It would seem, that in the age of common wideband internet access, worldwide streaming services (wake up Qobuz) playing from files is easy as pie and does not pose any issues. But in reality, the more we dig in the topic, and the more we know about it, the more variables come into play. However this is hardly surprising, as we already know, that once ignored jitter can have a deteriorating influence, “analog” vibration or “dirty” power can have a deteriorating influence. This is the reason, that after some eye-opening, or ear-opening if you wish, experiences with the Melco S100, SOtM sNH-10G + sCLK-EX & SPS-500 switches, or with the true “giant killer” Silent Angel Bonn N8, we decided to go for it, and test the most expensive, and at the same time best combination switch + power supply, the Telegärtner M12 Switch Gold and the power supply JCAT OPTIMO 3 DUO, provided to us by the distributor in Poland, the company JPLAY from Wroclaw.
All signs on heaven and earth show, that the guys from Telegärtner Japan Limited not only know, but also are able to perfectly apply the rule, that you can only make first impression once. Taking into account the fierce competition in this market area, such approach has a lot of impact. The M12 is offered in a seemingly modest, black cardboard box, but the inside is far from modest – the innards are covered with a golden, shiny fabric, while the device itself is made from cast aluminum and weighs 1.5 kg. Thankfully only the top cover was made in this bombastic design, as the rest is painted black. There is also a surprise, as instead of the expected standard sockets accepting RJ45 plugs, industry standard, shielded and bolted M12 (IEC 61076-2-109 Ed.1.0) were utilized. This makes it impossible to use any other cables than those included in the set. However I need to confess, that the proprietary Telegärtner cables are not run of the mill patch cords for a few cents a mile, but solid, “high-end” cables, with Telegärtner M12X-coded plugs on one end, which are compatible with the device, and gold plated Telegärtner MFP8 RJ45 on the other.
Together with the switch we received also the line power supply unit OPTIMO 3 DUO, which replaces the standard, low-noise switching PSU. The device is built around a 100 VA magnetically and electrically shielded toroidal transformer, covered with epoxy resin, and has two 5V/3A outputs. On demand (and with 4 weeks delivery time) you can order also 9V and 12V outputs to be fitted, you can also have each of the galvanically separated outputs deliver a different voltage, so you can power two devices with different PSU requirements at the same time, using the Optimo. The PSU noise floor measures below the measurement level (<2 μV), what should not come as a surprise, as in the rectifier bridges Shottky diodes and LT3045 voltage stabilizers were used. Six capacitors from the “Fine Gold” line of the Japanese manufacturer Nichicon, 3 300 μF each, also cannot be missed. Together with the PSU the manufacturer supplies two PC-OCC power cables, 120 cm length each, with double shielding and 54 conductors per wire, with a diameter of 0.12 mm each. Teflon is used as dielectric. The plug on the receiver end is dedicated for the device, that needs to be powered, while on the PSU end SpeakON plugs from Neutrik were utilized. The external design is also solid, quite some DAC or phonostage could be envious. The front is made from a thick slab of black anodized aluminum, and the rest of the chassis from thick sheets of non-magnetic steel. The power socket is also not the last, as it comes from Furutech, has rhodium plated connectors and an integrated fuse.
Regarding connections – almost everything remained the same as with our previous tests of such equipment. Almost, as the switch was plugged into the router with a dozen meters long cable (the router is outside of the listening room) not directly, due to the different sockets, but using a NET Isolator as a link and then a JCAT Reference LAN Cable GOLD. However to minimize the chances of bias, the same interlink was used for the Silent Angel Bonn N8, which became our kind of reference point, which also worked with Audiomica Laboratory Anort Consequence and Artoc Ultra Reference cables. The rest remained same – we connected the Lumin U1 mini as transport, and the files were provided either by the WD My Book Live 2TB or I-O Data Soundgenic HDL-RAS2T.
Now it is time to move to the main aspect of the test, does the substantial investment of around 6 500 Euro bring anything with it, or does it just drain our bank account. So a small confession first. When I was discussing the logistics with Marcin Ostapowicz, the owner of JPLAY, I hoped that if an improvement is to be expected after plugging this device into my system, it will maybe be noticeable, but will be symbolic, or cosmetic, at best, compared to the changes introduced by the Silent Angel. Maybe a different esthetics and a step sideways. And I am not talking about progress compared to the “bare” patch cord from the router, as this seems obvious enough. And my hopes went out the door, because moving to the Telegärtner M12 Switch Gold you can easily see as a jump into a more realistic world of music. And it was not like moving from SD to Full HD, but more in the likes of jumping from VHS to 4K or even 8K. The created stage became deeper, and I say deeper, not pushed back. Its beginning was at the same place as before, but the multiple layers of the 24k Gold Japanese Remaster of the “Gladiator” https://tidal.com/browse/album/4683997 (ripped using the Melco D100) did not end with the second or third row of musicians, but seemingly reached easily beyond our perception, as well as beyond the capabilities of our system. Music had more resolution and was richer in all kinds of nuances, while at the same time without that certain blur, which would mask such details. Without an artificial boost of contrast and sharpness, we got a phenomenal insight into the recording, but also an impression of a certain amplification of perception – better palpability and the mentioned realism.
As an example, on the jazz-rock “Blow by Blow” by Jeff Beck, some information about the definition of the instruments appeared, which should have been obvious all the time, but weren’t. This was especially clear with the guest performing on the disc, like Stevie Wonder behind the Clavinet on “Thelonius”. Why am I mentioning this? Well, I like to catch some “tastes” and on this disc, the appearance of the competitor to the Hammond organ produced by the German company Horner, was not so obvious. In short – a Clavinet is an electrified clavichord, a keyed string instrument, where the vibration of the strings is transmitted to transducers, and the harder the keys were pressed, the louder and more vibrating sound was emitted. And I am talking about this vibration and the unique “black”, motoric, funky timbre. The Telegärtner was able to reproduce that with full intensity and an almost analog palpability, while the Silent Angel only hinted at that, while without any switch, it was not present at all.
I made similar observations during listening to an album, which is a very frequent guest on my playlists, the “Sound of Mirrors” by Dhafer Youssef, which is able to enchant, in a musical and emotional way, even played from a smartphone paired with the Denon Bluetooth New Envaya speaker. Yet the full richness of the nuances present in that recording, we can only admire on much higher class, refined configurations. A truly transcendent mood, piercing, high pitched vocalizes of the front man, supported by the sound of the oud and truly magical table and percussions played by Zakir Hussain invite to this oriental puzzle. With the Telegärtner we get everything served on a silver plate, but without a trace of glaring with their richness and without any cheap tricks designed to call our attention. Of course this attention draw comes, you cannot go along such perfection without noticing it, but it happens in a totally natural way, and is not induced by, for example, a hyper resolution of a sampler, which violates our senses.
It is enough to reach for the cult “We Get Requests” from The Oscar Peterson Trio, where seemingly the dense dusk is making the climate of the piece, but it also masks all the microdetails quite well. Yet the M12 acted like a night vision, but with keeping full palette of timbres, extracting a surprising amount of information from that dusk, not only about the leader’s piano, but also about the virtuoso bass player Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen, mastering drums and percussion. And it is not about brightening of that darkness, or upping the tonal balance. Not at all. We just get better palpability and definition of the sounds, what results in improvement of the resolution.
So much about the assets, but are there any shortcomings? Well, here is one big thing, as the presence of the Telegärtner unit in the system makes the misery of the signal provided by various music streaming services. Comparing 1:1 the same album played from a NAS to the Hi-Fi/Master from Tidal, the second option should be regarded as last resort, a tool only to learn about some music, but not as a valid sound source when listening. So we could say, that when purchasing the M12 we also need to loosen up a few hundred Euro to broaden our home library.
So in a short summary I can only say, that the switch Telegärtner M12 Switch Gold with the dedicated Optimo 3 Duo power supply and appropriate accessories is a reference for what you can get from your home Ethernet network. Of course you have to bear in mind, that to achieve full happiness, you also need a server of similar capabilities, or using the Melco terminology, the music library and transport/streamer; still having those accessories you can say, that you finalized the cabling and signal distribution path in your file system.
System used in this test:
– CD/DAC: Ayon CD-35 (Preamp + Signature) + Finite Elemente Cerabase compact
– Network player: Lumin U1 Mini
– Digital source selector: Audio Authority 1177
– Turntable: Kuzma Stabi S + Kuzma Stogi + Dynavector DV-10X5
– Phonostage: Tellurium Q Iridium MM/MC Phono Pre Amp; Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista Vinyl; Musical Fidelity M6 Vinyl, RCM Audio Sensor 2 Mk II
– Power amplifier: Bryston 4B³
– Loudspeakers: Dynaudio Contour 30 + Brass Spike Receptacle Acoustic Revive SPU-8 + Base Audio Quartz platforms
– IC RCA: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond
– IC XLR: Organic Audio; Vermöuth Audio Reference
– Digital IC: Fadel art DigiLitz; Harmonic Technology Cyberlink Copper; Apogee Wyde Eye; Monster Cable Interlink LightSpeed 200
– USB cables: Wireworld Starlight; Goldenote Firenze Silver; Fidata HFU2
– Speaker cables: Signal Projects Hydra; Vermöuth Audio Reference Loudspeaker Cable
– Power cables: Furutech FP-3TS762 / FI-28R / FI-E38R; Organic Audio Power + Furutech CF-080 Damping Ring; Acoustic Zen Gargantua II; Furutech Nanoflux Power NCF
– Power distribution board: Furutech e-TP60ER + Furutech FP-3TS762 / Fi-50 NCF(R) /FI-50M NCF(R)
– Wall power socket: Furutech FT-SWS(R)
– Anti-vibration platform: Franc Audio Accessories Wood Block Slim Platform
– Switch: Silent Angel Bonn N8
– Ethernet cables: Neyton CAT7+, Audiomica Anort Consequence + Artoc Ultra Reference + Arago Excellence
– Table: Rogoz Audio 4SM
– Acoustic panels: Vicoustic Flat Panels VMT
Regardless of our personal approach to listening to music from files, the case is clear – besides the turntable and the CD player, this is a fully fledged sound source. But you would be mistaken thinking, that purchasing any file player will finalize everything. Let us not deceive ourselves, we deal here with a system, much more complicated, than the previously mentioned sound sources. What do I mean here? I will not repeat the known axioms, about the completely different sound output of an audio system depending on the components and cables used, as this is a kind of basic abc for an advance music lover. I am now talking more about an item intriguing streamed music eulogists, the switches designed to remove deteriorating interference between the devices interconnected with the Ethernet network at your home. Anyone surprised, or thinking I am trying to trick him or her? If yes, then that means, that you are not keeping up with changes in the way you listen to streamed music. So if you are interested in that way of providing sound to your ears, then the following test is for you. What are we testing? A switch, branded by Telegärtner Japan Limited, called M12 Switch Gold, with a dedicated power supply, JCAT Optimo 3 Duo, received in our listening room from the Wroclaw based company JPLAY.
Let us not fool ourselves, the tested switch does not have any special visual effects. Even more – looking at it without any emotion we see something very similar to a power strip, we use to provide electricity to our system. It is of course smaller, but once you see the similarity, you tend to not forget it. In a way it is also fitting – the M12 is a splitter of sorts. It divides the Ethernet network, and not the power, but still. Thus it does not really matter how it looks – you just put it behind the rack and forget about. But how does it look? Like I already mentioned. This is a simple rectangular chassis, with six ports on top and one power socket. Interestingly, the signal sockets are not the usually seen, consumer market flimsy ones, but very solid, bolted military grade terminals. Also the chassis itself has two “ears”, which can be used to fasten it to a wall or similar plane. What is the purpose of such things? When you try to use the nicely looking, but very delicate, switches coming from the competition, then after a few tries of placing it and juggling around with cabling, you will realize, what the manufacturer had in mind. This device does not have to be good looking, but it has to provide the user the highest possible quality of connection between the cable and the unit, as it will transfer the precious audio signal, and it also should not move, when a few cables are connected to it. If you do not believe me, then unfortunately, the only thing that allows you to realize the truth of what I am talking about is if you try it for yourself. So I will just add, that with the device we get also two LAN cables fitting the Telegärtner M12 ports. If you need more, there is no going around the distributor to get any additional ones.
Like I mentioned in the introduction, the tested “signal cleaner” arrived with a dedicated power supply. Not a wall-wart type switching piece of … trying to get away with the name, but a professionally designed line PSU designed by the Polish brand JCAT. The reason for this? This is something I could write a complete text around, so let us skip it for now, and I will just say, that such an approach by the distributor does make sense. So how does this power supply look like? Please look at the pictures for that. Due to the uncompromised approach to power supply issues, the Optimo 3 is much larger than the switch itself. Its chassis is a nicely looking aluminum box. The front is made from a thick slab of aluminum, milled oblique at the edges. On 2/3 height it has a thin groove with a power LED and company logo below. As the device uses a solid transformer inside, the top and side covers have a few venting holes cut. On the back there are two power outputs and an IEC power socket.
So what does the implementation of the tested component do? You can find detailed information about how to implement it in the internet, so I will not waste time on that and move to the description of what I heard with the Telegärtner M12 in my system, and that with full pleasure. So what did I hear when the Telegärtner was added to my, updated through the years, system, enriched with a file player? Frankly speaking I thought, that there could be some changes to the sound, but not to such extent. This was like getting a hammer blow to the head. The music gained energy, swing and resolution. But this happened not by shortening and thinning of the sounds, what improves contouring of the virtual sources, no, it was done by flawlessly cleaning the sound background from any digital noise. This resulted in bringing the music out from the distortion abyss, what translated into a serious improvement of the propagation of its energy, extension of the reverberation of the most delicate aliquots and brilliant readability. Impossible? Well – absolutely possible. This case was much more spectacular than a similar test with a cheaper switch, what absolutely confirms, that here, like in High End electronics, the same quality aspects are at work. Any disc examples? One, but a good one will suffice. Let us take the very best jazz recorded by EST, which does not leave any quality desires unfilled from the start, the “Viaticum”. In the tested approach it showed itself in an even more emotional, as it was without any digital background noise, way. And I am not only talking about cleaning the air around the artists, but also the improvement of timing of the phrases reaching my ears. And the improvement of the suspension of the whole event in the ether. You need to listen to that, as before I put the switch in my system, everything seemingly was drawn fully, but afterwards, some information appeared in the music, which was not clearly read before, as they were distorted during playback. I think that I witnessed a clear improvement of the sound to background noise distance, something only a select group of manufacturers can achieve in their audio components, and what was now presented by the tested unit and its manufacturer – Telegärtner. Similar improvements of the sound happened with each material played. It did not matter if I listened to female or male voices, old, and not very well recorded rock, or electronics employing artificial sounds, the symptoms of bringing music to life were every time the same. But what was equally important, never, really never, even with the best recordings, the sound did not get over-excited. It was just the removal of a kind of veil, obscuring and averaging every sound tale, something, that when you own a resolving system – and I think I managed to get such a system – cannot result, and did not result in any overdraw of the presentation and thus any fatigue in the listener. Do you think you get such things only in an advertising brochure? Not at all, you just need to plug into your system the set tested today, the Telegärtner M12 Switch Gold with the dedicated power supply JCAT Optimo 3 Duo and the world of music from files will be completely different than before.
Finalizing this review I would like to turn your attention to one small fact. It is known, that currently listening to music from files is not my karma. But listening to what this Japanese signal cleaner can do in Marcin’s system, there was no option, I had to put a similar setup at home. I could not lose an opportunity with another positive step towards equaling the sound from files and silver discs. Does this mean, that after this experience I will enter the world of hard discs? It may sound like turning the question around, but I will not answer it, as in my opinion, the main aspect lies elsewhere: “Is the tested accessory for everyone?” And here, with one warning, of course based on the test conducted, I can only recommend everyone to try it out on their own system. And what did I mean with the warning? Well, based on my own experience – it is as follows: “Be warned, once you test it out, there is a big chance it will not go back to the distributor”. Except for that, I have nothing else to add.
System used in this test:
– CD transport” CEC TL 0 3.0
– Network player/NAS: I-O Data Soudgenic HDL-RAS2T
– DAC: dCS Vivaldi DAC 2.0
– Reference clock: Mutec REF 10
– Reclocker: Mutec MC-3+USB
– Shunyata Research Sigma CLOCK
– Shunyata Sigma NR
– Preamplifier: Robert Koda Takumi K-15
– Power amplifier: Gryphon Audio Mephisto Stereo
– Loudspeakers: Dynaudio Consequence
– Speaker Cables: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond
– IC RCA: Hijri „Million”, Vermouth Audio Reference
– IC XLR: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond
– Digital IC: Harmonix HS 102
– Power cables: Harmonix X-DC 350M2R Improved Version, Furutech NanoFlux NCF Furutech DPS-4 + FI-E50 NCF(R)/ FI-50(R), Hijiri Nagomi; Vermouth Audio Reference Power Cord
– Table: SOLID BASE VI
– Accessories: Harmonix TU 505EX MK II, Stillpoints ULTRA SS, Stillpoints ULTRA MINI, antivibration platform by SOLID TECH, Harmonix AC Enacom Improved for 100-240V, Harmonix Room Tuning Mini Disk RFA-80i
– Power distribution board: POWER BASE HIGH END
– Acoustic treatments by Artnovion
Drive: SME 30/2
Arm: SME V
Cartridge: MIYAJIMA MADAKE
Phonostage: RCM THERIAA
Step-up: Thrax Trajan
M12 SWITCH GOLD: 4 185 €
OPTIMO 3 DUO: 1 500 €
NET Isolator: 190 €
JCAT Reference LAN Cable GOLD: 600 €
M12 SWITCH GOLD
Interface: 5 x M12
Input voltage: DC 10 V — 60 V
Power consumption: 6 W max
Dimentions (W x L x H): 70 x 200 x 50 mm
Weight: 1,5 kg
OPTIMO 3 DUO
Output voltage: specified in a purchase note – 5V, 9V, 12V / 3A
Dimentions (W x H x D): 195 x 85 x 395 mm