Ethernet filters: Waversa EXT-2 vs Muon Pro (and some cable comparison)

After less than a month of testing, I finally came to a conclusion. Let’s start from the beginning. Being down the rabbit hole of network improvements in my system, I had the opportunity to evaluate the impact of two passive filters in the chain: the new Waversa EXT-2 and the already popular Muon Pro from Network Acoustics (let me thank Rob for his usual kindness).

1 - WITH OR WITHOUT A SWITCH?

Before the simple comparison between the two filters, I wanted to better understand the role that my Innuos PhoenixNET plays in the system, so I removed it and tried to use only the Muon Pro.

A) Router > Sablon > Muon Pro > Statement

It sucks life out of the music. The magic is gone, no realism in voices. Less separation and lack of body.

B) Router > Pink Faun > Muon Pro > Statement

More open and realistic, but I’m still missing PNET in the path. The soundstage is narrower and lacks depth. Better than the Sablon but the magic is no longer here.

C) Router > Muon Pro Streaming Cable > Muon Pro > Statement

In this case I connected the Muon Streaming cable to the router’s Gigabit port, thanks to the intrinsic design of the Muon system which should work best this way.

The sound pops up, it also seems like the volume has turned up. The image thus becomes clean and three-dimensional with a notable increase in depth. More reverbs appear along with improved dynamic range. The bass is now more defined and the sound is dense and structured. That said, I still miss something in the mids and liveliness, listening to guitar strings or vocals, for example. To a lesser extent, liquidity also does not seem as convincing as before. Definitely an improvement in sound quality in all areas but not as realistic and immersive as before, when using PhoenixNET.

Using both Muon filter and cable (also known as Muon System) without PhoenixNET the difference is less marked, it means the sound is really clean and I can see an improvement in all areas, bass, treble, separation and greater coherence in general. Presence is improved and realism too, compared to using the Muon Pro with other cables and without the Innuos switch. That said, PhoenixNET brings more life and naturalness than any other combination I’ve tried, so it’s a keeper in my system. This is especially evident when listening to acoustic performances or live concerts where the guitar strings, the clapping of the crowd’s hands and the reverberation of the voices in the room appear more realistic, vivid and engaging.

With the PNET in the chain, the magic is back, airy and immersive, beautiful holographic image and therefore the representation feels real. The “being there” effect is back and it is very pleasant. Without the PNET it’s like watching music behind a clean window, with the PNET you have the perception of being exactly where the music is playing, right now and right there.

W/PNET W/O PNET
White noise/Hum 8 8
Background 8 8
Naturalness 9 8
Image precision 9 9
Soundstage depth 9 8
Soundstage width 8 9
Separation 9 9
Voice 10 9
Hights 8 8
Bass 8 8
Presence 9 8
Transient 8 9
Clarity 9 9
Airy 9 8
Detail 9 9
Unveil 9 9
Realism 10 9
Calm 8 8
Control 8 8
Engagement 9 8
8,7 8,5

2 - FILTER VS FILTER

A) MUON PRO


.

Router > Sablon > PhoenixNET > Pink Faun > Muon Pro > Statement

From the very first hours I added the Muon Pro to the chain, I immediately perceived its qualities but I also had some doubts. I had the sensation of a sound with less body and less liquid. Quite dry though in a pleasant way. Maybe the sound a little thin in general.

For the rest, the musical reproduction is more natural and realistic, improved air around the instruments, beautiful and very realistic voices. Very fast and never sharp or too hard.

I subsequently found a significant improvement after the first 30 hours of playback, the sound opened up to a higher level and the realism was even more intense than before. The live performances became so immersive, the strings seemed to be plucked right in front of me and the voices were vibrant, palpable, natural. With my eyes closed I really had the feeling of “being there” in the crowd. After over 100 hours of running-in the music began to appear more liquid, clear but full-bodied and refined with such rounded bass.

What surprised me the most was the perception of the environment and the way the sound began to breathe beautifully.

B) WAVERSA EXT-2


.

Router > Sablon > PhoenixNET > Pink Faun > EXT-2 > Statement

I immediately felt an audible difference, an incredible silence and calm filled the room. The EXT-2 also brought a lot of detail, cleaning up the sound and improving instrument separation. To tell the truth, once I also listened to the Muon Pro, I understood that this result was achieved at the expense of naturalness. Comparing the two, I noticed that with the EXT-2 the sound is less organic and coherent, diminishing the “being here” effect of the soundstage, as if I were listening to something recorded and not played in front of me.

Wherever you put the EXT-2 it can influence the sound, upstream before the router and switch, downstream between the switch and the server/streamer, and, surprisingly, even by connecting it to an unused port on the router. Yes, it seems that the signal is cleaned as soon as it is connected to the router and without any other cables from its second port to the rest of the path, floating so to speak. Together with a blacker background, unfortunately it also brings a less natural, clear and detailed sound, but more digital, cold and analytical.

C) MUON PRO + EXT-2 TOGETHER

Router > Sablon+EXT2+Sablon > PhoenixNET > Pink Faun > Muon Pro > Statement

Just to get rid of the whim, I also experimented with using both filters together in the chain.

The background is truly black and a nice sense of control and sharpness is evident. The bass is rounded but the sound is less engaging because it seems to lack realism and convincing naturalness. More digital, so to speak. The vocals are less believable and flat, although very clean with lots of detail and wonderful instrument separation.

Conclusion

I could have easily lived with the EXT-2, at least until I heard the Muon Pro, which simply brings more life to the playback.

Both filters work well and improve the sound quality, however the Muon Pro is my favorite for its ability to sound more natural, lifelike and engaging in my system.

MUON PRO W EXT-2
White noise/Hum 8 8
Background 8 9
Naturalness 9 7
Image precision 9 8
Soundstage depth 9 8
Soundstage width 8 8
Separation 9 9
Voice 10 8
Hights 8 8
Bass 8 8
Presence 9 8
Transient 8 8
Clarity 9 9
Airy 9 8
Detail 9 9
Unveil 9 8
Realism 10 8
Calm 8 8
Control 8 9
Engagement 9 8
8,7 8,2

3 - UPSTREAM VS DOWNSTREAM, WHERE THE FILTER SOUNDS BETTER?

Router > Sablon > Muon Pro > PhoenixNET > Pink Faun > Statement

In the end, at the suggestion of a forum member, I also tried to experiment with a different positioning of the Muon Pro filter, placing it upstream. The difference is subtle compared to its downstream positioning, but perceptible. This surprised me because according to the manufacturer’s recommendations I would have expected the opposite. However I found a more marked improvement in the midrange area, the clarity and airiness improved and the vocals appeared really defined, vivid, palpable, natural. The sound is so clean and revealing, without artificial effects or excessive brightness. Never cold or analytical. The bass area is more or less the same, full-bodied and pleasant, perhaps a little less incisive. In this configuration it seems that the qualities of the Pink Faun cable play a more important role, being further down the chain, connected to the Statement.

CABLES COMPARISON

At the end of my tests I also collected the impressions obtained from a different use of the Ethernet cables at my disposal, which I summarize in the tables below.

It should be noted that I am waiting to receive the new Stealth model, called ULTRA. This will allow me to complete my observations on this specific topic.

Furthermore, the observations reported below refer to the positioning of the Muon pro downstream of the switch, which as I explained above is not my definitive configuration and therefore it could be useful to repeat the tests also in my latest configuration with the upstream filter. Maybe when I receive the new cable I will update these impressions.

A) Router > Sablon > PNET > Pink Faun > Muon Pro > Statement

B) Router > Pink Faun > PNET > Sablon > Muon Pro > Statement

C) Router > Muon Streaming > PNET > Pink Faun > Muon Pro > Statement

D) Router > Pink Faun > PNET > Muon Streaming > Muon Pro > Statement

E) Router > Sablon > PNET > Muon Streaming > Muon Pro > Statement

A B C D E
White noise/Hum 8 8 8 8 8
Background 8 8 9 8 8
Naturalness 9 8 8 9 8
Image precision 9 9 8 9 8
Soundstage depth 9 8 8 9 8
Soundstage width 8 8 8 8 8
Separation 9 9 8 9 8
Voice 10 9 8 9 8
Hights 8 8 8 8 8
Bass 8 9 9 8 9
Presence 9 9 8 9 8
Transient 8 9 9 8 9
Clarity 9 9 8 9 8
Airy 9 9 8 8 8
Detail 9 9 9 9 8
Unveil 9 9 8 8 8
Realism 10 9 8 9 8
Calm 8 8 9 9 9
Control 8 8 8 8 8
Engagement 9 9 8 9 8
8,7 8,6 8,3 8,6 8,2
19 Likes

Another great review by one of the best! Your diligence, scientific approach and attention to detail is envious. I am glad you are willing to share such hard work with the hive.

3 Likes

Wow, Luca! What a tremendous job in the doing and the reporting!

1 Like

Thanks for the effort, Luca.

I lost a fiber of the thread somewhere: What is the Sablon kit in the signal path?

TIA

1 Like

Sorry Scotte,

I went for short words mixing cables and filter and others.

Sablon is an Ethernet cable Sablon 20… (I can’t write the complete year as I promised, just for good luck), I have 2 of them: 1,5 mt and 0,5 mt. I mostly used the longest one in all my tests.

Pink Faun and Sablon are both Ethernet cables, along with Muon Streaming.

1 Like

Roger that.

Thanks again.

Scott

1 Like

My friend Luca, I always enjoy your reviews tremendously, and they provide valuable and detailed information that truly benefits those who what to improve their system. Come to think of it, I have made a few purchases based on your previous reviews. :wine_glass:

This is another excellent review on how, where, and what to do to improving a high-resolution streaming setup. We have discussed before, the entire streaming chain (not just in front of the streamer) can be improved by implementing good passive filter, active switch, and digital cables. The key is how to combine them, and your review is immensely helpful.

Digital cables are as important as switches and filters too as I found myself.

Many said everything matters in high-end audio, and in streaming world it seems it matters even more!

2 Likes

"[quote=“luca.pelliccioli, post:1, topic:35513”]
C) MUON PRO + EXT-2 TOGETHER

Router > Sablon+EXT2+Sablon > PhoenixNET > Pink Faun > Muon Pro > Statement

Just to get rid of the whim, I also experimented with using both filters together in the chain.

The background is truly black and a nice sense of control and sharpness is evident. The bass is rounded but the sound is less engaging because it seems to lack realism and convincing naturalness. More digital, so to speak. The vocals are less believable and flat, although very clean with lots of detail and wonderful instrument separation."

Here is a good example that two filters together may not benefit the system.

My question is do you have Pink Faun isolator in the chain also? I remember you need to take out Pink Faun isolator from the chain in the past.

1 Like

Thanks, Donald. I must remind you that YOU created the monster (among the other few members here)! Without your help and the good advice you have always generously dispensed, I would still be listening to a much lower quality system.

That said, I agree with you: two filters in my system don’t work.

As for the Pink Faun LAN Isolator (which I’ve loved for 2 years) let me say it was removed in all of my tests mentioned above, I’m using it simply plugged into the router port that powers my iPad (yes, I’m using it as a controller without WiFi and connected via an AQ Diamond RJ45 that I had as a spare, needless to say it’s overkill).

2 Likes

I surely did not anticipate that you have turned into Garzilla of the streaming here. With your Stealth cable coming soon, Al may have to select you to be his Vice President! :laughing:

1 Like

Heresy, let’s not joke! There must be a lot of water under the bridge, at most I can aspire to be the President’s bagman!

1 Like

Looking forward to your Stealth cable review. Depends on your review on Al’s beloved Stealth, he will decide your position in his cabinet :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

That’s a heck of a review, Luca. Excellent work.

I may have to look into the Muon Pro and the ethernet cables you mention, but for now, I’m still astounded on how big of a difference the PhoneixNet made to my setup. 4 days with it in the system and I’m still blown away by how much better the system sounds; and I was happy with the system before the Phoenix.

3 Likes

Luca,

What a great review! As you know, I’m trying to create an effective and realistic combination of network switches and ethernet filters to optimize the sound of my streaming system. Your detailed comparisons are incredibly helpful to me, especially since some of my newer gear has not yet had time to fully “run-in.”

As I’ve mentioned before, I added a PhoenixNet switch to my system a couple of weeks ago (to replace an English Electric 8Switch) and discovered that my existing Network Acoustics Eno ethernet filter created some compatibility issues when used between the PhoenixNet and my Innuos Zen server/streamer. With this configuration, I experienced a significant number of events where the Innuos Sense app could no longer find the Zen server in my network, which made it impossible to play music. Rich at Network Acoustics told me that the problem was the result of the way in which the Eno filters the ethernet signal, which produces some attenuation in the amplitude of the analog signal that carries the ethernet data. This problem was not resolved by simply moving the Eno filter to a position between my router and the PhoenixNet. What I did discover, though, was that I could use the Eno filter without problems if I placed it right after the router and used my EE 8Switch between the Eno and the PhoenixNet.

Two days ago, I received a new Muon Pro streaming system (including Muon Pro ethernet cable) from Network Acoustics. It’s still running-in, but I’ve already figured out that it does not produce problems in finding my server on the network no matter where the Muon Pro is installed in my system. I’ve also decided to leave the EE 8Switch upstream of the PhoenixNet and to place the Eno filter (and Eno ethernet cable) between the router and the 8Switch. The current configuration is: modem > router > Eno filter system (with Eno cables) > EE 8Switch > Blue Jeans 6a ethernet cable > PhoenixNet > Muon Pro filter system (with Muon Pro cables) > Zen server/streamer.

Once all the gear have been more fully run-in, I will try removing or re-arranging the components to see what sounds best in my system. The system sounds very good already, and the Eno filter and the EE 8Switch seem to be making contributions beyond the effects of the PhoenixNet and Muon Pro. I’ll be sure to post any further results here, but I can guarantee that I won’t be able to match the care and detail of your comparisons, Luca.

2 Likes

Glad to hear that from you, enjoy!

It seems you have multiple variables to consider! Give the Muon Pro the right time to burn in.

Curious to know your thoughts as soon as you find out which combination works best in your system. Different rooms, different ears, imply different solutions!

1 Like

It’s really exciting. I have had various filters in my setup but the MUON Pro streaming system is a game changer. In the meantime I also upgraded my switch (having used EtherRegen with Farad Super3 and a number of others) to the new Network Acoustics Tempus. Which further propelled sound quality.

3 Likes

Wow. I am looking for an excuse to set my EtherREGEN and its clock and its power supply aside. I have the MUON Pro System already. I guess I’ll order the switch.

2 Likes

You have the Muon Ethernet system and now a Stealth USB. Salutations, but why both? Excuse my ignorance.

I thought we talked about this. Hmmm.

Some lads like to spend money and energy building an expensive and extensive local network to get them closer to the top of the steps in fine audio sound. A worthy goal! I am under the opinion that you put a MUON Pro system in front of your Streamer, it does all that is necessary on its own, negating the need for all that other bother. But the MUON folks now have an expensive switch that a member of our forum now has both in his system. I am curious to learn about this.

I thought that I mentioned to you not to worry about your network. Get a MUON Pro and put it between your router (not your switch), and your MU2. But do this after you just use a normal Ethernet cable for awhile.

You just need it in front if the MU2. Your MU2 will directly feed your BHK 600s, a very tidy system. I would be surprised if a network that consists of a Router with the MUON Pro and an MU2 would be improved by any switch. But I believe the answer to that question will come shortly. I am praying the fancy switch adds little.

I bought the Stealth USB when I heard what a new friend was offering it for. <$1400. I am using USB between the Bacch4Mac and the Wacky Tambaqui.

5 Likes

I very much agree. And there is a review at Tempus Is Everything | The Ear which is the same I am thinking.

2 Likes