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Audiophile LAN switch

Silent Angel

Manufacturer: THUNDERDATA Co. Ltd.
Price (in Poland): 6790 PLN

Contact: RM503, Building 18, No. 1889, Huandao East
Road, Hengqin District, Zhuhai City,
Guangdong Province | CHINA


Provided for test by: AUDIO ATELIER


Images: Wojciech Pacuła

No 206

July 1, 2021

LAN SWITCH – A network device that cross-connects clients, servers and network devices. Also known as a "frame switch," stand-alone LAN switches are common in Ethernet networks.  A switch with four or more ports is also built into a wired or wireless router for homes and small business ⸜ source:, accessed: 17.05.2021

A, HA - I HAVE TO LAUGH. Actually, I'm doing it right now. In fact, every time I remember the indignation of IT engineers who think they know something about audio, because they have a lot of experience in the field of digital signal transmission and processing, as well as they know "computers". I am laughing from the fact that over the years, often and to this day, 'zero' is 'zero' for them, and 'one' is 'one' and to hell with everything else... They were wrong then, today they are even more wrong.

The thing is that the IT sector and the so-called computer specialists do not believe that LAN cables modify the digital signal, and consequently the audio, or that routers or LAN switches do so. And all it takes is to conduct a simple experiment and try a product slightly better than the one costing two or even twenty zlotys, one prepared by a specialist who knows how to measure and interpret the results and, above all, can correlate these with the conclusions drawn from listening tests. One such company is THUNDERDATA with its SILENT ANGEL brand.


THUNDERDATA CO. LTD. IS A COMPANY founded by Dr. ERIC JIAN HUANG, former Technical Director at EMC China. It deals in server manufacturing, network communication, data management, network data storage software, hardware engineering, etc. ThunderData's CTO Mr. Chorus Chuang is also a high-end specialist in network hardware, storage software, digital communication signal and audio class NAS drives.

ThunderData operates in the hi-tech industry and focuses on 5G mobile networks and 8K video signal transmission. According to the manufacturer's website, "the goal of the Thunder team is to improve the quality of computing, network and storage signals." Its audio offer is focused on two product lines, available under the Silent Angel and ThunderData brands.

When we tested their audio files transport/server RHEIN 1 June last year, the Silent Angel’s lineup included only two products intended for home use: the aforementioned files transport/server Rhein 1 and Bonn N8 LAN switch. An interesting fact about the latter is that exactly the same product is available under the ENGLISH ELECTRIC brand, currently owned by CHORD COMPANY. With the logo of this British manufacturer, you can buy a LAN switch called EE 8Switch. This is exactly the same switch as the Bonn N8.

It took only a year for the offer to grow significantly - apparently at the time of Silent Angel's launch, it had many more, almost ready, products. It currently offers two files players - the M1 Munich and Z1, an external F1 power supply and a series of power cables (DC) for it, collectively known as Bastei, as well as two LAN switches - the aforementioned N8 and the new N16 LPS; the latter has its counterpart under the English Electric brand, the 16Switch model.


The N16 LPS IS A LAN SIGNAL SWITCH. Its task is to connect different devices within a LAN. The input signal is re-clocked to reduce jitter, i.e. digital noise. The first model in the history of the brand, the N8 Bonn was conceived as part of a small but high-end audio system - it offered eight ports, which in most cases is quite enough. The tested N16 LPS is slightly different.

A glance at it is enough to know that the place where it is supposed to fit is a classic rack. I don't know if you watched the eighth season of Homeland - despite my fears, it turned out to be really addictive (Netflix, 2011-2020). In one episode, Cary Mathison, played by Claire Danes, turns off intelligence surveillance in one of the areas in Afghanistan for two minutes. Aside from the absurdity of this situation (even the best series are just entertainment), it is important that she does it by pulling the plug from the socket in the large rack - she pulls it from a LAN switch similar to the Silent Angel’s one.

The tested device has a standardized height of 1U (1 Unit = 44.1 mm) and a width of 441 mm. The set includes the so-called "wings", screwed on from the sides, with which the switch can be screwed into the rack. But we don't have to do this, it's just an option. However, it shows that the N16 LPS is meant to be a center of an extensive system. This wealth of ports can also be used in a different, much more audiophile way.

And now - we have sixteen ports at our disposal in two "zones" - it turns out that these are two devices in one housing. They can work independently, isolating two systems, for example TV and audio, as indicated in the product description on the manufacturer's website: Linear Powered 16 Ports Audiophile Switch with Zone Isolation. There is also a very interesting option - we can connect these two zones in series: the signal from the router goes to the first "zone" (Zone 1), and then it is sent from it to the second zone (Zone 2). In this way, the LAN signal is clocked twice, i.e. we reduce jitter in two steps, not in one. And, let's add, the source of the clock signal is the reference, temperature and mechanically stabilized TCXO clock.

The manufacturer places emphasis on isolating both modules, not only by their physical separation, but also by power supply. The smaller switch of this company is powered by an external, SMPS. The N16 LPS has a built-in, linear, symmetrical (both transformer and regulators) power supply with two circuits for each zone. If we look inside the device, we can see that the power supply connects to the switch modules with small cables with plugs on both sides - I wonder if it would be possible to replace them with the Bastei cables mentioned above.


⸜ HOW WE LISTENED The N16 LPS LAN switch test was carried out in the "High Fidelity" reference system using the MYTEK BROOKLYN BRIDGE file player, which I used to listen to the Tidal streams and files played from the NAS (UPnP) Synology DiskStation DS410j with four HDDs, 2 TB each. The center of the system was Orange FunBox 3.0 router, connected to the Internet via optical fiber.

The test was run as comparison of the sound of the system in which the role of switch was played either by the above-mentioned router or the tested N16 LPS. I used ACOUSTIC REVIVE LAN-1.0 PA cables (no longer produced) to connect individual devices in the LAN. The switch was powered by the Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version cable, and on its top I placed the Verictum X-Block passive filter. The set includes small, rubber pads, but I used Vibrapods instead.

The test was divided into two parts. In the first, basic one, I connected the Silent Angel switch with two LAN cables to the router - separately "Zone 1" and "Zone 2". As suggested by the manufacturer, I only connected a files player to the first zone, and a NAS drive and a TV set to the second. In the second part, the signal from the router to Silent Angel was routed through a single cable, while I connected the two zones with an industrial LAN cable in such a way that the signal from the router went to "Zone 1", and then, in series, to "Zone 2".

Recordings used for the test | a selection

⸜ ART BLAKEY, Moanin’, Blue Note BST 4003/Tidal Master, MQA Studio 24/192 (1958/2014).
⸜ BILLIE HOLIDAY, Billie Holiday With Ray Ellis And His Orchestra, MGM Records MGM-C-792/Tidal Master, MQA 24/96 (1959/?).
⸜ FRANK SINATRA, Frank Sinatra: Reprise Rarities Vol. 3, Sinatra Enterprises | UMe/Tidal, FLAC 16/44,1 (2021).
⸜ LANA DEL REY, Chemtrails Over the Country Club, Polydor | Interscope Records B0033416-02/Tidal Master, MQA 24/48 (2021).
⸜ MARY KOMASA, Disarm, Pomaton | Warner Music Poland 01902 9 55666 4 7/Tidal, FLAC 44,1/16 (2019).
⸜ MOBY, Reprise, Deutsche Grammophon/Tidal Master, MQA 24/48 (2021).


THE INFLUENCE OF THE Silent Angel LAN SWITCH on the sound seems subtle, although it is not, and although it seems subtle, it is immediately recognizable - interesting, isn’t it? What I mean by the subtlety of the changes it introduces is that it does not correct the presentation in a clear way, for example by changing the tonality. Its influence is clear, but it occurs in two areas that are usually not immediately noticed, namely imaging and resolution.

⸜ SEPARATELY Switching from the FunBox 3.0 router to the N16 LPS mutes something that was previously "behind" the sound, and which made it less clear, less unambiguous. Probably for a layman, this comparison will provide an argument FOR a classic router, because MARY KOMASA from her last Disarm album sounded more expressive with it, more "forward". In fact, it was a simplistic simplification of what I got right after that with the tested switch. It consisted in the fact that with an ordinary router the presentation was more "in front", had clearer edges, and thus seemed more attractive. And it wasn't.

Silent Angel, similarly to its smaller version, smooths the sound and shows more information - and more information means that the whole thing seems more relaxed and a bit more "behind", not "on the face" . Although the edges in the version with a standard router seem clearer, this is not really information about the bodies of the instruments or the voice, but just a kind of tweaking the contrast where there is not much information, and therefore it only seems to us that the this way we gain something more.

Interestingly, FRANK SINATRA, when listened to from Tidal, from the latest compilation with unpublished "rarities" - as its title reads - sounded stronger, clearer with the LAN switch than with the router. And again - this is because with the Silent Angel device I got more information with it, and in the case of this music it meant increasing the volume (it's a large ensemble) and better filling the space between the speakers. In this case, it was not about bringing the performers closer, but about showing them more clearly, which made me think that they were closer.

As I say, the differences may seem subtle, but their perception is not. Because thanks to the relaxing sound from the MARY KOMASA album, the bass guitar that opened the Degenerated Love had a better drive, was denser and nicer, and the vocal was shown a bit further away. It resulted in a much nicer sound. In turn, the sound from the Sinatra album has grown because it was big on its own. In other words, the Silent Angel switch differentiated the recordings better, showed them more as they are, and the router made them a bit more similar.

I mentioned the resolution. It is not only about the scale, layers and shapes, but also information buried deeper that are part of the performance, although they are not music themselves. Sinatra did not record "for later", and precisely arranged sessions were prepared in such a way as to fill the album with the recordings they made. Maybe in a few or a dozen or so approaches, from which the best ones were selected, but usually all recordings were used.

But not always. Sometimes, as in the Sinatra’s opening track of entitled The Last Dance, it could be about technical imperfections. If so, it could be about a lot of noise, stronger in the left channel, starting somewhere around 0.50 - with the switch was clearer, and at the same time attracted less attention. A paradox, but easy to explain - if we have more layers at our disposal, and the sound is more resolved, that is, more natural, than it is easier for us to separate musical events from extra-musical events - as in this case.

Even better, what I am talking about, I could hear with the The Lonely Night (Reprise Version), taken from the newest album of MOBY, the Reprise. With the Silent Angel switch, the voices of Kris Kristofferson and Mark Lanegan were placed further away from me and had a larger volume - with the router they were closer and smaller. Anyway - the guitar opening the track, playing delicate, distributed chords without the Silent Angel switch in my system was quieter and less "present".

This is about something that makes the sound with this switch more natural, more "velvety", even if it involves more extra-musical information, as with Sinatra, and later with BILLIE HOLIDAY from the Billie Holiday With Ray Ellis And His Orchestra. The tape noise in these recordings was slightly higher with the tested switch, and yet the whole thing was more emotional with it. The reverberation of the studio, in which the saxophone was recorded, was also better audible, at a distance from the microphone, just like a trumpet playing with a muffler. More information in this case meant more music.

Fantastic, because strong and intimate, sounded the latest LANA DEL REY’s album Chemtrails Over the Country Club. The voice repeated several times in the Breaking Up Slowly with the switch was clearer, denser, but also less homogeneous - it was not a mechanical duplication, but rather several tracks sung separately, without equalization.

⸜ IN SERIES I don't know if you remember what DIRK SOMMER, the editor-in-chief of magazine said on the occasion of our magazines jointly awarding the Melco S100 LAN switch with the STATEMENT award? - If you don’t, let me remind you - the point was that one switch offered a big improvement, but two in series, an even bigger one. Why? - Well, because the signal clocked in the first switch and isolated to some extent from Internet noise was re-clocked in the second switch, which further reduced jitter and interference.

The Silent Angel N16 LPS is a unique device not only because it perfectly "conditions" the LAN signal, but also because these are two separate switches that can be connected in series. In such a configuration the sound is even denser and stronger. The bass on the Komasa's album was better extended, and Sinatra's vocals were placed closer to me. I got all this while maintaining the advantages that I have already mentioned.


THE TESTED LAN SWITCH introduces big changes to the system. Although I listened to it primarily with files streamed from Tidal, potentially a worse signal source than files played from the NAS, the changes were really big and valuable. The better the signal, the better the devices, the bigger they will be, but even with inexpensive products they will bring the improvements we are fighting for.

With the N16 LPS we get better resolution and differentiation, a more relaxed, but also clearer presentation. It may seem completely crazy that the image of the TV connected to the Silent Angel (plasma) and the Netflix series watched through it (the aforementioned Homeland) had clearer colors, more - let's say - vibrant. My point being, this was how I literally saw what a good switch brings to the table.

It is easy to install, visually modest product offering wide functionality. And the fact that we can use two sections independently, and even connect them in series, puts a dot over the 'i' - the device remains in the HIGH FIDELITY editorial office as a reference product in our reference system.

Technical specifications (according to the manufacturer)

Power LED: Green light on when power is on. 
LINK / ACT LED: Light on when port is linked up, flashes when active.
• Green: 1000 Mbps
• Amber: 100 Mbps 
Input: 230VAC or 115VAC 50 / 60Hz (with voltage selector)
Dimensions (W x H x D.): 441 x 166 x 44.1 mm
Weight: 3 kg


Reference system 2021

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AC Power

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Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
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Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
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