UpTone Audio's strengths are in engineering, design and production—not in graphics and marketing. We take a simple and very open approach to explaining our products and we avoid coining fanciful names for the techniques and technologies we use. Many of our clients are really interested in all the features and details about our components—so the below lengthy exposé about the ISO REGEN will be enjoyed. Yet reading and understanding it all is not necessary for the use and enjoyment of this exciting new product: As with all UpTone products, the ISO REGEN is sold with a 30-day, money-back, satisfaction guarantee. So just buy it and try it! We think you will be VERY pleased with the results. Thank you.
The UpTone Audio ISO REGEN is the first device—designed specifically for quality music systems—to deliver both true high-speed galvanic isolation and extremely high signal integrity in a single, small and affordable package.
The ISO REGEN includes many significant enhancements over our famous USB REGEN (almost 4,000 sold worldwide)—the original device which changed the way audiophiles think about what matters in USB audio—and which spawned a number of imitators.
Using and enjoying the dramatic musical benefits of the ISO REGEN is simple: Just insert it between your USB source and DAC. No software drivers are needed, your computer will “see” your DAC though the ‘hub” of the REGEN. All music data-stream formats are supported. And you won’t need any additional USB cables (see below).
User reviews have pouring in all year. Read what people are saying in the ISO REGEN Listening Impressions thread on the ComputerAudiophile forum. And check our Reviews page for a number of formal magazine reviews. [Well regarded Dutch reviewer Hans Beekhuyzen recently did a video review of the ISO REGEN on his YouTube channel.]
As with the original USB REGEN, the ISO REGEN uses a selected USB hub chip to create a new USB stream to deliver very high signal integrity to the DAC's USB PHY, thus decreasing the PHY’s contribution to packet noise. It is called “REGEN” since it completely REGENerates the data signals that cables are messing up.
Unlike the USB REGEN or any other similar product currently available, the ISO REGEN’s input uses the world’s only integrated high-speed USB isolator chip, the Silanna Semiconductor ICE08USB.
Why is this important—and why do you want an ISO REGEN? Because the music will sound better! The ISO REGEN creates a “moat” to isolate the power and signal grounds from computer/stream USB sources before your DAC. This “moat” blocks leakage currents and other low level interference from the source. You can expect to hear more accurate bass and a lot of micro-dynamic details that you previously missed. Vocal breath and intonation may seem more "real" and the "air" around drum and wood snaps are likely to have more "space."
With recordings of complex instrumental ensembles (be they electric or acoustic), the music just "holds together" better and makes you want to keep listening. Thanks to our “femto”-clock timing, the sound stage will be more focused, backgrounds will seem “blacker,” and overtone harmonics will separate and decay more naturally. But perhaps no instrument will more clearly demonstrate the ISO REGEN's benefits than acoustic piano—so be sure to include that in your audition of our device. Over time, with the ISO REGEN in place, you will experience less listening "fatigue" and will simply find it easier to focus on the music and not the sound. That was our primary goal during the design of this special product.
While some DACs and converters do incorporate digital isolators for galvanic isolation—they are ALWAYS after the USB input PHY chip and processor system. And unfortunately, USB input noise of all sorts still makes it through to some extent and reaches the DAC master clock (Impacts on the DAC master clock are ultimately why ANY upstream variations—in computer, USB, cables, etc.—are heard at all. If you are interested, please see our easy to digest “white paper” on the subject.)
While the galvanic isolation offered by the ISO REGEN is important and effective, the truth is that all the other enhancements combined result in greater musical benefits than what the isolation aspect brings. We could have brought out an “über-REGEN” with these improvements a year earlier, but we wanted to include the galvanic isolation so we tackled the numerous challenges associated with integrating the Silanna chip into our design.
How is the ISO REGEN different—from other devices and from the original USB REGEN? We have packed onto both sides of this tiny board a lot more expensive parts—now 85 parts—and our own parts cost is 4 times that of the original REGEN. During development, each major element was evaluated—sonically and on the test bench—to justify inclusion. The highlights include:
• A USB 3.1 hub chip specially selected for both its proven compatibility and for its extraordinary measured signal integrity (the best we have seen).
• A world-class ultra-low-phase-noise oscillator (Crystek CCHD-575), the sort of “Femtosecond” low jitter clock normal found only in top-quality DACs as an audio master clock.
• Five of the world’s lowest noise integrated 200mA voltage regulators (the wonderful Linear Tech. LT3042). These are important and are separately dedicated as follows: 1 at the input to clean and drop the computer’s 5V VBUS to 3.3V to power the upstream side of the isolator chip; 1 for the downstream side of the isolator chip (the “clean” side of the “moat”); 1 for the oscillator clock; 2 for the USB hub chip.
• As with the original REGEN, we still create a very clean 5VBUS output—for DACs that need it—with the terrific TI TPS7A4700 ultra-low-noise 1-amp regulator. Other aspects of the power networks were improved as well.
The cumulative audible results of all the above are NOT SUBTLE!
The ISO REGEN is an active device that needs to be powered: On the upstream/input side of the isolator “moat,” power is provided by the 5VBUS of the USB cable from your computer; on the downstream “clean” side of the isolator—where most all of the “magic” happens—an external power supply in the 6~8 volt DC range is required. The $325 ISO REGEN kit includes a modest, reliable, world-voltage compatible AC>DC adaptor. If you already have your own power supply available—either from an original USB REGEN, or our UltraCap LPS-1.2, or some other quality unit, then you can order the ISO REGEN without any PS and save $15.
Best of all is the ISO REGEN/UltraCap LPS-1.2 bundle we are offering at a $50 savings versus purchasing them separately.
A frequent question is if the ISO REGEN’s galvanic isolation is defeated by having an external power supply. Absolutely not! Full data and ground isolation are still in place. The benefit of using our UltraCap LPS-1.2 as the power supply is the same as it is for other components people are using it with: The LPS-1 blocks the path of AC leakage currents and prevents “leakage loops” from forming.
Yes, we could have bus-powered the entire ISO REGEN, but that would have meant the use of noisy DC-DC switching regulators and then attempts to clean that up. Providing up to 1 amp of clean USB VBUS power (to bus-powered DACs, headphone amps, etc.) would also become problematic. Our attention is focused exclusively on sound quality so we skipped all cost saving shortcuts and compromises.
As before, the ISO REGEN is the only full-function active USB signal enhancer designed to plug directly into your DAC or converter, preserving the highest level of signal integrity and best impedance match. (Having to use a USB cable after the conditioning device only degrades sound quality and adds expense.)
The original USB REGEN comes with a USB A>B adapter—for connection to the DAC input jack—which looks “solid,” but is actually just 4 very short wires crammed into a mold between the two plugs. It is good, but nowhere near as good as our proprietary new USPCB—which we are including free with the ISO REGEN. Carefully designed with a 4-layer circuit board, taking into account even the mass of the connectors and the widths and thicknesses of the traces, this new adapter perfectly preserves signal integrity and impedance match. IT IS BETTER THAN ANY USB CABLE!
The USPCB adapter is also available with its ‘B’ plug turned 90-degrees (clockwise to the right when looking at it from the ‘B’ end) for vertical orientation of the REGEN—useful with DACs where horizontal positioning would interfere with connection of other cables. And by popular demand there is now a microUSB 'B' plug version of the USPCB—for use with DACs such as Chord and other brands with the small microUSB size input jack.