power saving mode worked for you as well. We also found it to be quite a revelation.

Please post how the iFi Power Elite performs - we’re really interested.

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Yes I agree, no matter what PSU is used a more recent (white) Cisco 2960 beat a standard Netgear GS105.

However, the GS105E - N.B. this is the L2 managed E version, when set to run in low transmission power mode - when paired with a better PSUs, beat the Cisco by quite some margin, particularly with the iFi PowerX.

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Still waiting on my iFi iPower Elite. However, I did replace the GS108v4 (dumb switch) feeding my tube system with the GS108Ev3. After updating to current FW and engaging Low Power Mode, I installed it. Had been using an iFi iPower X 12v with the GS108 for a year or two. Nice step up from the Netgear SMPS.

Moving from GS108 + iFi iPower X → GS108Ev3 + iFi iPower X = a ridiculous ROI for sound quality improvement.

No idea what is happening inside these switches, but they are completely different beasts, as Xanthe found upthread. Nearly don’t deserve the same model number, for audio uses.

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I have always found that switches take life away from music, even the so-called “audio”… I prefer without!

Am I right in assuming what you are saying is you prefer to use the switch in the ‘router’, by connecting everything directly to the switch ports in the ‘router’)? (typically they’re yellow)

[Otherwise you would have to be using something like a NAS or Roon Core specially designed to work without a switch on one special (reversed) Ethernet port or be using special crossover cables (and an ‘interesting’ network configuration) ]

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Okay I did some investigating (and some RFI/EMI mitigation, thanks to 3M). Here is what I found:

GS108 (dumb switch):

GS108Ev3 (L2 ‘smart’ switch):

The 64-pin devices (isolation transformers??) that are under the metal over-hang, and adjacent to the RJ45 connector blocks, are VERY different. The GS108’s devices look and feel like plastic…and scratch like it too. The GS108Ev3’s devices are about 1/3 the height and feel like actual silicon; far harder and very difficult to scratch. The CPU heatsink on the GS108Ev3 (black heatsink) is 3x the height/mass. The boards/traces themselves are also obviously not the same. No idea what this means for audio quality, but they are absolutely not re-badged versions of the same hardware (my original assumption prior to finding Xanthe’s discoveries here).

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Biggest similarity is the casework!

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However, as we all know bitz iz bitz…….

OTOH I happen to have a spare GS105E, just sittin’ (on the dock of the bay?). What’s the cost of an Ifi iPower X?

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10 k centimes euros

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Oh, thinks……gets out calculator……… around a hundred quid then. :grin: :grin: :grin: :laughing:

(And I really should get a copy of that soul classic!)

Edit: …and duly done from Bandcamp for a couple of quid.

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iFi iPower Elite 12v/4a arrived. Right out of the box, the above applies as a relative statement over the iPower X. But the improvement between iPower X and iFi Elite is not as big as the improvement going from iPower 2 to iPower X.

Using with a simple Pangea AC-14 Mk2 SE IEC power cable that I had literally laying around.

I would say the iFi Elite brings 50%-75% of that improvement, additive, over the iPower X. Having gotten it at a significant discount for an open box (never used) item, I’m actually glad I went with the Elite. At full price, I’m not certain I would still think that way.

Bill Evans Live at Shelley’s Manne-Hole is revealing with more ease and transparency the noises of glasses clinking in the background and a giving the general presentation of a more 3D, realistic space…nearly that Shelley’s Manne Hole is now in my own room…or melded with it… and that the overall illusion of space and depth has become much more convincing. Decay of notes is longer, but not contrived.

Jump factor/slam has also improved noticeably. The weight of the piano keys has more verity.

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