Tuesday, July 7, 2015

UpTone Audio USB REGEN


USB isn't always what it is cracked up to be. Not too long ago, asynchronous mode USB audio seemed to be the perfect solution for all problems in audiophile life. The problem is that the quality of implementation varied tremendously. Some DACs pulled it off really well, while some were just underwhelming compared to their SPDIF inputs. 

Anyway, you can never keep a good audiophile down, and many resorted to offboard USB to SPDIF convertors to save the day. In fact, you will find numerous threads debating on the sonic differences between the various devices on the market.

Let's throw another device into the fray.


The UpTone Audio USB REGEN is a small nifty device that fits between your computer / streamer and the USB input of your DAC. It combines a USB hub chip with an ultra-low noise regulator and low-jitter clock to regenerate your data signal. 

Instead of drawing on the voltage of your PC / streamer, it takes the power from an external power supply and provides a regulated and cleaner 5V to your DAC. A switch mode power supply brick manufactured by Meanwell is supplied to do the job, although UpTone encourages you to experiment with a nicer linear power supply. 

Also included in the package is a male / male USB A / B adapter, so that you can directly hang the REGEN from your DAC, as well as a 6 inch cable in case you don't have the space to do that.

The REGEN has a LED to indicate operation, and a DC socket to accept a voltage from 6-9V DC. You could even use a 12V DC supply provided you a certain that your USB input draws minimal or no power at all.

Sound Quality

I tried the REGEN with a variety of equipment, both DACs and a USB / SPDIF convertor. Similar to my experience with the Astin Trew Concord Powered USB cable system (review here), the REGEN made an improvement in all situations, even for equipment which did not draw power from the computer over the USB cable. It made an obvious improvement even for the Linnenberg Vivace DAC, which boasts a galvanically isolated USB circuit.  

To be continued ...

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