EtherREGEN with an AfterDark OCXO clock; WOW

I’m not a fan of online conversations being split between two different forums. But I wanted to be sure that the Roon community was aware of a pretty awesome sonic upgrade that can tremendously improve the sound quality of their music streamed thru Roon, so am posting this here. I’m happy to see that the Roon community has discovered the excellent UpTone Audio EtherREGEN (aka ER). Wonderful sonic upgrades possible with that. But paired with an AfterDark Project ClayX Giesemann OCXO 10MHz Reference Master Clock (Audiophilestyle Edition 75 ohm / Emperor Signature version) the improvements for me became awesome.

There is a lot of discussion of this over on Audiophile Style in this thread about using an AfterDark clock with the ER. I would encourage a visit.

For myself I took a balanced approach between an ER alone, and cost-is-no-object AfterDark top-of-the-line clock upgrade, and yet the benefits have still been quite significant. Before dragging you thru the technical details, please allow me to highlight the benefits I’ve heard. Your mileage may vary, of course. But I’m experiencing significant additional detail - evidenced by things I’ve never heard before - on familiar tracks, quieter quiets (aka blacker black), dramatic reduction of edgy highs, far more realism - evidenced by listening to music recorded in jazz clubs - and find myself often looking up for the source of some sudden noise, only to realize it was in the recording (sure as heck sounded like it was in my room. LOL). Also, the ease with which the music flows, and most important is just making the music more enjoyable. I know that last one is difficult to qualify. I guess the only way I can do that is to say I’ve listened to Jazz at the Pawnshop for many years, just because of its sonic purity, and its value as a good recording for A/B gear testing. But I’ve always found it somewhat annoying. Grating. But not anymore. Now it’s musical, not grating at all, and thoroughly enjoyable to listen to. It really is much like having a major system upgrade. The changes I made to my system were as follows.

Using the ER in its primary use configuration - network (including Roon core) plugged into its A side, and my DAC (or Roon network endpoint) plugged into the B side. I’m using the UpTone Audio supplied power supply for the ER.

Providing the ER with an improved timing signal is a AfterDark’s middle-of-the-line OCXO Emperor Signature clock, connected to the ER by a BlueJeans 75 ohm Belden 1694A Coaxial Digital Audio Cable (BNC-to-BNC). But where the cable connects to the ER I’ve inserted a Mini-Circuits BLP - 10.7+ Low Pass Filter. The reason why I’m using a filter, and why I don’t care about the resistance mismatch between 50 ohm and 75 ohm parts can be found in a post here by the ER’s designer; John Swenson, and in Audiophile Style discussions here. As for the power to the clock, I’m using one leg of an UpTone Audio JS-2 LPS.

All told, it’s not a cheap upgrade. And as wonderful as the ER is on its own, it has a little switch to toggle it between using its built in clock and an external clock, allowing one to easily test the difference. Just a little A/B testing with that switch (and the requisite ER reboot) demonstrates in no uncertain terms how important that clock is to the sonic improvements I’ve described.

So, I’ve done what I could to let everyone know. As stated, your mileage may vary. Different clock version, different ohm clock, different cable, filter, and/or clock power supply are all variables that could impact performance. But what I’ve documented here has been a major upgrade for me. Explore that Audiophile Style link if you are curious, and possibly contribute to the conversation.

Happy listening.

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Thank you for this very detailed and documented information.

I think I’ll just go and put a record on…

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Folks, just in case it is not obvious… the prices you see in the AfterDark webpage are in Hong Kong dollars, NOT US dollars. So convert to whatever your currency is. Using Google’s currency conversion tool, today 1,000 HK$ is only 128 US$.

It’s not quite as scary as it might first look. :wink:

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I wonder if the QUEEN -SQUARE WAVE ETHERREGEN SE is enough to do the job… thats still S$1K for me and im not sure if its a night and day difference… maybe the group buy is a good idea tho

Wow indeed. This is wonderful news. Thanks so much.

Since the paper came out those filters are pretty much sold out everywhere, and they are fetching interesting second hand prices!

Are they sold out on the AfterDark link I provided? I first purchased one directly from Mini-circuits, who took my order, and promptly sent me an email saying it’d be AT LEAST two months before one shipped. Bad faith business IMO, but that’s OT.

So I ordered from AfterDark, paid for FedEx shipping, and had it in about a week. So I guess I’ll have an extra, brand new, one for sale when it arrives from Mini-circuits in a month or more. :wink:

Apologies folks. I have to occasionally remind myself that Roon now has a very broad audience. It’s not all die-hard audiophiles. Some (maybe many) people may have read my glowing endorsement in my OP, and taken it to mean that the improvements I mentioned would apply to all source material.

No. By all means NO. Far from it.

It only improves high quality source material. That means not only generally (but not exclusively) higher resolution material, but also excludes ANY material that was not exquisitely well recorded/mastered in the first place. So what does that mean, practically speaking?

Well, great material sounds fabulous. Mediocre material remains mediocre. And poor source material now sounds even more like crap.

So if I misled anyone, please accept my apologies. This upgrade helps the good stuff sound better. That’s it. And if you spend all your time listening to 60’s rock, 50’s jazz, or 40’s blues; please don’t bother.

It can only bring out magic in the material if the sonic magic was always there to begin with, just hidden.

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Not much left then, really… :wink:

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I echo Steve’s post - I went for the Emperor Signature clock, I’ve been running it in for the past 4 days and although the improvements are on the whole subtle, they are so easy to be heard; especially on those favourite tracks you are familiar with. My takeaway would be there’s more space around notes, more sense of hearing the acoustic and timing cues of the music. Great music just got better

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Again, I find I have to qualify my words. Sorry.

It improves high quality source material if AND ONLY if, you have a highly resolving system to play it on in the first place.

So, when the questions come, “What is exactly is highly resolving?” Well first, if you find yourself asking, it’s likely not your system. And if you are wondering, “Might it be mine?” And I’d reply with a question… “Did it cost you a BUNCH of money?” If not, then likely no, not yours.

I say all that in an effort to keep people from spending a lot of coin on an EtherREGEN with an AfterDark clock that isn’t going to be worth the investment for them.

This is a high end upgrade reccomdation intended for high(ish) end systems.

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Thanks. But just wait… it’s going to get LOTS better as your clock settles in. Frankly I’ve been shocked by the improvement over time.

We talk about burn-in all the time, but I’ve never experienced anything like this… it’s only going to get better. Probably LOTS better. :slight_smile:

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The great sounds great, mediocre is mediocre, poor = crap is to some extent system dependent (what isn’t?). Adding a very good sine wave clock to my etherREGEN lifted the quality of very good and good recordings. Redbook can sound very, very good, depending on how it was recorded (some recording engineers can extract quite a lot out of this resolution). Any resolutions above Redbook sound very much like live, especially 96kHz. Older classical recordings can sound limited in bandwidth/dynamics compared with more modern digital recording, but timbre and tonality can be very good. Really bad stuff sounds really bad. But Qobuz has quite a few re-mastered albums, some at higher resolutions too. If available, those are the ones to check out.

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Only people who can’t see the emperor naked will hear it…

In my opinion if you need to stipulate reasons for something to work then it isn’t worth bothering with.

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I think the point Steve is sharing is aimed towards people who have an ER, and heard the benefit, but maybe are not aware of the further benefits of adding a good OXCO clock to the ER. Or maybe those people open to considering such devices. But thanks for your opinion and contribution

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Exactly. I do have an ER and have now got access to a QUEEN -SQUARE WAVE ETHERREGEN SE unit with the matching LMPS from a good roon friend who has a spare in need of a home (lets see if it will be mine) so will be getting it warmed up and onto my ER in the coming days.

I have a couple of setups to try this in and will report back.

I know @scolley Steve has been around roon for many years (since the early days of Roon) and its not like him to post things that are just lip service to some product, so while in his system there has been a great benefit, it might not be as as he has said for everyone with an ER.

Everyone’s system is different, room is different, hearing is different, etc etc…but what it comes down to is experiencing the products you might like to try in your own setups and determine for yourself.

They do look rather special tho I must say and build quality is very good.

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People should be aware that you will mostly benefit using an external clock if you using the EtherRegen in a A to B configuration.

The clocks AfterDark is selling require a very good power supply in order to perform at its best. Farad, or Uptone LPS-1.2 is good candidates. (Paul Hynes is out of business).

If you use same power supply on clock and EtherRegen, you’re breaking the “moat”.
This apply even if you’re using a JS-2 power supply. (So the OP can probably benefit even more with an extra PS).

The clocks is native 50 ohm on a standard small PCB sold “everywhere”. (So there is a modification done to make a 75 ohm version).
EtherRegen can be purchased as a 50 ohm version. (Normally 75).

John Swenson, the designer of EtherRegen, has made a informative paper about clocks. One conclusion is impedance isn’t an issue, and can be easily fixed.
All AfterDark clocks (expect one) is sine wave.

In theory EtherRegen likes to see square. Sine works fine as well. Few clocks has a proper square output stage. Square requires you to pay attention to cable in use as well.

The only thing that matters with clocks, is phase noise numbers.

You can get very good clock cables well below $30. (Belden).

I have bought a clock with 113 dBc at 1Hz and 140 dBc at 10Hz.

I’m using it as input on a DDC Singxer SU-2, with very good results where it performs best. I’m also using a Cybershaft T spitter, and feeding my EtherRegen. (In a B>A configuration).

With all this said, I have no problem recommending purchasing these clocks. But you should request phase noise numbers up front before purchasing.

The same clock models has a huge span in phase noise. The exactly same clock is sold at different price, based on measurements.

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I may have 3 for sale :grinning: (Produce dropouts with a T split).
Where to find these second hand prices ?

I just mentioned this fact about an hour ago to a friend with ER and OR so he is using the ER in B to A config. We will test it regardless.

I personally use my ER in A to B but I also have some other connections on the A side like my Roon Server and a Ropieee endpoint plus I connect back to my network Fia SFP fibre connection - all only Audio related network connections. The B side is a Lumin D1.