EtherREGEN: Huge success, new firmware for November units, reviews November 26 2019
It is official: The EtherREGEN is UpTone Audio's biggest launch success ever!
Over 750 units ordered since mid-October. We are amazed, humbled, and overwhelmed. Clearly the nearly two years of development work that went into EtherREGEN have proved worthwhile—most especially for the 250 people who have received and installed this unique switch in their music systems. While we are seeing great reports worldwide, here is the link to the most active EtherREGEN Listening Impressions topic in our forum. There you can read the reactions and detailed reviews from users with modest-to-mega systems. Whether an Ethernet-input DAC such as dCS, PS Audio, or Devialet is used, or a top custom music server, or simple streamer, or just a laptop computer is used, the EtherREGEN is proving to be an "ear-opener" for all who try it.
Those of you who have followed the EtherREGEN launch may know that we are doing our very best to build and deliver 250 units per month to all our valued clients (and our key overseas dealers). We were on time or a few days ahead of schedule with the first batch in November, and we are on-track to ship the next 250 units by the December 12th date promised to second-batch buyers. This is taking many full days—plus some evenings and most weekends—but keeping promises and making our loyal customers happy really matters to us.
Just before sitting down to write this, we made a count of all orders beyond what will be filled in December. That is, all the January-promised orders which have been placed since the launch day (when we sold out November and December in the first hour!). Without even counting some of our dealer orders, it looks like January is about sold out as well.
We have cases and circuit boards arriving in December to cover January production, but we have yet to focus on ordering parts for February. Honestly we never expected to have to plan so far in advance! Many of the specialized parts used on the EtherREGEN are expensive and have long lead times. Yet if we begin ordering parts now, February production should not be any problem. Our web site's product/order pages will always state when to expect shipment—so you will know prior to placing your order.
Thank you all for your orders and your patience. We are truly grateful and promise it will be worth the wait.
FIRMWARE FILE UPDATE (Only for November-delivered EtherREGEN units—the first 250):
EtherREGEN underwent field beta-testing for several weeks with a group of users selected for their wide range of system configurations. That beta-test cycle was a success with no functional issues reported. However, having a few hundred users install the product in a much wider range of systems did turn up a connectivity problem for a few people (about 20 by my record).
Our research into the issue lead us to a late errata sheet from the manufacturer of the main switch chip we use, and subsequently we discovered the source of the problem. It has to do with a low-level hardware negotiation protocol called Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE). Some Ethernet devices (computers, NAS, routers, etc.) use EEE, while some do not. When two Ethernet devices are connected to one another, they give indication to each other about if they support EEE. If one of the devices does not, then EEE is simply not used for that connection. The trouble arose with the EtherREGEN because, while the switch chip we use announces that it supports EEE, its actual implementation of the protocol is broken and unreliable. The issue is one that affects only direct connections to the ‘A’-side copper RJ45 Ethernet ports of the EtherREGEN. So while loss of connection to the DAC-attached streamer/render endpoint (or Ethernet DAC) on the ‘B’-side may be experienced, that is only because one or more of the ‘A’-side connections is acting up.
Fortunately we had the foresight to include a means for users to update the firmware (code that gets loaded to key chips each time power is applied to boot the device) without any need to return the product to UpTone.
Despite not being able to consistently replicate the problem ourselves, we created the code file to completely fix the EEE issue. Last Friday we sent it to a dozen users who had been experiencing the loss of connectivity associated with the bug. Those users all reported that the update was a complete success.
While the goal of the firmware update was to fix the EEE bug, digging deep in the recent errata sheet revealed some register code changes that claimed to improve transmit/receive performance of the PHY (Physical Layer Transceiver) circuits for the 'A'-side RJ45 ports served by the main switch chip. UpTone’s engineer, John Swenson, loaded those code changes as well, and those have resulted in a modest sonic improvement.
If you are not experiencing any connectivity issues, then installation of this update is not required. However, as noted above, you may want to install is as we—and many who have tried it so far—hear a modest yet worthwhile change with the new firmware loaded.
As noted in red at top, THIS UPDATE IS ONLY FOR THE FIRST SHIPPED BATCH of EtherREGENs! That is, units shipped and delivered in November, 2019. All EtherREGENs shipped in December and beyond will already be up-to-date with this latest firmware.
Here is the link to a .ZIP file for this update: