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: 41 73.2%
  • Ethernet

    Votes: 9 16.1%
  • Both USB and Ethernet

    Votes: 4 7.1%
  • AES/EBU

    Votes: 3 5.4%
  • Dual AES/EBU

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other

    Votes: 4 7.1%

  • Total voters
    56
Nov 7, 2019
45
18
8
47
I always think it’s a case of personal taste and what might work best for an SGM Extreme owner in South Korea might be totally different to another owner in America to someone else in Europe or Australia ? It shouldn’t be you have to buy this to make your system sound better it’s whether you think you want it to sound better and what you personally think will do that be it Ethernet Switches, Grounding Boxes, Different Interconnects, Isolation platforms, Power cords and Conditioners. Just because it works great in your system doesn’t mean it will work just as well in my system due to other components, cables, racks and room size. That’s my thought anyway :)Try before you buy
 

Blackmorec

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2019
268
326
63
67
I must be an outlier as in my system and for my ears I see zero reason to put a switch where I feel none is necessary
A switch would typically be necessary if something needs switching, obviously, but also if the data stream needs some clean-up and reconstruction to minimise emi and jitter. Using a switch with only a single input and output is perfectly legit if its actually improving the digital stream. Some do and some don‘t. And all depending on what’s upstream....good or bad.
 

Blackmorec

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2019
268
326
63
67
I always think it’s a case of personal taste and what might work best for an SGM Extreme owner in South Korea might be totally different to another owner in America to someone else in Europe or Australia ? It shouldn’t be you have to buy this to make your system sound better it’s whether you think you want it to sound better and what you personally think will do that be it Ethernet Switches, Grounding Boxes, Different Interconnects, Isolation platforms, Power cords and Conditioners. Just because it works great in your system doesn’t mean it will work just as well in my system due to other components, cables, racks and room size. That’s my thought anyway :)Try before you buy
That’s absolutely true. All these things do something. Its just a question of whether that something actually suits your system and the music it makes.
 

Kingsrule

Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2011
940
176
130
coming from someone who has never used them I'd say your comment is a bit of a stretch, so please spare me the innuendo unless you've tried them

Now how would u know if I've tried them or not?
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
I hear ( no pun intended) and don’t disagree. I’m honestly quite happy with my sound which I know will be better in the next few weeks when my DAC arrives. We each pick our own paths. There are many ways to skin a cat. I’m happy with the way I’ve gone.
 
Likes: oldmustang

adyc

VIP/Donor
Jan 6, 2013
490
126
123
I hear ( no pun intended) and don’t disagree. I’m honestly quite happy with my sound which I know will be better in the next few weeks when my DAC arrives. We each pick our own paths. There are many ways to skin a cat. I’m happy with the way I’ve gone.
Looking forward to hearing your experience of your new DAC.
 

vassils

New Member
Jul 18, 2019
8
9
3
40
Interesting thing about noise and jitter is that, once your system gets to a certain level and there are no major issues, you never know it is there until it's reduced. I've been there many times. And every system has some, no matter how good it is. There is always room for further improvement no matter how much you have spent on your system. Not suggesting that a switch is the cure, although I like my etherREGEN so far. But perhaps an open minded approach is a formula to (faster) success :) ?

But hey, if you like what you are hearing, enjoy the music!
 
Likes: dminches

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Interesting thing about noise and jitter is that, once your system gets to a certain level and there are no major issues, you never know it is there until it's reduced. I've been there many times. And every system has some, no matter how good it is. There is always room for further improvement no matter how much you have spent on your system. Not suggesting that a switch is the cure, although I like my etherREGEN so far. But perhaps an open minded approach is a formula to (faster) success :) ?

But hey, if you like what you are hearing, enjoy the music!
I can't disagree with what you've said and I have heard the feeling you never know its there until it isn't there.

But for me and the route I've gone, it is a matter of the Law of Diminishing returns. My entire system is built upon noise reduction so I have heard stepwise the reduction and removal of noise from my system and this has taken me years to get to where I am. I am happy that you have found your way. So also have I. It is also IMHO system dependent as well as what the listener likes. And I really like mine.
 
Likes: oldmustang

Blackmorec

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2019
268
326
63
67
I know exactly what you mean. I took a USB decrapifier and power supply on loan because it was supposed to be so wonderful, but in my system it was actually a downgrade, so it went back. All these additional steps in the digital chain really need to be tested because their success or failure really depends on what’s already installed and how well its working. Personally if you‘re using router to hi-fi, direct wired, I would be surprised if you couldn’t clean up after the router.....but that’s my experience in my system. If you have a much better router with a much better power supply and clock then clearly you won’t get the same results. The thing is, items like switches and power supplies are relatively cheap, so the law of diminishing returns is easily thrown into reverse when dealing with networks And the removal of noise, ripple and jitter.
 
Likes: oldmustang

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,298
1,506
210
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
On the subject of networking with the Extreme:

I'm taking a few shortcuts here and am simplifying a few things in an attempt to keep it somewhat readable.

Your network setup does influence sound, every component connected to it has an effect, even your mobile phone using your wi-fi in a way totally unrelated to streaming introduces activity on all network ports and cables. This includes browsing your favourite What's Best Forum. There is a way to reduce this with smart switches/routers, or by using VLANs to segment your network, but this is advanced networking, not typically used in domestic situations.

All network activity causes noise, every data packet travelling your domestic network introduces electrical activity travelling your entire network which is just 1 "subnet".

This also means your music sever will "see" all data packets travelling your network, it will "investigate" every packet to check if it contains data adressed to it.

A domestic switch will simply replicate all data on it's input to all it's outputs, a smart switch provides you with a degree of control over this, so you can segment your network, reducing network traffic on specific links. Again this is advanced networking, none of the "audiophile" switches support this. Now before you think "gotta have", smart switches apply processing to the data stream, investigate certain parts of all data packets passing through, use more power, and have a noise signature. So there are pluses and minuses to using this in the first place. Network utilisation and the amount of active devices in your network are going to be determining factors if this can net out positive or not.

100Mbit networking uses 2 differential data pairs, 1Gbit networking uses 4. Data is transported as a modulated voltage over these lines. Modulating voltage introduces certain types of noise. In a switch the ports are galvanically decoupled by means of a differential transformer of which the center tap is connected to ground, usually through a simple filter network. One of the functions of this is to break "ground current paths".

Moving to fiber, we have optical links, SFP modules convert electrical signals to light pulses and vice versa. So arguable there is no real benefit to reducing network activity induced noise, in fact there is additional activity inside your appliances from this conversion process. A SFP module can easily consume 1 to 1.5 watts of power, which does not seem like much, but at this level, it is a lot. On the plus side there is no path for ground currents or electrical noise, whatever the source, travelling your fiber links. There are many types and makes of SFP modules, obvious differences can be found in power consumption efficiency, robustness, error correction, quality of optical receivers/transceivers etc. SFP+ (10G) modules can apply a higher degree of error correction, some even have built in "reclocking or jitter reduction" and yes this draws more power, so positives and negatives. Industrial versions are built to operate in harsh environments, like abnormal temperatures, heavy vibration environments, or in strong RFI/EMI polluted areas. What you can get buying industrial grade is better component quality and tolerance, higher selection grades, more robust PCB mounting and/or layout, better error correction algorithms, better filtering and most of the time lower power consumption. The downside is hefty price tags. I do have a few here.

Your internet router performs quite a bit of processing, it almost always performs something called NAT (Network Address Translation) meaning it forwards traffic from the internet to a different Ip range which you use inside your home. There is both a security and a functional aspect to it as without it each of your devices would require an unique IP address on the whole world wide web, and there is a limit to addresses available, that is why we are for example moving from the IPv4 protocol to IPv6 which has a vastly higher number of IP addresses available. A security aspect is your device cannot directly be accessed from any other device in the world. The router usually also provides DHCP services (assigns an unique address to each device on your local network), can provide DNS caching and often runs firewall software. It also often provides Wi-Fi services. It can be quite a busy device.

By now it must be clear that this is a very complex system with a lot of variables in play. Every network is likely to be unique. Different routers, different switches, different devices using it, different traffic patterns, it is unlikely that there are 2 exact identically performing network setups anywhere in the world at any given time.

Now how does all of this influence playback quality of the Extreme? Well it does, no way around it. So what we have done is running a whole lot of different network setups and combinations to identify the largest disturbances to sound quality. You can take measures to minimize their influence and get repeatable results up to a degree.

The copper network port of the Extreme will provide you with good and repeatable sound quality in virtually all environments. It will sound largely similar in all environments, even in the presence of heavy RFI/EMI pollution.

The fiber network port of the Extreme provides a somewhat different perspective, it will not very significantly impact the overall sound quality or voicing. The plus side is a certain degree of "isolation" (there is really more to it then that but it's to complicated to elaborate on that, the terminology suffices for its purpose). The down side is additional processing and a slightly higher power consumption.
It tends to net out positive with for example blacker backgrounds, improved clarity and more focus without impacting voicing. The downside of the increased focus is "sharper edges" to images, and some SFP modules can introduce a degree of mechanical quality to the sound, the reclocking SFP+ modules being about the worst at that.

So we have recommendations we make, based on repeatable results in different environments, the recommended SFP modules and FMC are based on that. There are combinations which give an impression of higher resolution but it's important to note increased noise is often perceived as increased resolution. The fatiguing aspect of this usually goes unnoticed as comparative listening sessions are often of short duration with a few test tracks people skip through quickly to remember enough detail to make a meaningful A/B comparison. It is rarely evaluated long term, being over weeks, listening in different moods/mindsets, at different levels of physical or mental fatigue, at different times of the day with varying levels of power grid pollution, or how do you perceive the difference in the first 30 minutes, and then after a few hours of continuous listening. There are again a lot of variations to evaluating.

Therefor our recommendation is to just use copper networking initially, let the Extreme burn in / settle in your environment, so far it has performed to full satisfaction by everybody who has bought one using it this way. Apply basic voicing measures as you would do with any appliance, like powercords, usb cables, footers etc, to adjust it to your taste. Then, if you feel so inclined turn to tweaking your network environment. And don't take anything for granted there, as your results are not guaranteed to mirror others.

It is relatively risk free to jump straight to using fiber, when used with the components we have tested long term, in various environments, but it is really optional. It is a relatively minor investment with value for money gains though. The downside is it has a "manual", if you power cycle the server you sometimes have to power cycle the FMC too, or pull the copper network cable from it, so it generates a link fault resetting the interface. But that is really quite a minor issue.

M12 is an Industrial version of UTP/copper networking, so overall at a higher level of performance, it is the best I've heard so far, it's also VERY expensive. It connects to the copper network port of the Extreme. If money is no object, the telegartner gold is likely to perform best, but I have not auditioned that specific model personally.

Now keep in mind network tweaking, and audiophile networking products are relatively new, surely there are gains to be made there. But do be aware of all aspects of performance. The Ether regen looks nicely done, I have one on order, initial feedback is promising and it's not outrageously priced. The downside is it runs at 100Mbit, meaning file copying can be slow. For bulk copying you'd always have the option to temporary replace it with a 1Gb switch though. I do look forward to testing it.
 

CKKeung

Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2011
1,870
1,086
238
Hong Kong
On the subject of networking with the Extreme:

I'm taking a few shortcuts here and am simplifying a few things in an attempt to keep it somewhat readable.

Your network setup does influence sound, every component connected to it has an effect, even your mobile phone using your wi-fi in a way totally unrelated to streaming introduces activity on all network ports and cables. This includes browsing your favourite What's Best Forum. There is a way to reduce this with smart switches/routers, or by using VLANs to segment your network, but this is advanced networking, not typically used in domestic situations.

All network activity causes noise, every data packet travelling your domestic network introduces electrical activity travelling your entire network which is just 1 "subnet".

This also means your music sever will "see" all data packets travelling your network, it will "investigate" every packet to check if it contains data adressed to it.

A domestic switch will simply replicate all data on it's input to all it's outputs, a smart switch provides you with a degree of control over this, so you can segment your network, reducing network traffic on specific links. Again this is advanced networking, none of the "audiophile" switches support this. Now before you think "gotta have", smart switches apply processing to the data stream, investigate certain parts of all data packets passing through, use more power, and have a noise signature. So there are pluses and minuses to using this in the first place. Network utilisation and the amount of active devices in your network are going to be determining factors if this can net out positive or not.

100Mbit networking uses 2 differential data pairs, 1Gbit networking uses 4. Data is transported as a modulated voltage over these lines. Modulating voltage introduces certain types of noise. In a switch the ports are galvanically decoupled by means of a differential transformer of which the center tap is connected to ground, usually through a simple filter network. One of the functions of this is to break "ground current paths".

Moving to fiber, we have optical links, SFP modules convert electrical signals to light pulses and vice versa. So arguable there is no real benefit to reducing network activity induced noise, in fact there is additional activity inside your appliances from this conversion process. A SFP module can easily consume 1 to 1.5 watts of power, which does not seem like much, but at this level, it is a lot. On the plus side there is no path for ground currents or electrical noise, whatever the source, travelling your fiber links. There are many types and makes of SFP modules, obvious differences can be found in power consumption efficiency, robustness, error correction, quality of optical receivers/transceivers etc. SFP+ (10G) modules can apply a higher degree of error correction, some even have built in "reclocking or jitter reduction" and yes this draws more power, so positives and negatives. Industrial versions are built to operate in harsh environments, like abnormal temperatures, heavy vibration environments, or in strong RFI/EMI polluted areas. What you can get buying industrial grade is better component quality and tolerance, higher selection grades, more robust PCB mounting and/or layout, better error correction algorithms, better filtering and most of the time lower power consumption. The downside is hefty price tags. I do have a few here.

Your internet router performs quite a bit of processing, it almost always performs something called NAT (Network Address Translation) meaning it forwards traffic from the internet to a different Ip range which you use inside your home. There is both a security and a functional aspect to it as without it each of your devices would require an unique IP address on the whole world wide web, and there is a limit to addresses available, that is why we are for example moving from the IPv4 protocol to IPv6 which has a vastly higher number of IP addresses available. A security aspect is your device cannot directly be accessed from any other device in the world. The router usually also provides DHCP services (assigns an unique address to each device on your local network), can provide DNS caching and often runs firewall software. It also often provides Wi-Fi services. It can be quite a busy device.

By now it must be clear that this is a very complex system with a lot of variables in play. Every network is likely to be unique. Different routers, different switches, different devices using it, different traffic patterns, it is unlikely that there are 2 exact identically performing network setups anywhere in the world at any given time.

Now how does all of this influence playback quality of the Extreme? Well it does, no way around it. So what we have done is running a whole lot of different network setups and combinations to identify the largest disturbances to sound quality. You can take measures to minimize their influence and get repeatable results up to a degree.

The copper network port of the Extreme will provide you with good and repeatable sound quality in virtually all environments. It will sound largely similar in all environments, even in the presence of heavy RFI/EMI pollution.

The fiber network port of the Extreme provides a somewhat different perspective, it will not very significantly impact the overall sound quality or voicing. The plus side is a certain degree of "isolation" (there is really more to it then that but it's to complicated to elaborate on that, the terminology suffices for its purpose). The down side is additional processing and a slightly higher power consumption.
It tends to net out positive with for example blacker backgrounds, improved clarity and more focus without impacting voicing. The downside of the increased focus is "sharper edges" to images, and some SFP modules can introduce a degree of mechanical quality to the sound, the reclocking SFP+ modules being about the worst at that.

So we have recommendations we make, based on repeatable results in different environments, the recommended SFP modules and FMC are based on that. There are combinations which give an impression of higher resolution but it's important to note increased noise is often perceived as increased resolution. The fatiguing aspect of this usually goes unnoticed as comparative listening sessions are often of short duration with a few test tracks people skip through quickly to remember enough detail to make a meaningful A/B comparison. It is rarely evaluated long term, being over weeks, listening in different moods/mindsets, at different levels of physical or mental fatigue, at different times of the day with varying levels of power grid pollution, or how do you perceive the difference in the first 30 minutes, and then after a few hours of continuous listening. There are again a lot of variations to evaluating.

Therefor our recommendation is to just use copper networking initially, let the Extreme burn in / settle in your environment, so far it has performed to full satisfaction by everybody who has bought one using it this way. Apply basic voicing measures as you would do with any appliance, like powercords, usb cables, footers etc, to adjust it to your taste. Then, if you feel so inclined turn to tweaking your network environment. And don't take anything for granted there, as your results are not guaranteed to mirror others.

It is relatively risk free to jump straight to using fiber, when used with the components we have tested long term, in various environments, but it is really optional. It is a relatively minor investment with value for money gains though. The downside is it has a "manual", if you power cycle the server you sometimes have to power cycle the FMC too, or pull the copper network cable from it, so it generates a link fault resetting the interface. But that is really quite a minor issue.

M12 is an Industrial version of UTP/copper networking, so overall at a higher level of performance, it is the best I've heard so far, it's also VERY expensive. It connects to the copper network port of the Extreme. If money is no object, the telegartner gold is likely to perform best, but I have not auditioned that specific model personally.

Now keep in mind network tweaking, and audiophile networking products are relatively new, surely there are gains to be made there. But do be aware of all aspects of performance. The Ether regen looks nicely done, I have one on order, initial feedback is promising and it's not outrageously priced. The downside is it runs at 100Mbit, meaning file copying can be slow. For bulk copying you'd always have the option to temporary replace it with a 1Gb switch though. I do look forward to testing it.
One of the best articles on network audio I have ever read!
Thanks Emile!
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,298
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210
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com

joaovieira

Well-Known Member
Feb 16, 2013
230
89
110
Brazil
Likes: Taiko Audio
May 30, 2010
16,460
1,358
420
Portugal
On the subject of networking with the Extreme: (...)

It is relatively risk free to jump straight to using fiber, when used with the components we have tested long term, in various environments, but it is really optional. It is a relatively minor investment with value for money gains though. The downside is it has a "manual", if you power cycle the server you sometimes have to power cycle the FMC too, or pull the copper network cable from it, so it generates a link fault resetting the interface. But that is really quite a minor issue.
Great article Emile, thanks!
Will power cycle the router or switch also solve this problem?
 
May 30, 2010
16,460
1,358
420
Portugal
I now own a free windows computer with a JCAT Net Card FEMTO, that has two RJ45 ports . Can I use it in any way to clean the data stream before entering the Extreme, inserting it in series with the copper network cable?
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,298
1,506
210
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
Great article Emile, thanks!
Will power cycle the router or switch also solve this problem?
Yes probably, it only needs to pass a "link fault" on the copper side of the FMC to reinitialise. It does not happen often, only when you power down the Extreme and it loses the link. The FMC does not detect that the link went down. It is the best sounding one I've found though.
 
Likes: onsionsi

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,298
1,506
210
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
I now own a free windows computer with a JCAT Net Card FEMTO, that has two RJ45 ports . Can I use it in any way to clean the data stream before entering the Extreme, inserting it in series with the copper network cable?
Well yes, you would need to "bridge" the network adapters, but as far as if this is going to be an improvement, you won't know until you try :)
 
Likes: onsionsi
Nov 7, 2019
45
18
8
47
Just wondering when the cheaper unit comes out next year, how do you decide what spdif card to use or do you offer the buyer a choice of a couple of spdifs to choose from if the buyer wants a spdif connection as well as usb or AES ?
 

Taiko Audio

Industry Expert
Feb 10, 2017
1,298
1,506
210
The Netherlands
taikoaudio.com
Just wondering when the cheaper unit comes out next year, how do you decide what spdif card to use or do you offer the buyer a choice of a couple of spdifs to choose from if the buyer wants a spdif connection as well as usb or AES ?
That will most likely be the same as with the Extreme. Choice of SPDIF, AES or dual AES.
 

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