Innuos Design Philosophy
In the realm of high-end audio, Innuos has made a name for itself as a Portuguese company that crafts top-of-the-line music servers that are both dependable and expertly designed. The founders, Nuno Vitorino and Amelia Santos, approach their product line with a thorough mindset, choosing to enhance and broaden their existing products rather than venturing into other audio components such as speakers, amps, or DACs.
Innuos holds the belief that a systematic approach to product design is critical to creating dependable and superior audio equipment. Their design principles prioritize an intense focus on details and precise engineering. Let’s take a look at one of their latest additions: the PhoenixNET audiophile Ethernet switch.
The Sound of an Ethernet Switch
You may be asking yourself, “How can an Ethernet switch impact the sound quality of my digital music playback?” After all, Ethernet switches are simply responsible for directing digital data from one location to another, correct? While a switch’s main job is to transfer data packets between devices, it’s important to remember that these packets contain more than just zeros and ones. Instead, they are analog electrical signals that can be susceptible to noise and interference.
In the digital audio world, noise is an ever-present issue that can arise at any point in the signal chain. Even if the digital signal is spotless, noise can contaminate it as it moves from the router to the streamer. This is where the PhoenixNET comes into play. As a barrier against noise and interference, the PhoenixNET can assist in ensuring that your digital music playback is as unblemished and precise as feasible.
Features & Design
The PhoenixNET exceeds the typical features of an audiophile Ethernet switch and stands as a remarkable masterpiece of design and engineering. Innuos has spared no expense in crafting a device that is both aesthetically and sonically pleasing. The front panel is a thick, CNC-milled marvel, featuring a sleek and modern design with angled planes that come together in perfect harmony. The product’s logo is the only feature on the front panel, emphasizing its clean and minimalist design.
The PhoenixNET is a heavyweight weighing in at 11 pounds and measuring 8.46 x 3.42 x 13.46 inches. The PhoenixNET features multiple anti-vibration measures, including three large aluminum anti-vibration pucks underneath. Each of which incorporates a rubber O-ring. Oh yeah, it also has large inner springs that are tuned to the resonant frequency of the chassis itself. And there’s also a dampening pad underneath the top part of the enclosure to reduce vibrations. Innuos is obviously fastidious in their design approach.
Innuos developed the motherboard of the PhoenixNET from scratch. Each RJ45 socket has its own isolation transformer. Take one look at the photos and you’ll see just how clean and purposeful their design is. Innuos’ network switch chip of choice is a low-noise 100Mbps one with three external Analog Devices LT3045 regulators. This silicon directly connects to a large 3ppb 25MHz OCXO clock mere millimeters away to secure maximum precision and reduce jitter.
But what truly sets the PhoenixNET apart is its power supply section, designed by none other than Dr. Sean Jacobs. The CX module is meant to reduce DC hum by a factor of 1,000, ensuring a clean power supply for the clock and network chip. These chips get their own regulation blocks and voltage rails, with a large toroidal transformer and Mundorf caps completing the package. To further safeguard against unwanted electromagnetic interference, the PhoenixNET is equipped with isolating transformers and heavy shielding around each of its four ports.
Thanks Jay for the detailed and wonderful review. I also am considering adding this device to my streaming setup. One question, did you ever have the opportunity to try the Gigafoil v4 Ethernet filter in your system? If so, any comments on how it compares to the PhoenixNET?
I have not! I’ll have to look into it. Been out of the loop for a while 😉
I wish Innuos would add SFP to their switches. This is the game changer, and without it I will not now consider a product.
SFP doesn’t always sound better though?