Swans Speakers is a relative newcomer to the competitive Australian market. As part of an umbrella organisation that manufactures OEM speaker drivers (under the HiVi brand) and enclosures, Swans Speakers has access to a wide resource pool that allows it to produce extremely competitive products incorporating thoroughly-engineered componentry. Swans Speakers offers a number of speaker ranges that cater to all budgets and cover all sections of the market, from stylish lifestyle packages through more conventional designs to all-out audiophile fare.
On hand for review were the V8HT speakers, a uniquely-styled and beautifully presented package that aims to integrate with modern environments. The V8HT components can be bought individually or as a package.
As provided, the V8F main left/right channel speakers are a gorgeous amalgam of black piano-finished front baffle, clear glass accent, machined aluminium tweeter housing and conventional timbre enclosure. The glossy baffle is home to four copper-coloured 10cm (four-inch) magnesium alloy mid/woofers and a centred 23mm fabric dome tweeter in an aluminium housing. Frequency response is quoted as 65Hz to 20kHz (though no dB points quoted) with a sensitivity of 88dB/W/m and impedance of eight ohms, and power handling of 120W. The V8F (and the rest of the range) comes with the standard black cloth grille, but optional grilles are available in a number of ‘decorator colours’ at $330 for a set of five.
The V8C is a centre channel that, wisely, is identical to the main speakers for tonal consistency, but can be orientated horizontally. Specifications are identical.
Rear surround duties are handled by the V8Rs, a half-sized version of the V8F speakers. The V8Rs use the same tweeter but only two of the 10cm magnesium alloy drivers. Sensitivity is down one decibel to 87dB/W/m, with an unavoidably narrower frequency range from 70Hz to 20kHz and an impedance now dipping to four ohms. Power handling is down to 60W, still plentiful for surround duties.
According to the distributor Oceanic Distribution, most customers end up wallmounting the speakers around their display, but Swans Speakers offers optional dedicated glass stands ($330 a pair) — with very solid tinted glass bases — which incorporate the required mounting bracket. The V8 stands are attractively finished and, being see-through, they create the illusion that the speakers are suspended in mid-air. However, we would like to have seen at least a couple of options in terms of speaker height, and perhaps a shorter version for the centre speaker. (There is a combined TV and centre channel stand available from Swans’ distributor.)
The package was completed by the Swans Speakers Sub60 subwoofer. Dressed in fine piano black lacquer, this is a comprehensively-featured subwoofer with a 100W amplifier driving the front-firing 10-inch heavy-duty driver, with further bass augmentation provided by the downwardfiring 10-inch passive radiator. The sub’s frequency response has been quoted as being from 36Hz to 160Hz. On the rear panel you’ll find a phase switch (0 or 180 degrees), RCA and speaker-level inputs, a music and movie switch (a frequency curve alteration to suit each genre), variable crossover up to 160Hz, and of course a volume control.
There’s little doubt that the full 5.1 V8 system presents a strong visual statement in any room, especially modern interiors. The glass, aluminium and black piano finish matches well with most large-screen display panels, and are a guaranteed talking point.
We fired up the system and threw it in the deep end with the 3:10 to Yuma DVD. This film’s soundtrack presents a challenge to any system, as its intense action sequences are interspersed within long segments of quiet dialogue and wild-west landscape atmospherics. The V8 system handled this difficult test well, providing plenty of detail and separation, while making the minutiae in the explosions and the rattling elements of stage-coach chases clearly discernable.
Stephen King’s latest horror-thriller The Mist builds the tension by creating a mood of impending danger. This is enhanced by the soundtrack, which uses music sparingly but makes effective and plentiful use of sound effects and dialogue. The Swan V8s translated the subtlety of this soundtrack captivatingly, always enhancing the mood and power of the visuals. The subwoofer is capable of foundation-shaking sound, but its bass is always extended, clear and punchy; powerful yet subtle when need be.
The drivers, especially the tweeters, are very smooth-sounding, and this balance pays dividends when confronted with brightsounding soundtracks. There is, of course, a minor limitation to the utmost in dynamic contrast, we’d say not from the superb subwoofer but due to the relatively small 10cm main drivers, though this was really only noticed in direct comparison to a larger system tested just prior to the V8HT.
The Swans Speakers V8HT system is lovely peice of design — a talking point in terms of modern elegance and immaculate build quality — while as a surround-sound package it delivers a thoroughly coherent and involving soundscape. We highly recommend it. Edgar Kramer
Swans Speakers V8HT Home Theatre Speaker Package
Price: $4050 Dedicated glass stands: $330 a pair
Gorgeous styling and immaculate build Coherent sound field Smooth yet detailed sound
Not the ultimate in dynamic range
V8F AND V8C
TWEETER: 25mm fabric dome
MIDRANGE/WOOFER: 4 x 10.2mm magnesium alloy cones
FREQUENCY RANGE: 65Hz-35kHz
SENSITIVITY: 88dB/W/m IMPEDANCE: 8 ohms
POWER HANDLING: 120W
WARRANTY: Five years
TWEETER: 25mm fabric dome
MIDRANGE/WOOFER: 2 x 10.2cm magnesium alloy cones
FREQUENCY RANGE: 70Hz-35kHz
IMPEDANCE: 4 ohms
POWER HANDLING: 60W
WARRANTY: Five years
AMPLIFIER: 100W continuous
PASSIVE RADIATOR: 10-inch
WARRANTY: Three years
CONTACT: Oceanic Distribution
TEL: 1300 556 303