Do I really need an " Audio Grade Network Switch "?

Associate
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I think it's been a quite controversial topic for years, like what's the difference between normal network switch and an audio grade network switch, the price difference is certainly obvious though...
Anyway, I've done some researches, most audio reviewers say that under this " new digital streaming era " that an network switch is a must for an audio system, which is understandable for me, I mean because if I wanna play TIDAL or Qobuz or Spotify, I gotta use network so I can stream these online services, so yeah I get that if the network quality is good enough, it can possibly level up the music performance.

But anyhow, I'm new to this area, so I don't like to spend big bucks on my first purchase hahaha... there's a very wide range of the prices though, the top one is Ansuz Power Switch I think, the inner circuit and design look pretty sharp, and surely over my budget lol

So I'm choosing between Bonn N8 and SW-8, these two both got good reviews, and the prices seem so darn much friendly to me as I'm looking for an entry level switch now, do any of you have any insights to share?
or should I just go for the higher level ones?

Best,
 
Man of Honour
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In terms of transport errors with 0s and 1s then the money would be far better spent upgrading the quality of the processing hardware (DAC, etc.) and the speakers or headphones to almost any extent.

As a source of noise/interference then if that is really an issue you'd want to avoid something wired entirely and use some kind of optical networking.

(99% of any network based interference will be due to the hardware in the NIC rather than what is connected anyhow - operational amplifiers are used on the TX and RX edges which will be a source of noise).
 
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Soldato
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Audio grade Network Switch = ********. Same as the £300+ Denon link cable that was just a nicely made CAT6 ethernet cable worth about £10.

Either the packets get there or they don't. Buy a decently made metal cased switch and be done with it.

The source/processing/amplification hardware is a better place to spend your money.
 
Man of Honour
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Audio grade Network Switch = ********. Same as the £300+ Denon link cable that was just a nicely made CAT6 ethernet cable worth about £10.

Either the packets get there or they don't. Buy a decently made metal cased switch and be done with it.

The source/processing/amplification hardware is a better place to spend your money.

Transport errors or jitter can be a thing - but only in the most incredibly specialised of setups would they be of any concern and I doubt anyone would ever notice them by ear. (You are talking scientific level of precise signalling kind of thing not just listening to music).

Network hardware and connected devices can be a source of interference - but if that is an issue you really need to move to proper isolation i.e. optical and spend some time researching for the best low noise operation hardware - you could spend a ton of money on a audio grade network switch but if you've got run of the mill operational amplifiers, etc. in a fire and forget consumer grade network interface then it will undo all of that - never mind if you are using integrated Ethernet on the motherboard.
 
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Soldato
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I'd agree about the transport errors or jitter, and the quality of the devices and ethernet NICs at either end. The network switch is solely moving that packeted up data received from a NIC between two ports. As long as it meets ethernet specs its not changing jitter characteristics or creating errors. The packets of data that get received on one port and forwarded to another are exactly the same - it's bottom two layers of the OSI model stuff. The receiving device then takes that packeted data and turns it back into something that can be processed. The network switch doesn't know what it's switching between ports - it's just packets of encoded data.

Anyone that's claiming the treble or the soundstage or whatever using an "audio grade network switch" is better has been smoking too much snake oil. It wouldn't pass a blind A/B test.
 
Associate
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One of the differences between analogue and digital comms is that digital comms can include error-correction in the protocol. With an analogue cable, you want the best cable you can afford as this will provide a clearer signal path.

With digital cables, you can let the error correction sort out any signal transmission issues for you. As far as network communications are concerned, error correction was incorporated into TCP/IP in 1983. I would say that anyone peddling an "audio grade network switch" is trying to come up with an interesting new way to get money out of people.
 
Soldato
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It sounds like absolute BS to me also.

But I guess these products are targetting people with more money then brains and buy the best because they want to the best and peace of mind that because they bought the best they didnt need to read up on anything, I can understand there would be a market there, so fair play to retailers.
 
Soldato
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I think it's been a quite controversial topic for years, like what's the difference between normal network switch and an audio grade network switch, the price difference is certainly obvious though...
Anyway, I've done some researches, most audio reviewers say that under this " new digital streaming era " that an network switch is a must for an audio system, which is understandable for me, I mean because if I wanna play TIDAL or Qobuz or Spotify, I gotta use network so I can stream these online services, so yeah I get that if the network quality is good enough, it can possibly level up the music performance.

But anyhow, I'm new to this area, so I don't like to spend big bucks on my first purchase hahaha... there's a very wide range of the prices though, the top one is Ansuz Power Switch I think, the inner circuit and design look pretty sharp, and surely over my budget lol

So I'm choosing between Bonn N8 and SW-8, these two both got good reviews, and the prices seem so darn much friendly to me as I'm looking for an entry level switch now, do any of you have any insights to share?
or should I just go for the higher level ones?

Best,

No you don't. It's like buying a gold pen and expecting it to make your handwriting better.
 
Soldato
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A what now? Lol
No. No it won't improve audio quality. That would be a bit like buying an oven and calling it sausage grade.
 

gEd

gEd

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I doubt anyone here has any experience of Audio Grade Network Switches, so you will just get opinions and the usual "but it's all 1's and 0's" responses.
The discussions that I have read say it's about ground-plane noise, not the actual data itself.

If you have a hifi that costs 1000's and consider yourself an audiophile nut and have run out of ways to spend the money elsewhere on your system (like better speakers), it might be worth doing more research on hifi forums (like Roon or Naim) to read from people who have actually tried one of these switches in a good system. Even there you will read endless posts and arguing from folks saying they can't make a difference vs people who say they do make a difference vs people who say they've tried them and they don't.
And only consider buying if you can buy on sale or return.

Otherwise, you will most likely just waste your money.
 
Soldato
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I doubt anyone here has any experience of Audio Grade Network Switches, so you will just get opinions and the usual "but it's all 1's and 0's" responses.
The discussions that I have read say it's about ground-plane noise, not the actual data itself.
Do regular switches generate a lot of noise then? And how does that noise manifest? what problems does it cause that these audiophile switchs solve?
 
Man of Honour
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The discussions that I have read say it's about ground-plane noise, not the actual data itself.

Ground loops and other noise of that nature can be a real problem but if it is having a noticeable impact on your listening experience there is a lot more which needs to be done than just using a audio grade network switch and really that is putting a band aid on the problem - if it is an issue you want to move away from wired Ethernet entirely ideally optically isolated or similar - what is removed due to an audio grade switch is only a part of the sources of undesirable noise which the operational amplifiers in the network adapter are going to bring into the overall system.

Decent audio hardware can use a variety of techniques such as galvanic isolation in the power supply stage to filter out these kind of issues and much more effectively than the switch doing some of it.
 
Soldato
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The discussions that I have read say it's about ground-plane noise, not the actual data itself.

So spend the money of better power. Don't throw £hundreds at a snake oil network switch. Or better still, use a crossover cable and remove the requirement for a switch completely.
 
Associate
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As others have said, complete waste of money. Anything with 'audiophile grade' in the product name should be avoided.
 
Soldato
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I doubt anyone here has any experience of Audio Grade Network Switches, so you will just get opinions and the usual "but it's all 1's and 0's" responses.
The discussions that I have read say it's about ground-plane noise, not the actual data itself.
Gullible cashcows having no slightest knowledge of electric engineering or anything is even worser source of information.

And if there are ground related noise problems etc, then ultimate goal should be using optical connections to cut galvanic connection completely instead of paying arm and leg for audioscammery.
 
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This pretty much sums it up. Save your green and get a normal network switch.
 

gEd

gEd

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Do regular switches generate a lot of noise then? And how does that noise manifest? what problems does it cause that these audiophile switchs solve?

These are indeed the kind of questions that get asked on the forums discussing audiophile switches!

After re-reading what I put in the first 2 lines of my post (which have been quoted several times) I realise how folks may have understandably read what I wrote as meaning "I have read (AND AGREE with what I've read) on forums about these switches". What I was trying to say is that I've read several long-running hifi threads about these switches and the current theories and discussions as to why they might make a difference are related to electrical noise not data transmission. That I offered no clear and strong opinion of my own of these ideas was intentional but possibly a mistake.

I'm 99% sure that they are worthless and a total "waste of money" (words I used in my post btw). The remaining 1% is that I've never actually tried one of these devices for myself and will maintain a very health scepticism until persuaded otherwise.
 
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