Despite its modest cost and bookshelf size, the ultra-popular Swan 2.1 shares many features with larger Swans models. The Swan 2.1’s German silk dome and one-piece alloy midwoofer use a computer optimized, voiced-by-ear crossover network for open, dynamic, and highly realistic performance.
First of all. Let me say that this was my first purchase based only on reviews and through internet seller. I don't mind doing that, but when speakers are involved, I suppose everybody wants to listen to them before buying. I know I do, but I figured for 340 $ shipped to my address, you can't go wrong.
When they finally showed up, it was a nice surprise, packed extremely well, with pair of white gloves and in silk like covers. After removing the covers, the speakers presented themselves as really beautiful, although the Swan label attached to the grill was somewhat kitschy to me, but considering the price, the looks were there.
Sound wise, right out of the box, I liked the sound. The presence, resolution, air, detail, dynamics, big soundstage... Through time, everything improved one step further, the frequency spectrum was nicely balanced, with bass going pretty deep(round 50 Hz). People said that the silk tweeter was bothering them at first, and even though I didn't have that problem, the tweeter did show slight emphasis of the attack transients, and a slight discontinuation in the sound envelope, meaning there is like a saddle between transient sounds and body of the instrument. However, that only manifested with plucked string instruments, making the guitar sound not as good as I used to hearing it,but still well above expectations considering the price. When properly broken in, the speakers showed a great versatility in their performance, with different music genres. As time went by, I tried some tube equipmen(25w)t, and the tubes extracted a great sound out of them, with full bodied instruments, and a slight de-emphasis of those high-mid and high transients, making it even more suitable for my taste, but I have to say that the bass was kind of loose at times, but still very much attractive and present. Changing the output tubes resulted in tighter bass response, which also speaks favorably of these bargain speakers,meaning they react to changes being brought to your system. I guess the only thing that bothers me is the fact that sometimes it seems as if the images are not standing tight in the stereo image, as much as there is a lot of depth to the sound, the instruments are floating slightly, but that could be the case of a performer moving in front of microphone, in which case the speakers would be great in highlighting even the smallest details.
To sum it all up. Great speakers, no where near perfect, but good as anything I've heard up to 1000 $. Absolutely highly recommended.
As an "internet only" speaker, I was a bit skeptical about spending the money without being able to audition them first. After the first click of the "play" button however, all of my fears were laid to rest.
As everyone else has mentioned, the speakers come very well packaged and even include speaker cable if you are one of those people who doesn't believe in buying anything that costs over $1/ft.
The speakers themselves are very elegant, although the veneer is quite a bit darker than what they show on the audio insider's website. I was a little dissapointed in this. When I am buying a product that is available only on the internet, I expect the picture on the website to EXACTLY match what I get in the box. In this case, it did not. It's not a huge issue, but I was a bit surprised when I opened up the box. Other than that single gripe, I don't think you could find another monitor constructed as well as the 2.1's for the same money. They are very heavy and the top mounted tweeter gives the cabinet a very distinct appearance.
I am powering the 2.1's with a Marantz PM-7200 which is fed by a Cambridge 540D DVD/CD player. I am using BlueJeans interconnects and the included speaker cable. The 2.1's are sitting atop Bell'O SP-224 Stands.
In my broad range of listening, it became apparent that the 2.1's really shine on certain music. They love Jazz, Classic Rock, Folk and Classical music. Acoustic guitar sounds particularly good on these speakers. If there was one quality about the 2.1's that really stood out in my mind it would be the low-end. I was fully expecting to have to buy a sub prior to getting the 2.1's. After listening to them, I have changed my mind. The low-end on the 2.1's is ample, and able to handle most content. It's only when you start getting into the very low bass guitar or pipe organ material that they start rolling off. However, kick drums and most bass guitar is very solid with no hint of coloration like you tend to hear on many other monitors. The small rise that you see in the frequency response graph of the speakers is noticeable, but not in a bad way. It adds a lot of warmth and depth to the bottom octaves and gives the speakers a much fuller sound. There were very few situations where I found myself wanting a little more punch on the bottom end.
The other great quality that these speakers possess is that they dissapear in front of you. They have a great soundstage that is very convincing. When I played John Lee Hooker's "Healer," I was taken back for a moment. I had never heard that song sound so good....the hairs on the back of my neck literally stood up.
I would describe the sound as neutral/slightly warm. The silk tweeter keeps things from sounding "tinny," but it can still be somewhat forward at times (they are by no means broken in yet, so this could change.) The midrange driver is a good compliment to the tweeter in that it is very accurate without being straining, but not so warm that you lose a lot of detail. The subtle nuances of vocals and guitar plucks are audible and add a lot to the experience. On that note, these speakers will bring out the best of a good recording and the worst of a bad one. I have found that my musical tastes are changing to well recorded material. I think this is a phenonema that occurs as everyone makes the move into mid/hi-fi. Your musical tastes will change as you seek out the best recordings.
While the 2.1's possess many good qualities, they do have limitations. The most noticeable of which is related to output. As volume increases, you can detect some strain. Male vocals get a little harsh and the speakers seem to lose their composure overall. It should be noted that I am exceeding the recommended power slightly (95wpc versus 80wpc recommended.) This may be the culprit. At any rate, I wouldn't recommend them for a larger room if you enjoy listening at higher levels....there is only so much that these monitors can do.
Are the Swan 2.1's a good deal? Most definetly. I think Hi-Vi did a good job of finding a combination of drivers that most people will be happy with. They aren't the absolute greatest speakers in the world, but they do everything pretty darn well. When you throw price into the equation, I don't think there is another speaker at the price point that would even directly compare.
This is a review for the Swan 3.1 Dulcets. These retail for $1695 and definitely be a strong purchase at full retail. They are a really great deal on the used market today. They are, in my opinion, a perfect step up from the common brands offered at the big box stores. Top notch drivers, see their homepage, beautiful cabinets to go with. Warm mids, good bass for a 2-way monitor. For me, they really performed for both 2 channel and home theatre. Give them at least 75 watts, or an amp with good power reserves. I have used these as a stepping stone in building a system with no regrets. It will take a big step to beat them, about $2k in the used market.
Some test recordings:
Dire Straights, they are all nice and clean.
Yo Yo Ma, 6 unaccompanied cello suites
About six months ago I had the itch to move up to the new Nautilus 802's so I sold my 802 Matrix III series to a Doctor from Boston on Audiogon. I needed to save up a little more mad money before I bought the Nautilus 802's and in the interim I decided to try out a pair of "online" speakers. To say the least I was totally expecting to be ripped off and get a set of speakers worth half of what I had paid. I decided on the Swan 2.1's as I had always liked the size of my 805 Matrix's. To make a long story short I laid out the cash and went to the Fed X warehouse to pick them up in my car so I didn't have to wait an extra day. The box for the 2.1's barely fit in the back on my Mercedes station wagon! When I got home I began to unbox what appeared to be a Russian doll. If I remember it was tripple boxed with very high quality corrugated not the cheap flimsy stuff. When I finally got to the speakers they were individually bagged in thier own cotton bags and came with white cotton gloves so you would not get finger prints on the piano grade laquer finish. At this point I was beginning to get really intrigued. When I hooked them up I was blown away. Even with no break in they sounded great with a supprising amount of solid, quick and tight bass and velvety smooth midrange. The treble was a bit forward but a silk dome takes time to break in. After about three weeks of listening the speakers really began to dance the treble was sublime and not at all in your face and the bass and mids got even better. I honestly don't think you can find a better speaker for the money or one as beautiful. The exterior cabnitery work is better than anything I ever owned from B&W and yes I have taken them apart and seen the insides as well. They are truly top notch speakers! I still have not purchased a pair of Nautilus speakers because I plan on buying the bigger Swan's and sinking the ramaining $9000.00 into a surround set up for my video room which I will also deck out with Swan speakers. Some times you do get what you pay for!