High-End Performance Audio: a definition by SW1X Audio Design

High-End Performance Audio: a definition by SW1X Audio Design™


What defines High-End Performance Audio?

High End Performance Audio refers to the high performance audio reproduction equipment, which should be able to:

  • involve us emotionally
  • sound musical, natural & organic
  • reproduce the finest nuances of music recorded
  • make us forget that we are reproducing music
  • make speakers “disappear” from the room
  • provide a feeling of music being alive
  • make us feel as if the music performer is in front of us
  • be timeless


High Performance Audio products cannot be both high performance and consumer products (like a smartphone or similar) at the same time as the concept behind both types of products is both counter-intutive and mutually exclusive!


What makes real High End Performance Audio equipment:

  • Timeless, functional design that may be over 70 plus years old
  • Priced relative to its musical performance and the quality of materials employed
  • Employs only the most refined circuit designs and the finest materials
  • All parts are carefully selected, voiced and harmonically matched
  • Inside of equipment is explained and presented in a transparent fashion
  • The sound Q is more important than specifications, measurements, looks and features
  • Almost no marketing as most of the return is re-invested in to R&D
  • May be not be popular or unknown to mainstream
  • Known mostly to aficionados and connoisseurs
  • Produced on small scale and in limited quantities


Fake High-End audio equipment is charactereized by following features:

  • Cost-driven, low performance, consumer product
  • Eye-catching, expensive designer furniture looking with inexpensive, randomly chosen components and materials hidden inside
  • Loaded with features that matter the least to sound quality (such as displays, numerous inputs and outputs, compatibility with all formats)
  • Priced according to the specs and looks by a great deal of marketing (marketing cost more than 50% of total product cost)
  • Fashion driven by the latest technology, which tends to change all the time
  • Constantly in need to be upgraded for better, more modern and the latest versions
  • Have the most advanced specifications and measure extraordinarily
  • Driven by the impressive complexity of the circuit design
  • Frequently advertised by audio press and on the web
  • Is highly reviewed and regarded
  • Mass-produced


In sum, real high-end performance audio equipment cannot be out of date, regardless when it was made.



A Brief General Comment on the State of the High End Audio & the Slow Slide Towards Sonic Oblivion


Some interesting material for further reading here

Are You on the Road to Audio Hell?

SW1X Audio Design Philosophy

SW1X Performance Level System



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