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Thread: Review of SW1X Universal Music Server UMS1 Signature and Universal Power Supply

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  1. #1
    Join Date: Apr 2016

    Location: Bishops Stortford

    Posts: 389
    I'm Chris.

    Default Review of SW1X Universal Music Server UMS1 Signature and Universal Power Supply

    Over the last 50 years I have owned some pretty exotic and expensive audio gear spanning £7000 amplifiers and 6ft tall horn speakers. After each upgrade it was easy to persuade myself that things were better, but in hindsight things were just different.

    Some ten years ago I moved across to computer based music, dispensing with my Linn Sondek, Ittok etc and Counterpoint CD12 player once I had a computer based system that competed sonically. My computer software, from a limited choice back then was XXHighend by Phasure. Over the years that followed, the software showed glimpses of excellence but was upgraded with corresponding bugs and glitches probably 10 times every year. I felt like a (poor) computer programmer and lost my appetite for Hi Fi.

    Enter SW1X and Slawa.

    I visited with scepticism after others had looked at pictures of his gear and branded it as Chinese import – a slur that really upset Slawa. How wrong we all were. From that moment my Hi Fi life was rejuvenated. Even his starter system had all the attributes I had been seeking, sounding analogue like and in particular giving the resolution and transparency to hear a change of mains cable or a single capacitor in a DAC. In the past I had nodded along to salesmen that substituted interconnects, hearing just minute differences and believing this was all you got for your money at such a high level.

    Cutting a long story short. I treated myself to much of Slawa's level 1 Signature stuff and moved over to vintage open baffle speakers. At the same time I had to resolve the computing side of it and bought a Raspberry Pi with Moode software and a pair of 45 Valve monoblocks to feed a lovely 2 watts to the new speakers. Having made so many changes I had no real reference sound to judge against but was well pleased that I now had a system encouraging me to listen late into the night, though I still felt Slawa's system had the edge.

    It was becoming obvious that the Moode software people were making no significant strides to improve audio quality with their updates, preferring to concentrate on the user interface and multiple streaming applications which was not where I wanted to go. Sound quality was paramount. Also I had my reservations about the switching power supply on the RPI, which was soon replaced by a Longdog Audio linear power supply. For a relatively modest outlay it brought the improvements promised.

    Here I stayed happily for many months visiting the Windsor Hi Fi show in the meantime to hear the 'competition' that in the majority were still battling to push nasty digital sounding systems. Slawa announced he was about to build a Universal Music Server and separate Power Supply Unit and I offered to bring over my PRI with power supply to benchmark how good his was. Well it was like a non league football team challenging Chelsea to a duel.

    So I bought the UMS1 fitted with 1Tb of SSHD and UPS1 signature models.

    If you want the technical stuff its here on Slawa's Web Site.

    http://sw1xad.co.uk/products/

    Its almost impossible to convey the sound of a component, but lets just say it ticks all the boxes with superlatives.

    Enhanced bass
    Full midrange
    Sweet top end
    Excellent imaging
    Everything sounds so lifelike
    Not a hint of digital nastiness
    Good as it was, this combination leaves the PRI dead in the water
    Wonderful boogey factor reminding me somewhat of early Naim gear in that area.
    Timbre is spot on.
    Its perfectly quiet - no fan noises and no spinning hard drives.

    Some would argue that at the price it should leave the RPI for dead, but this lays waste to those that claim computers all sound the similar.

    Now my system sounds just like Slawa's and for that I can pay no higher compliment.
    Last edited by bumpy; 16-04-2017 at 18:14.

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