Hi there CDC77,
To first answer your question, yes I have been using a PhoenixNet in conjunction with my Statement and I am delighted with the results.
First lets look at what the PhoenixNet actually represents in terms of value. Its common to refer to the PN as a switch and compare it to other switches, but that really isnt a fair or even valid comparison. Many switches on the market are based on modifications of existing low cost network switches, originally designed solely to work in a network environment, with their audio focus coming by way of add-ons like better clocks, filters, power supplies etc. whereas the PN was designed from the ground up to be a great sounding audio component. How does that actually relate to the PN design?
Firstly the power supplies, designed by PS specialist DR Sean Jacobs, have a unique architecture. Using the finest sounding Mundorf capacitors and very low noise, Statement grade transformers, the supply’s architecture is unique in that the critical regulator stages are placed right next to their ‘user clients’, so both the clock and the network switch chip have their own independent DC supplies…..placed right where they’re needed, so no DC cables or even internal cabling required. The switching chip itself was selected for both its sound and its very low noise output. It is then further screened to prevent EMI radiation and contamination. Power supply transformers are extremely well screened and the PS is optimised for low ripple and very low noise. If you were to add similar power supplies to another switch, you’d need a top quality dual rail supply plus 2 very high quality DC cables. The clocks for both the Ethernet input and output are Connor-Winfield (afaik) units with excellent phase noise characteristics and 3 parts per billion (ppb) accuracy with their intimate DC supplies as mentioned. Again, to reproduce that with another switch would either require an external clock plus 2 high quality clock cables or a built-in Pink Faun OCXO Ultra modification with its external 5V supply rail and DC cable.
Then there’s the RJ45 connectors. These are high quality units, individually mounted to avoid vibration and paired with oversize, audio quality isolation transformers.
Hi-fi’s, including network components are based on a common principal that in terms of resulting sound quality the better the incoming signal, the better the outgoing signal. The PN benefits from this by the fact that the incoming signal is improved via all the above measures and likewise the outgoing signal is improved. To duplicate this would otherwise require 2 cascaded switches….one to improve the input to the 2nd switch, whose output would then be improved.
Finally, the doubly improved data stream gets to the Statement and on the same basis of better in —-better out the stream is once more improved and refined at the Statement‘s input before being processed and output on a similarly optimized USB port. As you can see from the above, the careful combination and optimization of components really does result in a high value unit that is then optimally screened against stray EMI and isolated against vibration by way of specifically tuned footers.
So how does it all sound? In a word wonderful. Adding a PN before the Statement’s input had a huge effect on my level of enjoyment and emotional response to the music. The upgrade transcends the usual hi-fi descriptions …….the Statement already does all that….. and adds a lot of characteristics that relate solely to the quality of the music and the communication of its message and beauty. The music sounds more natural and realistic….it has more body, depth, timbral information, intensity and structure. The music sound more like musicians playing instruments ie its more like ‘a trombone playing music’ than it is ‘music made by a trombone’ …..the music sounds like its being freshly created by the musicians. In addition the playing venue and all its reverberations and characteristics are more clearly portrayed……in other words you hear music being played in a venue that is most definitely not your room.
I have compared the PN to a Melco S100 + PF Ultra OCXO with dual rail DC4 and while they both do very similar things, they do them very differently. The Melco PF is about purity, precision, timing, beauty, drama, impact, precision and rhythmic interplay while the PN is about some of that but with emphasis on the naturalness and organic nature of the music and its musical message….Both do things incredibly well such that an audiophile would likely be extremely happy with either but will have a preference when the 2 are compared. The great thing is that if you cascade the 2 (big $) you do get both qualities….nicely illustrating that the improvements of one are built on top of the improvements of the other. Personally if i had to chose I’d go for a PN simply because I get really great results that I love and it costs a lot less $$$.
Hope this helps