Hardware Reviews

Silent Angel Bonn N8 Pro

silent angel N8 pro main

It seems a little strange that a relatively new company that specialises in streaming audio should be taking the same approach that Naim Audio did nearly 50 years ago, but it’s a sonic and business model that has served them well so why not. Silent Angel offer a range of streamers, network switches and a Roon core that can be upgraded with better power supplies and other external elements, which means that you can start with a basic unit and improve its performance in bite size steps. Not having to trade in one product for another every few years is appealing to the enthusiast and builds loyalty, what’s not to like?

Silent Angel makes a range of network switches of which the Bonn N8 Pro is the daddy, it has more upgradeability if no more data ports than the other models in the range, in fact there is an N16 with twice as many. But eight is enough for most of us and in this instance they are gold plated examples that are spaced out in an attempt at reducing interference. The LEDs that blink away on regular network switches can be switched off as well, which will also reduce noise in the system albeit to a small degree. The LED power switch is presumably there so that you can check which ports are operating during set-up.

silent angel N8 pro srt

The N8 Pro has a few features that aren’t to be found on the majority of audio oriented switches, notably a word clock connector. A word clock is a high precision clock that can be connected to multiple elements in a digital system and provides a reference point that keeps them all in sync. They are found in studios and high end digital systems which means they are generally quite pricey, however if you have a DAC and/or streamer that can be connected to a word clock then it makes sense to do the same with the switch.

While this switch has a regular IEC power inlet that feeds an internal switched mode power supply, there is an option to use an external 12V power supply instead, a linear one such as the Silent Angel Forester F2 is an obvious choice. This supply has multiple outlets and can drive other products that require 5V or 12V, be they Silent Angel components or any other, there is also a single outlet Forester F1 if you have no other low voltage components.

silent angel N8 pro open

The final novelty is a grounding point, this can be attached to a dedicated ground system if you have one or a ground cleaning device such as those made by CAD and others. Essentially it’s a way of reducing noise on the ground plane which in the case of a switched mode powered device like this can be quite high. Reducing this electrical noise has the effect of revealing more of the quiet details in the music, when I tried a CAD GC1 with the N8 Pro there was a notable opening up of the soundstage and a sense of smoothness which is closer to analogue sound. This terminal is therefore worth using if you can.

Sound quality
Network switches act as filters for noise, it is generally a good idea to have one that’s dedicated to the audio system hooked up to another between it and the router. However in a situation where there is just the one switch available this Silent Angel works rather well indeed. I replaced a Cisco Catalyst 2960 with it and streamed Qobuz to the system, the change brought about a relaxation and increased sense of realism, it’s like the sound starts to breathe and opens up. With Ryan Adams’ Dear John the image scale expanded out into the room. With locally stored music this same transition also brought about worthwhile gains, Joni Mitchell’s voice became more expressive and the melody played by Wayne Shorter’s horn was made much clearer. It felt like a veil had been lifted that revealed the ebb and flow of the music and made it that much more enjoyable.

silent angel N8 pro fr2

Contrasting the Silent Angel with an English Electric 8Switch (at around half the price) and streaming Qobuz produced a distinct increase in three dimensionality of sound, it gained a strong sense of clarity and presence which translated into more realistic instruments and voices and, surprisingly, much improved timing. Something that the 8Switch is reasonably good at in the first place. It was a bit like everything had been fleshed out, given depth and colour that was missing with the cheaper switch. I really like the way that the N8 Pro brings a relaxation to the sound, this is the area where analogue sources have the advantage over digital ones. I don’t mean it makes the sound super smooth and lacking in life either, there are plenty of digital components like that, I mean lacking in the edginess and coarseness that afflicts digital when it tries to deliver the energy in the music.

This comes down to keeping the noise floor down, something that has to be done at every stage in the chain if the results are going to be worthwhile. So while this Silent Angel is only a switch, it is also a gatekeeper for the streaming system as a whole, its job is to let the music signal through with the minimum of noise and distortion and here it works well. I would love to try it with an outboard linear power supply to see what gains could be had. I do have a 12V Farad Super3 but this powers the iFi iDSD Pro DAC in the system and has only one output so it couldn’t be spared.

silent angel N8 pro angle

But even in standard form the Silent Angel switch allows the system to perform extremely well with Patricia Barber’s version of River sounding particularly good with superb imaging, and devoid of anything save a flat response to indicate its digital origins. Joni Mitchell’s much earlier recording of the same song on Blue delivers the purity of her high voice and avoids the thinness often heard with this album, the standout track on the album, All I Want, remains sublime.

The Silent Angel Bonn N8 Pro is a very capable network switch, it keeps a lot of noise out and allows connected components to perform close to their best. There are more expensive switches out there that do a bit more but it would be interesting to see how close a power supply upgrade would get the N8 Pro to those alternatives. It proves that the network switch is crucial to the performance of a streaming system whether you stream from the web or from a local source, noise management is important in both instances. That it can be further upgraded with a word clock and better grounding is icing on a nicely baked cake.


Type: Streaming audio network switch
Ethernet ports: 8x gold plated RJ45
Clock: TCXO
Power supply: onboard (optional external)
Features: word clock connector, ground connector
Finish: matt black
Dimensions (HxWxD): 52 x 441 x 175mm
Weight: 2.6kg

Price when tested:
£2,099 with word clock connection
Manufacturer Details:

Silent Angel


network switch


Jason Kennedy

Distributor Details:

Whole Note Distribution
T +44 203 911 5549

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments