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Which one to buy: UpTone USB REGEN or Intona USB Isolator?

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Hi Alex :)

 

I find Win 10 more musical than Win 8, but there is a "but"...

 

There has been lots of discussion on Phasure about the different builds that have spreaded over the months. Windows 10 is quite a moving target as it seems and there are aspects of it that makes me hesitate before switching to it on a more permanent basis.

 

I use a product called Acronis. This allows me to take an "image" of my OS and backup it on another disk drive. If something happens, I can always revert to Win 8.

 

The other thing is that the music PC I use is detached from Internet, preventing Windows 10 to do updates automatically. As I have read it, MS does not allow the user to control his updates anymore. There seems to be tools against this, but I am unsure up to which point they can block these updates.

 

Finally, I am also unsure if it is possible to revert to the prior Windows (maybe 30 days to do that, but you need to verify this).

 

At the moment, I stick with Win 8 (without any update), but I can go back and forth between them at will, since I have "image" backups...

 

And yes I know, MS can really be harassing with Windows 10... :(

 

Kind regards,


Alain

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Hi Cmarin,

 

As in many things I have tried through time, it did not come to me like night and day. There is a fluidity that I perceive, but it happened before (like with the Regen at first).

 

To give an example, I was amazed when I connected the Green Regen on my system, under Windows 8. Then I switched to Windows 10 (one of the preview versions) at the same time I received the Amber Regen board. That time, I was less sure of the results. Windows 10 does not sound the same as Windows 8, so... After a while, I removed the Regen and preferred to play music without it.

 

Each time I tried something with the Phasure NOS1, there was always a sense of "not sure", so I tend to prefer having just a USB cable between my music PC and the NOS1. In short, I prefer simplicity :)

 

I tend to not expect changes because my hearing is not that sensitive and it would not stand a DBT (it takes me too much time to sense a change), so I do not post often about my impressions.

 

The Intona really does something that I would qualify as "fluid". There is no "pros and cons". Maybe an example would be an optical signal ? "Silences are more silent", small details are more discernable. But the biggest aspect of it is that it feels as if there was something played in an analog fashion.

 

A good recording with percussions may express what I am trying to convey.

 

Time will tell if I will stay with these impressions. What I hear for the moment is simply better than what I was hearing before, but YMMV is as always.

 

If you go to the link I left in my previous answer to YashN, you will be able to read other posts and the little story behind it :)

 

Regards,

 

Thanks for the detailed response.

 

Best regards,

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Hi Alain

I don't wish to stuff around going backwards and forwards between W8 and W10, besides which, after the 30 days grace period, you will not be legally permitted to have both versions installed , just as with all other upgrades, unless you purchase a copy of W10 as well.

I think that I will keep on ignoring that annoying W10 reminder until it becomes clearer about what is needed to extract the best SQ when using W10.

 

Kind Regards

Alex


"If you can't hear the difference between an original CD and a copy of your CD,

you might as well give up your career as a tester. The difference between a reconstituted FLAC and full size WAV is much less than that, but it does exist. - Cookie Marenco"

 

PROFILE UPDATED 18-06-2019

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At the moment, I stick with Win 8 (without any update), but I can go back and forth between them at will, since I have "image" backups...

 

 

Are you saying you are not updating Win8 because of the automatic Win10 nag? If yes, simply choose view all updates and remove Win10 from the two lists (essential and optional).

 

 

 

I think that I will keep on ignoring that annoying W10 reminder until it becomes clearer about what is needed to extract the best SQ when using W10.

 

 

Quite agree with this, plus I have a couple of peripherals that are still having trouble Win10, although my Elements HDD is behaving well on Win8.1

 

We have approx. 6 months left to make up our minds on a free Win10 upgrade, hopefully by then combatability issues will be few and more known of it's musical capabilitites.

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Are you saying you are not updating Win8 because of the automatic Win10 nag? If yes, simply choose view all updates and remove Win10 from the two lists (essential and optional).

Hi,

 

Not necessarily. I am also member of the Phasure forum, where PeterSt and many other members (including me) have experimented with windows 10. I did that for some time, but at some point, I was curious to switch back to Win 8. I will certainly go again with Win 10, as there is a ramdisk that Peter makes and this will put the entire OS in ram, allowing us to eject the SSD (so no hard drive functionning) while playing music. At the moment, I have my OS on an external SSD (connected through Esata, with no drive in PC), powered with a JS-2 from Uptone Audio and am very happy with that configuration. The music drive is connected through network from another PC, this with a direct network connection betwen the 2 PCs (and that drive is powered with a Teddy Pardo PSU).

 

Regards,


Alain

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Back to topic.

 

In trying to install the drivers for the Mutec with the Intona connected, Device Manager reports the detection of the Mutec to be USB1.0, ie "Mutec 1.2 USB 1.0 " this is in contrast to the norm of "Mutec 1.2 USB2.0". This tells me there's a barrier between the USB Host and the USB audio device that doesn't click.

When that happens, the host controller in my case the Intel ICH10(?) picks a slower (USB1.0) port creating more drama. This is of little use, since the Mutec is normally a USB2 device and there's another ! in Device Manager.

 

I eventually tried a very simple adaptive DAC, April Music Stello 100, and Windows loaded the driver OK.

 

I'm finding the Intona Isolator not fit for purpose in that it does not pass UAC2, if it does, it's a one time only, whatever you do, don't reboot the computer.


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Back to topic.

 

In trying to install the drivers for the Mutec with the Intona connected, Device Manager reports the detection of the Mutec to be USB1.0, ie "Mutec 1.2 USB 1.0 " this is in contrast to the norm of "Mutec 1.2 USB2.0". This tells me there's a barrier between the USB Host and the USB audio device that doesn't click.

When that happens, the host controller in my case the Intel ICH10(?) picks a slower (USB1.0) port creating more drama. This is of little use, since the Mutec is normally a USB2 device and there's another ! in Device Manager.

 

I eventually tried a very simple adaptive DAC, April Music Stello 100, and Windows loaded the driver OK.

 

I'm finding the Intona Isolator not fit for purpose in that it does not pass UAC2, if it does, it's a one time only, whatever you do, don't reboot the computer.

 

 

I am sorry that you have these problems. Do you have a PCIe USB card ? Prior to that, have you contacted Daniel (of Intona) ?


Alain

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I am sorry that you have these problems. Do you have a PCIe USB card ? Prior to that, have you contacted Daniel (of Intona) ?

 

For USB, I use the standard controllers on the motherboard. There are six of them, each with a hub and provision for at least two USB ports, some up to six available ports.

The priority of connections is a high speed port first, then as the devices fill up, the slower ports are used. I check what's connected on what controller with USBVIEW.EXE, works very well. If devices enumerate, they are listed in some detail.

On the subject of USB tools, what is also invaluable is USBOblivion, that removes old and unused USB devices from the registry, that cause problems.

 

The Intona has to work with standard ports on a computer without the need for a Sotm or Paul Pang card. The others are nice to have, but the basics first need to be managed.

 

I did email Daniel and received a reply, but it's the weekend, don't want to disturb until later in the week. Something needs new firmware.


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Hi Barry,

 

Have your tried this route: Macbook > cable > Intona > cable > USB 2 hub (itself powered) > cable > DAC ?

 

I know the chain is more complicated, but just to see if this is a voltage/amperage matter ?

 

Regards,

 

Hi Alain

 

This morning I left my Uptone Regenerator in the chain, removed my $15 VBus isolator and replaced it with the Intona USB isolator. When I did this I could see the DAC. In this case the Uptone was supplying all the power. When I took the Uptone out of the chain the DAC disappeared.

 

In addition I tried using several types of bus powered portable hard drives, all of these had power, were spinning, but would not mount. I'm guessing that mounting them required more power than was getting through the Intona.

 

The MSB DAC is bus powered, so I'm guessing the Intona does not provide enough power for the DAC to operate properly.

 

My current set up is Macbook -> VBus isolator -> USB cable -> Uptone Regenerator -> USB cable -> DAC

 

My question is: Does it make sense to replace the $15 Vbus isolator (which essentially just cuts off power on the cable leading to the Uptone regenerator) with the Intona, while keeping the regenerator in place?

 

I can't see that if I do this, the Intona is doing anything at all. As no power running along the first USB cable to the Uptone unit should be better than the lowered (but isolated) power if I use the Intona. Unless the isolated signal the Intona provides more benefit than just clean power (don't have the background in electronics to know).

 

It would be hard for me to test fairly as testing would require me to add an additional short Curious USB cable, the only extra cable I've got at hand is a 1 meter Nordost Blue Dawn (can't see this extra 1 meter cable addition as a good thing).

 

My conclusion is that the MSB analogue DAC can't be used with the Intona without additional power being supplied, which may make its use irrelevant.

 

Looking forward to the Forums members comments.

 

Regards

Barry

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My conclusion is that the MSB analogue DAC can't be used with the Intona without additional power being supplied, which may make its use irrelevant.

 

Looking forward to the Forums members comments.

 

Regards

Barry

 

One of the many experiments was to add a powered USB 2 hub (Belkin) after the Intona to reduce the possibility that not enough current was supplied. The converter wasn't detected in this case.

I also tried the bus powered portable drive, they ticked over, but didn't show on the computer as a drive. The explanation is that the bus powered drives draw over the spec of the Intona, however with regular use on computers, I have not seen an alarm on screen to advise the USB port is overloaded.


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The explanation is that the bus powered drives draw over the spec of the Intona, however with regular use on computers, I have not seen an alarm on screen to advise the USB port is overloaded.

 

 

In that case , the USB port would likely end up being marked as faulty, without any on screen warnings ?


"If you can't hear the difference between an original CD and a copy of your CD,

you might as well give up your career as a tester. The difference between a reconstituted FLAC and full size WAV is much less than that, but it does exist. - Cookie Marenco"

 

PROFILE UPDATED 18-06-2019

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Hi Alain

 

This morning I left my Uptone Regenerator in the chain, removed my $15 VBus isolator and replaced it with the Intona USB isolator. When I did this I could see the DAC. In this case the Uptone was supplying all the power. When I took the Uptone out of the chain the DAC disappeared.

 

In addition I tried using several types of bus powered portable hard drives, all of these had power, were spinning, but would not mount. I'm guessing that mounting them required more power than was getting through the Intona.

 

The MSB DAC is bus powered, so I'm guessing the Intona does not provide enough power for the DAC to operate properly.

 

My current set up is Macbook -> VBus isolator -> USB cable -> Uptone Regenerator -> USB cable -> DAC

 

My question is: Does it make sense to replace the $15 Vbus isolator (which essentially just cuts off power on the cable leading to the Uptone regenerator) with the Intona, while keeping the regenerator in place?

 

I can't see that if I do this, the Intona is doing anything at all. As no power running along the first USB cable to the Uptone unit should be better than the lowered (but isolated) power if I use the Intona. Unless the isolated signal the Intona provides more benefit than just clean power (don't have the background in electronics to know).

 

It would be hard for me to test fairly as testing would require me to add an additional short Curious USB cable, the only extra cable I've got at hand is a 1 meter Nordost Blue Dawn (can't see this extra 1 meter cable addition as a good thing).

 

My conclusion is that the MSB analogue DAC can't be used with the Intona without additional power being supplied, which may make its use irrelevant.

 

Looking forward to the Forums members comments.

 

Regards

Barry

Hi Barry,

 

The difference between the Sbus Isolator and the Intona, assuming that the Sbus Isolator is right at one of the PC USB port output:

- Sbus Isolator prevents the 5V from PC to flow in the USB cable. That's it.

 

The Intona:

- cleans the 5V coming from the PC, then uses it in part and conveys the rest at its output for the next component.

- It also isolates the signal (data) between the PC and what comes after the Intona. This is where it delivers its "magic" :)

 

Between the Sbus Isolator (I admit I haven't tried it) and the Intona, I would give my preference to the Intona because of the galvanic isolation of the signal. As you see alas, it does not deliver enough power, needing something after to do that (like the Uptone Regen or a powered USB hub).

 

There will surely be a solution for this. It could be a "Y" USB cable after the Intona (signal connected to the Intona, power taken from a PSU of some sort), but...

 

As for the complexity of the USB chain, well... :)

 

Regards,


Alain

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This afternoon was an exercise in frustration in transmitting through the Intona Isolator to a Mutec MC-1.2 on OSX and Windows. The Mutec MC-1.2 is either a USB Powered or mains powered USB to AES3/S/PDIF/Toslink converter. It requires a driver for Windows, but no driver required for OSX. For these tests, only USB power was used and multiple reboots to ensure reliability, or until something broke, which in this case didn't take long.

 

Previously OSX worked, until the MacMini is rebooted, and the Mutec is gone from the system once the machine is ready to go. Not the outcome I had expected. The Intona flashes a steady 5Hz LED meaning, there's no traffic. AudioMidi detects nothing. Added a simple USB 2 hub on the OUTPUT of the Intona, and the Mutec is there again, but there's no sound from HQPlayer. Start again.

Tried a few different USB cables from the Generic to the exotic without rebooting and all worked with a USB stick, but a few worked with the Mutec, but no consistency as to which cable was rock steady. Proof of the pudding is a reboot, and no cables worked properly, even the USB hub trick didn't work either again, must have been lucky.

 

OK, move on to Windows, see if that works somehow previously didn't at all.

 

Windows is a little more sensitive to cabling than OSX. Tried Oyaide Continental and wouldn't work, but Nordost Blue Heaven worked OK as far as the Intona was concerned with rapid LED flashing. That joy was short lived though, cause there's no output to listen to music. Device Manager reported the ! and USBview also showed !. The mouse and keyboard are on PS2 ports, so the only other USB device was a hub on the Dell monitor with nothing plugged into the ports.

 

I'm finding the Intona Isolator not fit for purpose in that it does not pass UAC2, if it does, it's a one time only, whatever you do, don't reboot the computer.

 

Of course, the isolator can handle UAC2.

The reported issues are handshaking and/or EOP-glitch problems. We have seen some glitches on older XMOS firmware some time ago which confused the isolators high-speed-handshaking procedure. We will re-visit this and I am sure that this can (and will) be fixed.

 

I have the industrial version of the Intona. From PeterSt recommendations, when I ordered it, I asked not to have the led blinking when playing music. Daniel of Intona graciously agreed to do this modification, so the led stays steady (no blinking) once Windows is loaded.

 

I haven't encountered any problem since I got it last Wednesday, but the Phasure NOS1, while requiring the USB handshake (this was at least true at the time I was using a Sotm USB 3 PCIe card, that I now have replaced with a Silverstone PCIe card), does not need the USB vbus at all after. Maybe that explains why I don't have any problem of the sort...

 

IIRC, Daniel talks about the potential problem of not having sufficient amperage and/or voltage when requiring the USB Vbus ?

 

This Intona device is intriguing: for a good while there was no such USB isolator for the highest speeds.

 

If you are going the route of optimising by having no blinking LED, assuming there was a circuit causing its own digititis there, why not turn out the LED completely?

 

Maximum output current is 500mA with a voltage drop to 4.5V. At 300mA, there is no voltage drop. If your device needs more, you have to use a powered hub or a power-injection cable.

If unsure, you may ask Intona before buying and we will investigate if your device can be supplied by the isolator directly.

 

About the blinking: the often quoted customer complained about this because of two points. First, this was simply too nervous for his eyes to look at. Second, there was a reasonable objection of interference to the USB signal by the LED current. Don't confuse with his first test on serial number #1, which did not work for him because of a bug in the packet re-timer.

 

The LED was a hot topic of debate while development as we knew that our customers do not want that additional noise by switching indicators on and off. So, we did following on the isolated side:

 

- We routed the traces to the LED as a differential pair from the FPGA. No current (and return current) can cross between the LED and the USB power/data lines or any other signal. The FPGA is powered by its own linear regulator. Further, this is decoupled by several 10µ ceramic high speed 150µ low-ESR caps. The phase of the regulator's feedback loop was adjusted carefully using VNA to ensure stability while handling the remaining load transients.

 

- We checked current flow in FEM simulations and further optimized the layout. This is a electro magnetic simulation of the circuit board which is mandatory for high speed designs.

 

- We checked again using a high speed current probe for any unwanted current crossing. This way, we can even make return currents of the GND layer of a working unit visible.

 

- We selected a 2mA low current LED and also set the output slew rate of the FPGA to "QuietIO". The FPGA allows between three slopes: Fast, Slow and QuietIO. Lastly is fairly gentle and usually not suitable for data transmission.

 

After this, we can really say that there is no interference by the LED at all. Some customers measure micro-vibrations of ball bearings. They would have lots of trouble with an 14-Hz-interference (or any harmonics) if there was a LED-current-on-USB issue - but there is none. So whether the LED is blinking or not, expect lowest noise possible from the isolator's output.

 

So, there remains the looking at the nervous blinking. This is an intuitive indicator of what's the device doing in an industrial environment. Just for the comfort of the said customer, we swapped the blinking mode of "high-speed" with the mode of "failure", which is "always on".

 

Best regards,

Daniel

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Why oh why does the intona only output 5v at 300mA loads of things need more current than this and 4.5v if you draw 500mA... Is this even USB spec. An additional hub is recommended but the hub probably influences SQ as much as anŷthing else, after all that's basically what a regen is right?

Come on intona lets have a useable 1000mA at 5v or am I missing something?

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In that case , the USB port would likely end up being marked as faulty, without any on screen warnings ?

 

If the USB port is faulty, there's no mechanism to detect an overcurrent, since there's no voltage to drive the port.

 

What I meant was, I only have seen the overload alarm on very rare occasions, but not in the experiments with the Intona. All ports showed up as OK.


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Come on intona lets have a useable 1000mA at 5v or am I missing something?

 

When plugged into a USB 2.0 port you are limited to 500mA from the USB port. Out of this 500mA, the Intona Isolator would also need some of the available current to operate.

I am only speculating, but if you used a USB 2.0 cable plugged into a USB 3.0 port. you may be able to draw the additional needed current. Even DVD writers that normally need power from 2 USB 2.0 ports to operate, will work correctly using only the main lead when plugged into a USB 3.0 port.


"If you can't hear the difference between an original CD and a copy of your CD,

you might as well give up your career as a tester. The difference between a reconstituted FLAC and full size WAV is much less than that, but it does exist. - Cookie Marenco"

 

PROFILE UPDATED 18-06-2019

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Thank you for the explanations, Daniel.

 

By the way, I think you can probably say "Peter" instead of things like "the often quoted customer," since the former is shorter and we know who he is. :)


One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> router -> 2 Cisco switches connected by optical Ethernet -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen (powered by LPS-1) -> Ghent JSSG360 USB cable -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Can someone please state the differences between standard and industrial model?

 

The use will be in a dedicated server and dac. USB only.

 

Thanks

 

The differences are listed on Intona's website and I repeat them here:

 

Standard Version: 1kV isolation, standard temperature grade, standard connectors

Industrial Version: 2.5kV isolation, specified isolation working voltage, extended temperature grade, high retention connectors

 

For audio use, standard version is sufficient. However, as you read there're incompatibility issues related to some DACs/USB converters and so you'd better check with Daniel at Intona before you buy.

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Just bought two short USB cables from MonoPrice. only $1 each. Now i am able to run Intona without a hub. so basically my setup right now is Aries -> MonoPrice USB cable -> Intona -> MonoPrice USB -> Schiit Yggy DAC.

 

Tried to replace either MonoPrice with my 0.8 meter LightSpeed USB and it wouldn't work.

 

So for people who is having trouble to get Intona to work first try some generic USB cables. The cheap the better. :-)

 

btw, also tried a USB A-B adapter and it didn't work.


Main system: iMac A+ -> LH Lightspeed USB -> Schiit Yggy DAC -> Nordost TYR XLR IC -> Pass Labs XP20 Preamp -> Nordost TYR XLR IC -> Pass Labs XA60.5 Mono Amps -> MIT ACT MA SC -> Wilson Audio Watt/Puppy 8

 

Second desktop system: iMac A+ / TIDAL -> LH Lightspeed USB -> LH Labs Geek Pulse Infinity -> Nordost TYR RCA IC -> Firstwatt J2 -> MIT AVT2 SC -> Omega Super 7 mini

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Forgot to the mention that if I had to use the Lightspeed USB cable, then the only way it would work is to use a USB hub right between the DAC and the Isolator.

 

In terms of sound quality after some AB listening I am happy to report that the sound with Isolator in place with cheap USB cables is audibly better than going straight with LightSpeed USB.

 

I also noticed that the sequence of connecting input/output cables also matters. Try to connect the input side first. wait a few seconds and then plug in the output side.


Main system: iMac A+ -> LH Lightspeed USB -> Schiit Yggy DAC -> Nordost TYR XLR IC -> Pass Labs XP20 Preamp -> Nordost TYR XLR IC -> Pass Labs XA60.5 Mono Amps -> MIT ACT MA SC -> Wilson Audio Watt/Puppy 8

 

Second desktop system: iMac A+ / TIDAL -> LH Lightspeed USB -> LH Labs Geek Pulse Infinity -> Nordost TYR RCA IC -> Firstwatt J2 -> MIT AVT2 SC -> Omega Super 7 mini

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This sounds weird to me. If a short USB cable worked for you, the adapter should work too unless this adapter is faulty.

 

i know. maybe i didn't connect them in the right sequence. didn't really test too much with the adapter since i no longer need a USB hub. I don't like the idea of using the adapter on the DAC or the source as there is a big risk to damage the connectors.


Main system: iMac A+ -> LH Lightspeed USB -> Schiit Yggy DAC -> Nordost TYR XLR IC -> Pass Labs XP20 Preamp -> Nordost TYR XLR IC -> Pass Labs XA60.5 Mono Amps -> MIT ACT MA SC -> Wilson Audio Watt/Puppy 8

 

Second desktop system: iMac A+ / TIDAL -> LH Lightspeed USB -> LH Labs Geek Pulse Infinity -> Nordost TYR RCA IC -> Firstwatt J2 -> MIT AVT2 SC -> Omega Super 7 mini

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Forgot to the mention that if I had to use the Lightspeed USB cable, then the only way it would work is to use a USB hub right between the DAC and the Isolator.

 

In terms of sound quality after some AB listening I am happy to report that the sound with Isolator in place with cheap USB cables is audibly better than going straight with LightSpeed USB.

 

I also noticed that the sequence of connecting input/output cables also matters. Try to connect the input side first. wait a few seconds and then plug in the output side.

 

Thank you blankdisc for these results! I did also try some generic cables, but had mixed results, one of them a 5m(!) Belkin was actually quite good, will consult my notes.

 

One more thing, if you shutdown the computer, the lights go off the Intona, right? If the computer is restarted, does everything work OK again, or is it necessary to unplug/replug?


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