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



    1 minute ago, incus said:

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

    I believe he was referring the this statement in the review:

     

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

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    11 hours ago, firedog said:

    I don’t know if devices like this make a difference or not. If you look at Archimago’s blog, he’s measured similar stuff that audiophiles think is important and found it to have no measurable effect. 
    In any case, the SOTM devices and accompanying PS are quite pricey. If I was going to try this stuff, I’d go with less expensive products from Sonore or Uptone first. Assuming they do make a difference, I’d bet the result per dollar on them is a lot better than for the SOTM ones. Audiophilia is a classic area of diminishing returns, You get a lot of performance for lesser sums, and improving that performance tends to cost lots of money for very small increases in performance. And the more upscale a component is, the more you spend on cosmetics instead of performance. Nothing against cosmetics, but they don’t contribute to performance. 

     

    Oh my...

     

    There's this article from awhile back looking at the "noise" when plugging a Pi/DAC into a router vs. just WiFi.

     

    Hmmm, maybe I'll try that one more time with my even better RME ADI-2 Pro FS ADC to see if I can detect any noise or distortions out to near 200kHz plugged into my 10GbE-capable switch ($200) in the next few weeks.

     

    I have yet to see any company release data to back up claims that there's any extra noise being produced by a DAC when plugged into a wired ethernet (other than my experiment above which shows very minimal difference). Would be nice if SOtM produced some information as to what issue a >$1000 switch actually addresses? Then we can talk about facts and consider actual benefits instead of ruminate over vague claims?

     

    Nonetheless, I do like the music suggestions used for the evaluation though...

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    11 hours ago, firedog said:

    If you look at Archimago’s blog, he’s measured similar stuff that audiophiles think is important and found it to have no measurable effect. 

     

    I have found that whatever he measures has no measurable effect. I am starting to think that whatever is measuring, with whatever measuring tool he is using, is totally irrelevant in Audio. To use a crude analogy: does measuring the sperm count matter for a patient with a heart disease?

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    If you follow the various threads on this forum about clocking, re-clocking, phase noise, etc. I think you'll see that a) John Swenson appears to be building a measuring device capable of showing what he and the folks at Uptone are addressing with their switch and why, and b) this goes beyond the current ways one understands "noise" in a system. The way I look at it, streaming-based digital audio has ushered in a new era of research - subjective and objective - that cannot really be equated to older analog ways of looking at noise.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Older assumptions about measurability based on analog systems, is what I mean. I know you are measuring in the digital realm - but like thyname just said - those measurement tools are not addressing the actual problems introduced by streaming audio.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    7 minutes ago, incus said:

    If you follow the various threads on this forum about clocking, re-clocking, phase noise, etc. I think you'll see that a) John Swenson appears to be building a measuring device capable of showing what he and the folks at Uptone are addressing with their switch and why, and b) this goes beyond the current ways one understands "noise" in a system. The way I look at it, streaming-based digital audio has ushered in a new era of research - subjective and objective - that cannot really be equated to older analog ways of looking at noise.

     

    Bring it on.

     

    Did Swenson even produce any of the promised measurements that he said he was going to from back in the day of the USB Regen (mid-2015)???

     

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    30 minutes ago, lasker98 said:

    This is a new review from Hans Beekhuyzen:

     

    Let's just say that after his ignorant posts about MQA (and I'm not referring to his sonic opinion of MQA), I wouldn't trust anything he says. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Just now, firedog said:

    Let's just say that after his ignorant posts about MQA (and I'm not referring to his sonic opinion of MQA), I wouldn't trust anything he says. 

    We all make mistakes. I hope you don’t throw this baby(me) out with the bath water after I “F” up 😁

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    15 minutes ago, firedog said:

    There's a difference between making mistakes and posting a long "in depth" video where you arrogantly  explain the technical aspects of MQA and why it is superior - where it's clear you don't  know what you are talking about. And then defending his ignorance. That's not a "mistake", it's incompetence at best, something else at worst. 
    I don't ever remember you doing something like that. And you seem to be willing to admit factual technical mistakes, and don't pretend to be an expert about stuff you aren't expert on. 

    Understood. 

    Share this comment


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

     

    Not true. There was a measurable difference as you can see in that post! And for most devices tested, there are actually differences I highlight - even between some cables! DACs easily show jitter differences.

     

    What's more important is for folks to actually recognize that maybe... Just maybe... The power of the mind to produce and claim differences and attribution theories is way more powerful than what is actually there.

     

    Except for, even when you measure some difference, you come with the conclusion that is beyond the audible boundary levels for humans, or even worse, to copy paste from your famous review of Chromecast Audio that all "deniers" wave all over the Internets:

     

    "...And I don't believe anyone is really going to notice the jitter in day-to-day use. "

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    7 minutes ago, incus said:

    Actually pretty corroborated if you read up on switches.

     

    And as for opinion, well it's all "just" opinion, isn't it? One opinion says only currently-existing measurement devices tell the truth.

     

    I'm willing to bet you money you fall apart in a single blind evaluation.

     

     

     

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Single blind evaluation of the TP-Link switch I used to have vs. the SOtM switch?? Ha. You obviously don't know the difference in sound or you would not offer to pay me for my time like that. Same goes for generic CAT6A cable vs. the SOtM LAN cables...

     

    Anyway, I am going to move on from trying to prove to you or anyone that what I hear is there. Doubt all you want, please. Doubt is good. Just don't let it kill your curiosity!

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    5 hours ago, incus said:

    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.

    In your opinion of course...just like I stated mine.  Your ears aren't the objective device which is science based.  That's fact.  If it was, then I'm sure every network switch company would use audio to "design" their network equipment.  Guess what, they don't because it's total BS!  

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Good question. Ask SOtM if they have any. They must base their designs on something, right? Not just throwing diodes at a board...

     

    But I'm curious what you need to see that would make you at least entertain the possibility of an uptick in listening pleasure coming from such tech? In other words, what exactly would you be asking some theoretical device to measure? It can't just be frequency and jitter. Clearly there is more going on here. Why don't you explain to us all why different switches sound different from one another. And if you tell me they don't, then we will have to stop this discussion because it means you have not tried any of the products detailed herein.

    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

×