My review of some products from SW1X

I have been collecting and listening to Hi Fi for about 45 years. The move to digital, and up-sampling in particular, has been a big disappointment in the last 15 years. Like many I am not enamoured by the digital ’headache’. Previously this annoyance has been somewhat ameliorated by the use of valve amps (McIntosh 225, Audionote Meishu, EAR 861), transistor NOS DACs and horn speakers, but there are times when I contemplated giving up trying to improve my system.
Then, by chance, I spotted an advert for SW1X, carried out extensive auditioning, and finally entered a new world. Below is my best attempt to review the kit I have bought. I am no technical expert and I leave Slawa of SW1X to fend off any technical question.

USB1 Signature
Almost all interfaces to computers rely on USB connection and the job of the USB1 is to convert that signal to SP/DIF and hence onward to the DAC. It does clever things with the clocking and predominantly makes use of valves. It doesn’t have a sound in the absolute sense and can only be judged when in line with a good DAC. It’s a smart well finished box. In my case it is brushed aluminium which I like as it diminishes the sort of minor marks that occur on black boxes over time. Connection is minimalist with a USB cable in and an SP/DIF cable out. A mains switch makes up the compliment and this is placed at the rear to encourage one to leave it on 24/7, particularly with the internal Black Gate capacitors. In operation it was immediately recognised by my Raspberry Pi.

DAC 1 Signature
This is where the magic reveals itself. There is an SP/DIF cable in and phonos out, and again there is just the mains switch on the rear. If you are looking for an analogue sound from a digital source then the search is over. I used to own a Linn Sondek, Ittok etc and its memory has been truly laid to rest. CDs that were unlistenable are now enjoyable and discs that were once enjoyable are now wonderful. I have learnt over the years to avoid over focussing on details within the sound, being old enough to remember that Naim sold a thousand amps based predominantly on the reproduction of a rim shot on a drum. Well this DAC just makes music, overwhelming, foot tapping, sing along music. It does high and low frequencies and a lovely valve-like fluid midrange, but at no times does it draw undue attention to specific elements. Its just a pleasure to own it.

Silver cables
If the electronics are the icing on the cake, then these cables are the cherry on top. In the past I have often played lip service to the choice of cables not really hearing too much in the way of differences but happy to settle for Audionote silver ANV cables so I didn’t have to worry about missing out on something! Suddenly I was hearing differences. SW1X cables bettered the Audionote cables which went on E Bay. The real revelation were the silver mains cables. Slawa has his own recipe for cables using strands of silver wire of mixed radiuses in what is essentially an air dielectric. A key element is their (zero) impedance. I cant begin to guess why 1m of silver mains cable can impact on several miles of supply cable to the house, but it does. I would say the interconnect between computer and USB1 is the cable to get in order to share the insight and at about £100 it’s a steal. Each change of cable allows the system to breath more easily. The soundstage opens up and just becomes more real. Eventually the speakers disappear – Amazing.

In conclusion
Slawa is one of the nicest people I have met in Hi Fi. For creativity and innovative thought I would put him alongside the likes of Peter Qvortrup and Tim De Paravicini. Yet he is friendly and happy to talk through any naïve questions I may have.