Uptone Audio EtherREGEN review

I've never done a review of any audio product before but felt compelled to share my experience with the Uptone Audio EtherREGEN. I have no relation to the company - I'm just a regular guy with 20+ years off and on in this hobby.

Quick backstory: Based on extensive reading online and my interest in advancements in digital audio, I decided to give the EtherREGEN (hereafter referred to as ER) a try, especially since it has a 30 day trial period. My system is fairly simple - I use an Intel NUC running Roon Rock which serves streams Tidal and ripped CDs over the network to a Lyngdorf TDAI-3400, which in turn drives a pair of Buchardt S400s (these are pretty nice speakers but too soft in the treble region for me and will eventually be replaced). I run a 1m ethernet cable from the router to the ER, then another 1m ethernet cable from the ER to the Lyngdorf. All music listening is streamed through Roon.

I installed the ER in March right as this Covid mess started and immediately relocated my family to a mountain home we have, where we stayed for several months. That blew my 30 day trial away but I wasn't worried about it given everything else going on. When we got back home I basically forgot I even installed the ER so I've been listening to it without thinking about it for a couple months now. I recently remembered it was there so I decided to put my old $15 TPLink switch back in place and remove the ER to see if there was a difference. One thing I hate that people talk a lot about is A/B comparisons because in my experience they don't work. Your ears (or at least mine) become accustomed to sound over time and when you switch something after several weeks or months, you can hear the difference quite clearly. But if you A/B back and forth after seconds or minutes, especially if you A/B/A/B/A/B in one session, it's often very hard to tell the difference because your brain is filling in the missing details. That's how it works for me at least. Anyway, after months of using and becoming used to the sound with the ER in place, the difference was IMMEDIATELY noticeable when I removed it. Literally everything got worse. Yes it sounds like hyperbole and yes I know everyone says their latest new gear or tweak is the greatest ever, but for me the difference was as apparent as when I turn the Lyngdorf room correction on and off (i.e. not subtle). Image separation and soundstage decreased, as did bass impact, midrange clarity, and airiness of the treble. And I definitely can't explain this one and didn't get my SPL meter out but I swear the whole presentation sounded like the volume had been turned down 3dB. There's no way I messed the volume up because all I did was swap the ethernet cable that was going from the router to the ER and moved it from the router to the TPLink. I didn't even turn the Lyngdorf off, I just paused Roon.

I fully expected to hear no difference or practically no difference when I went back to the old TPLink switch. After hearing such a drastic difference, I really felt like I ought to share my experience. I'm no audio expert but I've owned a fair amount of gear over the past 23+ years and I have never put anything in my system that made this much of a difference for under $700. I'd highly recommend if you stream a lot and have any interest to give it a try, knowing you can always send it back in 30 days for just the cost of shipping. The only negative I can say about it is the thing runs HOT - like burn your fingers hot - so be careful where you place it. I believe the manual says 45 degrees C is normal.
But if you A/B back and forth after seconds or minutes, especially if you A/B/A/B/A/B in one session, it's often very hard to tell the difference
That's the point, if there is a difference it will be apparent. 
Great post. 
And, I agree with djones51, if you can hear it it is real.
As far as running hot, I can say my Ayre Codex runs hot. But, when I talked with them, they said not to worry, it is normal.
So, if a component runs hot, contact the manufacturer and get their take on it.
@djones51 no, the point is that it won't be apparent unless you are already familiar with the baseline sound. This IMO is the basis for all the pitchfork carrying anti cable people saying no one can pass an A/B test because of course you can't tell the difference in an unfamiliar system after listening to two 30 second snippets. In a system you've been listening to for months, yes you can hear the difference when something changes. When "A" is well known, the difference with "B" is noticable. At least that's how my ears work. That's why I brought up the fact that I'd been listening to the ER now for over 2 months.
@gdnrbob I was just sharing that tidbit of info but the user manual does indicate it's normal to run very hot. It's just potentially a placement issue for some folks. Mine is in a closed cabinet but it has quite a bit of open space above and to the sides so it seems to be ok.
As stated in the manual, the chassis is its heat sink. I’ve had one for 300+ hours, and agree with you that it is a meaningful improvement. I’m synchronizing it to a 10mhz rubidium clock.
Good to read this morning, I have an etherRegen being delivered via FedEx today - looking forward to connecting to my Naim Uniti Nova and Innuos Zen MK III to see what if any gains it offers. I'm tempering expectations and expecting something along the lines of swapping out a higher end power cable. 
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I got my ER in the first batch last year and noticed an immediate improvement in all aspects of sound right out of the box in my Roon Nucleus+ based system. Since then, I have enhanced its performance in stages first by adding an Sbooster linear power supply, then by going optical from the router to the ER with a cheap 10GTek optical converter powered by an HDPlex LPS, then finally by replacing the 10Gtek converter with a Sonore optical module. To me, the improvements were worthwhile every step along the way.

I'll echo the comments here by other ER owners. This is for me, the best $640 I've spent in audio. I've been through several Network cables (Cable Matters 8 and Supra 8+ and Monoprice 5e) and they certainly make a difference as well, though not on the level of the ER itself. I'm going to buy a Paul Hynes SR4T next and that'll probably do it. I'd suggest that anyone that is streaming should give the ER a try. You will be pleasantly surprised.

BTW, I had read from a few users, and I believe Alex over at Uptone, that having the ER as close to the source as possible was the best place for it. I can say that I had it 20+' away for months and then moved it to my audio rack and after it settled for a day or two it was a significant and free upgrade. FYI - I also liked the Supra 8+ best as it seems to be the most life like in presentation.
Does EtherREGEN work with EoP? John Swenson the designer says it doesn't work with PoE.  I wonder if it's the same issue with EoP?

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Agree with improvement with etheregen and fiber optic cable.
My set up is Router: ethernet cable >> Ubiquiti Unifi: fiber optic >> ubiquity unifi: ethernet cable >> etheregen: ethernet cable >> Server/streamer (Antipodes CCX/S30): USB cable >> Uptone iso-regen: USB cable >> DAC.  It gets better with every step. I like the improvement seen and will not go back. 
I think he means "ethernet over power" - adapters to run your network through your electrical outlets. I'm not sure if that works. Mine is a standard setup of router to EtherRegen to DAC/Amp with ethernet cables. 
Are any Ether Regen owners using an updated umbilical cable from the LPS 1.2 ? 
I think he means (and correctly uses later) "PoE", which is Power Over Ethernet. Basically, you can power a low power device over your ethernet connection from your switch or via a PoE "injector".

One common use-case is for security cameras where you can just run CAT-5 or CAT-6 and power the camera over that line. Requires a switch that can do it, or a small device that adds the power. I use PoE to power multiple access points for my WiFi for example, and my Ring doorbell.
To owners of the Ether Regen: Do you you leave it powered on 24/7? I just got mine yesterday along with the LPS1.2 power supply. Very impressive right out of the box. The unit itself and the LPS1.2 run pretty warm. I set the voltage to 12V per Alex's recommendation. Good listening. Jeff
I leave it on always. Yes they sound great. I have Uptone JS-2 LPS in 12V.