Innuos Network Isolation Switch and Reclocker (Phoenix)


A few weeks ago I added an Innuos PhoenixUSB reclocker to go along with my Innuos Zenith MKIII streamer which I am running Roon/Tidal on. On it’s own, I have to admit the Zenith didn’t offer the performance boost I was hoping for over my prior Mac Mini. This was even though I was using the “Squeezebox experimental mode” for better performance that pro users know about - it made a tiny bit of an improvement. For convenience I’ve been using the Zenith for years.

When I added the PhoenixUSB reclocker, after break in the performance boost was very clear. Everything became more focused, with better clarity. But I had the slightest feeling that my system was now a tad more “HiFi” sounding, which is not a quality I strive for in my system. Nevertheless I much preferred the sound with the PhoenixUSB reclocker. I perhaps wasn’t quite as over the moon as all other reviewers/owners seem to be with it though.

My Innuos PhoenixNET network isolation switch arrived yesterday. Without even any break in, the results are sublime. It took all the benefits of the PhoenixUSB and added to them in a way that took the sound in a far more natural direction. I’m amazed at the “calm” presentation I have now as one pro reviewer put it. The music is more straightforward now, and easygoing, with a highly detailed, tight, utterly controlled but also warm and inviting sound. There is an overwhelming sense of stability and solidity to the sound now, and it is very natural. Pro reviewers describe the sound as “analog” to use that cliche. Another said more specifically, it is like a highest quality tape recording. I’d agree, but there is of course zero noise. My system just sounds like music now without any hint of nasty “HiFi” qualities…

Highly recommend this combo, even if it’s pricey considering upgraded power cords, Ethernet cables and USB cables (a must - don’t bother without these upgrades)….

I wasn’t particularly a fan of Innuos when I just had my Zenith MKIII, but I am now.  It’s always stunning for me when I hear a slightly warm sound that is at the same time highly detailed, fast, punchy, and with tons of grip, and that’s what I’m hearing now.

 

 

nyev

I did actually ask Innuos about the need to re-clock both incoming ethernet and outgoing USB signals.  My question was:  isn't one enough?  This was their response.

"The PhoenixNET offers two benefits primarily; increase incoming signal precision and lower system noise. The signal precision element is a little more 'active' in how it applies when there is incoming audio streams thanks to the re-clocking, meanwhile the lowering of system noise is more 'passive' in that any network devices connected will receive less incoming noise than compared to cheaper switches and their associated switch mode power, ground plane, and high frequency chip noise and so on.


In the context of local files from your ZENith into a DAC, only the latter part of lowering system noise really applies because Ethernet is not the primary source of audio, it is coming from the internal SSD. There is not much network dependency involved here, but the PhoenixNET is providing a lower noise floor than a cheap regular switch.
In the context of incoming Tidal/Qobuz streams, the PhoenixNET is certainly more involved and it's re-clocking help ensure minimal jitter and lower phase noise due to clock inaccuracy. This results in reduced latency and buffering in the ZENith which in turn helps sound quality when it actually gets to the stage of producing the square waveform transmitted to the PhoenixUSB. Having the PhoenixUSB built-in to the ZENith would be even more advantageous as you could leverage even more clock coherence between the devices and even shorter signal paths, and that is one of the reasons the STATEMENT has the advantage it does.

To put another way, the PhoenixNET reduces harm in the DATA transfer stage, whilst PhoenixUSB reduces harm in the AUDIO SIGNAL stage which are two different types of transmission, so they have a similarly holistic approach but are doing at two different stages which is why there are cumulative benefits to having both.

​Although a very different budget consideration, instead of PhoenixNET i would say that if there is a way to get to STATEMENT instead (potentially through trade-in of ZENith, PhoenixUSB) then this would be the way to go. Don't forget there's several less cables involved also which would save on cost.

I would also strongly urge to check out the Hans Beekhuyzen video on Youtube titled 'Why digital circuits influence the sound quality'. He excellently summarises the whole topic, whilst below i can relate those principles more to your system directly."

In the time that has elapsed since my earlier post, I have been informed by John Rutan (Audioconnection), that the Innuos PhoenixNet is worth the cost as it is provides a very significant sound quality improvement.

I've been looking for a used one, but they get snapped up pretty quickly.

Bob

Innous asks you to buy two separate Ocxo clocks in addition to the streamer clock to clean up input and output lest you buy the Statement. Interestingly their newest streamer Pulsar incorporates USB reclocking. None of their equipment offers I2S clocking signal transfer nor a BNC port for a master clock.

@antigrunge2 .  Given what I've spent on PhoenixUSB (2nd hand), new Zenith, EtherRegen (2nd hand), AfterDark clock, 2 decent linear power supplies, Finisar SFPs, Startech FMC, plus cabling - not to mention the mess, then I'm roughly in the same price range as a Statement.

@lollipopguild, exactly the point I made earlier. The question is, how does the three box solution with premium cableing compare SQ with the Statement? And the further point that it would benefit Innuos (and their dealers) to get in front of this and provide some guidence. With the introduction of the Pulse line there have been some threads asking about Zen/Zenith vs Pulse SQ comparisons. In know there , are functional differences, but understanding their comparative streaming performance would be nice.