The Taiko Audio Extreme server has already gained and is still keeping the end-game status of a music server for several years for various reasons. Along with the cost-no-object approach, most importantly for the exceptional sound quality that is for an impressive amount of customers from all over the world, still unmatched.
Now, after years of successfully catering and virtually conquering the top-tier high-end digital audio audiophile music server market, Taiko Audio, under the baton of Emile Bok, is shaking up the industry again with two new Taiko branded products: the Taiko Audio Extreme Network Card and the Extreme Switch.
The Taiko Audio Extreme Music Server has already pushed the envelope, but the indefatigable and ever-forward-thinking entrepreneur Bok also envisioned these two matching products as the end game product, investing nearly two years of his life and an immense amount of funds into developing the new network card and switch.
The biggest question that many audiophiles and music lovers keep asking is how far you can go with digital audio and how dependent digital front ends are on devices like network switches and cards.
I certainly expected nothing less than an exemplary product from Taiko Audio, but I did not expect it to be such a transformative devices.
My initial reaction when I connected the Extreme Switch to the Ethernet via the RJ45 port where the data is then internally transcoded and send to the Taiko Audio Extreme server via the optical output was quite a stunner, to say the least.
The first thing I wrote in my listening notes was the comment “organic”.
With the insertion of the Extreme Switch and Network Card, something changed for the better in the realms of both even and odd harmonics. A new sense of richness was introduced along with expanded airiness, extended dynamism, and a not-a-small triumph in the terms of fatigue-free experience normally closely associated with analog front ends.
As I have mentioned and written about so many times, we have finally reached a point where the old clash of the Titans, analog versus digital, is no longer as meaningful as it once was.
Digital can finally reproduce music with a sense of natural, fatigue-free interaction that establishes an involving and intimate affinity, opening the doors to a genuine kind of listening experience where the music becomes the main focus, rather than the listener being forced to focus on analytical sonic attributes.
And the Taiko Audio Extreme Switch and Network Card, combined with the Extreme music server, are an excellent vessel for propelling the music in its absolute force.
The newly introduced Taiko Audio Extreme Switch Network Card with the Extreme Music server forms a highly unique, powerful, and potent combined core that finally takes the enigma and optimal Roon integration out of the equation for me.
Many have experienced that, as with many software players, the different versions can change the sound and not exactly provide the best podium to experience and unleash the music to its full potential.
Roon is undoubtedly an industry standard with its sophisticated user interface, meta-tagging, a fantastic radio function that works like magic. All this and much more makes it a one of the kind software player solution, but it can be a challenge to use it in sync with the rest of the digital components.
With the new Taiko Audio Extreme Card and Switch connected to the Extreme Server, in my habitat, Roon finally plays music without distractions. The music at last flows (regardless of different versions) and there is an instant connection with the music, offering direct access to the world of music and making it shine.
Over the years I have tried many different audiophile switches and their associated paraphernalia. In the end, I ended up connecting Ethernet directly to the music server, and the benefits of this direct connection were particularly evident with the Taiko Audio SGM music server.
The effect or phenomenon is very similar to power distribution devices and cables, where raw electricity can be obstructed, causing the music to sound less engrossing.
With network switches, of course, everything relates to data transmission, but the result is very similar to the effect of power-related products.
Of course, the high-end audio system must be at a certain level for these changes to be reflected in reality, but as many of you have already experienced, the differences are not so small.
They are reflected in the way the music is reproduced and, most importantly, in the way it enters our intimate listening chamber.
We seem to consciously and unconsciously accept or reject if there is something wrong with the way the data is transmitted and how the digital data is translated into music is transmitted to our sensory system.
Even when we accept and adapt to the shifts, the nuanced underpinning is always there and relates to the way we decipher that information. This can be seen as an error correction mechanism, where the mind works within a very narrow field of acceptance and rejection, which are the basic operating principles of the mind.
Therefore, we either respond to the music in a sincere, real, and appealing way or our brain decodes it as alien, as fatigue, which can probably be called digitalitis.
When it comes to scientific thinking and rationality, there are numerous research papers dealing with this phenomenon, and it has been thoroughly explored in various ways, including scanning the body’s responses with MRI machines while the participant was exposed to music coming from various sources. Not just the mind, the complete human body as an undivided system responds to the way we receive music and how it affects us.
If the music is not reproduced properly, there is something that causes an unpleasant reaction that manifests itself in an unwelcome interaction where the listening experience becomes crispy, the music can sound distant, we feel disconnected from the performers and the original message does not reach the listener.
The Taiko Audio Extreme Switch and Network Card manage to engage the sensory apparatus in what can truly be called an upper-level liquid music experience.
At the highest level of digital operation, especially with the rapidly rising prices of the digital front end that can go stratospheric, end users are increasingly demanding and their expectations are loftier than just high.
Understandably, music lovers, audiophiles, and people who venture into the ultra-high-end audio spheres feel set back in the face of the many products that are offered in the wild but do not really deliver anything substantial.
In my initial article, I wrote that I had very high expectations for the Taiko Audio Extreme Switch and Network Card, and I can report that the high threshold was successfully met.
I had a little doubt that Taiko Audio’s owner and high-end audio entrepreneur Emile Bok, would bring something to market that would not be on par with the Taiko Audio Extreme server, but the result is always only merited in the real world scenario.
The Taiko Audio Extreme Switch and Network Card bring a significant leap in performance when playing streamed or locally stored music. There is simply more information, and more solidity that allows for the creation of a higher number of acoustic nodes, and the way the zeros and ones are handled is significantly relevant to the final sonic outcome.
In high-end audio, we often deal with change for change’s sake, but whit Extreme Switch, Network Card, and Extreme Server, everything works in perfect sync and makes the music a more harmonious whole, delivering a more coherent listening experience that can truly be called state of the art.
And as the icing on the cake, the high-tech is housed in an extremely heavy, impressive 20 kg chassis made of pure copper, which is chrome-plated and polished to a luxurious high gloss, making it a real eye-catcher. The Network Card is also encased in a massive copper case, which makes it likewise impressive..
- Extreme Switch + Network Card (Bundle) – €6,400.00
- Taiko Audio Extreme Switch €4,800.00
- Taiko Audio Extreme Network Card €1,600.00
- Dimensions 21 x 21 x 6 cm / 8.27 x 8.27 x 2.36 inch
- Weight: 15,7 Kg / 34.61 lbs
- 2 SFP+ ports
- Standard 12VDC SMPS Power Supply included
- Power consumption 1.3 – 3.6w
- Standard DC barrel polarity (middle pin positive +)
- 5.5 / 2.5mm DC connector
- Input voltage range 12-19VDC (12V is optimal)
- The Taiko Extreme Switch facilitates a Gigabit / 1000Mbps SFP connection. It is not compatible with 100Mbps network components.
- The provided connectivity is one in and one out. To this end, the switch contains one SFP+ input module slot and one SFP+ output module slot that both can be fitted with a range of options.
- The input SFP+ slot can be fitted with either an RJ-45 connector module or a Fiber connector module.
- The output SFP+ slot can be fitted with either an RJ-45 connector module, a Fiber connector module, or a DAC Cable in a variety of lengths ranging from 0,5 – 7m.
Extreme Network Card
- Dimensions l x b x h cm
- Weight: 0.8 Kg
- 1 SFP+ port
- suitable for PCIe slot
- The Extreme Network Card is preferably installed in Slot 2, in place of the old SFP card. Power to the card is provided by a split DC cable that substitutes the single cable that powered the USB cable and will then power both the USB card and network card.
- There is a single SFP+ module slot that can be fitted with either an RJ-45 connector module or a Fiber connector module.
Taiko Audio B.V.