UpTone Audio is proud to announce availability of EtherREGEN. In development for nearly two years, this unique and highly advanced Ethernet switch will exceed expectations—producing surprising audible sonic improvements in fine music systems.
The goals and architecture of the EtherREGEN are completely different than any other Ethernet switch on the planet!
Other “audiophile” Ethernet switches are mostly either just clock and power supply modifications of cheap off-the-shelf switches, or passive magnetics augmented with passive filter parts and a single fancy clock board.
EtherREGEN is an all-new, from the ground-up design, built on a costly 6-layer circuit board, and its components and topology are unmatched by any other Ethernet switch.
The heart of what makes our switch so unusual is the use of ACTIVE, HIGH-SPEED, LOW-JITTER DIFFERENTIAL DIGITAL ISOLATOR chips combined with ULTRA-LOW JITTER DIFFERENTIAL RE-CLOCKING FLIP-FLOPS. No other Ethernet switch on the market attempts this (doing this, and doing it correctly is neither easy nor cheap!). On the circuit board photos you can see the isolators set across the wide “moat.”
Read on to learn the meaning and benefit of “ADIM,” the first marketing acronym we have ever coined…
[Ongoing discussion and questions about EtherREGEN can be found in long thread at our sponsored forum.]
Let’s back up a moment to explain the usage and reason for the EtherREGEN:
On what we call the ‘A’-side, there are 4 Gigabit copper Ethernet ports, plus an SFP cage for a Gigabit LC optical module. A typical user will attach a cable from their main network router or switch, and if desired any NAS (network attached storage) or other devices.
Across the “moat” at the other end of the EtherREGEN is a lone 100Mbps copper Ethernet port. We refer to this as the ‘B’-side port. It is to this port that you will attach whatever is your one computer/streamer/renderer endpoint—the component that is directly connected to your DAC (of course this includes the increasing number of DACs which themselves have an Ethernet input).
So why does this arrangement matter?
There are two types of sound-degrading influences the EtherREGEN is designed to radically decrease: Leakage—both high-impedance and low-impedance—and clock phase-noise. The clock phase-noise travels on the Ethernet signal itself and travels on power and ground planes. [Every edge coming out of any digital device caries the jitter/phase-noise of the clock used to "clock out" that edge; this shows up on the ground-plane and affects the threshold of chips’ clock inputs. This is an oversimplification of a complex subject; we intend to publish a short white paper and measurements to demonstrate this.]
The circuitry across the moat is designed to eliminate the signal-borne phase-noise from one side to the other. EtherREGEN is mostly symmetrical—there is no “dirty side” or “clean side.” While it works identically in both directions, it is best to have the DAC-attached Ethernet endpoint device (computer/streamer/etc.) alone on one side—typically the ‘B’ side.
The circuitry between ports on the ‘A’ side decreases some phase-noise effects to some degree, but not nearly as much as crossing the ‘A’>’B’ moat.
The COMBINATION of the differential isolators and the differential flip-flops is what delivers the unrivaled performance of the EtherREGEN. The differential isolators prevent the data-borne clock signature from getting onto the PCB ground-plane, while the differential flip-flops prevent the signature from getting into the flip-flop’s own internal ground network. It takes both to accomplish the great feats of the EtherREGEN.
Back to technical features:
- EtherREGEN has two entirely isolated data/power/clock domains. And on each side of the isolators we re-clock with 10GHz-capable ultra-low-jitter (less than 0.8 picoseconds) differential flip-flops.
- Importantly, all clocking lines (for the switch chip, the special Ethernet format conversion chips, and the high-speed flip-flops) are carefully run as differential lines—converted to single-ended clocks with special buffers just millimeters from those chips which require SE clocks. The clocking system runs from a special programmable, jitter-attenuating four-output clock synthesizer, referenced to an ultra-low-jitter/phase-noise Crystek CCHD-575 XO.
- Even the magnetics of the 4 Gigabit ‘A’-side ports are special. We chose a module that utilizes 12 transformer cores in each port (most Ethernet ports have 2-6 cores), and ground their center-taps through capacitors in a way that blocks port-to-port AC leakage.
- To support its performance, the power networks of the EtherREGEN are as sophisticated and costly as the rest of the design. We use 12 of the world’s lowest-noise, lowest impedance integrated voltage regulators—the famous Linear Technology LT3045 and LT3042. Supporting both the voltage regulators and the data chips are 195 pieces of low-inductance, X7R and X5R capacitors sized and selected by their derating curves.
The extreme care taken in the entire design of the EtherREGEN results in dual isolated clock/data/power domains, blockage of all external leakage currents, a vast reduction in upstream phase-noise fingerprint, and utmost signal integrity.
To sum up:
Going from port-to-port on the ‘A’ side is better than any other switch out there, but crossing our Active Differential Isolation Moat (“ADIM”) brings a whole new world of Ethernet performance for audio.
Dimensions are —112mm x 110mm x 30mm
DC power input range — 7V/1.4A, 9V/1.0A, 12V/0.8A
DC jack size — 5.5mm x 2.1mm, center-positive.
Operating temperature — 48~52C (118~126F)
Every EtherREGEN ships with an UpTone-branded 7.5V/36W world-voltage-compatible (100V~240V) SMPS brick with 45cm detachable IEC C14 AC mains cord (USA plug; use any local cord if you are overseas).
Use of a fancy linear power supply (such as our matching UltraCap LPS-1.2) is NOT required to get outstanding performance from the EtherREGEN. While high-quality power supplies make a nice difference most everywhere else in a music system, we personally are not hearing much change with power supplies and the EtherREGEN (certainly owing to great isolation and internal power networks). But others do report some benefits, so of course you are welcome to experiment within the +DC 7~12V range. [Note: The original UltraCap LPS-1, with top setting of 7V, does not have enough current for the EtherREGEN. The UltraCap LPS-1.2, with its 9V and 12V settings can easily power the EtherREGEN.]
A note about our inclusion of an SFP cage:
Use of optical into—or out of—EtherREGEN is not required to obtain best performance. The whole point of all the isolation and re-clocking techniques we are using (in dual domains) is to make most all of the upstream stuff not matter. Other than the complete galvanic isolation that optical offers going into the EtherREGEN (which we duplicate going across the moat), there is likely no advantage to running optical into it.
If you happen to have a router with an optical port and have already run many feet of optical cable to your music system rack, then sure, use the optical port of the EtherREGEN. But don't go out of your way to run optical if you do not already have it. And of course for the few people who have an endpoint with optical input (the excellent Sonore opticalRendu comes to mind), one can “turn around” the EtherREGEN and feed that DAC-connected endpoint from the optical cage.
Only Gigabit LC interface modules are compatible with the SFP cage of the EtherREGEN. They can be SX multi-mode, LX multi-mode, or LX single-mode, as long as they are Gigabit and match what is used at the other end of the optical cable.
Extreme usage with an External Reference Clock:
The Crystek CCHD-575 XO used in the EtherREGEN is about the lowest phase-noise production XO available. [Sorry, but the $50~$100 OCXOs we see tossed into stock switches do not outperform the Crystek at low-offsets where it counts; Manufacturers have to spend $500 and up to obtain OCXO clocks with significantly lower phase-noise than the Crystek we use.]
Yet some audiophiles have discovered benefits using expensive ultra-low-jitter/low-phase-noise 10MHz reference clocks with their DACs or USB streamers and conditioners. A clock synthesizer (to generate the various frequencies) is always required for a device to accept an external reference clock. Since we already utilize a very advanced one to produce the 4 clock lines in the EtherREGEN, it was easy for us to include provision for connection of an external 10MHz clock. The BNC jack and termination resistor of the EtherREGEN are for a 75ohm clock line (Yes, we can provide units with 50ohm, but reluctantly and only upon special request.)
As with all UpTone Audio components, the EtherREGEN includes personal and responsive support, along with a 30-day money-back satisfaction guaranteed and a 3-year warranty.