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Swans 6.2 vs. Axiom M80 V2

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  • Swans 6.2 vs. Axiom M80 V2

    I would like to start off that before auditioning these two speakers I listened to several other B&M speakers such as Focal, B&W, Martin Logan, Infinity, Revel, Boston Acoutics and Definitive Technologies. The only ones that really impressed me out of all of these were the larger and more expensive Martin Logans (5k+) and the Focal/JMLabs Profiles (4k). Both of these speakers were out of my price range, but sounded incredible, especially the Focals.

    I decided to seek out a better deal on the internet. My searches led me to three brands; Onix, Swans, and Axiom. I know there are a few others, but these are the names that pop up over and over. I ruled out the Onix because of the reports of them being warm which turned me off. I attribute warm to dull sounding as has been my experience with most "warm" speakers.

    On to the review:

    Ordering experience:

    Axiom - First rate. My order was easy to place on their site and they had my order shipped the next day. It arrived another two days later (From Canada!!). Plus, the shipping was free. Not bad.

    Swans - Pretty Good. This would have been a lower rating if it weren't for the excellent service that Jon provided by always answering my questions and even helping me when FedEx dropped the ball by only shipping one speaker. The time it took to get the Swans was a few weeks longer than it took to get the Axioms and when it did ship I only received one speakers. FedEx was to blame here and Jon had them expedite another speaker and had it to me two days later. This was very important because I was about to go out of town and would need to return one of the speakers right after I got back. Fortunately it got there before I left. Thank you Jon! It's nice that he always answers the phone as well. Very friendly and personal.


    Axiom - Very Good. I thought the Axioms were a very attractive speaker. The metallic cones and the wrap around wood look made for a very high end looking package. The wife approved.

    Swans: Good. The curvature of the cabinet was very nice and the gloss finish was attractive. They were almost a foot bigger than the Axioms. The 6.2 is a large speaker. No mistake about this. The tweeter mounted on the top was a bit disconneced from the rest of the gloss black cap on the top of the speaker and the front of the speaker didn't have the wood finish like the Axiom did. This is important if you plan on listening with covers off (which I did). The speaker did not look cheap, however. The build quality is excecellent with a very solid feel to the speaker.

    The wife preferred the Axiom to the Swans so the Swans immediately had an uphill battle.


    Test system:

    Yamaha CD Player - optical output
    Outlaw 990 Pre/Pro
    Outlaw 7125 Amplifier
    Various mid-grade cables (monster grade)

    Stereo Mode: 192/24 upsample
    Tone Bypass

    Axiom - The tweeter! Ok, first of all the Axiom was an immediately likeable speaker. The detail in the high frequencies was excellent. This gave a nice sharp edge to all the instruments and vocals that helped to accurately seperate them from each other. I thought the tweeter was very realistic and not bright as some have claimed. I found it to be VERY detailed. This character made these great for movies as well. I did notice that the lower midrange and upper bass frequencies seemed to lack some substance. One example would be the quick attack you feel from a struck guitar string. There is an slight punch when the note is stuck. I have been playing guitar for 20 years so have become quite familiar with this sound. The lower bass was good, but not great. The treble actually tried to help define the bass by allowing you to hear the high frequency from the strike of the bass note, whether this was a pick on a bass guitar string or the sharp attack of a drum. You didnt FEEL the attack, but rather heard it. Overall the lower bass was a bit loose. Not bad, but these definitely need a good sub, and even then you will lose a bit of the upper bass compared to some of the bigger drivers. The capability of the speakers to play loud was excellent. They never lost composure. A very solid cabinet that seemed free of vibration and they seemed to want more than my 7125 Amp could give them (the 5x200 is on the way!). The tweeter gave a very "breathy" feel to the vocals, but the vocals always sounded like they were coming out of a speaker, a good speaker, but still from a box. This character made the vocals seem very localized and forward. The imaging was good good with the Axiom overall. I was able to place instuments in space inside a soundstage confined within the width of the two speakers. This wasn't a really large soundstage. It always seemed like the singers were about 5 feet tall as well. Overall though, the sound was very good. A vibration free cabinet that was relatively free of coloration with decent bass and a great pair of tweeters. There is a lot to like here. Better than the majority of speakers I auditioned, and probably all the ones at or beneath its price (with maybe one exception.. )

    Swans - HUGE sound. The Swans immeditaly seemed more dynamic. This much didn't take a trained ear to notice. The bass slammed you in the gut and the midrange punch was clear, loud and precise. I was especially impressed with the midrange of this speaker. According to marketing HiVi spent a good deal of time refining the new kevlar/paper composite midrange. It shows. This is one of the most realistic midranges I have ever heard. The vocals were no longer coming out of a box, but were flesh and blood in my room. They also seemed to hover a bit higher and a bit further back compared to the Axioms. The singers now seemed an appropriate height, or even up on stage if the recording dictated this. Wood toned instruments (violin, spanish guitar, flute, etc.) all had an organic tone that seemed very real. The tweeter was good, and while there was plenty of high frequency energy, the differences between a metallic alloy tweeter and a silk domed one became obvious. The Axioms delivered the goods here a bit better. Don't think of the treble as subdued though. The Swans would to most seem to have soaring highs and they do. It's only compared to the Axiom where a perceived shortcoming might be noticed. While the Swans' tweeter was good, the Axiom's was great. The Swans never sounded warm to me though. I thought they were dead neutral, even more so than the Axiom which regardless of what measurements have been shown seemed a bit thinner in certain frequecies. Every instrument was well defined with the Swans and slight details were heard, especically in the midrange. Certain instruments sounded richer if they resided in this frequency. Guitar was amazing and drums of all type materialized in my living room. The soundstage.....WOW! The size of the soundstage with the Swans was enormous. Noticably bigger than the Axioms. The wife noticed this immediatly even with her aesthetic bias. My living room walls exploded revealing a concert hall for my own private listening pleasure. I played Diana Krall for the wife and she looked at me with slight disappointment. "Damn, those do sound a bit better to me" (The Swans), and for this recording, they did. The acoutic bass was well definied and never muddy. Krall's vocals were stunning and very realistic. It sounded as if she was playing in an intimate club for us. With the Axioms, she was playing directly in front of us and was only 5 feet tall. She still sounded good, just shorter. I like my women tall. ;)


    After listening to dozens (hundreds?) of CDs I made my decision. The Swans just did more right than the Axioms. The total frequecy range was just better covered by the Swans. The only area where the Swans needed to work to reach epic status was the treble. If they were not good here though, I would have chosen the Axioms. The fact is that the Swans were good here, and great everywhere else. It seemed like the speaker was in a class that was a model or two higher than the Axiom. An Amazing bargain.

    Side note: The speakers were almost a dead heat when used for Home Theater. The killer high frequecies here on the Axioms made listening to movies a great experience. All the slight nuances in a movie soundtrack were revealed with detail. This one area leveled the playing field a bit. I put priority on music though, and here the Axioms were running a close second. (to my ears).

    - YMMV

  • #2
    Great review...enjoy!!

    What's the V2 on the M80's mean? I've been seeing this a lot in reviews lately. Is this a new version M80 that Axiom has??


    • #3
      Originally posted by jewel5
      Great review...enjoy!!

      What's the V2 on the M80's mean? I've been seeing this a lot in reviews lately. Is this a new version M80 that Axiom has??
      Yes, version 2. They are an upgrade of the Ti series. I think they changed the crossover network on the ver 2.