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jtwrace

Uptone Audio Regen

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Superdad   

Hi guys:

 

Thanks for all the input, ideas, concerns, etc. We'll get it all sorted out soon. The nice thing is that with a female USB 'A' jack as the output--though our intention is to avoid the use on another cable since John went to the trouble of producing accurate output impedance and the idea is to have the signal recreated as close to the input as possible. Still, a short 4" cable is fine.

 

For fun I just weighed the Regen with case on my postage scale: less than 2 ounces; the A>B adapter (22mm center or 48mm end-to-end with the plugs) I have adds another 1/2 ounce. But as John pointed out to me last night, a heavy USB cable (and to a lesser extent the DC cable to the Regen) will exert some pressure.

 

Since very few DACs have their USB inputs with the 'D' facing sideways (unless their input PCB is vertical inside the DAC), use of an adapter is going to places the Regen in a horizontal position, with its 57mm x 18 mm oval face about 30mm from the back of the DAC's chassis. A small block of wood or foam underneath (maybe secured by a rubber band?) could support it for those who are concerned about forces.

Remember though, this device is going to live unseen behind your DAC, and will not be plugged and unplugged frequently like a dongle-DAC/headphone amp would be.

 

[Of course John--being John--suggested that we create and offer a 3D model file of a little cradle block with a formula to calculate its height based on user measurement of the lip of their DAC's USB jack; Then give them a link to one of the 3D printer service vendors for them to order their custom cradle block--in any color they wish--to snap in their Regen. I think I could cut a piece of foam and dig up a rubber band in the time it took me to describe his idea ;) ]

 

I could include any sort of cable or adapter, but of course that just gets added to the price. And if I stock and include a bunch of pieces that cost me $6, they will have a $10 impact on the price. Just math and basic business. :)

 

Almost HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all!

 

--Alex C.

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Jud   

So even with the adapter inserted into the DAC, that would be over an inch between the DAC and the face of the Regen.

 

I like the idea of a cradle, though I think to go along with the general aesthetic and design ideas behind my DAC, I'll likely have my own made out of wood.

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Superdad   
So even with the adapter inserted into the DAC, that would be over an inch between the DAC and the face of the Regen.

 

I like the idea of a cradle, though I think to go along with the general aesthetic and design ideas behind my DAC, I'll likely have my own made out of wood.

 

Right, and if there are no other cables going into jacks closer than 1" to the left or right of the DAC's USB input, then there should be no fit/interference issues at all. If there are interference issues, then just use a very short cable.

 

And just to be clear, I will not be offering cradles!

 

--Alex

 

P.S. Jud: Have you listened to that Joe Henry CD I sent you yet?

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BobL   
Right, and if there are no other cables going into jacks closer than 1" to the left or right of the DAC's USB input, then there should be no fit/interference issues at all. If there are interference issues, then just use a very short cable.

 

And just to be clear, I will not be offering cradles!

 

--Alex

 

P.S. Jud: Have you listened to that Joe Henry CD I sent you yet?

 

Thanks to John's comment I now see that my suggestion of a 90º rotation was not very practical!

With the 30mm gap to the DAC rear panel, I'm probably just OK, but anybody with a Benchmark (USB socket so close to the mains socket that fancier sorts of mains plugs might make it difficult to insert a USB B plug!) will certainly need a cable.

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hifial   
Wow guys, thanks for your enthusiasm! Gives me motivation to move the project along quickly. And I know this early interest will please John too.

John has done his part (I think I mentioned that I just got back from him a final prototype with big cap to improve PDN, and he has already rearranged the board layout), so I could start PCB production any time.

I'll get going on quotes for the milling and printing of the required openings for the end caps, and will start to add up costs so a price can be set.

 

I promise to keep you all updated.

Have a great holiday!

--Alex C.

 

Alex, please add me to the updates.

 

Thanks.

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Superdad   
Hopefully there has been progress made on this product

 

Yes Jason, things are moving along nicely. Have added a power-on LED, and John improved the power distribution network with a 220uF cap. Have been listening to it with a Geek Pulse on my desktop system (after I replaced the tweeter the Pulse fried due to volume control/firmware bug). It is amazing the difference the Regen makes even with my AudioEngine P$ speakers two-feet away from me.

I am really excited about this device! Now that I am done getting a bunch more JS-2 units built and shipped, I can turn towards moving the Regen into production.

We promise it won't be long. You guys are going to LOVE this thing.

 

Have a great weekend,

 

--Alex C.

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Superdad   
We cant wait. Any idea of price ballpark?

 

Sorry to be slow in reply. I hope to be able to announce pricing within a couple of weeks. Waiting on vendor quotes.

 

On Monday I finally tested out in my main system the Geek Pulse DAC (delivered to me late December). Was fun to at long last be able to experiment with HQ Player converting Redbook to DSD128. Very nice, but very processor intensive.

Anyway, I tried the pre-production prototype USB Regen with the Geek Pulse. Oh yeah!!

 

Its funny, because the Regen cleans up so much that at first my reaction is "Can that be right?" It kind of takes away false "air" and "bloom" and that is initially confusing, as if you are loosing something. Plus it pretty radically alters perspective of the stage in a way that I can't describe but that you hear right away--like putting in a different DAC! In fact, for my system I had to overcome this by sitting about 1/2 meter closer to the speakers (I may want to reduce my almost flat toe-in of the speakers by a few millimeters to spread the stage). But instruments are still so right and intonation so clear and coherency increased--that you just can't point to anything wrong. And the minute you remove the Regen you realize how much it helps.

 

USB cables still make a difference, but with the Regen in the differences are not as stark. For example, I found the Lightspeed 1G that came with the Geek Pulse to be almost unbearable without the Regen after it. (The cheap 20awg Belkin Pro--I used it for years before getting the terrific Supra USB--is far more pleasantly balanced than the $59 Lightspeed 1G.) But with the Regen in I could make it through a couple of tracks before taking the Lightspeed back out.

 

Sadly, the Regen really does sound better powered by my JS-2 LPS than by the $10 Jameco linear wall wart we have been planning to include with the Regen. It is fine with the Jameco, but I got a big grin on my face as soon as I plugged the JS-2 into it.

(John and I are going to talk about alternatives--either pre-made or something small I could build to sell as a upgrade to the Regen. It is tricky, because as soon as I go to put something in a chassis with parts and soldering, etc. the practical price goes way up as I have no economies of scale--even at a couple hundred pieces. So I may just buy and try some other low amperage LPS brand--like a Teradak for $44--that might be worth recommending as an in-between. But it needs to be 6-9V.)

 

Anyway, that's the update for this week.

 

Cheers,

--Alex C.

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BobL   
Sorry to be slow in reply. I hope to be able to announce pricing within a couple of weeks. Waiting on vendor quotes

"***************

Sadly, the Regen really does sound better powered by my JS-2 LPS than by the $10 Jameco linear wall wart we have been planning to include with the Regen. It is fine with the Jameco, but I got a big grin on my face as soon as I plugged the JS-2 into it.

(John and I are going to talk about alternatives--either pre-made or something small I could build to sell as a upgrade to the Regen. It is tricky, because as soon as I go to put something in a chassis with parts and soldering, etc. the practical price goes way up as I have no economies of scale--even at a couple hundred pieces. So I may just buy and try some other low amperage LPS brand--like a Teradak for $44--that might be worth recommending as an in-between. But it needs to be 6-9V.)

 

Anyway, that's the update for this week.

 

Cheers,

--Alex C.

Thanks Alex, very good news. I was going to sell on the Teradak 9VA variable unit which used to power my fan until the MMK made it redundant, but not any more. These are specified as going up to 9v, though the trim on mine takes it well above that. I have no idea whether or not mine is an oddball, but I think it's unlikely that you would not be able to get any of them up to 9v. The secondary is 9v ac, with a separate winding for the 5v usb.

Cheers,

 

BobL

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Superdad   
Is there an input voltage range for the Regen or is it only 6Vdc?

 

6V is about the minimum (because the regulators need to drop that to 5V to pass along--so supplying 5V is not going to cut it), but the regulators we use will handle upwards of 20V. However, I think we would prefer to see it supplied with 6-12V since the regs will get pretty warm dropping a higher voltage--especially if there is an actual load from a DAC that runs on USB VBUS (though I still think most of those are not supposed to draw more than about 800mA--it is just USB power after all).

 

For those just jumping in here, I offer the reminder that while the Regen does provide clean 5V USB power to DACs (or other devices) that need it, USB power is not its primary raison d'être.

My DAC does not use ANY USB power (I can cut/tape the power legs of my USB cable), yet I still enjoy the main function of the Regen. Which is to completely "regenerate" the USB signal right near the DAC--using the most minimal function USB hub chip, a good clock, and ultra-low-noise regulators combined with John Swenson's power network techniques--and to output it with at truly proper an controlled impedance (John makes a big deal out of the impedance aspect and why he uses a 4-layer board; I can't say I understand all of that part of it).

 

That said, the Regen does indeed provide very clean USB power and may deserved to be compared to devices that do just that.

John and I were talking last night about my experience with the Regen via little Jameco wall wart LPS I have here versus the UpTone JS-2. He said that although the Jameco is a linear supply, it of course does not have the 66,000uF of reservoir capacitance that the JS-2 does, and that is likely why I get a nice kick from the bigger supply. (The expensive regulators and on-board caps in the Regen doing a fine job of cleaning.) So he suggested that I experiment with some robust SMPS bricks that I might have around here. Some of those are rated for 3-5 amps or more and might actually sound better.

 

Still, the differences I heard between the Regen powered by the 6V/0.5A Jameco versus the JS-2 were not huge--the device still does its main magic in a big way from either supply. And I am loath to suggest people plug an SMPS into their audio system AC mains circuits--mainly because some of them pollute the power lines.

I'll keep everyone posted with regards further experiments.

 

--Alex C.

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jtwrace   
Alex, what about a clean SMPS like ifI uses with their iUSB power. one with proper parts designed to a higher price point. Simply use their supplier.

 

Do you have one that you can post who the manufacturer is? Is it really that good? Low ripple?

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Superdad   
How does the Regen compare to the AudioQuest Jitterbug?

 

Technically quite different. The Regen--with a USB hub chip, ultra-low-noise regulators, and low jitter clock--produces a completely new USB signal. Think of it as an outboard SOtM or Paul Pang USB card, but at the DACs input jack instead of inside the noisy computer. Schiit Wyrd is much more similar to Regen in terms of function (John feels the Regen has several advantages, but I have yet to compare them).

 

Sonic performance of AudioQuest Jitterbug versus UpTone USB Regen? Who knows--nether are shipping yet! ;)

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