SOtM dCBL-CAT8M - Is this the new reference in LAN cables?


I just came across an official announcement on SOtM’s highest grade Ethernet cable ~ dCBL-CAT8M. Interestingly, the new LAN cables sports not one but two filter blocks on each end of the cable.

The premise of trying this cable in a fully tricked out SOtM system with their sNH-10G network switch is quite tempting. It will be interesting to hear how a complete SOtM system compares to my current reference, Telegartner M12 Gold Switch with JCAT Signature GOLD M12 LAN cable and Optimo 3 Duo LPS.

There is no official review yet so I am hoping to hear from anyone currently using this cable and said improvements over dCBL-CAT7 in your digital streaming system. Where exactly did you find most improvement, before or after the Ethernet switch?

Opinions are welcome from those who believe in the importance of Network Optimization, thank you!

Happy Holidays 🎄

128x128lalitk

Hi lalitk: I always enjoy reading your posts and you've helped me agreat deal with my journey into PC/streaming audio. I use a couple of SOTM dCBL-CAT7 ethernet cables in my setup. They produce a full bodied and articulate sound, however, they are very heavy and stiff making them hard to work with. For example, when used with lightweight pieces like the Uptone Etheregen or any of the fiber optic convertors they tend pull the gear around (similar to heavy AC ccords).  Their stiffness make them difficult to use if you need to make sharp turns around your gear. I figured out to make them work in my situation, but people need to be aware of this when considering buying cables in general. I've no doubt that the new dcbl-CAT8-M sound fantastic. SOTM is a great company. Please keep us updated when you audition one. Good listening, Jeff

Running Mac with El Capitan OS using two SOtM dCBL-CAT7u, sNH-10G with sCLX-EX clock and sPS- 500. Into Steve Nugent of Empirical Audio’s Interchange Renderer / Dynamo LPS package.

Started quest back in May of this year, so the Mac (I, not being thee most computer savvy) and apps are still a work in progress amongst various other learning curves, but overall to date I’m a happy camper.

A new reference LAN cable ... lol, when will the madness end?! ;-)

@yoby 

I appreciate the feedback and I am glad to be of help. You’re spot on with your assessment on dCBL-CAT7.  I used to own this fine cable and had similar experience with my Apple router. 

@dabel 

Thanks for weighing in and it certainly feels that way, it appears to be a never ending pursuit. I should be content with what’ve put together but a recent experiment with Aurender N20 using an external master clock got my mind running wild :-) 

Your network setup is amazing, are you using pair of dCBL-CAT7u before and after the switch? I am leaning towards sNH-10G with sCLK-EX clock & master clock input (50ohm) and 7N-UPOCC internal silver wiring with EVOX capacitor - eABS 200. The sNH-10G (12V) will be powered by my existing JCAT Optimo Duo LPS. The 10 MHz master clock connector option is what I’m really excited about!!!! I own a very precise and high quality external clock that’s likely further enhance the performance of sNH-10G. 

I went ahead and ordered the dCBL-CAT8M CE. Very likely I will insert the 8M between my Apple router and sNH-10G switch. From switch, I am thinking about adding a iSO-CAT7 filter and experiment with some of my favorite LAN cables. The SOtM ‘Black’ cable, Network Acoustics ENO and JCAT Sig….should be a fun exercise. 

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@dabel 

Thanks for the clarification on dCBL-CAT7u’s configuration. I read up on Final Drive, interesting device indeed. Happy Holidays 🎄

My post removed ... for what, one word? that post of mine was clean.

Happy Holidays to all

You’re welcome @lalitk, and thank you for the kind words.

@dabel 

No idea, why your post was removed. I have enough information to keep moving forward, so excited about this project. 

Thanks for the insight you provide @lalitk always learn something from you. Hope you are enduring the weather been really chilly in Big D. 
 

Merry Christmas to all. 

@jerryg123 

Thanks for your kind words. Thankfully, the worst is behind us and we are back to beautiful ☀️ weather in HTown. 

Regarding the sNH-10G @lalitk, opted only for sCLK-EX. Under the premise master clock input and special edition can be had later if I so desired. 

Besides, you sit at a different level than I ... compliment :-)

 

@dabel

Thanks for the compliment. I bet your sNH-10G with sCLK-EX sounds pretty darn good. In my case, auditioning sNH-10G with a 10MHz clock input is one of the main draw. The impact of my Merging +clock with my DAC and Streamer has been nothing short of an extreme transformation. Let’s see how sNH-10G respond to an external clock in my system.

On another note, did you hear about Audio Sensibility’s internal DC cable upgrade for about $200. Take a look here,

https://audiosensibility.com/blog/sotm-audio/#!/sNH-10G-Ethernet-Switch-with-sCLK-EX/p/440525768/category=27007760

 

With your emphasis on those four exclamations yesterday, nuff said. Chime back with your thesis .... Inquiring minds, students, and end users await.

Had no idea, thanks for the link!

@yoby

I just received dCBL-CAT8M cable. It seems this cable is bit more flexible than the original dCBL-CAT7. With limited run of Christmas Edition, SOtM absolutely nailed it with exquisite sleeve and semi see-through double filters :-)

@lalitk, I’m assuming that iSO-CAT7 filter was added to your cart during purchase? ;-) 

Enjoy the fun! 

@dabel 

You’re correct! SOtM highly recommended the iSO-CAT7 filter, so I ordered it with Black and Grey - 50CM pigtails :-) 

Hey lalitk, sweet …. SOtM rocks! Another company using Empirical Evidence (to get the job done) for us music lovers. 

@dabel 

I am also considering using Fiber with sNH-10G switch. Since the switch already has SFP ports, why not explore them? This option also eliminates the need from one LAN cable like dCBL-CAT7u or CAT8M from router/modem. 

I’ve rid myself of any Fiber @lalitk, many moons ago. And that is not without somewhat trying. Those that do incorporate Fiber Optic Interface in some form or fashion, I show no discontent. 

Maybe a question better left for SOtM? Or you could just wing-it / explore. 

@dabel 

Thanks for sharing your experience. I am still on the fence as my last experiment with Fiber at entry level media converters was not great. We will see, just looking at all angles to fully maximize my investment :-) 

@lalitk Hi, I use an Ediscreation Fiber Box II (Optical Isolator) from my router (fiber in) via RJ45 and then RJ45 to my N20.

My question is would a switch sound better than the Fiber Box or should I use a switch in addition?

I don’t have any need for additional RJ45 outlets, excepting I feed my TV and TV Box straight from the router.

You have mentioned in other posts that fiber creates more noise than RJ45 and am curious why you decided to go for the sNH-10G switch instead of waiting for the Taiko switch?

You also said optical isolation would not be required for the Taiko switch.

Anyway my system sounds great but we’re all looking for that little boost.

Thanks in advance.

@lordmelton

I do not have any direct experience with Fiber Box II so I cannot say that adding a switch would or wouldn’t yield further improvements. It appears on paper that Fiber Box II is addressing and reducing the noise and jitter. Whether adding a switch further improves sound or not, this is something you would have to try in your system.

I have already stated my reasoning to audition SOtM switch, the 10MHz clock input and their newest CAT8M LAN cable with double filter block. Trying a fibre with SOtM switch has a slight advantage as it eliminates the need for one external converter box and LPS on receiving end. Again, i will be comparing copper LAN with Fiber to access which sound better to my ears.

As far as Taiko new products which include switch, router and re-designed network card; they are specifically designed to enhance performance of Taiko Extreme. And their availability (for now) is exclusive to Taiko Extreme existing and future owners. As per Emile, non-Taiko users will not get the full benefit, which includes a software / firmware interaction. If you would like to learn more about Taiko switch or router, I suggest you to check out Taiko Extreme thread on WBF.

@lalitk Thanks so much for your detailed explanation, I look forward to hearing your review of the SOtM switch, cables, clock etc.

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Slightly off-topic, but I’m pretty happy with my DCBL-CAT7u between my EtherRegen and Zenith Mk3. I have a Wireworld Starlight between my Netgear router and ER.

It certainly bests:

  • swapping the Sotm and the Wireworld => Sotm most likely the better of the two cables, assuming the cable after the ER is more important.  It does seem to me, however, that the cable before the ER has some degree of impact.  The Wireworld is clearly better there than the Supra Cat8 I have.
  • an SOtM ISOCAT7 between the ER and the DCBL-CAT7u => I’m assuming the ER and ISOCAT7 play similar roles, and that the ER does it far better. ISOCAT has been moved on, and tbh I don’t think it’s any good

 

@yoby 

Thanks for posting. The cable looks solid and definitely worth auditioning in short run applications. I’ve had few conversations with Rich at Network Acoustics about replicating his standard line of products in Pro version for end users who owns streamers that requires 1Gb/s Ethernet. In my experience the Pro Line or any other cable that conforms to CAT8.1 standards is a must in realizing full potential of streamers with 1GB/s ethernet requirement.

@lollipopguild 

I agree with you, a device like iSO-CAT7 is unnecessary in a setup where there is already a high quality switch or filter being used. I didn’t hear any appreciable difference in sound quality when I used iSO-CAT6 filter with dCBL-CAT7 cable. In any case, each system is different so the effects of switches, filters may vary greatly. 

@lalitk . I accept that it's a case of digital horses for digital courses.  However, even before the ER was added I felt the ISOCAT wasn't doing much.

Interestingly, I asked SOtM's May Park what the component sequence should be if I additionally bought the SOtM switch with all the trimmings, and she said the ISOCAT should go after the switch, and before the dCBL-CAT7u cable.

@lollipopguild

My understanding was to use iSO-CAT7 between switch and streamer with your choice of (flavor) 50cm LAN pigtails for final tuning. The dCBL-CAT7u to be used between modem and switch. Listening is the key with any tweaks, either they work or they don’t based on our unique audio systems.

Timely posting as I just hooked up an iso-cat7 this morning between my router and streamer.  I picked the filter up used and it came with a 30cm cable intended to be used on the streamer side.  I don’t know which “flavor” SOtM Ethernet cable it is.  It may have been the Xmas edition?

Im going out from my modem into an inexpensive 2’ Linkup Ethernet cable from Amazon (I believe @lalitk posted this cable at some point) into my router , then another 2’ Linkup cable >> Iso-Cat7 filter >> SOtM 30cm cable >> Ifi Zen Stream.

so… not a lot of time with it yet, but so far I’m having positive results and noticeable improvement in terms of separation and detail.

@j_andrews 

Thanks for your post. Glad to hear you’re enjoying the improvements with iSO-CAT7. Looks like the filter has lowered the noise floor thus allowing you to hear better detail and separation between instruments and vocals. The LINKUP cable is incredibly open, detailed and balanced LAN I’ve heard, for the money; it is a steal! 

@westexdent 

Well, I received the cable back in December but haven’t had a chance to test it. My plans to try this cable with a SoTM switch fell through. My existing switch is not compatible with this cable so in all likelihood, I will end up selling this cable. 

Oh, I was looking forward to your review of the SOTM Switch vs your present gear, especially to see what effect clocking the switch would have.

@lalitk : What existing switch that you're using isn't compatible with the new SOTM dcbl Cat 8M and why? Thanks. Jeff

@lordmelton

I was all set to pull the trigger on SoTM switch but then a series of events gave me a pause to pursue the SoTM switch. I am still hanging on the CAT8M LAN, in hopes of trying the SoTM switch later in the future. I got few other things lined up for audition in upcoming months which I feel will yield much bigger improvements over trying another switch.

@yoby

I am currently using Telegartner M12 Switch Gold that uses proprietary M12 connectors.

Responding back with some new info since my last post here on this topic.

I’ve been using an SOTM ISO-Cat7 filter and SOTM 30cm Ethernet cable between my router and my streamer for the past month or so. The streamer is an Ifi Zen Stream with an LHY 12-Volt linear supply.
I feel the presentation improved after adding the ISO-Cat7 as I already reported.
Of course, after awhile you just get used to it .. but my system has been sounding the best it’s been despite the entry level streamer.

A couple of days ago I purchased a used Etherregen of the forum. I’m currently testing it out, and I have to say I think it’s an improvement over the ISO-Cat7 filter.

I tried different configurations with and without the ISO-Cat7 and am currently listing with it coming straight out of the router via the little SOTM 30cm cable, then a Linkup Cat8 patch into the Etherregen, then out via another Linkup patch into the Zen Stream. I may take the SOTM filter back out to do more testing but so far this is pretty amazing as far as an improvement goes. I can only say it feels more relaxed and less strained.

My LHY 12V power supply has two outputs so I think I can also power the Etherregen off of it in addition to the Zen Stream. Currently just using the brick switcher that came from Uptone.

Very happy with this and with the continued incremental changes

thanks for all the valuable information

For what it’s worth , the rest of the stereo is:

Ifi Zen Stream > Triode Wire Labs USB cable > Denafrips Iris DDC > Triode Wire Labs SPDIF Coax cable > Border Patrol se-i DAC > Triode Wire Labs Spirit 2 RCA cables > Van Alstine RB10 tube preamp > Triode Wire Labs Spirit 2 RCA cables > Van Alstine SET 120 power amp > Supra Rondo speaker cables > Fritz Carbon SE mk-ii loudspeakers.

 

Sorry if this is off-topic.  I just got an Sotm dcBL-Cat7u cable and the iso-cat7.

I'm using a Paul Pang network switch and an Innuos Pulse streamer. Question is whether to put the Cat7u cable or the Iso-Cat7 filter first, into the switch.

The local dealer said that putting the Iso-Cat7 filter before the cat7u cable gives better sound. But in the literature for the dcBl-Cat7 and Iso-Cat6 package that Sotm was selling some time ago, it was recommended to put the cable first before the filter. 

I can try both, but with the cable being so stiff, it is quite hard to reach behind my setup to make changes.

Hi @in1voice 

I had a very similar setup to yours.  It was:

Netgear Orbi Satellite => ISOCAT7 => Cat7u => Innuos Zenith 3

I was in communication with May Park at SOtM at the time and this was the configuration she advised.  I did also ask her where a decent audiophile switch should go in this chain and she advised it go before the ISOCAT7.  So this seems to agree with your dealer's advice.

There's a big "however" here.

For me, this setup didn't really improve my SQ.  It was brittle, digital, sibilant.  Not at all what I was aiming for.  In desperation I bought an Uptone EtherRegen (not dissimilar to your Paul Pang perhaps), and put it before the ISOCAT.  But no improvement was observed.

I was about to sell the ER on again, when I tried taking the ISOCAT out of the setup, and BOOM:  magic.  The harshness disappeared.  It was day and night.  It appeared that the ISOCAT was undoing the good work of the ER.

I have since significantly upgraded my ER "ecosytem" (see below), each improvement bringing more.  

The ISOCAT was sold on.

 

Current setup:

Orbi =>  Startech FMC with Finisar FTLX1471D3BTL   =>  Phoenix Contact fiber cable   =>  EtherRegen  with Plixir BDC Elite LPS;  and AfterDark King clock with LPS and Oyaide BNC cable   =>  Cat7u    =>  Zenith

Hi lollipopguild, thanks for the reply. 

It seems from your experience, the ER is better than the IsoCat7.

In fact, I had the dcBL-cat7 cable for a short while, before I managed to get the Cat7u cable and the iso-cat7 as a set.  Comparing the Cat7 cable alone, versus the Cat7u and IsoCat7, there is a big improvement in smoothness and imagining. Things seem more holographic.  I will try to put the IsoCat7 ahead of the cable and see what happens. 

Certainly the ER is a tempting option!  Do the external clock make a big difference to the ER?

@in1voice , by the way, is this the full length CAT7u, or the short filterless version which comes with the red ISOCAT7?

Yes, the clock made an enormous improvement, and continues to do so as it’s only 2 weeks old. It can take up to a month, apparently, for the crystal to fully stabilise.

The EtherRegen is extremely good, and highly scalable. Version 1 can only be found 2nd hand, if you’re lucky. And version 2, when it arrives, will be highly sought after.

Saying all that; what I’ve spent on it, plus the LPS and the clock I could have bought an Innuos PhoenixNet with. I would also have had far fewer cables.

 

Hi lollipopguild, mine is a 1.2 metre long dcBL-Cat7u cable.

The PhoenixNet is quite costly. I heard that Melco are also quite good.  The ER2 will likely cost a lot more than the ER.

A question on the ER -- I see there is only one output in Port B, and four ports in Port A. Does this mean that the ER can supply only one device, and cannot supply to say a streamer and a smart TV?

@in1voice , regarding the ER's A and B side, the Uptone guys state that the full benefit is only derived from an input on the A side and the main component receiving the B side's output.  The internal "moat" isolates any noise between the two sides.   

They additionally state that two components connected to the A-side will benefit from some degree of mutual isolation, though not as much as A-B.

That said, myself and others have seen benefit in the B side by improving the quality of the A side's input (hence my use of fiber).  So I guess there are no absolutes here.

Personally, I'm not that fussy about the quality of my TV's ethernet signal, so I would always plug my streamer into the B-side.

My OLED TV is plugged into the network switch and also my Plixir Elite BAC 1500. Every tweak I do to the power and the network, I noticed an improvement in PQ, and clearer dialog from the soundbar. For the TV, whiter whites, more contrast and deeper colors.  This includes changing power cables, fuses, ethernet cables.

@in1voice : Where are you finding info on the Etheregen 2 model? There's nothing on Uptone's website abou it. Thanks. Jeff

The below excerpt from Uptone's website, under the ER page:

"We are hard at work on EtherREGEN Gen2—utilizing more readily available parts and incorporating a number of technical advancements. These include Gigabit capability on both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ sides of our unique active-differential-isolation moat, even lower jitter clock synthesizers, and the world’s best sine-to-square wave converter (benefiting those who chose to pair with an external 10MHz reference clock). We expect to be in production of EtherREGEN Gen2 by June 2023."