SW1X Valve Digital Transport & Streamers
Over the years of research and development of our digital filterless R2R DACs we have been looking to offer a matching digital transporter, a “better half” partner- a digital source that would maximise the musical potential of our DACs, synergise together in unison and match each other harmonically. If that was possible then it would make a digital product complete, similar to CD players back in the days were- one and inseparable solution. In order to achieve this goal, we were looking to replicate the direct & analogue sound character of the original & legendary Philips CDM0/CDM1 swing-arm CD pick up mechanism, which has been out of production since 1990s. It proved to be a difficult task to achieve given the trend of supplier racing towards cost reduction which shaped the mass consumer market since the discontinuation of the CDM0/CDM1 production. This has eventually led to the demise of CD pick up mechanism, downhill spiral in quality of digital transports and accelerated the transition into convenience driven computer hard drive based storage or currently completely remote streaming based digital. Is this the end?
Given such circumstances we envisaged that the only way to achieve this goal is to continue implementing findings of our research from the CD player era to a new emerging technology by developing a computer based music streamer device akin to a CD based transport. The outcome is the VDT- Valve Digital Transport- a radically different approach to a modern digital source. Essentially, it is a CPU connected to a valve based master clock, which paces the the valve powered digital output stage. It follows the same approach of a CD based digital transport just comes without a CD pick up mechanim but with a mini RISC CPU & audio playback dedicated OS that accesses a media storage drive instead. In order to achieve maximum analogue, musical & organic sound character unheard of digital source, VDT employs minimum quantity of transistors and maximum quantity of valves. Even the CPU (hardware and OS)- playback control part is reduced to an absolute minimum. This is done on purpose in order to have maximum musicality, highest possible quality of power supplies and to minimise all possible time domain distortions within the digital domain. Everything is designed to be UPnP & DLNA ready- just connect & discover the device on your network & control the playback of your music media via touch screen or another device. Last but not least, all our digital transport sources are designed to be ideal partners to our DAC products, maximising their musicality and analogue character.
Music Streamer for the New Age
In process of VDT creation or more accurately innovation, we went further and developed a full range of VDT products ranging from relatively simple to more sophisticated power supplies and increased number of tube employed. Altogether a VDT digital source is a fusion of old school technology from the CD (Red Book) based era applied to the new computer technology. We hoped that we could at least match the qualities associated with the good old CD pick ups. However today we can proudly announce that not only our VDT products match the qualities of CDM0/CDM1 pick up era but also surpass it in many aspects of sound quality (not to mention the bonus of convenience) by a large margin.
When transitioning from experimenting with CD players to experiments with computer based sources, the most important aspect of digital source design became very apparent to us- that complexity and computing power of a computer is not the answer to the question of sound quality. Quite on contrary to a widely accepted belief, the less power, the better it is as in fact it actually adversely affects the quality of power supplies and hence adversely affects the quality of sound. Almost every other product on the market is selling upgrades in terms of remote streaming services, “audiophile” routers, processing power and linear power supply upgrades, how come SW1X is going back in time to tube power supplies, local playback and less processing power? – one may ask. The answer is simple: If one looks to maximise musical pleasure there is no other way around it. The only other way to find out how good your DAC can get is to try a matching VDT transport.
For differences in digital transport specs please refer to the following VDT product overview:
Read more about remote streaming vs local playback here