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Informed and Rational Choice in High End Audio

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Informed and Rational Choice in High End Audio


In a modern marketing dominant world, we are exposed to a lot of information. Some of that information is necessary and is useful to stay informed. However the largest proportion of information is used to keep us either overloaded or deliberately used to mislead us.  We as music lovers and audiophiles would like to be highly knowledgeable about the product(s) of interest. We would like to make a rational and well informed decision, when it comes to investing into high fidelity audio equipment.  Unlike mainstream marketing, our goal is keep you informed by being transparent about the materials and components we employ.

Those who have done a little bit of experimentation know that quantity and complexity of components/features of an audio product can be quite misleading. The amount of components/features does not necessarily improve the quality of sound as we are lead to believe. On the contrary, since there are no perfect components, parts or materials, the complexity and quantity of components/features contributes only to degradation of sound quality. Therefore, the sound of a recording cannot be improved but only degraded by the quantity of components. Hence the only best possible performance can be achieved when fewer and only highest quality components are employed. One can focus on the choice of materials and components, only when the whole circuit becomes simple and elegant. Discriminating between good and bad parts becomes also easier when there are only a few parts in the circuit.

If one compared SW1X Audio Design™ products to any mainstream branded products it becomes apparent that we are not competing with the mainstream for the number of features, most attractive looks or the latest specs. On top of that, our products do not have any oversampling, noise shaping, jitter reduction or highest possible (claimed) resolution, inputs and outputs – we leave that to the mainstream. When it comes to reproducing music none of those above mentioned but heavily marketed features matter. In fact all of those features just contribute to wiping out the spirit out of the music beyond recognition. In contrast to mainstream, we offer products that are engineered to perform in the area that matters above everything else- that is to reproduce music in its best possible glory. Having mentioned that, we are not a conservative-reactionary type of a company, otherwise we would have still be stuck with CD players or gramophones.

Reproducing music is not an easy task as music recordings all recorded differently and contain a lot of hidden information that actually makes music sound emotionally moving and involving. Everything matters when it comes to music reproduction at maximum performance- there are no unimportant aspects or places of audio design which could or should be neglected. In order to be able to extract most of the musical information, the quality of materials and components matters as much as the the circuit topology and the recordings themselves. Any serious musician will confirm how much materials matter and how they affect the sound they put their soul into.  If the material quality is an important aspect for musicians, why should it not matter when it comes to reproducing music?

Every material and component has their own distinct sound character. Understanding how materials & components and their interactive behavior affect the sound is an essential aspect of the overall knowledge necessary to create musical sounding high fidelity audio products. Believe it or not, studying materials & components is just as important as understanding circuit topology. Despite this, remarkably few audio companies research exotic, vintage and sophisticated passive components like Black Gate, Silmic, non-magnetic resistors, silver wires or other esoteric materials 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.

If quality of materials and components matters, how many mainstream brands out there are really concerned with this matter?

If they do not, how serious can any claim be regarding pursuing or maximising the quality of sound ?

Dr. Slawa Roschkow, 01.07.2016

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