SW1X DACs: A Different Take on Digital

Joe Cohen

Industry Expert
Jun 10, 2012
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I have not, though I would also really like to hear from someone, anyone. I'm considering Lampi or SWiX (though Slawa has nearly astronomically increased his prices - almost shamefully so. I know, I know...whatever the market will bear. On the other hand, Lampizator has very little specific information available about its electronics. What's up with that?
Pricing is a sensitive issue in High End Audio, no doubt. But you have to dig a little deeper and see what goes into each level product to understand where SW1X is in this regard. One of the fundamental principles in Slawa Roschkow's designs is that resources will not be expended on things he considers superfluous such as the ability to play every last digital format or over engineered chassis with substandard internal parts. It is all 100% about the sound. So you will find components of the highest level possible within each given price point. There is real solid value for money, and if you are judging audio value by $ for SOQ then I doubt anyone can do any better. Finally, have you seen what is happening to the cost of parts and materials? Recent price increases from SW1X have been modest but many parts and materials have gone through the roof.

 

Solypsa

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Jun 7, 2017
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www.solypsa.com
This thread makes me kind of sad. I don't know the details under discussion but I know variations of similar characters as portrayed. I strongly hope the honest work thrives whichever that may be.
 

Joe Cohen

Industry Expert
Jun 10, 2012
214
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This thread makes me kind of sad. I don't know the details under discussion but I know variations of similar characters as portrayed. I strongly hope the honest work thrives whichever that may be.
Yes, some of it is sad, but there’s some real good here too. I think.
 
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divertiti

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Jan 12, 2021
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I have not, though I would also really like to hear from someone, anyone. I'm considering Lampi or SWiX (though Slawa has nearly astronomically increased his prices - almost shamefully so. I know, I know...whatever the market will bear. On the other hand, Lampizator has very little specific information available about its electronics. What's up with that?
How much was the SW1X dac before and how much has he increased the price?
 

Joe Cohen

Industry Expert
Jun 10, 2012
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DAC II Special went from $4595 to $6350
DAC III Balanced went from $11,925 to $13,575
LPU I special went from $3575 to $4350
LPU III Balanced went from $11,925 to $12595

These numbers will not have real meaning until you have heard the equipment.

Also, I should add that my cost for some of the parts that I distribute from Japan have increased as much as 79%!
 

Al M.

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Sep 10, 2013
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I have not, though I would also really like to hear from someone, anyone. I'm considering Lampi or SWiX (though Slawa has nearly astronomically increased his prices - almost shamefully so. I know, I know...whatever the market will bear. On the other hand, Lampizator has very little specific information available about its electronics. What's up with that?

Nearly astronomically increased? That exaggeration is not borne out in the price increases posted above.
 

Joe Cohen

Industry Expert
Jun 10, 2012
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One Salient feature of the TDA1541 is its use of Dynamic Element Matching. In simplest terms (as I understand it, and I am not an expert on this, so someone with deeper understanding please chime in) it interposes a scrambler between the multiple encoders and the individual DACs that they are routed to. So normally the same encoder location would feed the same DAC location ad infinitum which augments noise. The scrambler reroutes the signal(s) to different DAC locations randomly so as to cancel what would otherwise be augmented noise. The end result a more linear DAC with less distortion. What's interesting about SW1X is they use a tube circuit to control DEM. I'm not aware of anyone else doing that.



http://www.eecg.toronto.edu › karakiewicz_DEM
Part of the reason the TDA1541 were discontinued is that they were expensive to make.
 

tinkerphile

Member
Nov 27, 2021
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Nearly astronomically increased? That exaggeration is not borne out in the price increases posted above.
I wasn't speaking particularly of the very recent covid-related or other recent economic factors occurring with supply chain, market demand, etc. that is noted. I am merely looking at two-to-three year increases, and also in comparison to others companies' necessary increases. I didn't see the period of time referenced with your figures.

I Certainly didn't mean to offend in any way. But prior to remarking as I did in the brief post, I took a look at the price list last week, just as I was speaking with one of my good friends who bought a Level II Signature two years ago, or so, and loved it....at the time, he wrote a nice forum review which he passed on to Slawa. Unless my friend and I are both mistaken, the price today is close to double in two years. I didn't think both of us could reach the same erroneous conclusion; however, I suppose we could. I just recall I was interested in the same unit at the time, but wanted to wait while looking into things a bit more. I'll check with him to be sure he informed me correctly.
 
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tinkerphile

Member
Nov 27, 2021
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DAC II Special went from $4595 to $6350
DAC III Balanced went from $11,925 to $13,575
LPU I special went from $3575 to $4350
LPU III Balanced went from $11,925 to $12595

These numbers will not have real meaning until you have heard the equipment.

Also, I should add that my cost for some of the parts that I distribute from Japan have increased as much as 79%!
What is the referenced time period/dates corresponding to the increases you cite?
 

Joe Cohen

Industry Expert
Jun 10, 2012
214
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What is the referenced time period/dates corresponding to the increases you cite?
The prices I am citing are between the ones we established when I became dealer/distributor last August and the most recent change. I am not familiar with the prices from two years ago. Another thing, aside from the rising costs of everything, is that it is not unusual for a new company starting out to discover that in order to remain viable, the prices they have been charging need to be revised. Another thing to keep in mind is that, (and as great as I know it must be, based on my experience with a fair amount of SW1X gear to date) the DAC II Signature from two years ago is not the same as today's DAC II Signature .
 

tinkerphile

Member
Nov 27, 2021
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The prices I am citing are between the ones we established when I became dealer/distributor last August and the most recent change. I am not familiar with the prices from two years ago. Another thing, aside from the rising costs of everything, is that it is not unusual for a new company starting out to discover that in order to remain viable, the prices they have been charging need to be revised. Another thing to keep in mind is that, (and as great as I know it must be, based on my experience with a fair amount of SW1X gear to date) the DAC II Signature from two years ago is not the same as today's DAC II Signature .
I getcha :) It's all good. I did check with my buddy, who was the impetus for me heading in the SW1X direction. He clarified he did pay in the neighborhood of $5K, but has been impressed enough that he'd considered moving up the line. I think that model designation is approximately $13K now, but likely a number of changes, as you suggest. I agree with you that in June-July of 19, the brand was just getting a firm foundation and a larger following, whereas now the business model (esp. 2021 cost factors) needs to establish revised price points. My point in the post was a fair observation, and was simply saying that the very large increase was quite remarkable and beyond what I could allocate in my system budget overall. Several of us in San Diego and where our second home are located had some very nice higher end systems, and often discussed the SW1X architecture that produces a wonderful sound signature. I do hope your distributorship is profitable and enjoyable, as it should be!
 
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Lee

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Feb 4, 2011
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Alpharetta, Georgia
One Salient feature of the TDA1541 is its use of Dynamic Element Matching. In simplest terms (as I understand it, and I am not an expert on this, so someone with deeper understanding please chime in) it interposes a scrambler between the multiple encoders and the individual DACs that they are routed to. So normally the same encoder location would feed the same DAC location ad infinitum which augments noise. The scrambler reroutes the signal(s) to different DAC locations randomly so as to cancel what would otherwise be augmented noise. The end result a more linear DAC with less distortion. What's interesting about SW1X is they use a tube circuit to control DEM. I'm not aware of anyone else doing that.



http://www.eecg.toronto.edu › karakiewicz_DEM
Thanks Joe!
 
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birdyy9

New Member
Nov 20, 2021
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I have been following his website for 3 years since I was considering purchasing. I gave up the purchase because of my subjective impression of how it was running the business.

There is no excuse for this price increase other than the simple desire to earn more.
The price range within the same model does not justify the increase in the price of the parts if any.
The price range between the model numbers does not justify the change in the cost of materials and " the mental effort" in designing.
The difference in prices between the cheapest Dac and the most expensive one is 2000 Pound to 115,000

In the last year the number of items offered for sale has doubled. A line of non-DAC products has been added

It's a business and price meets buyers.
According to the supply and demand curve in economy, selling a small quantity of products means a high price
regardless of their quality or how much was invested in them.
 

birdyy9

New Member
Nov 20, 2021
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"There are people who have acquired vast amount of knowledge but very limited understanding and paradoxically the less they understand the more they think they do"

This is a quote from an interview that Slawa gave only 3 years ago with respect to its competitors or others.

According to his description of his background and his experience-Let each decide for himself whether it is enough experience for create such a large list of devices with a price range from 2000 to 115,000pound DAC, PHONO, PRE AMP , AMP and more, base on his "secret recipe" compare others that "have acquired vast amount of knowledge but very limited understanding and paradoxically the less they understand the more they think they do"
 

tinkerphile

Member
Nov 27, 2021
70
41
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I have been following his website for 3 years since I was considering purchasing. I gave up the purchase because of my subjective impression of how it was running the business.

There is no excuse for this price increase other than the simple desire to earn more.
The price range within the same model does not justify the increase in the price of the parts if any.
The price range between the model numbers does not justify the change in the cost of materials and " the mental effort" in designing.
The difference in prices between the cheapest Dac and the most expensive one is 2000 Pound to 115,000

In the last year the number of items offered for sale has doubled. A line of non-DAC products has been added

It's a business and price meets buyers.
According to the supply and demand curve in economy, selling a small quantity of products means a high price
regardless of their quality or how much was invested in them.
I'm not concerned with these particulars about the SW1X business, merely whether it sounds superb and is either fairly or affordably priced, as well as how it competes at certain price points.

Some may think the enormous / massive price increase claim is a surprising exaggeration of fact. I just think it changes the price point and consequentially moves buyers to another market. And I don't know what differences of the unit between 2019 and 2021; however, it would seem like quite a stretch to claim inflation, parts, and shared RnD resulted in the unit cost doubling.
 

Joe Cohen

Industry Expert
Jun 10, 2012
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“And the very first sonic encounter with the SW1X Audio Design DAC III Balanced, which arrived at M and Stereo recently, coincides well with various observations and reports.

There is something very different going on at the core of the SW1X DAC, that was easily noticeable already with the first few songs in the play.

More to follow, stay tuned...”

 
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mresseguie

Well-Known Member
Feb 26, 2016
16
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I just stumbled upon this thread this morning, and thought I'd add a little understanding concerning one of the price increases at SW1X Audio. I own what I and some of the DAC III owners call the DAC III+ model. I bought my DAC III directly from Slawa before Joe began carrying SW1X products. [Happy New Year, Joe!]. In 2020, after chatting with another DAC III owner who had upgraded his DAC III, I contacted Slawa about upgrading mine. I based my upgrade on this other fellow's upgrade, but added a couple more changes that appealed to me. My goal at the time was to take a half-step to the DAC III Special. I was hoping to get many of the sonic improvements of the Special without the full cost. [I'd like to think I accomplished this.]

Once I had put my money down and shipped my DAC III back to England, Slawa set about applying the improvements that I had requested. Once he finished and added it to his test system, he was so delighted with the results, that he told me my 'new' DAC III+ would become the new standard DAC III STD model.

The point of my post is that my original <pre-upgraded> purchase price was approximately $4500. My upgrade cost in the neighborhood of $1500. Thereafter, the price for the DAC III STD became ~$6000. [I just checked his prices. His DAC III is ~$5400 at today's exchange rate. I don't recall the rate when I paid him.] I have no idea if his DAC III today is identical to my model, but I'll wager they are close. The 'surge' in price simply reflected the changes to the earlier model. I have no commentary to offer concerning any other model's price increases.

Oh. One other comment from me: I LOVE how my SW1X DAC III+ sounds. I have tried it in several different systems (my own systems and friends' systems).

Edit: In the Spring of 2020, a good friend of mine came to my home and stayed for a weekend. He brought his Lampi Atlantic DAC w/volume control and an old Hafler LX280. At the time of purchase, his Lampi cost ~$12,000. We directly compared his Atlantic against my not-yet upgraded SW1X DAC III STD. By the end of the weekend, we were both in agreement that neither DAC outshone the other enough to care about. I felt his was ever so slightly more sibilant than mine, but that's being really nit-picky on my part. I was delighted that my ~$4500 DAC III had held its own against a much more expensive Lampi. I've posted about that weekend on other audio sites if you want more details than I have given here.
 
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Joe Cohen

Industry Expert
Jun 10, 2012
214
222
348
I just stumbled upon this thread this morning, and thought I'd add a little understanding concerning one of the price increases at SW1X Audio. I own what I and some of the DAC III owners call the DAC III+ model. I bought my DAC III directly from Slawa before Joe began carrying SW1X products. [Happy New Year, Joe!]. In 2020, after chatting with another DAC III owner who had upgraded his DAC III, I contacted Slawa about upgrading mine. I based my upgrade on this other fellow's upgrade, but added a couple more changes that appealed to me. My goal at the time was to take a half-step to the DAC III Special. I was hoping to get many of the sonic improvements of the Special without the full cost. [I'd like to think I accomplished this.]

Once I had put my money down and shipped my DAC III back to England, Slawa set about applying the improvements that I had requested. Once he finished and added it to his test system, he was so delighted with the results, that he told me my 'new' DAC III+ would become the new standard DAC III STD model.

The point of my post is that my original <pre-upgraded> purchase price was approximately $4500. My upgrade cost in the neighborhood of $1500. Thereafter, the price for the DAC III STD became ~$6000. [I just checked his prices. His DAC III is ~$5400 at today's exchange rate. I don't recall the rate when I paid him.] I have no idea if his DAC III today is identical to my model, but I'll wager they are close. The 'surge' in price simply reflected the changes to the earlier model. I have no commentary to offer concerning any other model's price increases.

Oh. One other comment from me: I LOVE how my SW1X DAC III+ sounds. I have tried it in several different systems (my own systems and friends' systems).

Edit: In the Spring of 2020, a good friend of mine came to my home and stayed for a weekend. He brought his Lampi Atlantic DAC w/volume control and an old Hafler LX280. At the time of purchase, his Lampi cost ~$12,000. We directly compared his Atlantic against my not-yet upgraded SW1X DAC III STD. By the end of the weekend, we were both in agreement that neither DAC outshone the other enough to care about. I felt his was ever so slightly more sibilant than mine, but that's being really nit-picky on my part. I was delighted that my ~$4500 DAC III had held its own against a much more expensive Lampi. I've posted about that weekend on other audio sites if you want more details than I have given here.
Happy New Year, Mitch. Thank you. Links to the other posts?
 

mresseguie

Well-Known Member
Feb 26, 2016
16
12
108
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