hi, I’m wondering who is familiar with SW1X dacs? Seems to be limited info, some of it very over the top positive. The various models range from approximately 3000$ to $25,000? Has anybody heard or own one? Seems like a smaller UK company with limited US sales. Thanks for any perspective on this. Ted
I ordered a DAC II Special and put up a post on another Board as to my listening impressions. The one with "best" in the name. It elevated my digital playback to the most pleasing sound I had heard from my Aurender N100H and replaced an AMR DP777. I then ordered a DAC III Balanced-and upgraded my music server to a W20- and it arrived this Tuesday and is still burning it in 24/7. Look for a post with my listening impressions here and there about a week from now. I can say this much now. These are built to order by one man and two off and on assistants and the wait time can be three months. Covid has slowed down parts acquisition. Slawa Roshkow is a stickler for the very best parts-trannies, resistors, caps, and tubes. And-the designs are constantly being tinkered with primarily as parts availability changes. For example, my DAC III Balanced has slightly different transformers than past models and it turned out that the transformers needed to be configured slightly differently than in the past to eliminate any trace of hum. If you have ever heard a top of the line AN, you have an idea as to the SW1X sound but I have heard AN's and I think the SW1X's are a bit punchier.
I’ve been enjoying my DAC III plus for a month and it is the best upgrade I’ve had. Period. It’s dynamic, and texture and palpability is very analogue like. I can’t say how pleased I am with DAC. I could go on and on but ultimately if you’re looking for a NOS tube DAC that has the characteristics of vinyl playback you really need to find a way to hear it. I purchased mine blind by just reading a few reviews, reading Slawa’s interviews, and being very sympathetic to his audio philosophy. Ordering from Slawa was a breeze and my DAC arrived 2 months from purchase. I’ve heard the wait is a bit longer now. Don’t quote me on that. I can’t imagine you’d be disappointed.
I have heard rave reviews of these DACs and am also the one who wants to credit for good product, no matter how small the company is. I have asked for demo and DAC II special will be coming to me in few days to week, for home trial. I am looking forward for the trial and am sure will be amazed. I have Luxman D10X and have recently trialed Mola Mola Tambaqui, all of which are top class. I am also about to audition Esoteric XD series and see how things line up.
I, too, own an upgraded DAC III (DAC III+). It began life as a DAC III STD, but I sent it back for the upgrade last Fall after 'enthusiastic encouragement' from Wig. [Thank you!!]
I cannot put into words how happy I am with this DAC. The US Dollar price for this fluctuates because it is priced in British Pounds, but approximately $6000 will get you a DAC III+. Just as my Daedalus Apollo speakers and Don Sachs amp and preamp brought my system to a new, much higher level of enjoyment, the DAC III+ has lifted it even higher. I definitely fall into the 'over-the-top' positive group of owners.
For reference, a buddy brought his Balanced Lampizator Atlantic w/volume control to my home for a weekend about a year and a half ago. I think it was already approximately 2 years old at that time. We went back and forth between his Lampi and my <not yet upgraded> DAC III STD playing songs over and over. We came to the conclusion that they were pretty close to each other in sound characteristics. I think Lampi prices have dropped quite a bit since that Atlantic was purchased, but his was ~$13k vs my ~$4600 DAC III STD. Granted, his had volume control, so one could forego buying a preamp if one were so inclined. I have no idea how any other Lampi DAC might compare.
The DAC III Balanced is in house and playing. I can not imagine any DAC on the planet, in my system, producing more etherial sound. After another two weeks of careful assessment I will update this post with a more meaningful review.
Hi granada1; It is an excellent DAC. The issue is "is it worth 13K" considering that the DAC II Special is half the price? The presentation is a bit better. I will even venture to say it is significantly better. But is it worth the price differential? I am still struggling with that. It might be a matter of system synergy. I am still letting it all sink in. I will report back but I am not ready yet. I recently spent a fortune for a Lyra Etna Lamda. I am all smiles. It is worth every penny on my Reed 3P and hot-rodded Garrard 301. I am in nirvana. It took me no time at all to reach that conclusion. I hope you can read in between the lines.
What’s the verdict then? Is this Sw1x DAC 3 balanced worth the money?
also what’s your experience with Audio Note DAC 5?
There is no answer to such a question. I can only speak for myself. It is an excellent DAC. My take on it seems to change day to day. Some days I am absolutely convinced there is no better digital to be had at any price. Other days it sounds just very good. I am now of the opinion that one "problem" with the DAC III B is that it accentuates the difference between good digital recordings and mediocre ones. I have been listeing to a fair amount of digital streamed with Qobuz lately and the variation in recording quality or perhaps the stream is again very high. The DAC II Special I owned before trading up struck me as being 95% as good and it too seemed to strike me differently on different days. This does not happen with my vinyl rigs. Sure, some days my hearing just sounds off. And crappy pressings do sound crappy. But for the most part my vinyl rigs never fail to please immensely. I listened to an Audio Note system at Axpona '19. I came back to that room over and over. I don't recall which DAC they had in the room but whichever model it was sounded amazing as did the entire system.
I had a SW1X DAC III + upgrades. Wasn’t impressed with it. I let it break in for 5 days straight. It was very muted and lifeless sounding to me. It sounded NOTHING like good analog. I’ve also owned the Directstream DAC...also lacking in magic and very digital sounding.
The DAC that most sounded like a vinyl rig running a koetsu black (my preferred cartridge) was the Deja Vu Audio Aldo Dac. This dac was using a Sonos Connect as the Tidal source with a $700 digital coax cable. The sound blew my mind. It was Psychedelic.
The performance of the SW1X DAC III Balanced will depend on what it is being fed. The designer, Slawa Roschkow, does not consider streaming a suitable source for any serious listening as it is rife with timing errors. Feed it a proper SPDIF signal from a CD Player or server and you will realize its inherent greatness. However, the only fair comparison is with other DACs.
Analog is another thing altogether. With an analog source there is no digital conversion either A to D or D to A where there will always be some loss.With analog it is simply necessary to get the signal that the cartridge generates to the preamp without screwing it up, and there lies the rub. What happens when a phono stage gets truly out of the way and delivers a really robust signal? If analog is your thing, the SW1X LPU III Balanced phono stage will knock socks off permanently.
This brand is unabashedly inspired by Audio Note. I have not heard any of their gear so I have no idea of how successful they are at emulating that sound. Audi Note IS quite good at getting the smooth and relaxed sound of analogue without sounding muffled or lifeless. While being quite expensive, the Aldo DAC is competitive with the very best Audio Note DAC’s at a much lower price; I heard it in direct comparison to a DAC 5 and preferred it in most respects (except top end extension).
I recently purchased a SW1X Dac II from The Lotus Group (Joe Cohen). I bought the demo he sent me within a day or two of listening. The rest of my system includes Cube Nenuphar speakers, a Zu sub, First Watt Sit-3 amp, and a Linear Tube Audio MZ3 pre. My digital feed comes from an Antipodes EX (running Roon/Qobuz) out through a Curious Cable USB to the Antipodes P2 reclocker then SPDIF to the Dac. My previous Dacs are/were the Schitt Yggy, Border Patrol Sei, Benchmark Dac 3, and Lampizator Amber 3. Ten seconds into the first track the SW1x transformed this system. Even my wife's ears (the worst) notices. The sound stage is much bigger, there is more space between instruments, and there is absolutely no hint of digital sound. This is a very full analogue rich sound with lots of space. Mids and bass extension make this sound more real or more live. It sounds like you are there with a well produced track. You don't need hi res. A well produced redbook track streamed from Quobuz through Roon will make you a believer.
My local audio friend with a much bigger system (a Rossini Dac/clock) found this at least equal to the dCS. We didn't have a lot of A/B time with the different Dacs because we just started listening. By the end of the session he was looking at the SW1x price list and trying to figure out where he wants to land. That, I think, is the hard part. Which of their Dacs is the right one to try? I would recommend the Dac II or III standard for most to start with. You won't be disappointed.
I have to say that working with Joe Cohen has been enjoyable and I think he is really on to something here. The only way to hear this is to demo. Be prepared to buy. This is one of those products that you will have a lot of trouble sending back.