I’m going to step through the generic switches all the way up to the LS OCXO.
Starting with the TRENDnet TEG-S8g and S50g, I thought they sounded pretty good. Nice tonality, punchy, clear, and a decent amount of body. Both have a little bit of grain in the mids but overall very musical. The S50g is the quieter of the two and had more clarity and focus. Bass is a tiny bit boomy for both but not terrible. At this point I was pretty happy with these unmodified switches.
Moving to the Cisco and we have something really special. It’s much more liquid over the TRENDnets with more palpable textures and coherence. Bass is tighter with less overhang, decent outlines on singers and instruments, and overall just more shape and gradations. The TRENDnets have a more golden tone which I prefer but for all intents and purposes, it’s a great switch for a smoother listening experience. Cisco’s obviously using higher-grade parts in this switch.
Now with the SOtM’s D-Link (clocked by the tX-USBultra), the tonality is cooler than that of the Cisco. It’s much smoother than the TRENDnets and provides more body and musical shape over the Cisco. Transients are also incisive and clear. Overall a very silky and a slightly softer presentation over the other switches. The Cisco switch does gets pretty close as far as performance.
Now we’re at The Linear Solution OCXO switch. At this point, I’m expect minimal improvements at best. The generics didn’t really sound that bad at all. Perhaps a little rougher and thinner, but still enjoyable.
Once I plugged the TLS OCXO switch in – I realized just how much of an impact an audiophile switch could make in a system. It is a huge step in fidelity. It has all the qualities of the other switches – and more. Almost like the Captain Marvel of ethernet switches. It’s quiet, warmblooded, articulate, resolving, dynamic, and offers up the perfect amount of vibrancy. You stop thinking about the technical improvements and just allow the music to envelop you. Tactility from percussions and strings are imparted with finesse and candor while voices are rich and detailed. Imaging and layering of the soundstage is leagues better than the generics as well. It has the right amount of color, transparency, dynamism, and overall clarity.
I’m not sure what else to say. It is the best sounding switch I’ve heard so far.
As far as the Reference CAT7 cable, they’re voiced in the same way. In comparison to my reference ethernet cable, the SOtM dCBL-CAT7, it’s denser and warmer. Given the qualities of the OCXO switch, there’s also a predictable level of musicality. Keep in mind that although they’re not labeled as directional, I did hear differences depending on orientation. I just add tape to one end to differentiate (you could see the tape in the photo).
The dCBL-CAT7 is still quieter and more resolving but when combined with a SOtM iSO-CAT6…it’s a combination that’s tough to beat. At only $198/m, this ethernet cable is one of the best values out there. I’ve since replaced the SOtM black cable with the TLS Reference.
My current chain:
Router -> LS CAT7 -> iSO-CAT6 -> dCBL-CAT7 -> LS OCXO swtich -> dCBL-CAT7 -> Innuos Zenith SE Mk.2 music server
All in all, very impressive products by The Linear Solution.
The Linear Solution has some amazing ears at the helm of their designs. Unlike the trend of creating more “hyper-real” components that impresses (and eventually fatigues), The Linear Solution knows what’s most important – musicality. Surprisingly, it still imparts an eerie level of resolution and air. It also give you more meat on the bones, truer timbre, emotional textures, and enough slam to get your feet moving. Top it off with accurate timing of reverb tails and all those organic nuances – and it’s audio heaven.
After listening to the OCXO Audiophile Switch, it’s too difficult to go back to plugging directly into generic routers or switches. You’ve already realized how much you’re missing. It’s too late.
I don’t look at The Linear Solution OCXO audiophile switch as simply a modified switch. They’ve obviously maximized what they could out of the stock components and created something else entirely. It is one thoughtful and serious piece of gear.
It’s very difficult to imagine how much better a switch could sound. Even with the advent of “super switches” such as the SOtM sNH-10G and UpTone Audio EtherREGEN, I’d be surprised if it’s that much better. But…the current audio landscape is full of surprises – so until then, I’m not letting go of this switch. 🙂
The Linear Solution no longer offers bundles so you’re free to cherry pick what you’d like.
- TLS Reference Ethernet cable
- $198/M addition meter $50
- TLS LPS
- $750 for the Reference
- TLS OCXO Audiophile Switch