It is rare that a single cable could be as transformative in my audio system as your Omega Ethernet Cable. I am still gobsmacked by the performance of this cable and will try to describe the effect for you. First of all, I am an analogue guy-I’m 64 and have had a good turntable since my Denon direct drive table I bought new in 1980. I never liked CD’s and have always been sensitive to some mid-high frequency `glare’ in digital recordings that most people do not notice. I just prefer the sound of my turntable to anything digital. In the 90’s I was an audio dealer and sold a lot of digital-anyone remember Enlightened Audio Design? Through the years I have had Maplenoll air bearing tables tweaked by Lloyd Walker (early 90’s), Sota Cosmos, VPI Classic, Well Tempered, Forsell (back to air bearing), and others. My table now is the VPI HW-40 direct drive with a Lyra Etna Lambda Cartridge. My entire system is built around getting the most out of that cartridge, as it the single greatest audio component I have ever owned. The sound is fantastic as images are portrayed in a most palpable fashion that is both intellectually and emotionally stimulating. In the spring of 2021 I went all-in with Shunyata, installing the Everest line conditioner with Omega XC, and a full loom of Sigma NR v2 powercords. Then I added Sigma v2 speaker cables which are utterly amazing and brought out the most in my GoldenEar Triton One.R speakers. My walls have disappeared and I get this holographic soundstage that is so addictive. Electronics are Rogue DragoN amp- RP-7 preamp- Modwright PH 9.0X phono stage. My system has 10 small signal tubes (Long plate white label 7316’s-7308’s) all made at the same Amperex factory in Holland 1959-1960. Soundstage layering is absolutely mind blowing, which proves that you don’t have a spend a small fortune on an audio system. You just have to understand synergy between components, set-up, room acoustics, powerline management and mechanical isolation.
But there is so much music on Qobuz and Tidal that I can’t get on vinyl so I thought about getting into streaming with products from Aurender, Lumin, Altair, etc. I have tried a few DAC’s in my system but nothing on the same level as my analogue front end. For me, digital has always been for background music and not critical listening. I have hundreds of Phish concerts on FLAC, for example, But then I got a recommendation from a friend to try the new Rose Hifi 150B DAC/Streamer. I thought, hey, I have an open mind, Maybe it’s pretty good and I can explore new music I couldn’t otherwise get on vinyl. So I made the plunge. I hooked it up to wi-fi and was streaming from Qobuz within minutes. I didn’t hear much of the glare and dryness I associate with digital, but images were a bit flat and lifeless. I played Subdivisions from Rush and I thought the bass was decent. Didn’t sound terrible. Not at all. Full, powerful, dynamic, if a bit soft sounding. Then I put on the same song on vinyl and it sounded so freaking good that I thought about bagging the Rose and waiting a few more years to see if digital could ever work for me. I went through this process of playing hi-rez files from Qobuz then listening to the same tracks on albums and it was very bad showing for the Rose. I was really trying to like the Rose! Perhaps I was expecting too much comparing a $5,000 DAC to a $30,000 analogue front-end. (duh…)
I went on forums and read that to get the most out of a streamer you need ethernet connection, not wi-fi. From my modem/Netgear Nighthawk router upstairs I run a generic 50 ft CAT 6 cable to my basement listening room. So I borrowed a good ethernet switch from SOtM and ordered one from Synergistic Research knowing that I could send it back for a refund if it didn’t work out. I had the $500 SOtM ethernet cable and the sound was instantly improved by both switches.
Then finally after 3 weeks of waiting, the Shunyata Omega ethernet cable shows up. Anything Sigma or especially Omega by this company gets my blood pumping in anticipation.
So I hooked it up to the SR switch and within 5-10 seconds I knew this was the real deal. I mean real as in in everything sounded more realistic than I have ever heard from digital. It sounded so close to my analogue rig that I was now thinking about selling my turntable and albums. Ha-ha got you there! No it wasn’t as good but clearly listenable. Listening went on to 3 a.m. and I had to get up at 6 but didn’t care. I know cables need to break in but this all happened the first day/night and 2 days later it is still mind blowing that just a switch and a cable could impact the sound so profoundly. So what did the Omega ethernet cable do that blew me away and got me liking digital for the first time?
1) Images are fuller, rounder, more believable. Not reach out and touch it like my analogue setup, (Dean Martin – Dream with Dean Analogue Productions 45 rpm when he’s just sitting in a chair giving you your own private concert) but close enough that I’m wondering what if I put an Alpha PC on the DAC and Switch and ran Alpha or Sigma XLR’s to my preamp? Hey, this never ends!! I already ordered a Purple fuse and Arya RevOpods to replace the stock Rose footers. When I get a new component I like to go all-in to see how it really performs.
2) Overall dynamics are exceptional, kind of like that moment when I first hooked up the Everest. A huge grin came across my face when I first heard the Omega cable and I’m sure I was yelling things (good things) at my system like No Way! Are you freaking kidding me?!!!
The noise floor must be lowered and all sorts of digital hash must be gone for this improvement to be on such an order of magnitude. I used to get into social media arguments about analogue vs. digital- what a waste of time! Hey my CD player has 125 db noise floor vs. your 72 db turntable! Yet my front end sounds WAY more dynamic. And now with the Omega cable I am getting hi resolution bass with exceptional dynamic shadings. I played Steven Wilson The Raven That Refused to Sing from Qobuz and it was such a blast to hear the promise of digital finally being fulfilled for me. I’ve been a drummer all of my life and have played in many bands. We play both kinds of music-Rock and Roll. So I put on my go-to drumming tracks, namely anything on Jeff Beck Blow by Blow and it sounded so good through the Rose-SR-Omega and I actually made some notes: “Really good, and Holy CRAP!”. In case you don’t know, the wall to wall drum sound on that album is legendary. Each drum and cymbal occupy their own acoustic space and this was conveyed quite convincingly. Count me impressed. Similarly, the drum sound on Genesis Seconds Out is widely considered to be the greatest live drum sound ever recorded. The song Cinema Show with drummer Bill Bruford occupying the left side of the soundstage, and Phil Collins occupying the right side is truly amazing on vinyl and extremely close on the Qubuz streaming feed. You can distinctly hear each drummer’s complete kit within the soundstage and I was totally surprised that the hi-res file had this much, well, resolution. I cranked up side 4 to about 95-96 db and had a blast rocking out to one of the greatest bands of all time at their absolute prime in 1976-77. At high volume, Mike Rutherford’s Taurus bass pedals go straight through your soul.
3) Overall timbre and resolution is greatly improved. The trumpet and vocal on Dire Straits Your Latest Trick sounds slightly thinner but almost as convincing as the vinyl. Likewise, Ride Across the River didn’t have all ambience as the vinyl but it was still pleasing, and bass resolution is spot on perfect. Also the bass on Paul Simon’s Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes was so good that I didn’t miss my turntable at all.
Cudos to Caelin and the great folks at Shunyata Research. You guys have some of the best customer service in the industry. There is much more I could say but at this point, I’m going to listen to the new Porcupine Tree album on Qobuz and this afternoon I am listening to the newly released Waiting for Columbus by Little Feat. And wait a minute here, I don’t need to buy it on vinyl? That’s sacrilegious! And the digital version has many extra tracks? For free? Hey I might just keep on streaming away all weekend. Hope you enjoyed my review of the fantastic Shunyata Research Omega Ethernet Cable.