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Some Impressions of the Swan M50W

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

After deciding I needed an upgrade for my computer speakers. I recently acquired the Swan M50W 2.1 speaker system. Prior to this I've probably only owned four different computer speakers, this over the past 18 years or so. I've had Altec Lansings, both 2.0 and 2.1, and most recently the Audioengine A2s. While I've always been satisfied with what I had, eventually I would get the upgrade bug.


When the upgrade bug hit with the A2s there were a lot of options and a lot of different speakers I was interested in. However, due to space limitations I really couldn't go with anything much bigger than my current A2s. Although there were plenty of speakers just as small or smaller than the A2s, there didn't seem to be many that could be considered an upgrade.

I then came across the Swan M50W. The price and and size of the speakers were right, and most importantly they had some glowing reviews. I was a little hesitant to get them at first mainly because if I had a choice, I'd prefer not to have a subwoofer as it's just an extra piece of equipment I need to find space for. It is something I can live with though and since the speaker size, price, and reviews fit the bill, I decided to go for it.


Half the fun of getting new gear is the unpacking process. The set is delivered in a box within a box. All told it weighs about 40 lbs. Upon opening the main box, the set is held in place by top and bottom pieces of styrofoam. The top piece serves as a tray to hold the accessories, i.e the cables, power chord, volume control, and the Swan signature white gloves. When lifted, the top piece of styrofoam reveals three white bags containing the pieces of the set.


Both the speakers and subwoofers are solidly built, constructed of wood and plastic. Small but substantial is how I would describe them. This is probably one of the best looking computer speaker systems you can buy and pictures don't do them justice. One review I read said it was a shame that most people would probably place the subwoofer on the floor since it was such a good-looking piece of furniture. To this I will agree. The grills on the speakers and subwoofer are removable although I haven't tried taking them off yet.


Set up of the system is fairly easy although only a single cable is used to connect the PC to the subwoofer. Since my sound card is a Xonar Essence STX which uses left and right RCA cables, I needed to use an adapter. Standard stereo wire is used to connect the subwoofer separately to each speaker which attaches via clips. The volume control for the speakers also needs to be attached to the subwoofer. It's basically a wheel/dial about 2 1/4" in diameter attached to a long cable so that it can be placed on your desktop. Lit around the middle, when the speakers are active it is blue. Pressing down on the volume control mutes the speakers and changes the color to red. The subwoofer has its own volume control. When first turned on, the system defaults to mute.


Now, how does it sound? I can honestly say these are the best computer speakers I have owned. That may not be saying much since I mentioned that I've only had a few different sets of computer speakers over the years, but my ears tell me that these speakers sound really good. They are significantly better than the Audioengine A2s which I thought and still think are good speakers. One big improvement though is the bass obviously, since the M50W has a discrete subwoofer. The A2s' design supposedly compensates for lack of a subwoofer, and while they have bass, it can sound boomy and artificial when compared to the real thing.


With the M50W, I had forgotten what it's like to be able to control the bass manually. I'm not much of a basshead so I keep the subwoofer volume relatively low but still have no problems hearing it as well as occasionally feeling it at my feet. I can't imagine that it wouldn't be able to provide enough bass for those who like to crank it all the way up.


As for the sound from the speakers, crystal clear and full is probably the best way to describe it. They're extremely detailed and work well with all genres of music, and vocals really shine. Little speakers aren't supposed to sound this good. Of course the better your source material, the better they are going to sound but that holds true for all quality audio equipment whether it's speakers or headphones. Note that I haven't really tried them with games or movies as my main use for them is music.


While their primary purpose is for near field listening I personally think they provide adequate enough sound to fill the entire room. They can also go pretty loud although there is no set max or min volume because of the way the volume control is designed. You just spin it clockwise to make it louder and counter clockwise to lower it. You just keep spinning until it reaches its peak volume (which I haven't done) or until there's no sound.


There are only a couple of things I don't like about the M50W. First, the power switch is located on back of the subwoofer. Since I have it under my desk it means I need to get down on the floor to turn it on and off. Second is the volume control for the speakers. I'm just not crazy about the whole wheel device. It's something else that takes up space (albeit small) and something else that needs to be connected which means I have another cable hanging off my desk. And what if it breaks somehow? Will replacements be available?


Are these the best sounding speakers ever made for computer use? Probably not but I'm sure they give some other bigger and more expensive brand name speakers a run for their money. I bet there are even quite a few full size speakers that don't sound as good as these. For their price and above all size, you probably can't do much better than the M50W when it comes to a 2.1 system.


Here are some pics. Apologies for some blurriness.


The well packed box within a box






The accesories.






Bags just waiting to be untied.






Maybe it's me but I just don't understand the whole white glove thing. The included gloves are rather small and I have pretty small hands as it is. I kept them on for a short time but took them off as it was easier to do the set up without them.






Untying the second speaker.







The speakers revealed. The tops of both the speakers and subwoofer come with a protective film.






The subwoofer and speaker side by side.






A detailed shot of the back of the subwoofer.






A shot of my desktop with the M50W in place. The volume control can be seen in front of the left speaker. Note that the manual suggests that the speakers be placed at least 35" apart. I obviously fall a little short on space but I still think the speakers sound fine where they are.






The M50W speaker next to the Audioengine A2 for comparison purposes.



post #2 of 19

Nice review.


Man do they look sexy or what?


I might actually pull a trigger on a set once I have enough spare cash laying around but that is if I don't find a set of M200MKII's on eBay for less in the coming months. Either way both speakers will more than suffice for me since I am upgrading from my 3 year old $15 logitech speakers. *sad I know*





post #3 of 19

I picked up a set myself a month ago, they are pretty nice cool.gif

post #4 of 19

After reading your impressions, I'm going to have to get these later in the year.  They sound perfect for me.  Thanks!

post #5 of 19

Have a set myself and they are amazing and look great!

post #6 of 19

Any of you guys compare the m50w's to some KRK RP6's?

post #7 of 19

So how do the cables connect to a pc? Is it just a 3.5mm to 3.5mm? And the speakers are RCA to what?

post #8 of 19

These look very nice!! I'd give them a try over my ancient Klisch setup...

post #9 of 19

I just picked up a set of these M50Ws.  289.00 plus shipping.  I think it was 331.00 total.



I have a Lan and gave my Altec Lansing MX5021 to my son.   The MX5021 was the best 2.1 system I had heard its only downfall was the weak power source.   But up to the point of distortion nothing could compare.  


All the Altecs since then have not sounded as good.   This was the best they ever made.

The Kliplshe Promedia 2.1  Had a better sub but the Satellites had no midrange and the blend with the sub left a HUGE hole in the sound stage.

Logitechs- Boomy bass and tiny sounding satelites


How do the M50ws compare?





Amp - Better, it can go much higher before distortion

Build Quality - M50w come on real wood vs all plastic.  Connectors are better as well, thicker speaker wire.




- They can go louder before distortion but that is more the power amplifier than the speakers.  

- Hiss and amp noise.  Much much cleaner.   No buzz or humm in the speakers like the altecs.   

- Midrange,  not better but as good and this is one driver and tweater vs 2 drivers and tweaker.   So for these to have the same or similar mids is pretty good.   I think Swan should make these speaker twice as tall and use a twin driver with tweater in the middle like the altecs.  

- Sub cleaner, less distorion.


Unlike 90 percent of the 2.1 systems out there swan and the MX5021 do a very nice job of blending the satellites with the sub.    Most just let the sub fire low and boomy leaving a hole from 70-140hz or so.  


So for 300.00 and under I don't know of any speakers that can compete with these.   You can't get MX5021s anymore and these are better.  


I was close to getting larger speakers but just did not have the room on my desk.   These are about as large as I would want on my desk.  


For those people wanting even more volume I think the best bang for the buck would be to get a seprate amplifier and use passive speakers with a sub.


But that would cost you 100.00 per speaker and sub plus amp.    400.00 at least and it would have much more wires and cables all over the place. 

This set up is very clean, easy to hook up, the volume controller shuts off the signal to the speakers and works very well.   


You are not suppose to turn off the switch on the sub.   I do not know how much current it draws but its sort of like how TVs have power to them even when they are off.    The amp will last longer if you leave power to it vs turn it off every time you use it.   Much harder on capacitors heating and cooling them.  


Do they blow the MX5021s out of the water??  Nope but they are better.

Its mostly the build quality and the amps ability to play louder without distorting.  They probably sound a bit more accurate, not sure how to say it.   Smoother highs.   

post #10 of 19

My son disagrees he says the MX5021s sound better.



We did a side by side using Led Zeppelin Dyer maker song.


I have to admit the midrange of the MX5021s is probably better.   I would say the highs are harsher on the 5021s.   


I will say the Swans are less harsh sounding and are more accurate without having overly harsh highs and the swan sub is cleaner.


But they are not a MX5021 killer.    But I have not heard any 2.1s that were.   They are better IMHO but some could argue.

post #11 of 19

Kudos to the efforts for review but in TS shoes if i already had the A2s instead of shelling out for another pair of powered speakers i would have just added an active subwoofer really L3000.gif

post #12 of 19

Yes I agree probably adding a sub to the A2s would have helped them.   But matching the sub is important and the M50s sub is dialed in well with them.

The sub on the M50s has to go up to 120hz to meet the speakers.   Some subs dont do this so well.  


I think all the bookself speakers need a sub, 4-5 inch drivers don't do that well on lower frequencies.   Best to cut them off and let a sub do that.

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
 You are not suppose to turn off the switch on the sub. I do not know how much current it draws but its sort of like how TVs have power to them even when they are off. The amp will last longer if you leave power to it vs turn it off every time you use it.

 Where are you getting this info from? There's nothing in the manual that indicates this. Plus, if you leave the power switch on all the time the LED on the volume wheel will always be on.

post #14 of 19

This has always been the case with stereo amps.   That red led draws very little power not current is being used to run the speakers.  


You can turn them off if you want but some people were using this as a knock against the system.    Not sure how much power you would save by turning them completely off but it is not needed.    Will not hurt the system more likely will extend its life as cycling on/off 300+ times per year will be a little harder on the capacitors.  


In standby mode (red light) amps can draw like 0.1 watts.   It does not hurt them some people say they sound better because the electronics do not have to warm up.   Some amps require long warm ups to sound their best.  I don't know much about the amp in the m50w in terms of warm up or standby power requirements.


So if you are going totally green, like living in a place with solar power/batteries then yes turning it off would cut some minor power drain.  


Computers are not totally off either, there is still power to the components even when off.  The only way to reset hardware glitches is totally powering them down by pulling the plug out of them.  


I have 12 year old amps that have been in standby for years and no issues.

post #15 of 19
Massdrop has the Swan M50W's for $209.00 + $15.00 shipping. I was looking for a set of desktop/PC speakers and these although dated seem to be pretty nice from what I've read.
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