Jump to content
  • KenRW
    KenRW

    SOtM sNH-10G Network Switch Review

    Editor's Note: From time to time we publish reviews of controversial products. Audiophile network switches fall into this category without question. We welcome all comments in the comment section below the review as long as they are respectful and not personal. - Chris

     

     

     

    Do network switches make an audible improvement?

     


    Key Features

    • Designed for high end network audio
    • Specially designed Ethernet noise filter
    • Support 10, 100, 1G ethernet
    • 8 x RJ-45 ports
    • 2 x SFP ports
    • LED indicator on/off function
    • sCLK-EX High End clock module
    • 10MHz master clock input
    • Wide range of power input (6.5v ~ 12v)

     

     

     

    sNH-10G_1.jpg

     

     

    Pricing starts at $800 for the plain Jane model, $1500 with sCLK-EX clock board and the full blown $1700 with sCLK-EX clock board and master clock input with your choice of 50 Ohm or 75 Ohm connector.  The difference between the sms-200 and sms-200 Ultra is the addition of the sCLK-EX board.  The sNH-10G tested here included this sCLK-EX board, maybe this should be called the sNH-10G Ultra?  I did not have the plain Jane model to compare.

     

    The fit and finish of the switch is top notch.  It is apparent that a lot of design work went into the aesthetics of the unit (such as the melodious grill work on the top plate), after all a $800+ product should look like it’s worth $800+.  The design and manufacture of the unit was all done in house.  This is not just a modified consumer switch with added clock and filters.  My unit arrived with an sPS-500 power supply and DC cable along with a dCBL-CAT7 ethernet cable.

     

    I am a believer that every component can potentially impact the sound quality for good  or bad.  On hand I have an older Linksys EG008W 8 port consumer switch powered by an LH Labs LPS-1 and an Aqvox Switch-8 powered by an iFi 9 V power supply.  The differences in price and performance was readily apparent. 

     

     


    Q&A with May Park from SoTM

     

    sNH-10G_5.jpgQ : When was the development started and completed?
    A : It was started at the end of 2017 and completed around Sep of  2018.

     

    Q : How was it invented? Even though there are many routers and switches already available?
    A : Because we’ve experienced sound quality differences by the different network devices but there was nothing to fulfill the quality of sound, so we started development for audio equipment. 

     

    Q : What is the benefit of using sNH-10G into the system?
    A : As for the audio equipment, the most important factor is sound quality. Also it has the optical ports and LED on/off feature.

     

    Q :What is the technical background of sNH-10G?
    A : All SOtM products have their own unique technical points. The sNH-10G is for the network audio device, every LAN port has filtering technology, which improves sound quality dramatically and this filtering technology has also been applied to the iSO-CAT6. 


    The noise coming from the Ethernet signal has a very wide frequency band. In order to eliminate this wide frequency band, we've created various parts corresponding to the noise of each frequency and then combining them to became the broadband noise filter. This filter is already applied to iSO-CAT6 and is also used in sNH-10G.


    Also, ultra low noise regulator, active noise canceller for clock and selectable audio components are used, and all such combination is well synergized to make better sound quality in the audio system.  All SOtM products have their own unique technical points. The sNH-10G is for all network audio devices, every LAN port has filtering technology, which improves sound quality dramatically and this filtering technology has also been applied to the iSO-CAT6. 


    The noise coming from the Ethernet signal have a very wide frequency band. In order to eliminate this wide frequency band noise, we've selected various parts corresponding to the noise frequency band  and then combined them to become the wide band noise filter.


    Also,  ultra low noise regulator, active noise canceller for clock and specially selected audio grade components are used, and all such combination is well synergized to make much better sound quality in the audio system. 


    Q : What is difference between the other network ethernet switch in the market and the sNH-10G?
    A: The difference is about the sound quality and it’s very real factor which is why the sNH-10G has been developed even though other vendors are also developing network switches. 

     

    Q : How to use the optical ports? What is the benefits of the ports?
    A : The SFP ports on sNH-10G can also bring benefits from the filtering feature which were explained on above. But we recommend using RJ45 ports with the good quality network cable like dCBL-CAT7 & iSO-CAT6 combination over using the optical ports, because the connection with RJ45 and dCBL-CAT7&iSO-CAT6 could bring the better sound quality than SFP ports.

     

    Q : What is the switch on the back panel?
    A : There are 3 steps of the switch, it controls the LED power on/off. When it is positioned to be up, the led is on and power is on. When it is in the middle, the unit will be off, when it is in down, the LED is off but still the unit works. 

     

    Q : Why recommend using the dCBL-CAT7 and iSO-CAT6 even though the sNH-10G is used already?
    A : There would be no single product which removes noise completely, but they can help reduce noise and improve sound quality, so even though the sNH-10G and iSO-CAT6 have good quality filtering technology on their own, if they can be used together , the synergy is better than using only one filter and brings better results. There is no single product which removes noise completely, even though the product are good at reducing noise so it improves sound quality, it doesn’t mean that the products remove noise completely. But well designed audio products like sNH-10G and SOtM’s other products reduce noise and help to improve sound quality.

     

     

    sNH-10G_3.jpg

     


    Set Up

     

    My music network is very flat and simple.
    TELUS ISP Fiber Modem
    SoTM sNH-10G
    Netgear Duo V2
    (WD Red 4 TB RAID 0)
    Asus Vivobook (Anker Unibody USB Ethernet USB Hub)
    (Windows10 Pro, Fidelizer 8.2, AudiophileOptimizer, Bridged Ethernet Ports)
    SoTM sms-200 Ultra SE
    LH Labs Pulse X Infinity
    (LPS4)
    Reference Line Preeminence 1B Passive
    Sonic Frontiers Power 2
    Totem Mani-2 
    Fostex TX-00 Purplehearts

     

     

    Listening  

    The recommended burn in time for the sNH-10G is 50 hours but after initially setting up the unit, I could tell something special was going on.  The noise filtering technology really does what SoTM claims.  The device was powered with SoTM’s SPS-500 SMPS power supply.


    I did not have access to any fiber networking connections.  May Park from SoTM recommended I test with RJ45 cable which is what I did.

     

    On the back, you will notice a small 3 position switch.  Its function is an LED ON/OFF switch with the middle position powering off the switch.  Under close listening there is a slight improvement in sound quality with LED off.  The difference is very slight and at first I needed headphones to discern the small improvement.

     

    First up I connected the Aqvox Switch-8 listened to each track and then switched to the sNM-10G and made comparisons.  

     

     

    Here are my listening notes.

     

     

     

    godfather.jpgNino Rota | The Godfather Soundtrack Love Theme Released 1972 (24/192 FLAC)


    This is a very natural folk recording with traditional Italian roots.  Sweeping and romantic with a touch of bite.  The most apparent difference here is the microdynamics and detail resolution.  Instruments suddenly became more interesting and the music became more involving, at the same time more relaxed with an ease and flow which made the music more natural.

     

     

     

    q@2x.png  Listen via Qobuz (24/96) 

    T.png Listen via Tidal (16/44.1) 

    H.png Purchase via HDtracks (24/96 or 24/192)

     

     

     

     

     

    bc-Meghan-Andrews_Im-On-Fire_Cover.jpgMeghan Andrews | I’m on Fire (Single) 2018 Blue Coast Music (DSD128)| 


    Bruce Springsteen’s classic cover by Meghan Andrews.  This is a single available on Blue Coast Music.  You can download this in various formats, FLAC, DSD and WAV for your own comparison.  I used the DSD128 version.  A very spare acoustic voice and guitar recording.  Most apparent here is the guitar seemed to have more wood and body as compared to more strings with the Aqvox.  The voice had slightly more chest as compared to more throat.

     

     

    bc-logo.jpg  Purchase from Blue Coast (multiple formats)

     

     

     

     

     

    mad.jpg

    Mad Season | River of Deceit Above 1995 (24/44)


    This test produced more interesting textures.  Layne Staley’s voice more falsetto.  Better bass texture and articulation and a slightly wider soundstage.

     

     

     

     

    q@2x.png  Listen via Qobuz (24/96) 

    T.png Listen via Tidal (16/44.1) 

    H.png Purchase via HDtracks (24/44.1)

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Metallica_black.jpgMetallica | Black Album Wherever I May Roam 1992 (24/96 FLAC)


    Using sitar- like guitar playing, the change brought about a more visceral and robust feel to James Hetfield's vocals yet at the same time the highs were more relaxed with a greater sense of ease to the flow of the song.  The same character as with earlier listening bringing about more interesting sustain to instruments and more decay in percussion.

     

     

     

    M@2x.png  Purchase from Metallica (24/48)

     

     

     

     

     

    vm.jpgVan Morrison | Poetic Champions Compose Spanish Steps 1987 16/44


    This is one of my desert island recordings.  I thought I would include a standard redbook recording. The difference here is more air.  The soundstage created slightly more image height.  Each instrument having more decay and sustain.  Already quite beautiful through the Aqvox, everything was just more there with the SoTM.

     

     

     

    q@2x.png  Listen via Qobuz (24/96) 

    T.png Listen via Tidal (16/44.1) 

     

     

     

     

     

    pm.jpg
    Pat Metheny | What It’s All About Betcha By Golly Wow 2011 24/96


    Another cover, this time Pat Metheny’s version of the Stylistics classic.  Here it was very close.  I have a redbook version of this recording and I can hardly tell the difference.  I had to use Fostex TX-00 Purpleheart headphones to detect just a slight bit more wood in the guitar and sustain in the notes.

     

     

    q@2x.png  Listen via Qobuz (24/96) 

    T.png Listen via Tidal (Lossy MQA) 

    H.png Purchase via HDtracks (24/96)

     

     


    Conclusion


    sNH-10G_2.jpgI have to declare that SoTM’s design goals of producing a good sounding switch by reducing noise has been a resounding success.  Musical textures are more interesting notes have more air and decay.  In some cases more image height and slightly deeper soundstage.  For fun I put in my old Netgear consumer switch.  I immediately had to take it out.  So here we have some careful considerations to make.  I can’t speak to the $1000 plain Jane sNH-10G but this upgraded version with the upgraded clock sounds much better than the 398 Euro (around $456 USD at time of writing) Aqvox Switch 8 which in turn sounds much better than a consumer Linksys switch.  Is it $1200 better?  That is hard to say.  Myself, I think this is a special product and worthy of consideration.

     

     

     

    Sneak preview

     

    double-switch.jpegMay Park just sent me a note.  Having done some internal testing they found that under this parallel  configuration there was a dramatic sonic improvement.

     

     

     


    Stay tuned.

     

    Ken

     

     

     

     

     

    Additional Information:

     

    Manufacturer: SOtM

    Product: sNH-10G Network Switch ($800+)

     

    Where to Buy:

     

    US Customers - Crux Audio / SOtM USA

    International Customers - SOtM

     

     




    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments



    7 hours ago, incus said:

    I'll admit this review sounds more like a marketing piece however I am the owner of two such tricked-out versions of the SOtM switches and can attest that they have introduced very nice improvements into both my speaker and my headphone systems. I have them linked across a good distance via optical. There is increased ease to my listening experience as well as greater detail retrieval, which I attribute to less noise and better timing. I don't want to get into the very thorny subjects of clock phase noise and leakage currents (which probably belong in a that other thread), but I attribute the ease and detail bumps to those factors. I currently run a Small Green Computer Roon Core i7 feeding the first SOtM switch with a dCBL CAT 7 + iSOCat6 combo and then same cable combo to an sMS-200 Ultra that feeds a Qutest dac for two channel. Optical leads to the next switch which feeds another sMS-200 Ultra via the same cable combo which feeds a Holo Spring II KTE for headphones. I formerly had Aqvox switches - both versions - as well as "clock tapped" TP-Llink switches provided as part of the "switch mod" from Crux Audio. The SOtM switch tops them both by a good margin. Outside of the addition of the Spring Dac, the switches are the best upgrade in my digital chain yet. Looking forward to the etherRegen to see it can top this.

    My question to you would be, assuming the results you report: would a much cheaper solution like the upcoming opticalModule and switch starter kit from Sonore be just as good? If the noise reduction is in large part due to the optical isolation, and a good clock, it  should.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    1 hour ago, LowMidHigh said:

     

    It shows a lot a about the company's ethos when it charges top dollars for its products and then chooses to save on a professional translator.

    I used to work in the area of writing English text for company web sites for non native English speakers. Lots of companies/site owners don’t see this as an issue. Even when it is explained to them - with examples - that the English on their site isn’t correct or is lacking stylistically, they don’t think it is something important to correct or to spend money and time on. I don’t understand why, but I can attest that it is not an uncommon attitude.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    1 hour ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    Their native language and country of origin don't matter in the least.

     

    Hey Chris, what does matter then?

     

    My personal opinion is this review lacks any integrity knowing what I know about non-realtime audio reproduction, i.e. you can pull the plug and the music still plays.

     

    I would love to see the article writer or SoTM sit blind and using Tidal on Windows 10 tell me during playback when the cable is in the computer or not. Do you think we could arrange this some time?

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    You know it's controversial when it stirs the pot up in CA. 

     

    I actually recently tried to power my $30 network switch with Uptone J2 just to see if I hear a major difference. I run my Pro iDSD through the switch and use it as a network streamer. I don't hear significant difference. I don't mind investing in something as long as I can hear a significant difference. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    1 minute ago, gordec said:

    You know it's controversial when it stirs the pot up in CA. 

     

    I actually recently tried to power my $30 network switch with Uptone J2 just to see if I hear a major difference. I run my Pro iDSD through the switch and use it as a network streamer. I don't hear significant difference. I don't mind investing in something as long as I can hear a significant difference. 

    I’d say your approach is very reasonable and one that most people I know use. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    34 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    I’ve yet to hear a switch effect audio quality and I don’t understand how it technically could. That said, once in a while we publish articles that are controversial. 

     

    I asked the same and told it could. 

     

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    SOtM's marketing ploy is to make you want to buy multiple boxes from them to get better sound. That's why they say that running two of these switches sound better and that's why thy sold external clocks for the streaming boxes. All they have to do is get a few people on board from this forum and soon a lot of forum members are falling for it......

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    42 minutes ago, STC said:

     

    I asked the same and told it could. 

     

     

    I've implemented both AVB and AES 67 and I read through the 7 replies.

     

    Yamamoto explained what AVB does for you. Sound quality was NEVER mentioned.

     

    Protocols like AVB and AES 67 guarantee a quality of service for audio applications that have realtime needs that are Ethernet connected. These protocols have no bearing on reproduction of but only the production of audio.

     

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    1 hour ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    That said, once in a while we publish articles that are controversial. 

     

    Let's talk about an article that talks about why it can't affect audio playback.

    1 hour ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

     

    One of the huge benefits of an uncensored comment section is reading the opinions of everyone who is respectful while providing opinions and / or factual information. 

     

    I think a larger benefit would be a piece that presents the flip side with some actual data.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    42 minutes ago, STC said:

    Hi Ken, could you update the link?  It is taking to a paypal page...

     

    The link is correct but it looks like at this morning moment www.sotm-audio.com has been hacked!  The supposed PayPal link t goes to is to lure the unsuspecting into signing in with their PayPal credentials.  :o

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I'm getting the US link okay, but the international buy link results in a warning for an unsafe site, and the URL displayed isn't SOTM.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    2 hours ago, Superdad said:

     

    The link is correct but it looks like at this morning moment www.sotm-audio.com has been hacked!  The supposed PayPal link t goes to is to lure the unsuspecting into signing in with their PayPal credentials.  :o

     

    I checked the link before clicking on it. It showed the correct address but then got diverted. Insuspect the problem could be with AS. 

     

    Clicking on the company link from google search or by typing the address got no problem. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    9 minutes ago, LowMidHigh said:

    So in essence, that $700 clock board runs the same performance as a $10 Crystek 575.

    I don't see how your earlier statements lead to this conclusion.  

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    2 minutes ago, rickca said:

    I don't see how your earlier statements lead to this conclusion.  

     

    I suppose those are measurements he took.

     

    Regardless, if one views paying for a high-grade chip and utilizing only 1 out of 4 clock lines acceptable, then SOtM is definitely a fitting vendor for them.

     

    Personally, I find it scandalous, but I'm sure many others will shrug it off.  Good for SOtM.

     

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    1 minute ago, LowMidHigh said:

    I suppose those are measurements he took.

    If he has measurements of the SOtM sCLK-EX phase noise, I'd love to see them.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    38 minutes ago, LowMidHigh said:

     

    Because everyone on this forum is interested in the truth and nothing but the truth, I did some digging and reached an audio engineer, who had taken a number of SOtM products apart.

     

    Fasten your seatbelts:

     

    In the heart of the iSO-CAT6 is the $3 HanRun single port Ethernet transformer, with a pile of caps and a couple of diodes on each side. In other words, mediocracy screaming to high heaven.

     

    As SOtM openly shares, that low-grade pseudo-isolation (iSO-CAT6) is the foundation of their $800 switch. If one opts for the $1,700 version, one gets their clock synthesizer board, but because the switch doesn’t have actual active digital isolators, it’s restricted to only one clock domain. The other 3 available clock lines are wasted (there are 4 with the SiliconLabs synth chip they use). So in essence, that $700 clock board runs the same performance as a $10 Crystek 575.

     

    I expect some flakes: SOtM and its associates have financial interests here and actual buyers detest cognitive dissonance. Still, I’m not heaping on the company for the sake of it, rather sharing facts that some may find useful in their decision-making process.

     

    As always when people discuss parts, I'm not sure any of it matters. You can make a good sounding unit with cheap parts, and a bad sounding unit with expensive parts. 

     

    I have no idea if these devices do anything - and I don't care whether they do or don't. If people try them and think they make their system sound better - good for them. It's also their business if the price/performance/looks ratio is suitable to their budget.

    I have nothing to say to them unless they start promoting the device as doing something other  than making THEIR setup sound better to THEM. Once they start making broad claims about the device, then I'd like some proof other than one person's sighted subjective listening impressions about what it does.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    6 hours ago, plissken said:

     

    Let's talk about an article that talks about why it can't affect audio playback.

     

    I think a larger benefit would be a piece that presents the flip side with some actual data.

    If you’re willing to write it or know someone who can, I’ll publish it without a doubt. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    All LPS's are not equal, I have several.  And use the second tap of my Ghent cable off SPS500 to power a simple Netgear switch because it does reduce digital irritants. The OP

    should have compared using his inexpensive switch powered off the SPS500 to the SoTM... I doubt the differences would be that great. And to the usual flat earthers sneering,

    pull your head out of the sand and focus on the circuit noise issues, not Ethernet frames. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    17 hours ago, Advieira said:

    If you need to have two unities to get the best SQ, there was a little project failure. 

    I never said you need two for best SQ. Simply that my set-up resulted in positive enhancements.

     

     

    13 hours ago, Yo-yo said:

    I’d like to see more hard data on this device and less subjective testing. There is no reason a switch transferring a file would effect another devices audio output. In the future I would suggest using audio recording to verify the results and or blind a-b tests.

    any device that claims what it claims and costs what it costs should make measurable differences.

     

    I also don't see that it's very productive for anyone to state outright without any A/Bing of their own that switches by definition cannot make a difference. Especially when the bleeding edge of - yes - subjective reporting - has prompted Swenson and others to try to create ways to - objectively - measure what so many are hearing. You will get your data. Objective always trails subjective.

     

    13 hours ago, plissken said:

    That's not a parallel setup. It's serial.  I've done ad-hoc runs were we need to get to something 800 feet away and using two switches to do it where fiber wasn't an option.

     

    The frames get rebuilt 100% from the ground up as the go from port to port.

     

    So with the play back machine being Windows 10 but I don't see the playback software other than Tidal or Qobuz I'll mention this:

     

    When I went out to Denver years ago to a roughly $50,000 setup, the participant, using Tidal, couldn't tell when the customer $1500 12 cable or the 100 foot $14 cable was in use.

     

    Another tidbit: They didn't even know they were listening to entire tracks from Tidal where I removed the cable 30 seconds in and let entire 5 to 11 minute tracks play.

     

    I call shenanigans on this.

     

     

    Never said it was parallel. I just stated what I have in my system.

     

    13 hours ago, jtwrace said:

    Lots of foolery there and any company that makes such a device.  Many audiophiles are very gullible.  

    Then you by no means need to buy from them! But I don't see how this kind of comment is helpful in any way. I have bought and rejected MANY components and accessories and cables, etc. over the years based on poor performance relative to expectations. In the end, you keep the ones that enhance your system. In the end, we're all just chasing a certain sound relative to an ideal, so your ears are the true measure. If it gives you peace of mind to buy on specs alone, then totally go for it. Doesn't mean that it sounds better.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites



    Create an account or sign in to comment

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now

×