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Article: Review | Innuos PhoenixUSB Reclocker

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49 minutes ago, jrobbins50 said:

@austinpop, thank you. Wondering if you’ve ever had the opportunity to hear, and thus have a point of reference to comment upon, this far less expensive USB reclocking device:

https://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/ideon-audio-3r-usb-renaissance-usb-hub/ JCR 

 

Unfortunately, no. That said, I've tried a plethora of devices over the years, both in terms of USB isolators/reclockers/regenerators, and associated power supplies. They include, in order of increasing sound quality and increasing cost:

  • Wyred 4 Sound Recovery
  • Intona Isolator
  • Intona Isolator + W4S Recovery
  • Uptone ISO-Regen
  • SOtM tX-USBultra
  • SOtM tX-USBultra reference clocked by MUTEC REF 10
  • SOtM tX-USBultra reference clocked by MUTEC REF 10 SE 120

Ditto for power supplies.

 

There's something for every budget, but raising SQ does cost more, sadly not necessarily linearly. Such is audio!

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Excellent review Rajiv!

 

For me,  you are hitting the bullseye with this remark:

This comparison illustrates why reviews shouldn’t be about assigning winners and losers, but to describe differences and set the context to help readers make their own decisions.

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Rajiv, thanks for the review and especially for sharing the technical info from Innuous.  Respectfully, I would suggest though, that you might refrain from such definitive language as this:

 

"The reason DIY tinkerers like me end up with spaghetti digital chains is not because we love the clutter, but because manufacturers have not (yet) offered components that deliver the SQ we are able to achieve"

 

Unless you have personally tested every USB output device available for audio delivery to a DAC, you are not well informed enough to make such definitive statements.  The review would be more accurate if you included a statement such as: "within the realm of my experience" or something to that effect.  I would also suggest that even if you had tested every such component, your only metric for evaluation is subjective, and as such, also not definitive.  The "quality" of USB output can be measured definitively through the eye pattern diagram combined with a spectral analysis of the USB power rail: these are the only relevant factors for USB transmission and subsequent audio performance (covering both the ultimate signal integrity and the noise factors).  I have no problem with subjective evaluation, but when an evaluation is entirely subjective, such should be mentioned as well, rather than making definitive statements about a thing being "better".  Statements such as, "in my system i found this sounded better to my ears" are often used as caveats by reviewers to make sure the readers understand the limitations of the subjective evaluation process.

 

 


ROON: DSD 256-Sonore opticalModule-Signature Rendu optical--Buffalo PRO/ESS 9038--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888-JL E-112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY AC cables, Iconoclast XLR, Iconoclast speaker, cables, Synergistic Orange Fuses, Dark Matter system clarifiers.                                                               Design/Build Consultant with Sonore

 

                                                       

SONORE computer audio

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Wonderful write up Rajiv! Very evocative, and I've enjoyed the tX-USBultra SE enough that I really appreciated that as the baseline for comparisons with the Phoenix. I continue to pretend that reference clocks don't exist as a category, precisely so I don't get tempted by things like your description of the REF 10 SE 120...you're making that a very difficult fiction to maintain!

 

 

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On 5/14/2020 at 11:30 AM, austinpop said:

 

Hi Joe,

 

You're comparing two completely different systems, whereas my goal in the review is to hold everything else constant and compare the component-under-test with its competition.

 

Also, keep in mind the oR is an endpoint/streamer, so you do need a music server elsewhere in the network. Back to more boxes. :)

 

A fair point on the complexity this would entail.  But the relatively stratospheric price of the Phoenix or the spaghetti make the question central.  An extra $5-7K on a non-USB server or DAC instead of the USB solution should take us to a whole different level of sound.  

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4 hours ago, kennyb123 said:

@austinpop thanks for another spectacular review!!  My dealer is been goading me to get a Phoenix and your findings mirror his.  I'm just reluctant to spend any more money on an Innuos product until I see some follow-up on past promises.  Experimental mode continues to flounder - and still no word on the Mk3 power supply upgrade for my Zenith Mk2.  

Hi Ken,

My dealer here in Singapore has already quoted me a price for the PSU upgrade incl. Mundorf caps. (The price is very reasonable) I am holding out for the release of the Extreme mini though.  

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5 hours ago, Superdad said:

 

 

Hi Barrows. Please take this in the playful Friday spirit I intend: You might do well to take your own advise regarding the above. 9_9

Because both an eye-pattern and VBUS spectral analysis will in fact not tell you all.  Proof?

Right there for you to check with two original Sonore microRendus, a v1.3 board and a v1.4 board, wherein the only difference between them is the latter's use of a low-phase-noise Crystek CCHD-575. The better clock is clearly heard, yes? But I challenge you to spot the difference in an eye-pattern test.

 

Sure, improved signal integrity common to both through the Rendu-series use of a USB hub chip at the output (and common to all USB "regenerators"--including the Phoenix--since JS started this trend back in 2014) can certainly be seen.  But the low-phase noise clock is not going to present in an eye-pattern; to understand its benefits one has to dig deeper (our 'white paper' points the direction).

 

Likewise, the 5VBUS lines (really the whole USB "ground" connection)  are a pathway for common-mode leakage currents which travel through all audio systems, so looking just at the noise level/spectrum on the +5VDC line will not expose those factors, which again can propagate ground-plane noise and increase receiver chip jitter by modulating the reference voltage used to determine clock thresholds (inside the DAC stuff, and I refer again to our paper).

 

Hope your Colorado weather is lovely this weekend and that you have something fun planned.

Cheers,

--Alex C.

Hi Alex, not sure what/how you mean about spectrum analysis not showing the noise?  And indeed, I would expect a highly resolved eye pattern measurement to show the difference of phase noise for the USB clock.  After all, phase noise is essentially jitter, one way or another, and jitter is derived from the eye pattern.  What I would admit is that one would need a very highly resolved eye pattern test to see the difference.
As far as my criticism goes of Rajiv’s definitive statements, I stand by that, as a reviewer, one should be very careful about their language.  A reviewer, published in a very widely read forum such as AS, needs to hold themselves to a very high standard, as their words carry a high degree of gravitas.


ROON: DSD 256-Sonore opticalModule-Signature Rendu optical--Buffalo PRO/ESS 9038--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888-JL E-112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY AC cables, Iconoclast XLR, Iconoclast speaker, cables, Synergistic Orange Fuses, Dark Matter system clarifiers.                                                               Design/Build Consultant with Sonore

 

                                                       

SONORE computer audio

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Thanks for the thorough and detailed review as usual @austinpop 

 

As a SE MKII Std owner I have had my eye on this unit to replace my tX-USBultra/Uptone LPS1.2 spaghetti chain for awhile. You certainly are one of the most trusted sources out here so that holds quite a bit of weight with me before expending those $'s.

 

I had been waiting to sell some equipment before pulling the trigger but you may have killed my last ounce of patience. Thank you. I think 😂

 

@kennyb123 I do agree we have been waiting quite a while for some of these promised improvements from @nvitorino  I am particularly frustrated with Experimental Mode bugs not getting resolved because it clearly sounds better but I've given up due to the unreliability.


Ghent JSSG360 > EtherRegen > Ghent JSSG360 > Zenith MKII SE > Phasure Lush II > tX-USBultra/UltraCap LPS-1.2 > Phasure Lush > PS Audio Directstream Sr DAC > Ayre  K-5xe MP Preamplifier > Conrad Johnson MF-2500a > Vandersteen Quatro Woods > AQ Niagara 5000 > AQ (Earth/Go-4 Dbl Biwire/Tornado/Hurricane)/Triode Wire Labs/Shunyata Python > IsoAcoustics/Herbie's/BDR/PS Audio Powerbase

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19 hours ago, Abyss Man said:

Hi Ken,

My dealer here in Singapore has already quoted me a price for the PSU upgrade incl. Mundorf caps. (The price is very reasonable) I am holding out for the release of the Extreme mini though.  


After complaining to my dealer, he was finally able to get me a price on the upgrade earlier today.  But, like you, I plan to hold out for the Extreme Mini.  To see Emile act within days of a  update to Room to push out an update to the Extreme offered a stunning contrast.  Experimental mode first shipped in December of 2018 (with release 1.4.1) and it’s still just an experiment.  Innuos is among the best at shipping great products (like the Phoenix). But when it comes to enhancing the products their customers already own, they kinda stink.

 


Digital:  Innuos Zenith Std Mk2 > Shunyata Sigma USB > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Wireworld Gold Startlight > OPTO DX > Shunyata Alpha S/PDIF > Chord Hugo TT2 

Amp & Speakers:  Spectral DMA-150mk2 > Aerial 10T

Foundation: Stillpoints Ultra, Shunyata Denali power conditioner, Shunyata Alpha power cords, Shunyata Alpha interconnect, Shunyata Sigma Ethernet, MIT Matrix HD60 speaker cables, ASC isothermal tube traps

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10 hours ago, FrankMA said:

 

@kennyb123 I do agree we have been waiting quite a while for some of these promised improvements from @nvitorino  I am particularly frustrated with Experimental Mode bugs not getting resolved because it clearly sounds better but I've given up due to the unreliability.


I made the mistake a few week ago of finally switching off Roon to hear just their internal player.  This did sound a bit better than Experimental mode.  The weirdest thing though was getting used to the song I actually wanted to hear start to play as soon as initiated playback in iPeng.  Unfortunately iPeng gives up too much relative to Roon, so I switched back.

 

I work in the software industry so I certainly understand why promises are sometimes difficult to keep.  What’s inexcusable though is leaving customers in the dark.


Digital:  Innuos Zenith Std Mk2 > Shunyata Sigma USB > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Wireworld Gold Startlight > OPTO DX > Shunyata Alpha S/PDIF > Chord Hugo TT2 

Amp & Speakers:  Spectral DMA-150mk2 > Aerial 10T

Foundation: Stillpoints Ultra, Shunyata Denali power conditioner, Shunyata Alpha power cords, Shunyata Alpha interconnect, Shunyata Sigma Ethernet, MIT Matrix HD60 speaker cables, ASC isothermal tube traps

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Looking forward to trying the Phoenix with my MK2 Zenith and Active KEF LS50 speaker's. Should hopefully have one for home demo in a couple of weeks.

 

Yes the Phoenix costs more than the KEF's but if the improvements are worth it, I'll gladly take it!

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On 5/14/2020 at 5:13 PM, matthias said:

I would NEVER buy an USB reclocker because it is dependent on the USB signal you feed with.

So it is much better to have an UHQ USB host controller in the first place.

 

Matt

Why not both? I have Pink Faun Ultra USB, I wonder if a Phoenix would improve further? I’ll find out soon when my dealer open! 

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On 5/14/2020 at 6:58 PM, rickca said:

@austinpop, any chance you could compare the Phoenix to the JCAT USB XE with a high quality 5V LPS like Optimo 3 Duo?

& pink faun usb ultra with LPS?

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43 minutes ago, ASRMichael said:

Why not both? I have Pink Faun Ultra USB, I wonder if a Phoenix would improve further? I’ll find out soon when my dealer open! 

 

Maybe you get an additional benefit with the Phoenix as you get one with an additional switch.

Anyway, I think the better way is to have a superior USB host card like JCAT or PF with an excellent PS in the first place.

 

Matt

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1 hour ago, ASRMichael said:

I have Pink Faun Ultra USB,

 

BTW, which USB host controller chipset use PF?

 

Thanks

 

Matt

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1 hour ago, thyname said:


A “birdie” told me the other day that the new InnuOS 1.4.4. update will be out this Tuesday, 5/19. It is supposed to fix the Roon SqueezeLite experimental feature among other things

 

🙏

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OK Mr. austinpop, I see you had a PS Audio regenerator in the system when you did the Ethergen review and now I see a Sound Application power conditioner. I know it was not a variable in this review, but that seems a pretty big change worth elaborating on

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16 minutes ago, bbosler said:

OK Mr. austinpop, I see you had a PS Audio regenerator in the system when you did the Ethergen review and now I see a Sound Application power conditioner. I know it was not a variable in this review, but that seems a pretty big change worth elaborating on

 

Not really. As a reviewer, my system is in more flux than the average person, with loaner and evaluation gear. The only thing germane to this review is that it was not a variable, and it was certainly not a sonic bottleneck.

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8 hours ago, austinpop said:

worth elaborating on

 

let me rephrase that. As someone who is pretty happy with their system, I see power conditioning as one of the final pieces of the puzzle, icing on the cake so to speak, at least as final as you can be in this hobby. So I am very interested in your impressions of these 2 devices and why you  switched. Obviously you prefer the change or you would still be using the PS Audio. I didn't expect a full review inside this review, I'm asking about your impressions of the new power conditioner and why you switched. Perhaps I am getting ahead of you but whatever you can share would be appreciated.

 

 

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47 minutes ago, bbosler said:

 

let me rephrase that. As someone who is pretty happy with their system, I see power conditioning as one of the final pieces of the puzzle, icing on the cake so to speak, at least as final as you can be in this hobby. So I am very interested in your impressions of these 2 devices and why you  switched. Obviously you prefer the change or you would still be using the PS Audio. I didn't expect a full review inside this review, I'm asking about your impressions of the new power conditioner and why you switched. Perhaps I am getting ahead of you but whatever you can share would be appreciated.

 

 

 

The TT-7 is in another price and performance league. I was fortunate to have another spell with it in my system.

 

This post of mine with my impressions on another thread should answer your question. Let's take the discussion there.

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