RANS-1: Hi-Fi+ Review
Thursday, 13th May 2021
Alan Sircom, editor of Hi-Fi+ magazine, puts the Russ Andrews RANS-1 switch through its paces.
If you run a digital system which is directly connected to your network, there are good reasons for using a network switch between your Wi-Fi router and the piece of Hi-Fi equipment it’s connected to, whether or not you need the additional sockets the switch supplies. That in itself can bring an improvement. Improving the quality of that switch is the obvious next step for anyone wanting to extract the most from their digital audio components and this is where the RANS-1 comes in.
Click here to view a pdf of the full review
There are a growing number of audiophile network switches on the market now - most costing significantly more that the RANS-1 – so how does it fair in this highly competitive market?
Alan begins by recognizing that the route taken here is a well-proven one in audio:
“The RANS-1 approaches the network switch in a classic audiophile way; it separates the boxes into 'gubbins' and 'power supply', then uses higher grade components in both to get the best possible performance out of the 'gubbins' part”.
Specifically, the RANS-1 comprises two, subtle ABS boxes, one containing the eight-port switch – additional shielding and damping to the RJ45 gigabit ethernet ports, audio-grade capacitors, Kimber internal wiring - along with a custom made Trichord clock; the other housing the separate power supply which provides separate feeds to the switch and clock. The two are connected by a Kimber PBJ DC power lead with locking connectors.
For the review, he used the RANS-1 to connect up the Linn’s flagship Klimax DSM audio streamer, reviewed in the same issue, both “to the outside world and to a range of servers (Naim and Melco)”. For comparison with other similar devices, he chose a good quality Netgear and an audiophile standard Melco S100 network switch.
Throughout the testing he found that the RANS-1 “fared extremely well… demonstrating a quieter, more controlled sound throughout”.
Starting by swapping out the Netgear switch for the Russ Andrews unit, he notes that there was “a subtle shift in the right direction, making music more approachable and listenable. It replaced that fake ‘clean’ sound with a sense of balance and musical order”.
Click here to learn more about RANS-1
High Performance & High Value
When it came to a comparison with the Melco S100, the distinctions were more a matter of taste that a clear-cut division between the two – an impressive result given that the S100 costs twice as much. In comparison, the Melco went “more for the sheer detail of a performance and the Russ Andrews going for a more sonorous and relaxed approach” and he adds that “both were musical sounding, just musical in different directions”. That the RANS-1 is regarded on a par with a costlier product from such a well-respected digital audio brand as Melco is high praise indeed.
Overall, it is clear that the RANS-1 is considered as a very useful addition the world of digital audio, a world that is still often viewed as being too cold and analytical for some, especially if they have a penchant for vinyl. In this environment, Alan suggests that the RANS-1 offers a more subtle performance, “gently and quietly improving the lot of streamed audio by making it sound more ‘human’”.
Yes, it shows many audiophile qualities too -"Backgrounds are distinctly quieter, the treble is more refined and less harsh and forced sounding" - but it’s in its ability to present music in an unforced way, with ‘ease’ and ‘rhythm’ where it really excels. As he says,
“in a medium that is often accused of being loud and shouty at times, the RANS-1 shows it’s possible to be deft and delicate”.
“In truth”, he concludes, “I’ve been sort of avoiding the whole audiophile switch due to my own digital preconceptions. Packetised data should be unfazed by its transfer through the network, but the RANS-1 makes a convincing argument that there’s more to the topic than it first appears. This is a true eye-opener”.
Issue: 195, May 2021
Click here to view a pdf of the full review
Click here to buy RANS-1
Click here to read about the Hi-Fi Critic review
Click here to read about the Hi-Fi Pig review
Written By Simon Dalton
reviewed by Wayne Donovan
26 Jul 2021
Currently we don’t have any plans to introduce a bespoke 19” rack mount version as the cost will be quite high and the demand very low. However, I do know that various off the shelf 19” enclosures and brackets exist that could well be either modified or the RANS-1 will fit straight in to. So we’ll look into that. Make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletters to keep up to date with new product developments.