SoTM ISO-CAT7 Christmas Special Edition Review

I have been holding off from upgrading my Bridge2 card because the plan was to trade in the DS/Bridge to the new PSA streamer and the DS MK 2. But the new products have been delayed for quite some time and I am getting bored with my streaming SQ. I added an Acoustic Revive Lan-isolator 6 months ago and it made good improvement, but my jaw was not even slightly dropping. So, when a forum member mentioned the new SoTM Iso-Cat7 filter, I just have to try it.

It arrived promptly two days ago, and it also came with a short dCBL-CAT7u cable. I didn’t know “u” is their latest network cable and that was a pleasant surprise. I replaced the AR filter with the sotm and let it run for a couple days. This morning I made a comparison between the two isolators for a few hours, and one is a clear winner.

How does SoTM Iso-Cat7 isolator sound compared to AR Isolator? My jaw is dropping this time. Not only did I hear better resolution, more ambiance, and a better soundstage, but I also heard an analog like and more relaxing sound. The filter box and the cable are doing an excellent job in noise isolation and fine tuning of the music, which makes the streaming a lot more enjoyable. I was able to listen for long hours without the urge to move to PST/Dragon48, which never happened in the past.

But my setup is elementary, just an Orbi satellite to the Bridge card in DS. will it be more (or less) effective in Switch/DDC/LPS/Streamer setups? I don’t know. In SoTM website it describes the ISO-Cat7 performance easily surpasses the ISO-Cat6, and the dCBL-Cat7u cable is an upgraded cable from their Cat7. In such case the “Christmas Edition” package is a great deal, because it is at quite a lower price than the Cat6 “special edition”. I would even argue that it is a bargain.

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No comment? Okay, I just want to say I put my Acoustic Revive Isolator for sale in Audio Mart and it was sold in like one minute! It has a big following in Asia as I understand.

I can’t get over the technical tripping over themselves they wrote as a description of this product. I don’t doubt you hear an improvement and congrats for that; always a good purchase if it sounds better. But the product description SoTM published shows they don’t understand ethernet or digital audio enough to convince me this is anything but a coupler with some electronics inside. Bits in / bits out. Someone needs to crack this open or at least provide more details on why they think this does anything useful. Sorry. And I usually like SoTM products.

I hear you. I have no idea why it sounds better than the Acoustics Revive filter in my system. AR doesn’t give a great description either.

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I disagree regarding the description given by AR. Admittedly the Japanese to English translation is rough. But the two concepts dealing with the use of annealed PCOCC and the addition of a choke coil together with the isolation transformer comes across clearly. I’m not doubting your positive experience with the SoTM dCBL-Cat7u cable. All I can say is that I have been pleased with the two AR LAN-isolators I’ve been using in conjunction with Cat8 Ethernet cables. I have an original AR LAN-isolator going to my Oppo 105D and the newer AR RLI-1GB going to the Bridge in my DS DAC.

For anyone interested, here’s a link to the AR page for the isolator.

LAN Isolator RLI-1GB-TripleC | Acoustic Revive

Do you know how this SoTM filter compares to the ENO Ethernet filter from Network Acoustics? I have been very pleased by the improvements in streaming sound quality when using the ENO filter. In my system, the filter has reduced digital harshness while improving clarity and naturalness. Network Acoustics is careful not to claim that their filter works by preventing packet loss on Ethernet networks, but rather by filtering out noise that can travel along Ethernet transmissions and have a negative impact on the analog signals that are output by the DAC. Some users of switches such as the Etherregen report that the ENO isn’t needed if sufficient noise reduction is accomplished through other isolation methods, while other users report that the ENO filter makes the Etherregen unnecessary.

I started a forum thread discussing the ENO filter earlier this year if you want more info about it. I’ve also noticed some discussion on AudiophileStyle of using the ENO filter in combination with several SoTM products to improve network audio.

ENO filter looks like a nice product and no doubt it is doing a good job. The SoTM ISO-Cat7 just came out and I may be the first one hear it here. But I have never tried the ENO products.

I ended up buying Melco S100 last April. With a linear power supply, it’s one of the better upgrades to my digital playback!

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Glad you’re enjoying the Cat7 love my Cat6. I may sell it and upgrade to the 7…

Serhan,

I’ve read other reviews of the Melco S100 as well, and it sounds like a great product, though at an “audiophile” price. I’m sure it’s significantly better than my English Electric 8Switch, but it also costs more.

You haven’t had an opportunity to compare the Melco to the Innuos PhoenixNet have you? I have been very happy with Innuos’ USB version of the Phoenix, and I’ve read positive reviews of the Innuos network switch as well. it looks like the PhoenixNet has a solid internal power supply, so I’d assume its price would be pretty similar to that of the S100 if you add in the cost of a linear power supply. What are you using for a power supply on the S100?

This a tad long, please bear with me!

Unfortunately, I have not listened to PhonixNet nor to PhoenixUSB. They have received glowing reviews, and Innuos seems to be diligently improving its range. Onboard vs. outboard and SMPS vs LPS are all thorny topics. However, to power the S100, I took advantage of the free 12V output on HDPLEX 300. It sounds better than the free SMPS supplied.

S100 cost me about 2k. Cables from Melco were affordable by “audiophile” measures. Given S100 has optical SFPs in and out, I added LAN to SFP media converter but the improvement was NOT so obvious! The spare SFP on the S100 may come handy if I ever buy a streamer with SFP input. I wanted to test the full potential of Bridge II and I am pleased I did.

I need to add that Nucleus+ is a great sounding streamer, but using it as a server (SSD inside or connected via USB) distorts the bass! I have the SSD drive in a Naim Core. John Atkinson says Innuos Statement has slightly better bass definition than the Nucleus+ The test was done with an SSD drive inside Nucleus+.

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Thanks for sharing, looks like you got yourself a really good deal. All sold out now. Hope they might have some extra room on the sleigh and might be able to ship some more of their Christmas special.

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That is not a big surprise. Hopefully they have a New Year Special coming up.

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Is this similar to devices that Jay looked at a few years back?

He certainly got me pursuing different digital cables.

Yes, they look to be similar. I think Iso-Cat7 has not officially come out yet. The Christmas Edition one is red in color, and it could be their introduction of the new isolator. The “u” cable is an upgrade too, but I do not know if this is a replacement of their three-color cables or just a new cable.

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Listening to the Bridge/SoTM today, I am amazed at the changes they made to the streaming music. They now sound more analog than the PST/Dragon 48. Of course, PST is better overall, but they sounded better than a couple of days ago.

More than just filtering out noises, Iso-CAT7 filter along with the CAT7u cable is doing some serious tuning control. But you would not get much information from their online description, and they do that on purpose, I think.

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Most of these devices include a clock and/or jitter removal circuitry, but manufacturers stay tight lipped as competition is quite fierce!

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I checked in SoTM site to see if they have the iso-Cat7 filter available for sale, and it is out of stock again. It seems this product is very hot. If anyone got one I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

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I also have the iso-CAT7 filter including Ethernet cable on my wishelist…

This seems a reasonable alternative, no?:

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