English Electric (a Chord Company brand) has officially launched its first-ever product, the 8Switch data switch. The 8Switch (£450) is an eight-port GbE Ethernet switch designed to deliver high-quality sound from music streamed over a network. Cosseted by a machined aluminium enclosure, which offers excellent protection from both acoustic and electrical noise, the 8Switch comprises eight audio-grade 100/1000 Base-T gigabit Ethernet ports, with high and low electrical noise isolation.
A discreet LED display on the front panel includes power, alarm and the link status/speed for each of the eight ports. Resonance-damping feet are also featured to help decouple the 8Switch from unwanted mechanical vibration. Each 8Switch is also supplied with a Chord Company C-Stream digital streaming cable (0.75m) worth £40.
With data switches requiring high-speed power supplies, negating the use of linear power devices due to their speed limitations, English Electric’s engineers set about improving the power signal by using an extremely high-quality wall supply. The advanced medical-grade power adaptor permits an optimum-quality network signal, driven by high-accuracy clock technology and has been designed to reduce electrical noise from AC sources, and prevent mains quality issues from affecting network signals. The 8Switch also boasts high power efficiency, a no-load power consumption of < 0.075 W, plus protection from short circuit, overload and over-voltage.
The 8Switch is driven by a customised TCXO (temperature compensation crystal oscillator) with accuracy rated at 0.1ppm: far higher than normal crystals and higher than a normal TCXO, allowing the 8Switch to generate higher-accuracy network signals, which in turn, help provide more stable music-data transmission.
The power supply and clock-generation circuits each have two electrical noise-isolation circuits which ensure stable network signals; an EMI (electromagnetic interference) absorber helps to reduce noise further from the digital circuit. Compared to a standard IT network switch, music lovers can expect “increased performance and a lower jitter measurement, up to 90 per cent less”. We aim to check out this claim soon.