In another thread the topic of adding a network isolator was raised, I had been following a thread on CA and had already order some bits and so volunteered to post some impressions.
The theory, as I understand it, is to add some hardware to block unwanted noise from entering the audio part of your network. This can be achieved in two broad ways:
1. Use a network isolator. A number are available, such as those used for hospitals or those made for HiFi, including a unit by SOtM. These generally sit between two RJ45 patch cables and act as a filter; or
2. Change media, causing the data to be re-written, leaving the noise behind.
Type 1 widgets cost £200 - £350, type 2 can be bought for £12 - £500. I decided to try two approaches:
1. Media switch via RJ45 > Optical (£70 in extra PSU); and
2. Media switch via USB > RJ45 (£12).
Today I will write some initial impressions of the Optical approach.
I bought a pair of TP-Link MC110CS, a pair of SC cables (as short as I could find) and a 9V PSU. I already have one 9V IFI that I was using on the switch I have in my audio setup, I swapped this out with the original TP-Link PSU; but, as the switch is on the noisy side of the media bridge I am hoping any noise will have a minimal influence.
NAS (CAT5e) > Audio Switch (SMPS) > MC110CS (CAT5e - SMPS) > SC-SC > MC110CS (CAT5e - IFI LPSU) > mR (Sbooster LPSU) > etc
Swapping the bridge out of the loop is a simple matter of connecting in another patch lead from the audio switch.
Before going into detail on my initial listening I want to briefly cover why I am not using the AQ Cinnamon at the moment. Having added the SBooster I found that the high frequencies had become edgy. I swapped from the Cinnamon / mR hard adapter back to the CAT5e / USB cable and this seemed to restore balance. Unfortunately this also removes a smidge of the detail / drum resonance.
Interestingly I have noticed that if my internet connection degrades so does my Quboz SQ. It should run at 50mbps+, on occasions when the SQ has deteriorated I have checked and found it had reduced to 5/6mbps.
Adding The Bridge
This has restored the detail from the Cinnamon. Actually, not like for like, there is detail here that the AQ Cinnamon didn't uncover, although some of what the Cinnamon revealed is still not here.
Mary Black - Columbus - Live at Olympia: the double bass was always there but as a large presence, it has now coalesced into a musical instrument. In fact I am able to follow the bass line with increased ease.
Neil Diamond - Melody Road - Melody Road (Quboz): again the bass is easier to follow and has a slightly increased dynamic as the player plucks the strings.
1. Add the AQ Cinnamon back in;
2. Live with it for a week, then bypass it;
3. Try the cheap, non-powered, USB route.
Well, this is a gain for me. Like adding the Sbooster I don't think this is an 'upgrade' akin to buying a better pre-amp, this will hone what is already there; worth trying.