Cutting the Noise
The findings here were very interesting. Also, you don’t need a trained ear to hear the differences. Once the switches were detached from the server – the sound immediately changes. So noise is always present – let’s find out by how much.
When I unplugged the SOtM
The differences were far larger with the ZyXEL. When unplugged, the sound was pretty much identical to what I heard when the SOtM was unplugged. Plugging the ZyXEL back in and you start to get an idea of just how much an attached switch could alter the sound of your music server. The ZyXEL is relatively dark sounding and has a much more veiled sound. It’s not nearly as transparent as the SOtM. Not even close, really.
From my experience, a local file almost always sounds better than a streamed file. So far, without exception. It’s always quieter, more detailed, and imparts better cohesiveness.
In short, the performance gap is widened even further when playing local files (with switches detached). It sounds crisper, quieter, more liquid, and more transparent. The soundstage gets deeper and the music just breathes better. Plugging either switch back in – and the sound gets a little fuzzier and diffused. This is not so much the case for the
If the sound quality with the switch disconnected is our reference point, it’s clear that the SOtM
To summarize, less noise meant:
- Better cohesion and smoothness
- Blacker background
- Fuller and warmer sound
- Better dynamics
- Much better transparency