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My Swan 6.2F Review w/ pics (long)

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  • My Swan 6.2F Review w/ pics (long)

    Introduction

    In one?s quest for the perfect speaker (within financial reason), the road is often paved with disappointment in one aspect or another. Our ears are not perfect.. neither are our source components or the recorded media we are playing. So just how close to perfection can we expect a wooden box stuffed with poly, wires, magnets, and cones to be? This speaker is too bright.. That one is dull and lifeless.. It is the audio equivalent of Goldilocks And The Three Bears. As we listen to and evaluate speakers we follow the same path she did. When we drive to the local audio boutique with CD?s in hand... When we punch in our credit card numbers online and sign up for that 30-day in-home trial? The speakers, amps, and processors that we test are our modern-day porridge, chair, and bed. And we all strive to make the right choice. Because no one is deliberately looking for a speaker that is too hard or too soft.

    All analogies out of the way, I was introduced to a product that I consider to be ?just right? and beyond. Actually, it?s more accurate to say it is the right one at a much larger price point. The loudspeaker that I?m referring to is the ?6.2F? from Swan. It is a full-range tower easily capable of turning heads and dropping jaws with each pass and with each listen. It is their flagship in that line. And it is my hope with this evaluation that you get an understanding of what kind of presence this speaker makes in a room, both aesthetically and performance-wise. While no piece of audio gear is perfect, the 6.2?s come as close to it as possible at its price.. and even more.


    Design

    Classy. Sophisticated. Stunning. Just a few adjectives I?d use to describe the outward appearance of the 6.2?s. Standing tall at just under 4 1/2 ft., these rosewood beauties put on a ?shock and awe? campaign that would make Donald Rumsfeld shed a tear.

    These are GORGEOUS. I can?t quite tell if it?s just a really well-done laminate or actual rosewood veneer adorning the outside of these lovelies, but I can tell you that whatever it is, it?s perfect. And it is beautifully wrapped around a bentwood cabinet that nearly meets at a rounded point around back. The entire wood finish is then glossed with a fine furniture-grade clear that makes them very elegant.

    The front baffle of the 6.2?s (as well as others in the line) is not in congruence with the rest of the loudspeaker materials-wise. A black composite surface runs the full length top to bottom. A similar stripe of the same material also runs down the back spine of the cabinet. I would have preferred to see the wood finish continue around the entire circumference of the speaker. A wood-faced front baffle would make for a better showing for those that like to keep their grilles off, but it?s a minor thing to me since I leave my speakers fully clothed at all times.

    Turning to the drivers, dual 8? woofers provide the slam down low. The familiar Danish-made top-mount 1? tweeter that was popularized in the "x.1" line handles the highs. And a new 5? mid-range driver handles what lies between. All of these are tied together nicely with Swan?s sophisticated 4th order crossover network which is key in managing so many different drivers with different ranges. The best speaker components in the world can sound like garbage if the crossover is not done right, and Swan understands this. With the development time they have invested.. let me tell you.. it is done right.

    The top and bottom of the ?x.2? line is again graced with piano black caps, but this time the top-mounted tweeter housing is done a little bit better. Like the end cap itself, it is also done in a gloss black finish and there is more of a uniformity of surface texture and appearance now. I would still like to see the top cap and tweeter housing molded into one solid piece some day. Perhaps that would be a cost buster, but it would look seamless and more refined in my opinion.

    One design feature that I?m not that fond of is that the speaker binding posts are not on the back of the speaker, but rather are underneath in the middle of the bottom cap. Personally, I like seeing those large posts on the back of my speakers displaying the hefty banana plugs I have. I also don?t like the fact that I now have to think twice about swapping my cables. The entire speaker has to be tilted to get underneath and reach the posts, and this is really a two-person job. I?m always tweaking and testing things, so this is definitely an inconvenience for me.

    All in all, the 6.2 is an extremely beautiful piece of art. They are quite large, but with their looks they could live just about anywhere. They are NOT the big black boxes of old or the intrusive industrial anomalies we find so many times in speakers today. No, these are furniture-grade pieces that just so happen to put out GREAT sound as well. So, let?s get on to that part of the discussion, shall we?


    Listening

    I own several Swan speakers in the Diva line already. The 2.1 bookshelves, the C3 center, the R2 dipoles, and the Sub10 all have full reign in my family room. I am familiar with the company and what to expect of the sound. Or, so I thought. I have been extremely happy with the older Diva line and was expecting more of the same with the new ones, but maybe on a more grand scale with the 6.2?s. What I was not prepared for was the fantastic detail, soundstage, and imaging these speakers created. I have never had the opportunity to hear the 6.1 towers, but the 6.2?s absolutely floored me. My 2.1 bookshelves are quite good, and although I am cognizant of the fact that my next point will be comparing apples to kumquats, I?m going to make it anyway. The 2.1?s do not have anywhere near the imaging that the 6.2?s have. Forgetting size, volume, and heft of sound, the 6.2?s created a soundstage like I?ve rarely heard from speakers costing twice as much. Depth of field was also vastly better on the 6.2?s. Music was completely three-dimensional and tonal separation was masterful. The 2.1?s sound seems very flat and narrow in comparison. Again, it?s probably unfair to pit a full range 3-way tower against a small 2-way bookshelf costing a third of the price. They are two completely different animals. But I am talking about strict presentation here and not an all-encompassing sound interpretation. Anyway, take that comparison however you?d like.

    The equipment I will be using for this test was selected from a few different candidates. I ended up choosing Rotel driving components: A 990BX amp (2-channel, 200WPC) and an RC-995 preamp. This is the best overall pairing I have in-house to do a proper evaluation. I also experimented with an older Denon pair consisting of a POA 1500 amp and PRA 1000 preamp (ca. 1980), and these also did quite well.. right up there, in fact, with the Rotels. I originally had the speakers hooked up to a less expensive Denon 2805 receiver. They did admirably in this configuration, but you really do get out what you put in.. and the pure high-current power of the Rotels provided the best performance overall. So, I will be doing all of the testing with this pair.

    For the transport and DAC duties I will be using an Onix XCD-99 single disc CD player.

    Speaker cables are custom-made with 4-14 gauge conductors and gold bananas at each end. 12-ft. runs.

    The testing I?m doing today wil focus on the music reproduction of these speakers as I don?t have them connected to any video source and I do not have a full matching set to evaluate HT anyway. So, it will be just the 6.2 pair. The 6.2's will run full-range without a subwoofer.


    The Music

    I wanted to select a variety of music, but I definitely wanted tracks that would be good exhibitors in a critical listening test. Yes, it?s always good to listen to speakers with what you like to listen to every day, but it?s also very important to hand pick albums and songs that highlight particular elements. With this in mind, I chose a pretty good mix and will comment on each of them.

    First, from James Taylor?s ?Hourglass? album, the song ?Little More Time With You?.... The opening harmonica on this track is really out in front to start the song. To me, it wasn?t mixed the way it was to just be a regular harmonica open, but rather it seems intended to grab you and pull you in to the song. This effect is a real attention-getter that the 6.2?s handle superbly. Again, on the 2.1?s, it?s a great sounding harmonica also. But, it?s just a harmonica and nothing more. There is also a really nice subtle bass line that doesn?t get lost in the shuffle with all the other things going on. James? voice here is also very natural and "live" sounding as if he was in the room with me. Adding to the overall depth were several quick guitar riffs during the song that seemed to dart out at you and then quickly retreat. Fantastic effect.

    Next was the fourth track from the same album.. a song called ?Gaia"?. The mood of this one is set within the first few seconds as a building bass movement starts from nothing and picks up along with a faint wind chime in the background. I know that on other speakers I?ve heard, the wind chime was barely present and not very detailed. Here, it definitely was. This song demonstrates some things extremely well. Particularly, soundstage and separation. The stage is extremely wide on this track, and it extended past my speakers to the sidewalls which are 4 feet beyond the speaker itself. All of the vocals and instrumentation was separated clearly. James? voice was coming from dead center with the backup vocals eminating from either side of him. The tenor sax also came from the middle with James and would stay in the background for the most part until there was a solo break. There was one point during the song at the 3:20 mark or so where this took place and the sound of the tenor was all around me. It was to the left, right, and almost directly above all at once.. An incredible feeling! When James was singing, though, his voice was out in front as the dominant force and seemed very close to me. By the sound I perceived that his voice stretched out to within, say, 5 ft. of me. And this despite the fact that the speakers were 12 ft. away! Later in the song, you cannot possibly miss an extremely impactful drum sequence at about the 4:10 mark. Great power exhibited there from the 6.2?s. I had to double-check and make sure my sub was turned off. Also take note of the subtle cello in the background at about 4:45. This, too, is lost on many speakers.

    I just love the voice of this next artist.. Natalie Merchant sings on ?Tigerlily", and this song, ?San Andreas Fault"?. It opens with Natalie?s beautiful voice which, it seems, is very close to you. This is a fairly simple song that is good for looking at a speaker?s grandness of stage. Her voice is not only close to you, but it also has a great deal of height to it. It sounds funny, but she sounds as if she?s standing in my listening room, where James may have been sitting on a stool with his guitar. One thing I really like about the tweeter on these speakers is that they make ?S?s? sound very natural and unprocessed. No sibilance at all, which is common for this track on another set of speakers I own.. speakers costing considerably more money.

    The next track, also by Natalie, is called ?I May Know The World? and is also off the ?Tigerlily? album? Another pair of speakers I have (the same as mentioned before) has her voice sounding pinched and constricted on this one. The 6.2?s let her highs open up freely and naturally. Throughout the song, in the background, there is a soft kick drum which has nice definition. Natalie?s voice is flat out huge in this song even though it's a fairly gentle track. The entire front wall in my listening room seemed to be projecting her lovely voice. And the guitars, smartly, remained in the background to suppliment her vocals.

    Norah Jones (of course) is up next with ?Cold Cold Heart? from the album, ?Come Away With Me"? I know it is partially how the track is recorded, but Norah is sitting on my lap in this one! (not bad, eh?). The constant repetitious bass line is well defined. The accompanying piano is there with Norah, but the two don?t fight each other for dominance. This track allows one to hear some real detail thoughout. You can catch the vibration from an overzealous string pluck.. fingers actually tapping onto the strings just before they strike.. and I think I heard what sounded like Norah licking her lips and then a quick inhale before belting out her next few bars. Good stuff.

    The smooth Jazz quartet FourPlay was up next with their track ?Max-O-Man? off their Greatest Hits album? This song has a lot going on all at once and it?s presented well. The first thing I noticed here was the crispness of the highs. I cranked this one up real high and it never got fatiguing. Listen to this one and pick out all of the different instruments being used together at any given time. I heard several cases of impromptu finger snapping by the artists, a faint woodblock tap throughout, and fingers sliding on the guitar strings. This is a very well-produced album and sounds great on these speakers.

    Lastly we have The Dave Matthews Band playing ?Let You Down? from their album, ?Crash"? This song also has quite a bit going on, but in a reserved way. Triangles, bongos, multiple acoustic guitars, wood block.. it?s all there. But it?s all soft and subtle. The source of his voice was on a lower plane than, for example, Natalie?s in ?San Andreas Fault?. But it was just as wide. One very cool effect came at about 3:10.. a whistle enters the song and it sounded as though it were directly overhead. It was very cool.



    Conclusion

    Well, I guess it ultimately comes down to whether or not I recommend the Swan Diva 6.2F's. And the answer is a whole-hearted YES. Not that you have to take my word for it.. after all, who is jephdood? I don?t have a technical background in audio engineering. I am simply basing this "review" from what I perceive to be good sound.

    In my opinion, these are an absolute bargain at their price point. Are there some things I?d change about them? Well, sure I guess. Nothing is perfect. But the flaws that I see (if one could even call them that) are minor in comparison to the enjoyment of sound you?ll get from them. My down points are cosmetic design characteristics having nothing to do with the actual sound of the 6.2's. They are merely footnotes in this book called Audio Bliss.

    Simply said, if you are looking for a ?classy?, ?sophisticated?, ?stunning? speaker at this price point, I think you need look no further.

    Jeff M (aka ?jephdood?)
    Audio Enthusiast





    Pics


    The palette has come!



    Ain't that the truth.



    Good things come in BIG packages.. :)



    All looks well..



    So firm.. So FULLY PACKED!



    Holy schneikies!!



    Nice backside.. :oops:



    Beauty



    Like looking into a mirror.



    Nekkid! :oops:



    Awesome



    An imposing figure


    Thanks for looking..
    -Jeff

  • #2
    If you interested in hearing comparisons b/t rockets and divas, try their website, or you could pm him. I think he mentions the other, more expensive speaker several times in his review. I warn you though, you better prefer the rockets or else! They don't take kindly to other speakers mentioned in their cult. And if you want a pair. you can just about always pick up a cheap pair for sale on audiogon. There's a 750 on ebay right now that no one seems to want. Go to www.av123.com, where rockets rule the world. :roll:

    Rockets, the All- American speaker, all red and white, with a crossover designed by Dick Cheney, I believe....rotflmao :P
    :twisted:

    Comment


    • #3
      The finish in my pics is a bit bright due to the flash. They do have a brown-orangish tint though. A natural rosewood color. Not stained.

      Comment


      • #4
        Are the 6.2s pretty easy to place, or do they seem picky to placement?

        Comment


        • #5
          I'd like to add my two cents about bashing other companies. I regularly view the AV123 forum and yes, some of the people there are fanatical about their Rockets but after all, it is a Rocket forum. I would say most of the participants are well behaved and try to be objective with respect to discussing speakers. You are always going to have one or two who aren't so polite but that is unavoidable no matter where you go. I think both Rocket and Swans make excellent products - I have purchased both of them and have nothing but praise for both companies.

          It seems to me that jewel, who is complaining about the way she was treated at the Rocket site, is the one causing all the trouble. I agree with Brucer's post - she made some inflammatory comments on the Rocket forum (and is making some in this forum) so what does she expect when people try to defend what they feel is a good product? Go look at the posts that Brucer linked to and see for yourself. Sure some people got a bit assertive in their replies, but almost everyone tried to be polite and objective with what they said. Even MLS, the owner, gave a very gracious response and welcome to her.

          I hope Jon Lane doesn't remove my post for my critical comments. I felt I needed to speak up on behalf of the folks over at AV123 and say that it is not like they are being portrayed here by one or two posters. Look at the threads yourself. I have had nothing but good experiences with my Rocket speakers and the company itself. I bought some Swans through Newegg and also have nothing but good things to say about them. Both products are of the quality to inspire fierce loyalty but also, both websites have for the most part very welcoming participants and moderators.

          Comment


          • #6
            The reason I won't go back to that site is b/c I don't want to start trouble. If I kinda bashed rockets here, I apologize. I'm just sick of hearing about them. And I did appreciate the ones who were trying to give me info about actual reviews b/t the 2 products. Then posters started getting ugly with crap like "haven't swans and rockets been compared before and rockets win every time." Stuff like that irritates me! As a consumer trying to evaluate products and find the best deal for me, I don't appreciate feeling that a product is being pushed on me, no matter how good they may be. And I made it clear that I would not pay more for a speaker system than the cost of a new big screen HDTV. Maybe I took it wrong, but I felt even the owner, Mark, was telling us what speakers could be compared against each other. The reviewer only had 2 speakers to compare, the 6.2s and the 850s, yet everyone jumps in and says you can't compare these 2, why, b/c of price difference? Since when does the price of anything always dictate quality. In that case, you can never compare ANY Rocket to any B&W Nautilus, b/c of the vast price difference, yet they do. If you have rockets and like them, good for you. Their forceful tactics on that site just turned me off to them.

            Comment


            • #7
              Well I understand what you are saying and you are right about price shouldn't be how you sort out comparing speakers (to a point, or within reason). After all, many people on the AV123 site like to talk about how the Rockets are giant killers, sounding better than much more expensive speakers, so it isn't fair to compare them that way in one situation and not the other.

              On the other hand, it is after all the Rocket website so you are going to find things slanted towards favoring that brand. If you go to other manufacturer websites I would say the same holds true. I'd say heck, you should get the best-sounding speaker for whatever your budget is so that should have nothing to do with what speaker compares to what, it has to do with what you can afford. Me, I do love my Rockets (they are the ELT series and a Rocket sub, not the more expensive ones because that's what my budget allowed) and would highly recommend them to people but that surely doesn't mean there aren't other great brands out there. I have a lot of respect for Swans and Rockets. I feel both offer a great value. It's a matter of opinion. So good luck in your hunt for speakers and please post a review when you get them!

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks, I will, I'm trying to save up enough money before Jan 1st to preorder them, before the prices go up. :D

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks Jeff. I'm the 'guest' that ask about the colors :) While I prefer the reddish stained color of the manufacturer's pictures, I think the golden orangist color would match my Bello ATSC-2112M better. http://www.racksandstands.com/prods/...4/0PBB0008.htm.

                  As far as comparison between the Rocket 850 & Swan 6.2s, can someone point me to the post? I can't seems to find that.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks, I will, I'm trying to save up enough money before Jan 1st to preorder them, before the prices go up. :D

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Here's the link to Jeff's comments on av123's site:

                      http://av123forum.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=11371

                      The comments on the av123 site makes it sound like the speakers are pretty even, but this was from initial impressions of the Divas. From reading his review on this (Audio Insider) site after having given them a longer evaluation, it sounds like he much prefers the Divas. Gee, I'd be happy with either one I think.. I wish I had a bigger budget!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Man.. so many "Guests" around here. :D

                        Out of respect for BOTH companies, I'd rather not pit the two against each other like some cock fight and proclaim a winner. I haven't actually decided for myself yet whether I will be keeping one, both, or none.

                        But, some general observations:

                        The 6.2's had better bass extension and strength, which is typically going to be a given for a speaker utilizing two 8" drivers. On one track, the bass got a little 'boomy' sounding, but never sounded 'flabby' or out of control. That may be an adjustment deal I need to make on my part.. or that may even be how the mix was intended.. I don't know for certain. I liked the midrange on the 6.2's a little better. The 850's sound too harsh to me up there with many recordings. The 6.2's sound more forgiving in the upper mids than the 850's. The tweeters on both are excellent. Both were clear and crisp. The 850's seemed to have a little more tonal separation-- different instruments seemed almost "on their own" at times during songs and this gave the 850's a three-dimensional sound that was beyond that of the 6.2's. However, I don't know which presentation is more 'correct'. Speakers should present music as the artists and studios intended it. Not make their own interpretation on how the sound should be. Without a large sample of speakers to compare to, it's hard to know if it's the 6.2 that are more accurate in their delivery.. or the 850's.

                        With just about every speaker I've owned, there are things I like about them.. and things I liked better on another pair. I've never found the perfect set and most likely never will.

                        I've enjoyed both Rockets and Divas. They both put out great products and a great value. (How diplomatic of me.. :P )

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Anonymous
                          They sure look pretty! Never heard them so I don't know how they sound but take your word for it they sound pretty good.

                          A lot of folks like to compare these to the Rockets (which I admit I have and am very happy with and the looks are just about the same except for the top tweeter) build quality looks as good on both.

                          So the only difference would really boil down to two things... your preference for sound which your going to have to try both to find out which one you prefer the sound of the best and of course cost. I assume though that the cost's will be pretty compairable when your compairing wood to wood that is.

                          Congrats... a very fine looking speaker. Would love to hear them someday.
                          Mike
                          They're both great speakers...and we're flattered that Rocket carried on the original Swan look -- the bentwood, Rosewood, and black lacquer. I believe Swan has produced this style for some ten years now.

                          Anyway, you can't go wrong with either, even if we are very proud of our stable, value-pricing.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jephdood
                            Man.. so many "Guests" around here. :D
                            Indeed. I think we should ask folks to login before posting. Maybe there's a switch in the forum administrator I can find...

                            Out of respect for BOTH companies, I'd rather not pit the two against each other like some cock fight and proclaim a winner.
                            As I believe Craig Chase says, it's only audio. Yeah, sometimes I have to chuckle at the evangelical approach some owners take, and we've been able to avoid that kind of marketing, but I will say that if any of our threads get hyper competitive or ego-driven, I'm going to ask folks to take it back down a notch.

                            This isn't a competition; it's about making music and cinema, and having some fun doing it. We hope we can keep it that way.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              if any of our threads get hyper competitive or ego-driven, I'm going to ask folks to take it back down a notch.
                              Take it to the man!! You tell 'em Jon!! Yia Yia!!!

                              This isn't a competition; it's about making music and cinema, and having some fun doing it. We hope we can keep it that way.
                              werd... 8) (me trying to be ghetto). This place is nice and friendly - I kinda like it... hhmm, what a weird concept...

                              HAHA!!

                              - Christian

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