It’s been an interesting Labor Day. Russ Stratton and Chip Moore from the Los Angeles and Orange County Audiophile Society were kind enough to come by and share a few hours of their holiday with me as we evaluated a borrowed REGEN box. I also heard from Alex Crespi, the owner of Uptone Audio, in a comment that you can read below yesterday’s article. He shared a numbered list of things he believes are important to know about their box and more. You should read his thoughts.
First, let me describe what we did today.
Russ brought the following equipment with him:
1 Benchmark DAC2 HGC
2 Light Harmonic 1 meter 1G USB Cables
2 Monoprice 2 meter USB Cables
1 Balanced XLR A|B Switch Box
1 Regen Box by Uptone Audio
2 Pair of 1 meter Mogami 2534 Balanced Interconnects
1 Pair of 3 meter Mogami 2534 Balanced Interconnects
Sony Vaio Laptop Computer (6 years old)
120 Gigs of SSD Storage
Daphile Player Software (LMS Music Server)
I supplied the following:
1 Benchmark DAC2 HGC
Bryston (B Power Amplifier)
Audience AU24 Speaker Cables
Mogami Balanced XLR from the A|B Switcher to the Amp
The signal path:
We hooked up the entire system without the REGEN box and listened to Laurence Juber’s “Mosaic” track (it won the 2002 “Demmy” award for “Best High-Resolution Track”), per the suggestion of a couple of readers. We carefully measured the levels with a sound pressure meter and agreed that flipping the A|B box made no difference in the sound or the level. The diagram below lays out the signal path.
Figure 1 – The signal path for evaluating the Regen box. [Click to enlarge].
The three of us then listened to the track through both of the DACs. We took turns in the sweet spot, took turns switching between the DACs, and listened intently to the sound coming from the speakers. I held back my opinion. Chip’s first response was that he, “honestly, couldn’t tell any difference.” However, Russ stated that he could. He described it as, “the Regen box version is less harsh, has better reverb tails, and is slightly more open sounding.” He admitted that the difference was very, very small and would most likely be missed if played in a system less resolving then my studio. The AIX main studio is a professionally designed and built room, tuned by industry veteran Bob Hodas, and has been called one of the best sounding rooms by SFS Media chief engineer Jack Vad.
Figure 2 – The main control room at AIX Records during the Regen evaluation.
After some additional listening, Chip also concurred with Russ that he felt the sound through the REGEN box was, “more musical” sounding. Again, he thought he heard a difference but commented that it probably wasn’t $175 worth of an improvement. “If the box is doing anything, it’s very subtle”, he said.
I heard no change at all. During one of the changes between the with and without REGEN, I thought I may have heard the space open up just a little, but I failed to notice the same effect during any of the subsequent switches…and I’m not sure whether the one with greater space involved the REGEN. Maybe my professional mastering background or my skeptical nature clouded my judgment or maybe I’m like one of UpTone audio’s customers that wrote me this morning that he returned his purchase because despite repeated tests and careful listening in his systems, he couldn’t hear any changes either.
“I received my $175 refund from UpTone Audio yesterday. I had the REGEN for less than 24 hours because it didn’t take very long to tell that it was useless. DACs tested on: Mytek Stereo 192 DSD, Teac UD-501, Musical Fidelity VLink 196, ifi nano. Headphones: Sennheiser 600. Speakers: PSB towers. Amplifier: Parasound A23. The ifi, Teac, and Mytek DACs were run directly into the Parasound A23 when listening through speakers. I’m proud to say that, according to Alex at UpTone, I’m the first and only one to return a REGEN!! I guess I just don’t know how to listen; so I hope that you vindicate my ears.” Don Walizer
We listened to some other tracks…most notably “Mujaka” from The Latin Jazz Trio, the gentlemen loved it with or without the REGEN box.
So perhaps nothing was accomplished during our unscientific test. Two audiophiles told me that heard very subtle differences and I believe them. I didn’t hear anything change despite repeated listening to a track that I’ve heard many hundreds of times. The tally for the day’s listening? Two agree that it works and one remains a doubter. What does that prove? Nothing. It’s just more information to consider when you consider purchasing an audiophile accessory. Is the REGEN “snake oil”? Certainly not to the many hundreds who have purchased one and are enjoying the enhancements they hear. As for myself, I remain highly skeptical of the whole premise behind the device and will continue to focus on making the best recordings rather then chase the illusive micro-measured audio improvements claimed by a whole variety of audio accessories.
Tomorrow, I’ll give you the skinny on whether the data I captured was the same.