Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 12.2), PureMusic 3.02, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, Fore Audio DAISY1, COS Engineering D1, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, AURALiC Vega,
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVC module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1, F5, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Gato Audio DIA-250; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; AURALiC Merak [on loan], S.A.Lab White Knight [on review]
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica; Sounddeco Sigma 2; EnigmAcoustics Mythology M1; soundkaos Wave 40; Boenicke Audio W5; Zu Audio Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence, Kroma Audio Julieta [on review], Æquo Audio Ensis [on review]
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, Verictum Silver X block on preamp and amplifier
Room: Rectangular 5.5 x 15m open floor plan with two-storey gabled ceiling, wood-sleeved steel trusses and stone-over-concrete flooring
Review component retail: $249

The meaning is unmistakable. Today's puny box is meant to restore something that was lost. Being specific to USB audio, it's a member of a quite popular repair club. Members include Uptone Audio's USB Regen, iFi Audio's micro-iUSB3.0, AudioQuest's Jitterbug, Schiit's Wyrd. There are even format converters. Think PS Audio's forthcoming two-box LANRover. It instigates a USB-to-Ethernet-to-USB protocol. Think fibre media converters like TP-LINK's MC200CM. Those insert optical transmission. Incidentally, that format is championed also by Bel Canto's Black which prioritizes AT&T glass fibre. Both Ethernet and optical overcome USB's 5-metre restriction. Both include galvanic isolation because their signal interface is magnetic, not mechanical. The Ethernet converter even claims higher packet stability because its protocol differs from how USB handles packets. Just when you thought that computer audio was finally reasonably mature and out of its unpredictable teenage angst years, the launch of these pesky black boxes—or their repurposing from other industries—suggests that much still needs fixing. It has rational people bristle. "If all of these affordable boxes can make any improvement never mind significant ones, why the heck won't DAC makers incorporate the same basic tech to obliviate the need for such add-ons?" Not having the answers, we instead soldier boldly onward to where so many have gone before.

EJ Sarmento's Recovery follows his prior Remedy reclocker. That addressed inferior S/PDIF transmissions for items like iPod docks and sundry. Then users began to report back. The Remedy could improve rather posher transport/converter combos too. Now our man began to think. Might he just have more on his hands than he'd thunk at first? Instead of raising the price, he revisited the same reasoning of outboard reclocking, just applied now to USB. Laudatory Recovery reviews, awards even, are already collecting dust. My late-coming party appearance is coarse self interest. Having written off CD spinning many moons ago—more than six by now—I'm a diehard PaCifist; a PCfi user. Naturally I'm keen on the best the approach can offer. When mo betta is promised for as little as the Recovery, I feel it. Our scribe from Down Under, John Darko, had called it "mattering more than your chosen USB cable or playback software; a most effective antidote to¬†digititus¬†and therefore a 100% essential piece of the puzzle". Damn. It had my inner Smeagol twitching. He dreamt of precious and soon becoming Gollum.

Off went an email to EJ. He was busy with finaling his pending íntimo 3-in-1 and their take-no-prisoners reference amp. Just so, he got me sorted quickly. Truth told, I rather expected his li'l box to do its thing on my HP Z230 work station. Here I do my writing to the tune of Opera, FireFox, Chrome, Outlook, DreamWeaver, Word, Photoshop, FastStone Editor, Ipswitch WS_FTP, Acrobat and other programs of various resource intensity all running simultaneously on 16GB of RAM whilst I stream music via my Tidal or Qobuz 16/44.1 subscriptions or even Spotify+ to boot.

The poor receiver on the other end of all this business, via 60cm Curious USB cable, is a Gordon Rankin 24/96 DAC built into my small Swiss active desktop speakers. This multi-task terrain I saw as perfectly recoverable. I was less certain about the main rig. Here PureMusic or Audirvana handle mega 32GB memory buffering and upsampling. They spin down the hard drive. They shut down certain background processes on my iMac which I use for nothing else. Via a double-header red KingRex cable, its USB outputs analog voltages representing zeroes and ones to converters of Fore Audio DAISy1, Aqua Hifi LaScala MkII and COS Engineering D1 calibre. Really, could a $249 gizmo be efficacious enough in such september (that's one more than august) company? Or was it just a little sumthin for my work desk best kept away from the big-boy stuff?