Taiko Audio SGM Extreme : the Crème de la Crème

With respect to the Taiko Extreme how do you connect it to your DAC

  • USB

    Votes: 49 69.0%
  • Ethernet

    Votes: 10 14.1%
  • Both USB and Ethernet

    Votes: 6 8.5%
  • AES/EBU

    Votes: 8 11.3%
  • Dual AES/EBU

    Votes: 1 1.4%
  • Other

    Votes: 5 7.0%

  • Total voters
    71

kennyb123

Well-Known Member
Nov 30, 2012
213
82
260
Kirkland, WA
Your picture show it to the right side when looking down. So, are you saying the attenuators should only be on the right side (if that is the receiver side) at both ends of the cable?
Yes to the right/receiving side only. As far as both ends, I did not experiment with trying only on the receiving side of just one FMC. I assumed that if I heard what sounded like oversaturation effects that it was likely occurring on both sides.
 

wil

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2015
314
130
128
Cisco has a proprietary sfp I think, so it may be the opposite for all we know. The sfp below has the receiver on the left. :rolleyes:






images.jpeg
 

kennyb123

Well-Known Member
Nov 30, 2012
213
82
260
Kirkland, WA
Cisco has a proprietary sfp I think, so it may be the opposite for all we know. The sfp below has the receiver on the left. :rolleyes:
Good gosh where's my Tylenol? This stuff hurts my head. After I posted about standards, I recalled that Cisco does things differently. I'll try to. find the standard that applies to the Startech SFP.
 

wil

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2015
314
130
128
Yes to the right/receiving side only. As far as both ends, I did not experiment with trying only on the receiving side of just one FMC. I assumed that if I heard what sounded like oversaturation effects that it was likely occurring on both sides.
So, just to be clear, you have one attenuator on the right side of each sfp module?
 

kennyb123

Well-Known Member
Nov 30, 2012
213
82
260
Kirkland, WA
So, just to be clear, you have one attenuator on the right side of each sfp module?
Confirmed. I initially got it backwards - and applied them to the left side of each. What I heard suggested that I might have gotten it wrong, which is why I looked for an illustration.
 

wil

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2015
314
130
128
But we have two contradicting pictures-- one for Cisco and one for another manufacturer.

I've made two attempts at tech help from Startech with no clear answers yet. Apparently we a tapping into a dark and mysterious realm of fiber tech...:rolleyes:
 

kennyb123

Well-Known Member
Nov 30, 2012
213
82
260
Kirkland, WA
I've made two attempts at tech help from Startech with no clear answers yet. Apparently we a tapping into a dark and mysterious realm of fiber tech...:rolleyes:
On the plus side at least, the Startech SFPs that Emile recommended are MSA compliant which ensures "interoperability with all other MSA compliant networking devices". Maybe another brand offering MSA compliant SFPs will provide more information.

It also seems that 1000BASE-ZX is a multi-vendor standard, which is supported by Cisco (or it may even be their standard). So the Cisco illustration might actually apply there.
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,419
1,844
260
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
Audiophile switch comparisons:

I have spend several days comparing audiophile switches with the following components:

-Telegartner M12 Gold switch, provided to me by @Marcin_gps of Jplay
-2x Sotm snh-10G, with clockboard, rifa cap and silver wire upgrade (the maxed out versions), provided to me by @romaz
-Uptone Ether Regen, purchased from the Uptone website
-Netgear GS-108
-Startech ET91000SFP2 Fibre Media Converters (FMC)
-Startech SFP1000ZXST Small Form-factor Pluggable transceivers (SFP)

My tests have been conducted in conjunction with our Extreme server which has a SFP port and a specific set of network tuning measures which differ from other servers. I have done a brief check with a low power server prototype with no SFP port present running an audiophile Linux variant, and the results are very different. This is out of my scope of interest so I will not include these results in my findings.

Let me start with outlining my priorities influencing how I rank products. Of paramount importance to me are PRAT, dynamic range, midrange saturation/density, naturalness and full scale/immersive sound staging. Secondary considerations are clarity, transparency and detail levels. These are secondary because they are easier to obtain and musical enjoyment should come at the first place.

In addition, none of these products do not perform optimally without tweaking and/or combining them. In my opinion a part of this is just tuning the sound balance. Like you would with cables / footers etcetera. In fact some options can be made to sound remarkably similar by changing the ethernet cables or power supplies used. Hopefully stating this does not turn me into a fox stirring up the hen house. Rest assured, there are some fundamental differences to be found.

Addressing the tuning part of the comparison, there are tonal differences to be found which are very similar to changing interconnects, powercords and USB cables, just to a lesser degree, silver will have its generic silver signature, brighter and clearer with a somewhat thinner midrange, copper can have a certain degree of warmth/fullness to it, this applies to network cable make up, DC power supply leads and power cords powering DC power supplies. This automatically means there is no absolute best, as a preference may once again be dictated by personal taste and system make up. Let's take "Glare" as an example, you would assume glare to be all out negative, yet a small degree of glare can tilt the system balance up, it can add some perceived incisiveness and even a sense of increased dynamics. Using a current popular topic of discussion as an example, fiber optics, attenuators, cable lengths etc. Shorter fiber cable lengths slightly increase glare, longer reduce glare, attenuators reduce glare. If so inclined you can dial in your desired amount of glare to a preferred balance of perceived dynamics versus softness, or create a more forward versus a more laid back presentation. When using a FMC or a fiber switch being powered by a SMPS, you may want to reduce glare, if powered by a LPS you may want to increase glare. Metal dome or soft dome tweeters? The same may apply, and we can go on and on here. I'm mentioning this to illustrate there is no right or wrong in which combination sounds best to you.

With all that said, here is my subjective ranking of network component configurations, I will only list the upper ranking 5 combinations as there are just too many possible permutations.

"Signal" path from main switch to Extreme:

1) 1 meter audiophile RJ45 copper cable -> Startech FMC -> 10 meter fiber cable -> Startech FMC -> Telegartner MFP8 Gold II RJ45-M12 copper cable -> Telegartner GOLD M12 switch -> Telegartner MFP8 Gold II M12-RJ45 copper cable -> Extreme

2) 1 meter audiophile RJ45 copper cable -> Uptone Ether Regen -> 10 meter fiber cable -> Extreme (BUT NOT using Startech SFP1000ZXST SFP modules!)

3) 1 meter audiophile RJ45 copper cable -> Startech FMC -> 10 meter fiber cable -> Extreme

4) 1 meter audiophile RJ45 copper cable -> Uptone Ether Regen -> 1 meter fiber cable -> Sotm snh-10G -> 10 meter fiber cable -> Extreme

5) 1 meter audiophile RJ45 copper cable -> Sotm snh-10G -> 1 meter fiber cable -> Sotm snh-10G -> 10 meter fiber cable -> Extreme

Sonic differences and notes:

1) The Telegartner M12 Gold connecting over copper is the only switch coming out favourable in virtually every aspect over a fiber connection to the Extreme. It matches and even slightly exceeds the tonal colour palette and saturation of a direct high quality copper connection. Clarity and transparency are reduced versus a fiber connection, but this is easily remedied by preceding it with 2 Startech FMCs with a fiber cable in between. Interestingly reversing this setup, M12 GOLD -> copper -> FMC -> fiber -> Extreme does not work well at all, it should be connected directly to the server. I was unable to power the M12 Gold from a LPS as I was missing the connector needed for that, nevertheless it comes out on top when used as described. The M12 is very sensitive to platform / footers, do take care of that or you are missing out. My notes on this setup read: +Livelyness, "sparkle of life", +dynamic expression and contrast, +individual image 3-dimensionality, +Natural tone, slightly on the dark side, but in a good way adding to a more "analogue" feel.

2) The Uptone Ether Regen was initially disappointing. Although it did have a nice "airy" presentation with a finely detailed top end, it sounded restricted, small soundstage, dynamically restrained, like driving with the parking brake on. The 100Mb "B side" was the worst, though clean, the soundstage was really small, and I'm using full sized planar speakers! I powered it from a 12V 3A LPS which improved things over the supplied 7.5V SMPS, switched to using the "A side" fiber output to connect to the Extreme's SFP port, figured out it performs better with very short copper Ethernet cables, it did end up sounding nice, good midrange and top end, nice small scale jazz performance/voices but with still restained dynamics and soundstaging, much akin to using a low CPU power server. I discarded it as a contender until a few days later while cleaning up my desk stumbled upon these OEM SFP module samples a supplier send me to try, these are 1310nm 20km range modules designed for usage in sensitive equipment, they draw lower then usual power and are designed for reduced EMI. From my earlier experiences with the ER doing better with shorter ethernet cables and responding significantly to a higher power (low impedance) LPS I plugged them in thinking maybe the reduced current consumption would help "disengaging the parking brake", and that is exactly what happened. A very nice surprise. I have emailed the supplier for details on how to acquire these SFP modules as they are unbranded, they're likely available as branded versions from a supplier somewhere. My notes on a direct rank 1) versus rank 2) A/B comparison: M12 Gold has more contrast and colour depth / saturation, sounds fuller and weightier, more what is typically associated with "analogue sound". The Ether Regen is more lit up, the presentation is a bit brighter, like increasing the brightness control while decreasing contrast on a television. It has a bit more clarity, is more open on top and has longer instrument decay then the M12, it is a bit sweeter and softer sounding then the M12. I do prefer the M12 more powerful presentation, but could live with this ER presentation, and note there is a substantial price difference (unless these SFP modules are very expensive which I don't expect them to be). What a surprising turn of events.

3) The good old Startech FMC to Extreme fiber port warhorse, cheap, steady, reliable. It is clean, clear, dynamic, full soundstage rendering, but less refined and sophisticated then options 1) and 2). It's worth it to dial in your desired amount of glare more with this then 1) and 2) as it is a bit more obviously there. It does not have the warmth / fullness of a direct copper connection, it retains 95% of the musicality and PRAT but counters by being a bit ahead on dynamics.

4) and 5) The Sotm switches did not manage to win me over, although they increase clarity and transparency over 1) 2) and 3), I just could not get over the thin/2 dimensional midrange imaging, images sounded like cut out of a piece of paper lacking the 3rd dimension being depth. Soundstage is all there, dynamics are there and it has the blackest background of all options. Stacking a Sotm with an Uptone ER gave a bit better midrange fill but did not solve the problem. I suspect this may be due to the silver wire upgrade, this takes an already clean sounding setup over the top, I've been told some owners have send their switches back to Sotm to have the silver wire replaced by copper which may very well solve this issue, but I currently have no way of verifying this. You can also clock these switches externally, which could help too, although I have some external clocking options available here, I just lack the time and interest to explore this further.

So there it is, my personal view and experiences with network tuning. Having explored these options, I do feel it to be my duty to repeat, the sheer magnitude of what can be gained here, IMHO, is still below what powercords, usb cables or proper vibration control can do for your sound when using the Extreme. Yet there are some rather obvious differences, the network should be viewed as a part of your system, it is connected to it, and it will have an effect.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
terrific write up and explanation Emile. For me it is just something I will never consider as I wholeheartedly concur that a good power cord, usb cable and footers are IMO a better way to go
 
Likes: Taiko Audio
May 30, 2010
16,762
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Portugal
(...)

3) 1 meter audiophile RJ45 copper cable -> Startech FMC -> 10 meter fiber cable -> Extreme

(...)
Great post, can I ask a few questions on 3) ?

Is this the Startech FMC https://www.startech.com/support/MCM110ST2PGB being considered and did you use an LPS power supply on it? What were exactly the 1 meter audiophile RJ45 copper cable and the 10 meter fiber cable being used?
 
Likes: Taiko Audio

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,419
1,844
260
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
Great post, can I ask a few questions on 3) ?

Is this the Startech FMC https://www.startech.com/support/MCM110ST2PGB being considered and did you use an LPS power supply on it? What were exactly the 1 meter audiophile RJ45 copper cable and the 10 meter fiber cable being used?
No that is a 100Mbit multi mode FMC, we want a 1Gb single mode FMC, it's this one: https://www.startech.com/Networking...bit-Media-Converter-open-SFP-Slot~ET91000SFP2

I do build my own cables if I have time (do not sell them), say comparable to a Euro 1000 retail one. The 10 meter fiber is the ACT RL1710.

Yes I do swap in a LPS when using the same powergrid, but interestingly enough I don't really need to as I have the luxury of being able to power it from a completely separate circuit, really separated as a different line into the building and separate ground. Interestingly it is still VERY slightly audible, but really very slight. A large physical distance in your powergrid goes a long way towards this aswell. With copper connections separate systems / grounds can actually be a bad thing so I tend to not go there.
 

vhs

Member
Dec 12, 2019
26
19
5
Audiophile switch comparisons:

I have spend several days comparing audiophile switches with the following components:

-Telegartner M12 Gold switch, provided to me by @Marcin_gps of Jplay
-2x Sotm snh-10G, with clockboard, rifa cap and silver wire upgrade (the maxed out versions), provided to me by @romaz
-Uptone Ether Regen, purchased from the Uptone website
-Netgear GS-108
-Startech ET91000SFP2 Fibre Media Converters (FMC)
-Startech SFP1000ZXST Small Form-factor Pluggable transceivers (SFP)

My tests have been conducted in conjunction with our Extreme server which has a SFP port and a specific set of network tuning measures which differ from other servers. I have done a brief check with a low power server prototype with no SFP port present running an audiophile Linux variant, and the results are very different. This is out of my scope of interest so I will not include these results in my findings.

Let me start with outlining my priorities influencing how I rank products. Of paramount importance to me are PRAT, dynamic range, midrange saturation/density, naturalness and full scale/immersive sound staging. Secondary considerations are clarity, transparency and detail levels. These are secondary because they are easier to obtain and musical enjoyment should come at the first place.

In addition, none of these products do not perform optimally without tweaking and/or combining them. In my opinion a part of this is just tuning the sound balance. Like you would with cables / footers etcetera. In fact some options can be made to sound remarkably similar by changing the ethernet cables or power supplies used. Hopefully stating this does not turn me into a fox stirring up the hen house. Rest assured, there are some fundamental differences to be found.

Addressing the tuning part of the comparison, there are tonal differences to be found which are very similar to changing interconnects, powercords and USB cables, just to a lesser degree, silver will have its generic silver signature, brighter and clearer with a somewhat thinner midrange, copper can have a certain degree of warmth/fullness to it, this applies to network cable make up, DC power supply leads and power cords powering DC power supplies. This automatically means there is no absolute best, as a preference may once again be dictated by personal taste and system make up. Let's take "Glare" as an example, you would assume glare to be all out negative, yet a small degree of glare can tilt the system balance up, it can add some perceived incisiveness and even a sense of increased dynamics. Using a current popular topic of discussion as an example, fiber optics, attenuators, cable lengths etc. Shorter fiber cable lengths slightly increase glare, longer reduce glare, attenuators reduce glare. If so inclined you can dial in your desired amount of glare to a preferred balance of perceived dynamics versus softness, or create a more forward versus a more laid back presentation. When using a FMC or a fiber switch being powered by a SMPS, you may want to reduce glare, if powered by a LPS you may want to increase glare. Metal dome or soft dome tweeters? The same may apply, and we can go on and on here. I'm mentioning this to illustrate there is no right or wrong in which combination sounds best to you.

With all that said, here is my subjective ranking of network component configurations, I will only list the upper ranking 5 combinations as there are just too many possible permutations.

"Signal" path from main switch to Extreme:

1) 1 meter audiophile RJ45 copper cable -> Startech FMC -> 10 meter fiber cable -> Startech FMC -> Telegartner MFP8 Gold II RJ45-M12 copper cable -> Telegartner GOLD M12 switch -> Telegartner MFP8 Gold II M12-RJ45 copper cable -> Extreme

2) 1 meter audiophile RJ45 copper cable -> Uptone Ether Regen -> 10 meter fiber cable -> Extreme (BUT NOT using Startech SFP1000ZXST SFP modules!)

3) 1 meter audiophile RJ45 copper cable -> Startech FMC -> 10 meter fiber cable -> Extreme

4) 1 meter audiophile RJ45 copper cable -> Uptone Ether Regen -> 1 meter fiber cable -> Sotm snh-10G -> 10 meter fiber cable -> Extreme

5) 1 meter audiophile RJ45 copper cable -> Sotm snh-10G -> 1 meter fiber cable -> Sotm snh-10G -> 10 meter fiber cable -> Extreme

Sonic differences and notes:

1) The Telegartner M12 Gold connecting over copper is the only switch coming out favourable in virtually every aspect over a fiber connection to the Extreme. It matches and even slightly exceeds the tonal colour palette and saturation of a direct high quality copper connection. Clarity and transparency are reduced versus a fiber connection, but this is easily remedied by preceding it with 2 Startech FMCs with a fiber cable in between. Interestingly reversing this setup, M12 GOLD -> copper -> FMC -> fiber -> Extreme does not work well at all, it should be connected directly to the server. I was unable to power the M12 Gold from a LPS as I was missing the connector needed for that, nevertheless it comes out on top when used as described. The M12 is very sensitive to platform / footers, do take care of that or you are missing out. My notes on this setup read: +Livelyness, "sparkle of life", +dynamic expression and contrast, +individual image 3-dimensionality, +Natural tone, slightly on the dark side, but in a good way adding to a more "analogue" feel.

2) The Uptone Ether Regen was initially disappointing. Although it did have a nice "airy" presentation with a finely detailed top end, it sounded restricted, small soundstage, dynamically restrained, like driving with the parking brake on. The 100Mb "B side" was the worst, though clean, the soundstage was really small, and I'm using full sized planar speakers! I powered it from a 12V 3A LPS which improved things over the supplied 7.5V SMPS, switched to using the "A side" fiber output to connect to the Extreme's SFP port, figured out it performs better with very short copper Ethernet cables, it did end up sounding nice, good midrange and top end, nice small scale jazz performance/voices but with still restained dynamics and soundstaging, much akin to using a low CPU power server. I discarded it as a contender until a few days later while cleaning up my desk stumbled upon these OEM SFP module samples a supplier send me to try, these are 1310nm 20km range modules designed for usage in sensitive equipment, they draw lower then usual power and are designed for reduced EMI. From my earlier experiences with the ER doing better with shorter ethernet cables and responding significantly to a higher power (low impedance) LPS I plugged them in thinking maybe the reduced current consumption would help "disengaging the parking brake", and that is exactly what happened. A very nice surprise. I have emailed the supplier for details on how to acquire these SFP modules as they are unbranded, they're likely available as branded versions from a supplier somewhere. My notes on a direct rank 1) versus rank 2) A/B comparison: M12 Gold has more contrast and colour depth / saturation, sounds fuller and weightier, more what is typically associated with "analogue sound". The Ether Regen is more lit up, the presentation is a bit brighter, like increasing the brightness control while decreasing contrast on a television. It has a bit more clarity, is more open on top and has longer instrument decay then the M12, it is a bit sweeter and softer sounding then the M12. I do prefer the M12 more powerful presentation, but could live with this ER presentation, and note there is a substantial price difference (unless these SFP modules are very expensive which I don't expect them to be). What a surprising turn of events.

3) The good old Startech FMC to Extreme fiber port warhorse, cheap, steady, reliable. It is clean, clear, dynamic, full soundstage rendering, but less refined and sophisticated then options 1) and 2). It's worth it to dial in your desired amount of glare more with this then 1) and 2) as it is a bit more obviously there. It does not have the warmth / fullness of a direct copper connection, it retains 95% of the musicality and PRAT but counters by being a bit ahead on dynamics.

4) and 5) The Sotm switches did not manage to win me over, although they increase clarity and transparency over 1) 2) and 3), I just could not get over the thin/2 dimensional midrange imaging, images sounded like cut out of a piece of paper lacking the 3rd dimension being depth. Soundstage is all there, dynamics are there and it has the blackest background of all options. Stacking a Sotm with an Uptone ER gave a bit better midrange fill but did not solve the problem. I suspect this may be due to the silver wire upgrade, this takes an already clean sounding setup over the top, I've been told some owners have send their switches back to Sotm to have the silver wire replaced by copper which may very well solve this issue, but I currently have no way of verifying this. You can also clock these switches externally, which could help too, although I have some external clocking options available here, I just lack the time and interest to explore this further.

So there it is, my personal view and experiences with network tuning. Having explored these options, I do feel it to be my duty to repeat, the sheer magnitude of what can be gained here, IMHO, is still below what powercords, usb cables or proper vibration control can do for your sound when using the Extreme. Yet there are some rather obvious differences, the network should be viewed as a part of your system, it is connected to it, and it will have an effect.
Great report ! Well done, Emile!
 
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spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
11,487
2,347
603
E. England
Remain amused that the Telegartner, promoted as a device used successfully au naturel in high vibration environments, is the switch most helped for our needs by...anti vibration measures Lol.

Reminds me of the parallel of Herzan active isolation. Fine and dandy w uber sensitive electron microscopes. But use it with a tt or other audio gear, it's way better utilised w an LPS and Taiko panzerholz.
 
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dminches

Well-Known Member
Oct 22, 2011
1,363
411
440
Emile, quick question and this isn’t meant to question your findings in any way.

Was the Uptone Audio EtherRegen broken in (100+ hours)? I am asking because I found that the sound of my digital player changed while the ER added hours to its life.
 
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wil

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2015
314
130
128
Confirmation from Startech is:

1. the Receiver side of the sfp module is on the Right side.
2. Use only one at each end of the fiber cable (receiver right side)
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,419
1,844
260
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
Emile, quick question and this isn’t meant to question your findings in any way.

Was the Uptone Audio EtherRegen broken in (100+ hours)? I am asking because I found that the sound of my digital player changed while the ER added hours to its life.
Around 200 hours.
 

nonesup

Well-Known Member
Feb 16, 2017
499
125
115
Spain
Hi Emile
Although the EtherREGEN manual indicates that it is only necessary to ground the screw to avoid the “High Source Impedance Leakage” if there is more than one port occupied on side A, since the “ADIM” is responsible for preventing “FULLY ”To go to side B, I would recommend that you connect the screw to the same ground as the rest of your devices. You will probably notice that the "thin" sound disappears.
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,419
1,844
260
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
Hi Emile
Although the EtherREGEN manual indicates that it is only necessary to ground the screw to avoid the “High Source Impedance Leakage” if there is more than one port occupied on side A, since the “ADIM” is responsible for preventing “FULLY ”To go to side B, I would recommend that you connect the screw to the same ground as the rest of your devices. You will probably notice that the "thin" sound disappears.
Hi nonesup,

The ER is not thin sounding, though its open / airy top end could partially create that impression. I consider that trait as a plus for the ER though. I would label the (silver modified) Sotm switches as thin sounding, the M12 is just a bit fuller / denser / darker then all the others. I did play around with grounding btw, on all switches.
 

RGMD11

Well-Known Member
Mar 30, 2017
67
56
85
Taiko Audio
Great report and thank you for your time spent doing this especially with your kit which is held in such high esteem in the Audiophile world, I was leaning towards buying the Sotm switch with the clock option (not the upgraded caps and silver wiring version though for the reasons you and several people have previously pointed out) and a Cybershaft clock, but i think I will simply save some money and just by an Etherregen, I was also seriously considering buying the M12 Gold but then I would not be able to use my Sablon ethernet cable that I purchased recently and found to be outstanding,
Time to push the button and buy a Etherregen which by all accounts seems a rare true bargain.
Best wishes
RGMD11
 
Last edited:

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