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  1. #1

    User review: Swan M60 5.1 speakers

    I've been using a set of Creative Megaworks 550 for the longest time I can remember, repairing it many times along the way. Recently, the center channel has been outputting static for no apparent reason and that got me started looking for a replacement.

    Problem is, there're extremely limited high-performance 5.1 PC speakers out there. The Logitech Z906 is a popular model, which emphasizes bass instead of musicality. Meanwhile, home theater systems such as the Denon DHT-1312XP, lack an analog 5.1 input and take up more space.



    Here's where the Swan M60 stands out with its 2-way design, which theoretically boasts treble extension thanks to the dedicated tweeters. Other major differentiators include a large center speaker, as well as a powerful subwoofer. The following are my observations after using the M60 for a month.

    Disclaimer: This is not a paid review or an advertorial and I'm not related to Tech-Dynamic, which is the sole Singapore distributor for Swan speakers. The M60 can be ordered directly though the company for $999.



    These are more like small bookshelf speakers instead of satellite speakers, weighing about 2.5kg each. Wood cabinets are used instead of plastic, though Swan should have swapped those cheap spring clips with proper speaker cable binding posts. With a more mainstream 8ohm impedance and a 50W power handling, you can also drive these speakers with an A/V receiver or stereo amplifier.



    At 339 x 140 x 145mm and with two woofers, this is obviously not your typical center speaker bundled with most PC speakers. Here is a quick comparison with my Mission M77c to give you a better idea of its sheer size. There are two mounting holes in case you are crazy enough to wall mount this 4.5kg speaker.



    A frontal shot of the handsome-looking subwoofer, which weighs a whopping 20.5kg. However, there some tradeoffs that you should know. Firstly, Swan should have included an external control pod rather than using an LCD screen on the sub for usability. Secondly, placement of this beast can be extremely tricky with a front port and two woofers on each side. Lastly, the built-in 200W amplifier is quite underpowered compared with the Logitech Z906's 500Wer.




    Putting aside these "hiccups", this baby actually runs quite cool thanks to a beefy heat sink and is one of the most musical-sounding subs I've own besides a REL Strata II. Tweaking the sound using cables is fairly straightforward since it uses standard IEC power socket and RCA jacks, too.



    To operate the M60, you could either use the sub's onboard controls or this "armored" remote. Casted from a solid piece of metal with an embossed Hivi logo, it comes with 6 buttons: Standby, Mute, Menu, Light, Volume + and Volume -. To further elaborate. Light is used for selecting three LCD brightness, while Menu allows users to set the gain for each sound channel, bass and treble. Despite its heavy-duty build, there's a slight QC prob since I can't fully tighten one of the screws.



    These are somewhat decent stock cables, particularly for the OFC speaker cables. Still, my set came with the wrong power cord which is not really a biggy. After all, I've replaced all the stock cables with my own "shielded" contraptions pictured below.

    Last edited by Philip; Oct 9th, 12 at 10:25 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gollum View Post
    is ns really that hard???


  2. #2
    Scenario 1: Home theater




    Setup
    Sony BDP-S360 Blu-ray player/Marantz CD6000KI CD player-> generic optical cable -> Creative DDTS-100 DD/DTS decoder-> Swan M60 + stock cables

    Music/CD
    The M60 truly shines when given adequate "breathing" space coupled with proper room treatment. Two of its most impressive traits are transparency and bass quality. Most instruments are clearly discernible and without sounding piercing, while bass notes are tight and relatively deep unlike many PC speakers.

    Most genres of music, ranging from jazz to pop to heavy metal, played through the M60 have fairly good rhythms and dynamics. The overall soundstage is also quite wide, but can be more forward sounding if you preferred a more layback sound.

    What it lacks are the warmth and smoothness offered by my hi-fi system, based on a pair of Sonus Faber Concertino bookshelf speakers powered by an Audio Innovations tube amp. But for a PC speaker, it fared surprisingly well for playing music when appropriately set up.

    Movie/5.1 Dolby Digital + DTS
    Timbre matching is excellent since the front, center and rear speakers use identical drivers, resulting in almost seamless sound panning across different speakers. Playing action flicks with plenty of explosions can be quite addictive, too, thanks to the floor-shaking bass produced by the subwoofer. Overall clarity, particularly dialogue, is also pretty well maintained at all times even during heavy bass passages.

    However, there is one problem. I've to crank up the volume to almost 90 percent to hit 75dB loudness in my 3 x 3.5m entertainment room. For the record, the room is heavily carpeted and treated with acoustic foams. To further add, the M60 held up pretty well without distorting even at such high volume.

    Scenario 2: PC




    Setup
    Asus Rampage II Gene (onboard audio) -> Canare shielded analog interconnects-> Swan M60 + Belden shielded power cord/speaker cables.

    Music
    While the positive sound signature of the M60 is largely replicated in a PC environment, the soundstage is significantly narrower with less separation between the front speakers. Additionally, the bass output is stronger due to a "corner loading" effect, but unfortunately not as tight as before. Those of you without space constraint should not be effected, though.

    These revealing speakers also highlighted the signal-to-noise ratio limitation of onboard audio. Hissing noise, which is inaudible with the Creative Megaworks 550, can now be picked up at higher volume. This issue is minimized via shielded interconnects and power cord, though I'll be getting a sound card soon.

    Movie
    It is a similar situation for movies. While you can still enjoy the superb clarity and powerful bass, sound panning is less seamless because the front and center speakers are clustered together. To make matter worst, the surround speakers are probably mounted much further away from the front and center speakers in most cases. This problem can be overcome if sound delay for each speaker can be configured, though I'm not aware of any PC speakers with such a function.

    Looking on the brighter side, there is more than sufficient power for near-field listening and it takes merely 60 percent of the maximum volume to reach 75dB.

    Gaming
    Playing games using the M60 is quite different compared with the Megaworks 550. With Counterstrike: Global Offensive, the center channel is definitely a lot more "active" besides reproducing dialogue, leaving the front and surround to output environmental effects. I can also hear extra sound during the opening splash screen. Other games such as StarCraft II offered a similar experience with generally clearer sound.

    That said, I somewhat missed the thumping bass of the Creative sub at the expense of some clarity as far as games are concerned.

    Conclusion:

    The Swan M60 may be one of the best-performing 5.1 PC speakers and comes with a longer two-year warranty, but it costs a whopping $999 and is far from perfect design wise.

    Pros:
    - Very good performance
    - Superb build quality
    - Wireless remote control
    - Speakers compatible with A/V receivers
    - Two-year warranty

    Cons:
    - Very expensive
    - No external control pod
    - Underpowered for home theater usage
    - Heavy and space hogging
    - Subwoofer hard to set up
    Last edited by Philip; Oct 8th, 12 at 06:23 PM.

    i7 4GHz ♦ Asus R2G ♦ OCZ Intel XMP ♦ Asus 5870 ♦ Crucial M4 ♦ Swiftech ♦ Koolance


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    Quote Originally Posted by Gollum View Post
    is ns really that hard???


  3. #3
    Atas HT FTW lololol.
    It is better to remain silent and be taken as a fool, than to speak and prove your ignorance beyond doubt.

  4. #4
    Newbie of Now and Forever wwenze's Avatar
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    Lastly, the built-in 200W amplifier is quite underpowered compared with the Logitech Z906's 500Wer.
    One way to know how much power your device actually consumes, and hence how much it actually produces, is to check the rating of the built-in fuse.
    Also often the manufacturer has to declare the power consumption (or current) of the device.

    Swan M60: See from photo

    Logitech Z906: 550mA @ 220-240V
    http://article.techlabs.by/img/artic..._back_view.jpg

    Good job marketing.

  5. #5
    The Swans actually put 320W max.

    In comparison the Logitech is ~126W. Max.
    It is better to remain silent and be taken as a fool, than to speak and prove your ignorance beyond doubt.

  6. #6
    Part 2 is out!!

    Phil

    i7 4GHz ♦ Asus R2G ♦ OCZ Intel XMP ♦ Asus 5870 ♦ Crucial M4 ♦ Swiftech ♦ Koolance


    x4 3.5GHz ♦ Biostar 890GXE ♦ OCZ AMD BE ♦ Asus 8800 ♦ WD Veloci ♦ Swiftech ♦ XSPC

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gollum View Post
    is ns really that hard???


  7. #7
    I might just go with the lower end m20 5.1 for a friend's present but m60 sure is tempting. THanks for review

  8. #8
    ♥ Lightning ♥ 9VARZ's Avatar
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    Interesting review! Thanks!
    Views expressed are my own.

    WTS: Garage sales!! Pre-loved items sold for cheap!!


    URGENT DOSE OF VITAMIN M REQUIRED.
    Can you help?

  9. #9
    In case you folks are wondering... I've not regretted buying the Swan M60 since i'm a sucker for good sound!

    Phil

    i7 4GHz ♦ Asus R2G ♦ OCZ Intel XMP ♦ Asus 5870 ♦ Crucial M4 ♦ Swiftech ♦ Koolance


    x4 3.5GHz ♦ Biostar 890GXE ♦ OCZ AMD BE ♦ Asus 8800 ♦ WD Veloci ♦ Swiftech ♦ XSPC

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gollum View Post
    is ns really that hard???


  10. #10
    Stay humble~ voLty's Avatar
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    just wondering does it came out with similar range for 2.1? Sick of 5.1 as my G500 has cable running all over the place.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by voLty View Post
    just wondering does it came out with similar range for 2.1? Sick of 5.1 as my G500 has cable running all over the place.
    Get this if budget is not a concern.
    Overview of M200MKII Multimedia_HiVi,Inc

    Phil

    i7 4GHz ♦ Asus R2G ♦ OCZ Intel XMP ♦ Asus 5870 ♦ Crucial M4 ♦ Swiftech ♦ Koolance


    x4 3.5GHz ♦ Biostar 890GXE ♦ OCZ AMD BE ♦ Asus 8800 ♦ WD Veloci ♦ Swiftech ♦ XSPC

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gollum View Post
    is ns really that hard???


  12. #12

  13. #13
    Registered User
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    Nice review.
    Just wondering : how much do those sound cables cost?

  14. #14


    Finally bought my sound card. Will report on the static noise issue soon.

    Phil

    i7 4GHz ♦ Asus R2G ♦ OCZ Intel XMP ♦ Asus 5870 ♦ Crucial M4 ♦ Swiftech ♦ Koolance


    x4 3.5GHz ♦ Biostar 890GXE ♦ OCZ AMD BE ♦ Asus 8800 ♦ WD Veloci ♦ Swiftech ♦ XSPC

    Clearing watercooling and misc parts!
    Quote Originally Posted by Gollum View Post
    is ns really that hard???


  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Philip View Post


    Finally bought my sound card. Will report on the static noise issue soon.

    Phil
    Hi Phil, mind doing a review on your new sound card when you it is convenient? Thank you.

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