LHY SW-6: Snake Oil or A Substantial Upgrade?

I’ve been testing LHY SW-6, supposedly an audiophile switch with a built-in LPS and OCXO clock to improve the sound quality in your chain. For the record, I’ve come a long way in my belief about what is snake oil and what is a real technology. And the longer I’ve been in this game, the less confident I have become in my convictions and beliefs. If you had asked me a year ago, I would have said, network switches and ethernet cables are total snake oil. In fact, I used to be pretty antagonistic towards the manufactures that charge premium price to ‘deceive’ naive and uneducated consumers for a quick profit. Fast-forward, many of my self-formulated conclusions have been slowly dismantled over the years, and I now see that network gears do make a difference. A significant one in fact.

SW-6 sits in-between the older SW-8 and the larger SW-10. It’s the newest of the three, but also has the in-house designed switch rather than the Cisco variants found in the other two. What led me to embark on this experiment was the improvement I had on sound when I decided to put my Netgear GS108 on a linear power supply. I decided to go one step further and try the SW-6. The difference was not subtle. Sound stage and instrument separations all improved. But, the biggest improvement was in the overall ease (effortlessness) of the music. The highs became smoother and free of any sibilance, the midrange became richer and the bass became tighter and faster with enhanced definitions. This became apparent when I turned up the volume on my DS MK1 DAC and BHK Pre to a level that would be uncomfortable to my ears prior to having the switch in the chain. In fact, the improvement was much bigger than when I had upgraded the LPS for my Auralic G2. I am currently running this network feed into PI4 streamer → Matrix X-SPDIF (via AQ Diamond USB and RAL HDMI) into my fully modded DS Dac MK1 → BHK Pre → Purify AMP. And it betters my old reference with Auralic G2 in the chain. I’ve been comparing the sound with the exact system fed through a generic ethernet cable fed from the router without the switch, and it’s hard to listen to the sound. The moment I bring back the SW-6 back into the system, everything relaxes and becomes more fluid and three dimensional. LHY SW-6 will be staying in my system permanently.

I used to believe that speakers and amps make the most improvement. That may still be the case, but for my system, the greatest dividends came from cleaning up my power (mains conditioner and good LPS for source components) and now the network improvement.

So if you already have a resolving system, and are thinking about the next big upgrade, try improving your source by getting a decent regenerator/conditioner (I use Puritan PSM156 and providing a good LPS for your streamer/netowrk components) and introduce a decent purpose-built network switch like LHY (or EtherRegen which I have not tried). This will cost you a fraction of what you will pay for the speaker/amp upgrade.

Thanks for reading my unorganized impression of another potential ‘snake-oil’ product. Hope this will help someone who’s looking for some hands-on experience.

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There’s a guy on HeadFi who has the SW-6 and the SW-8. He felt the 6 was possibly more neutral and correct, but he felt it was (in his words) “boring” compared to the 8, which again according to him brought tears to his eyes. :man_shrugging:

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Thank you for the review. I have a LHY SW-10 now, and it has made a remarkable improvement working with my Lumin U2 streamer. I’m waiting for my 2nd switch, a LHY SW-6, and I will pair it with SW-10. Your review gives me confidence that it may improve my streaming chain even further!

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My SW-6 has not brought any tears to my eyes, but definitely some smiles. :slight_smile:

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I’ve thought about adding a second SW-6 to create an optical isolation. I’d love to hear your thought after connecting the SW-6. Currently, I can hear an audible improvement even keeping my Netgear being powered by LPS before SW-6. So all my ethernet connections go to the Netgear switch, then one line into the SW-6. I use the isolated port to feed my Pi4. Apparently, Paul Pang’s Quad is built on the belief that the more switches, the cleaner signal into the audio chain. Not sure how that works, but I have not heard any negative report on the QUAD, so I definitely think you will have some improvement. Will look forward to your feedback here.

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It has traveled for over three weeks already, and there is no further update. I hope it did not get lost. My BNC cables (ordered two different ones to compare) arrived a while ago. I will use both fiber optic isolation as well as their clocks together. I will surely report if there is any improvement (or none).

Ouch, mine took no more than a week (3 days in transit via DHL once shipped from HK). Hope you can get yours soon.

I have long been less than excited about various high end Ethernet cables. I use them despite a thought that they really are nowhere near magical. The MUON Pro System is magical. It is currently being fed from the four port side of my EtherREGEN + clock + power supply setup. So many little boxes and cables. Bah. I also use an English Electric switch elsewhere. For a while I was using Fiber but my bunny always finds a way to devore those. On som days I thought fiber was better. But not by much.

So far the most impressive network device I have added to my system is the MUON Pro System. And it is really obvious to me. I might give a LHY SW-6 a try.

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Before I purchased LHY SW-6, I had a few emails with Weng Fai of Beatechnik. He said SW-10 with its better clock is still their best sounding switch, and he said by adding SW-6, I can synchronize both clocks and fiber link them. He implies this combo will beat many big boys out there.

I hope it didn’t get lost. :pray:

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I read an extremely confusing review tonight, 6moons. I can never make much sense of what they write. I should ask them which substances they abuse so I might be able to understand better. Anyway, the review starts out about the SW-10, then switches to the SW-6, then talks about how much better the combination of both is to using one or the other.

To this I say Bah.

Beatechnik is who I was thinking of dealing with. But they want nearly $200 more than those shysters at AliExpress. It seems LHY is an offshoot of Jays Audio. I would like to buy it directly from Alvin, who I am so impressed with. I think I may buy one or two of them. (They are small) The SW-10, not so much.

I read one review that talked about Eelco Grimms thoughts on external clocks. (He makes and sells them) For home audio gear he thinks it’s absurd, a money grab. The Clock should be inside the device, on the circuit board. Not external. External clocks are for recording studio gear. I like Eelco. The SW-6 has a nice clock in it. I have an external clock on my EtherREGEN using a Shunyta Sigma clock cable. I could play with that I suppose. I really want to get rid of the EtherREGEN. I don’t really have a reason to, it’s just my desire.

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6 Moon review was confusing for sure, so I decided to do my own review to make it clear😆

SW-10 only sells from Beatwchnik, but SW-6 sells everywhere. I bought SW-6 from the everywhere site and now it gets no where. I will give it another week before I file a complaint to start the painful process of getting my money back from other side of the world.

I do not understand this external clock business just like I don’t understand the grounding device business. Why don’t they put the best clock in a $10k (and higher) device in the first place? You have to get another $10k external clock to make it whole? Isn’t grounding just some cheap wires connection to a rod underground? But we audiophiles are known to be crazy. Most people do not even believe cables make any difference. :laughing:

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The Clocks are nowhere near $10k. Closer to $2k.

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Is that all! I must have used one of the more expensive examples out there. LHY switch comes with a clock too, and it is cheap!

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That was my whole point.

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Never thought to give a try to the new Stealth ULTRA Ethernet cable?

George promised to send me three of them and then never followed through. So I am going to buy a couple through Sean under the name Hal Hangen.

I assume you enjoy yours? Seems likely.
I also want to order the two tuner USB cable.
Two Tuners. Sure.

By the way, Networks Acoustic, makers of the MUON Pro, have released a new switch that lists for >$3K. I may try that as well.

(In Black of course)

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That is one expensive switch made by people with little pedigree in the industry. I am not sure why LHY decided to design the switch in SW-6 in house rather than using the proven Cisco board, but they seem to have done a good job. The sound has really opened up since I received the unit, and AB comparison with and without the SW-6 has proven that the unit really works wonders. You don’t have to have trained ears to hear the difference. SW-6 produces a very calm and relaxed presentation without any part of the tonal frequency exaggerated. I am still playing with configurations cascading multiple switches, ethernet cables, and isolated port. BJC Cat 6a seems to be an excellent match for the switch. Currently, the best combination is Router → Netgear GS108 (LPS powered) → SW-6 (port 1) → Isolated port out into streamer. SW-6 has no other ethernet cable going in and out. I am still in shock over how ethernet switch can make such a difference in sound.

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The LHY switches look like decent values. However, based on Jason Kennedy’s review on the-ear website, it seems likely that the new NA Tempus switch will sound better than most other network switches, including the LHY offerings. Specifically, Kennedy stated that the Tempus “has exceeded what I have heard with other high end network switches.”

Based on my own experience with network switches, they have performed a useful function in reducing noise in my streaming system before it gets transmitted downstream to the DAC. In fact, I am now using two switches (an EE 8Switch and an Innuos PhoenixNet) between my router and Innuos streamer/server. Even with two switches in the system, though, the sound quality still benefits from using a good ethernet filter (such as the NA Muon Pro) upstream from the streamer.

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It is $3200+ in the US vs $550-$800 for the LHY SW-6. I could buy a lot of music for the difference in price. But I may end up with a Tempus.

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