Your Asus, your HP, your Acer, your Macbook, your iMac, your Mac Mini – hook ‘em up to your DAC via USB and they play music just fine.
Where’s the beef? Ones and zeroes spill but often in bursts. So too does electrical noise. Your DAC is sensitive to both. The result is often an unshakable sense of audible anaemia. Music is shorn of its all-important engagement factor. In other words, USB audio isn’t perfect.
Mitigating electrical noise infection and USB data timing anomalies is the USB regenerator, a box that sits between PC/Mac and DAC, re-clocks the USB data stream, cauterises the computer’s 5V power feed before slipstreaming in its own supply.
In the past 12 months, we’ve seen USB generators served up by Schiit Audio, UpTone Audio, iFi Micro and Wyred 4 Sound (among others).
They all make a difference to sound quality but each is slightly different in its hookup method: the Schiit Wyrd demands a USB cable either side whilst the UpTone Regen (effectively) connects directly to the DAC’s USB port; the Wyred 4 Sound Remedy splits that difference with a flylead.
But look over yonder toward Colorado! Here comes PS Audio with the LANRover, a USB regenerator does Different with a capital D.
The LANRover electrically isolates the DAC from its host computer using a rather clever two-box transmitter/receiver rig. Connecting the two is Ethernet which has galvanic isolation baked into its design.
It works like this: the computer’s USB output feeds into the LANRover’s transmitter box, which regenerates the incoming USB datastream before handing off the freshly-tidied ones and zeroes to the LANRover’s receiver box (which is connected to the DAC’s USB input).
The 5V power supply spilling from the host computer does not pass between the two PS Audio boxes and therefore does not reach the DAC. Instead, the LANRover receiver gets its 5V from a supplied wall wart.
Watch PS Audio CEO Paul McGowan talk about the LANRover’s inception:
As well as USB data regeneration and electrical isolation between DAC and PC/Mac, the LANRover offers the potential to separate DAC and computer by up to 100 meters – that’s 95 meters longer than USB’s recommended maximum cable length.
The LANRover’s data tubing will happily accommodate PCM up to 352kHz and 2xDSD.
Pricing clocks in at US$599. Beta testing begins in July and if all goes well, the first units will ship to dealers in August.
Further information: PS Audio