Stack Audio SmoothLAN ethernet isolation filter

Tuckers

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I just received the new Stack Audio SmoothLAN ethernet filter as a review and evaluation piece. I've previously posted a review of the iFi iSilencer LAN on here as well. I like Stack Audio, the main guy, Theo Stack is a smart cookie and a very pleasant person to work with. I have owned the Stack Audio Link II Roon Endpoint, which is an excellent device in the $1,000 range, and the circuit is designed by John Westlake.

The SmoothLAN runs £200 EX-VAT or $254 USD. The fit and finish looks to be the same top notch quality of their other products. This filter provides many levels of isolation, filtering, and EMI reduction. It is an impressive list:

Stack Audio SmoothLAN

I'm running it in on my Desktop (non-audio) system for a few days, then I'll try it first connected as the last point of my network into my streamer.
 
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MacF

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I just received the new Stack Audio SmoothLAN ethernet filter as a review and evaluation piece. I've previously posted a review of the iFi iSilencer LAN on here as well. I like Stack Audio, the main guy, Theo Stack is a smart cookie and a very pleasant person to work with. I have owned the Stack Audio Link II Roon Endpoint, which is an excellent device in the $1,000 range, and the circuit is designed by John Westlake.

The SmoothLAN runs £200 EX-VAT or $254 USD. The fit and finish looks to be the same top notch quality of their other products. This filter provides many levels of isolation, filtering, and EMI reduction. It is an impressive list:

Stack Audio SmoothLAN

I'm running it in on my Desktop (non-audio) system for a few days, then I'll try it first connected as the last point of my network into my streamer.
How's the evaluation of Stack Audio SmoothLAN filter coming along?
 

Tuckers

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I've been letting it chill on my desktop PC for a few days, while it breaks in.
 

Magnuska

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If anyone has had the chance to compare it to other LAN filters? I have the network acoustic muon pro but this could be a great filter to add in the chain somewere else.
 
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Opabin

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Will be very interested to read your assessment of the SmoothLAN filter. Will you be able to provide any comparisons with other network filters?
 

MacF

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SmoothLAN will be arriving early next week. I will be most interested in hearing if it adds improvements to the copper>fiber>copper conversion I opted for after having trying ENO, MUON & EtherRegen. All of which contributed positive improvements, but fiber sounds better to me.
 
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Republicoftexas69

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I installed the English Electric Lan Filter (Chord) on the dirty side of my F/O and it made a difference. Betting dollars to donuts that these are both made by Silent Angel.
 

JeromeFrancis

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Question: If one has an optical connection (i.e. galvanic isolation) between renderer and DAC, does it make sense to also use LAN filters, linear power supplies etc. before the renderer to clean up the signal ?
 

Republicoftexas69

Well-Known Member
Question: If one has an optical connection (i.e. galvanic isolation) between renderer and DAC, does it make sense to also use LAN filters, linear power supplies etc. before the renderer to clean up the signal ?
It is exactly what I did.
 

MacF

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Prior to adding the Sonore OM's, my experience with the Network Acoustics ENO & Muon filters as well as EtherRegen with ext clock had all of them placed just before the Gold Note. With the SmoothLAN, it will most likely go between Nucleus & switch.
 
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Tuckers

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I had that dammed flu that is going around so did not get to do any comparative listening for a while. I did do some critical listening this weekend. The unit fully broke in as it was running a few weeks before I say down to listen. During that time, despite my flu, I thought that my system was getting better and better in fundamental ways. Turns out it was clear enough I heard the improvements grow over a week with the flu! And my experience has shown that the SmoothLAN needs some break in time. In fact in my swapping in and out during critical listening told me that it takes some time to cure every time its swapped to sound its best. I found long term swaps to be the most definitive, where I left it in our out for a couple of days, then switched. The difference was more dramatic.

So the meat of it is, it made more of a positive change than most of the individual things I've tried in my network, including adding a fiber bridge, adding linear power supplies to network switches and media converters and improving cabling.

One thing to note, this device only supports 100MB network speeds, so its throughput if you have a 1GB network, is slowed into whatever device it is connected to. It also shouldn't affect the rest of your network, just the device its plugged into. I don't think this is a problem for any music streamer. I initially set it up on my desktop PC and I did notice the slower network speeds when I was downloading or uploading large file sizes. But on my Innuos Pulsar streamer I tested it with every kind of high resolution file and it did not slow down playback of any of them that I could notice. I tried it on some files that were 2GB, and files that were 32bit/768Khz PCM, and DSD512. That should cover it. I wouldn't recommend it for a switch or something that has to move data/video around the home though.

Sonics
Lives up to its name! Overall the SmoothLAN increased resolution and smoothness. This means things that areas that were blurry or jagged disappeared and instruments, voices, recorded venue increased in density, detail, 3d rendering, and depth. While at first this seemed minor, more in depth listening showed that it revealed a lot of new information in recordings, and truly enhanced my enjoyment. I was able to turn up the volume a couple of clicks because of the reduction in distortion, this increased perceived bass, but also the bass had more depth and character, making each bass or drum sound more like itself, less generic.

One of the results of this was Big Tone on well recorded material. Things like violin and cellos, pianos shone through like golden sunlight hitting the forest floor. I felt like my system made a small step closer to master tape.

I have my own rating scale of 1-10 to judge sonics and value in my system. 5 means no change. 1-5 means worse. 5-10 is an improvement. Something that costs up to say $250 is worthwhile if it rates a 6 or above. Something that reaches 7 or higher would be worth $500 to $1500. Something that reaches 8 is $2,000 and above. I've never heard something that rated above 8 :).

I rated the iFi LAN Silencer around 5.8. At less than $100, that makes it a solid value!

I rate the Stack Audio SmoothLAN 7.6. At $250, its a stone cold deal, and well worth the effort. Seeing how there are tons of audiophile switches etc that cost north of $1,000 that I don't think hit the 7 mark, I think this speaks for itself.
 
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Magnuska

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the meat of it is, it made more of a positive change than most of the individual things I've tried in my network, including adding a fiber bridge, adding linear power supplies to network switches and media converters and improving cabling.
Thank you for your writing. Yes a good network filter seems to do much. I have the network acoustics Muon pro which costs a lot more. I think a network filter is a good alternative to a second or third switch and perhaps also fiberconverters.
 

Tuckers

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Question: If one has an optical connection (i.e. galvanic isolation) between renderer and DAC, does it make sense to also use LAN filters, linear power supplies etc. before the renderer to clean up the signal ?
My experience says yes, as I have all those things setup in my network already.
 

MacF

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Thank you for your impressions of the Stack Audio SmoothLAN filter. Glad you're feeling better!

I have been running mine for a week now, but Covid has slowed my ability to listen critically. However, I can say that I do hear subtle but noticeable improvements to my streaming, especially with respect to layering and space between instruments. Vocals seem to be more forward adding to the depth of the image.

This SmoothLAN is located between Roon Nucleus+ and Synergistic switch. I do have a fiber bridge between Fios router & SR switch that i can wholeheartedly recommend. Even with the copper > fiber > copper conversion, the SmoothLAN reveals even more of the recording.

Also, I plan on trying this filter between the SR switch and endpoint, which is a Gold Note integrated, to see if there's any grunge left to mitigate after the switch. If so, I will add a 2nd SmoothLAN to that location.

I would rank these initial improvements made by this filter in the same league as ENO & Original Muon filters, both of which I have tried, but not in combination with the fiber bridge.

More impressions later.

MacF
 
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LarsV

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Thank you for your impressions of the Stack Audio SmoothLAN filter. Glad you're feeling better!

I have been running mine for a week now, but Covid has slowed my ability to listen critically. However, I can say that I do hear subtle but noticeable improvements to my streaming, especially with respect to layering and space between instruments. Vocals seem to be more forward adding to the depth of the image.

This SmoothLAN is located between Roon Nucleus+ and Synergistic switch. I do have a fiber bridge between Fios router & SR switch that i can wholeheartedly recommend. Even with the copper > fiber > copper conversion, the SmoothLAN reveals even more of the recording.

Also, I plan on trying this filter between the SR switch and endpoint, which is a Gold Note integrated, to see if there's any grunge left to mitigate after the switch. If so, I will add a 2nd SmoothLAN to that location.

I would rank these initial improvements made by this filter in the same league as ENO & Original Muon filters, both of which I have tried, but not in combination with the fiber bridge.

More impressions later.

MacF
Hi MacF,
I am was planning to get the Network Acoustics Eno or the Muon Pro, but since I purchased the Stack Audio Auva 100s and several sets of EQs, and totally love these, I am waiting to see more reviews from people, like you, who own all both brands. Looking forward to hearing more of your comparison to the Eno and Muon.
 
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harsheel_dbs

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Question: If one has an optical connection (i.e. galvanic isolation) between renderer and DAC, does it make sense to also use LAN filters, linear power supplies etc. before the renderer to clean up the signal ?
Yes. I started with the basic FMC and switch in my journey and then added linear power supplied FMCs and switch both with upgraded clocks and noticed quite a difference.
 
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