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SW1X Audio Design Performance Level System

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SW1X Audio Design™ Performance Level System

In essence, SW1X Audio Design™ Performance Level is an indicator of the quality of sound our customers can expect from the SW1X Audio Design™ product they are looking at. The goal is to help you in your search for the highest level of sound quality for your money. SW1X Audio Design™ products are offered on 3 performance/price levels. At each performance level, we offer products in 3 versions: Signature, Special and Standard– all versions are sharing similar circuit design but differ in the sophistication of power supplies, material and components quality. While the Standard version comes with very high quality components, Signature version uses the finest components available taking the Standard version to another level of performance.  Since there is nothing left to upgrade, Signature version is what we consider timeless. Special version is a version that has specially selected materials & components graded between Standard and Signature version (with custom options), features improved power supply and shares some of the technological aspects borrowed from higher performance level.

Very few products on the market can be considered to be truly without compromise. Some manufacturers do not recognise the significance of components and material quality, some are more concerned with profit making rather than the quality of sound but in many cases it is simply due to budgetary constraints. Contrary to that, the product range of SW1X Audio Design™ is built around musical performance levels from which we developed a product range and with their corresponding price levels. The ultimate objective is to allow our customers and dealers to select and build systems of superior sound quality and longer lasting value. The performance level system is created to demonstrate that increases in price correspond with suitable improvements in sound quality.

There are no unimportant or negligible aspects in audio- everything matters when it comes to maximum sound quality! Maximising the sound quality of an audio system is a cumulative process. The improvement in one part of a system may seem to be negligible but as a sum of all parts, it becomes more than significant. Every material and component have their own distinct sound character. Understanding how materials & components and their interactive behaviour affect the sound is an essential aspect of the overall knowledge necessary to create musical sounding audio products. Believe it or not, studying materials & components is just as important as understanding elegant circuit topology. Despite this, remarkably few audio companies investigate or test sophisticated passive parts such as Black Gate & Kaisei capacitors, non-magnetic resistors, silver wires or other esoteric and therefore by necessity expensive components and parts. In contrast, we are spending incalculable numbers of hours critical listening every product we make, to ensure that it maximises its performance to price level best possible.

We create all our audio products with one objective in mind: audio equipment must behave like a universal musical instrument, i.e. be able to reproduce musical information as intended by the musicians. In order to achieve this we pay utmost attention to every aspect of its conception, prototyping, design implementation and its final production. We place a great amount of value to following areas: Components & Materials Choice, Circuit Design and last but not least Harmonic Matching of materials & components in a circuit- the key to musically sounding product. The quality, combination and sophistication of those three areas defines the SW1X performance level system.

All SW1X Audio Design™ products are graded according into a system of 3 performance levels, each of which primarily places a product according to its musical performance and refinement of low level musical information, this is meant to serve as a guideline for our customers and dealers in three categories:

a) To help in choosing the right SW1X Audio Design™ components to build and/or upgrade an SW1X audio system.

b) To act as a technological league table and guide to the best sounding technical and acoustic principles.

c) To act as a guide to better sounding components and materials.

The whole idea behind the performance level system is that one can have a musical sounding product at any given budget level. Higher performance/higher grade version buys even more musicality & refinement. That also implies that one can start enjoy reproducing music and stop worry about upgrading once a certain level is obtained.

Ultimately, every Signature version of the SW1X product is designed to be timeless i.e. unless it is higher SW1X performance level, one would not need to upgrade or to replace it with anything in the future.

High-End Audio: a definition by SW1X Audio Design

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In essence, SW1X Audio Design™ Performance Level is an indicator of the quality of sound our customers can expect from the SW1X Audio Design™ product they are looking at.

The difference between each performance level is predominantly defined by the sophistication of HV and LV power supplies as well as by the components & material quality. At higher performance levels the power supplies have further improved filtering, more independent rails and also utilise more exotic components (more silver wire, better resistors and capacitors) by default even in the Standards versions. Higher performance levels pass even more low level musical information (better dynamics, harmonics and more balanced tonality) and therefore provide even more refinement and musicality especially when partnered with other high performance equipment. All performance levels come with a discrete low voltage regulation (either shunt or series) based on Germanium transistors. Every component and material is carefully selected and harmonically matched to maximise the musicality at each performance level.

The performance level system is very similar to the model range of Mercedes or BMW cars.

Here is an example with SW1X line of DACs:

Performance level 1, (call it MB C class or BMW 3 series) DAC I employs single NOS TDA1543 and uses either a resistor or Silicon transistor in the I/U conversion stage and has solid state diode rectification for the B+ power supply of the single ended tube output stage. The power supply is CRC topology. The wiring inside is predominantly copper.

Performance level 2, (MB E class or BMW 5 series) DAC II employs NOS 2 x PCM56K and uses either Germanium or Silicon transistor in the I/U stage and has a double diode tube for the rectification of the B+ power supply. The power supply is choke filtered CLC topology. The wiring is 50%/50% silver/copper.

Performance level 3, (MB S class or BMW 7 series) DAC III employs NOS TDA1541 and uses only a Germanium transistor in the I/U stage and has a directly heated double diode tube for the rectification of the B+ power supply. The power supply is 2x choke filtered CLCLC topology. The wiring is predominantly silver.

Each corresponding performance level is priced accordingly (the more musical performance, the higher the cost of the materials and components, the higher the price).

 

What makes SW1X Audio Design sound?

Current products graded according to their performance:

Performance level 1

is characterised by CRC (CLC Signature or Special versions) power supply topology normally with solid state rectification diodes, with exception of LPU I and USB I, where valves are used for DC rectification by default. All products except Signature and Special versions are mostly copper wired.

SW1X DAC I (available in STD, Special and Signature version)

SW1X USB I (available in STD and Signature version)

SW1X UMS I & PSU I

SW1X LPU I (available in STD and Signature version)

SW1X PRE I (to be released, coming soon)

SW1X TERRA/AQUA/AERO line of cables with up to 7 conductors

 

Performance level 2

is equipped with more transformers and chokes in more sophisticated CLC power supply topology (CLCLC in Special or Signature versions)  by default with valve based DC rectification.  This results in large space requirement and therefore larger chassis. Increased number (relative to performance level 1) of exotic materials such as silver wiring (silver and copper is about 50/50 ratio except Signature version, where it is predominantly silver wired), Kaisei capacitors in the Standard versions.

SW1X DAC II (available in STD, Special and Signature version)

SW1X USB II (available in STD, Special and Signature version)

SW1X LPU II (available in STD, Special and Signature version)

SW1X PRE II (to be released, coming soon)

SW1X  AQUA/AERO line of cables with up to 11 conductors

 

Performance level 3

builds on performance level 2 and comes with even more sophisticated power supplies such as CLCLC power supply topology (CLCLC with valve voltage stabilisation and output transformers in Special or Signature versions), choke loading in the anodes by default with valve based DC rectification. Level 3 is characterised by a more refinements achieved by using more exotic materials such as silver wires, Kaisei & BG capacitors, AN tantalum resistors and more chokes, all of which are now employed by default in the Standard versions.

SW1X DAC III (available in STD, Special and Signature version)

SW1X LPU III (to be released, coming soon)

SW1X PRE III (to be released, coming soon)

SW1X AERO line of cables with up to 15 conductors

 

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SW1X Audio Design Product Versions: Standard vs Special vs Signature

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