Reviews

Swans D1080-IV : The Surprise package in budget

Swans D1080-IV Powered Studio Monitor Speaker

SWANS-D1080-IV-Powered-2.0-Bookshelf-Speakers


SWANS D1080-IV – Powered 2.0 Bookshelf Speakers
Overall Ranking: 7/10
Price: $189
Owners: HiVi, Inc.

Buy here: Swans – D1080-IV – Powered 2.0 Bookshelf Speakers


INTRODUCTION 

Audiophiles, music enthusiasts, and regular music listeners always look for something, some piece of audio equipment which delivers best possible sound in a said price bracket and the best of anything is different for every individual, it always depends on their previous experience and exposure. The definition of good sound/music differs from person to person, as some might have experienced a $50,000 system versus one is a newbie who is venturing into the musical world and has owned a $50 and wants to upgrade gradually. But then it doesn’t matter, we (humans) evolve and we strive to evolve for good. 

Enough of the philosophy around the humans/price/benefit received. Let’s get into what we are here for and see how much these bad boys can deliver if you are betting your money on them. And see if these are really the best budget desktop speakers?

  • To start with Swans – D1080-IV – Powered 2.0 Bookshelf Speaker from HiVi Inc. have been the underdog in the audio equipment industry for quite some time. They are active/powered hence amp is built into one of the units in the pair. The speakers come in a PVC Finished cabinet with professional acoustic panel design and jacquard grille casing, which is good to hold and look at (just like few expensive wooden 2.0s around us). These are designed and engineered in California, USA, and the head office is also located there, but as with all the other products, the manufacturing is in China, which you ca tell by the box received.

SWANS-D1080-IV-active-speakers-monitors

  • They boast 5.25” LM5N woofer & 0.8” dome tweeter, which is enough to produce decent low-frequency sound (by the way the IV version carries the woofer from more expensive Swans M200MKIII speakers (PS: I was worried about the base and trust me you would not need a subwoofer unless you are a base-head)

  • I won’t say that out of the box they were incredible, as none of the monitors are, they require some break-in period and pistons need to flex themselves (50-70hours) and boy-O-boy once they broke in, it’s a delight to hear them. Of course, you can’t make them compete against the true audiophile grade, highly expensive speakers but let me tell you these are not some regular dogs. These are like a dragon sleeping calmly and waiting for you to poke them to come to life and expel the fire……whoops I can dramatize things 😉

 

  • I have tried playing vocals, instrumental, hip hop and almost everything in my capacity. They take care of all genres well. Watched a few movies as well, few war movies with thunderous sounds and few lay low movies which makes no ear exploding sounds but are mostly dialogue and vocals-oriented – it plays them all very well, though at time I get worried about the lows as it feels that it could blanket the music underneath (but that may be because of the audio source)

 

  • For the audio source, I have used iPod, iPhones, android phones, external Bluetooth adaptor, direct line to TV, laptops, audio CDs etc. All boil down to the “SOURCE” when you have purchased good speakers and want to hear good music out of it. And these so very much works well with the FLAC, audio CDs, direct line-in, means the Lossless music source will always give you the best output – it’s like saying garbage in garbage out. So, try not to put in the garbage/low-quality content into a good speaker or you will be disappointed
    • Just to give you a perspective here: MP3 of 4-6MB size generally is captured at 320kpbs whereas FLAC at 30-50MB size is captured at 1500-2500 kbps and at 44100 Hz sampling – which is delight to hear

 

  • These swans don’t disappoint at all, I can say with full confidence as I have used them in a hall of the size 40ftx40ft and with 40+ people inside and people were amazed to hear these little beasts, in case you feel the thump is not enough to shake your house down, you can always buy external subwoofers and connect with a set of wires (PS: they don’t have the direct sub out like Audioengine A5+, but then A5+ are almost 2.5x expensive and carries a snob value for years)

 

  • For your reference, if you have heard the all-time favorite, blue eyed boys Audioengine A5+ and A2+ or the Mackie or Rocket etc, I would say that Swans could make a big dent into their segment with the value for money proposition that they offer. These D1080-IV sits right somewhere in between the A2+ and A5+ in terms of the quality

 

  • These are a perfect blend of not so flat (like true Monitors) and not overpowering (like Logitech, btw Logitech stands nowhere near the crystal highs that Swans produce, I only mentioned them here because of their loudness and THX tag boasting) bookshelf, which you can keep playing happily without making big blow in your pocket

 

  • The brushed aluminum buttons for volumes, treble, and bass controls adjustments is a cherry and makes it feel premium. Connecting cables are of good and heavy quality.

PROS/CONS

PROS

  • Small footprint (but not tiny)
  • Decent driver size
  • Highs: Brilliant, Low and Mids: Good
  • Wonderful wooden finish panels
  • Good quality knobs

CONS

  • Subwoofer out (with few extra dollars)
  • Slightly better Mids
  • Gamers might like more thunderous speakers

 

WHO IT IS FOR

Anyone who:

  1. Wants to upgrade from tiny desktop speakers
  2. Loves crystal clear highs’ and appreciates good music
  3. Don’t want to spend a fortune
  4. Has lack of space

 

FINAL OPINION/VERDICT

Any day I would be happy to suggest (or buy another pair) D1080-IV or the higher model like Swans M200MKIII (they are killer), sitting on my desktop or with the big screen. Due to their thin presence and not so great marketing like other brands they are making their mark slowly in the music equipment industry. You can buy a pair to test them out yourself and be introduced to the “Good sound in budget” philosophy for real.

 

TIP: if you are using your active speakers with your laptop/desktop and want to raise the sound quality bar, please invest in a good DAC (digital to analog converter) like Schiit, Fiio, ODAC etc.

PS: I have not accrued anything while reviewing these speakers or being paid by the company to promote these. It’s my own true blue opinion. 

Buy here: Swans – D1080-IV – Powered 2.0 Bookshelf Speakers

 

Also loot at: Mackie CR Series CR3 – 3″ Creative Reference Multimedia Monitors

3 Comments on “Swans D1080-IV : The Surprise package in budget

  1. Wonderful speakers and definitely a good buy at this price level. They are comparable with the speakers of twice its price for sure.

  2. Hey I’m confused betweent the M200MKII and the D1080-IV. Is the sound equal or better than the M200mkii since they are the newer ones. Which would be better? These are about 60% of the cost of the M200mkii here. If there is a significant difference, only then shall i be willing to pay more. Also, does cons in the subwopfer out means i cannot connect a subwoofer later. If I can, how so?

    1. Hi Akshat, let us break down your dilemma and try to answer it:
      1. M200MKII Vs D1080-IV: The D1080-IV has 5.25″ Bass-midrange driver 0.8″ dome tweeter whereas M200MKII has 5″ Bass-midrange driver 1″ soft dome tweeter
      a. This means that the D1080 has a better low-frequency response – it must be because the D1080-IV now comes equipped with the Low Freq (bass) drivers which are borrowed from mighty M200MKIII. This means that you will get good bass with D1080-IV (I am not saying the MKII are bad, they have a better/bigger chassis which makes it equivalent to D1080)
      b. Sound quality: M200MKII has a slightly better and clear sound because of the dome 1” dome twitter and of course the bigger chassis
      2. Subwoofer connection: As these are entry level active speakers, they don’t come with a sub out like audioengine A5+, but that doesn’t mean you cannot connect a subwoofer, of course, you can. You would need this to do so:
      a. An active subwoofer with RCA in/out: active sub has its own amp and the RCA in/out is a MUST (check at the back of the sub for RCA input as well output ports, I am emphasizing because most of them has only input)
      i. Crossover frequency knob: this is generally built into the sub, with this set at the appropriate level you basically telling the sub to send high frequency to active speakers and let the sub play only low frequencies
      b. 3.5mm to RCA from sound card/DAC to sub RCA in (if you don’t want a DAC, still you need this cable to connect to the source)
      c. RCA/RCA from RCA out on sub to RCA in of active monitor
      Conclusion: What should you buy, I had gone for D1080-IV considering the price difference and good bass response and size of the room (these can rock a big room but will distort a bit). Bass response is very good for a 2.0 system and you will not need a sub (unless you want to shatter your windows), they still shake my seat, use a good source, preferably FLAC/ALAC files. Also, you need to burn these for 60-80 hours to get the good response. If you want to use them with your computer, buy a DAC (preferably SCHIIT) but may be later.
      I would say save for MKIII and go for D1080-IV now, and if the price is a concern, only if you want to upgrade later, MKIII are just gorgeous. If you don’t want to shell out for MKIII later and want a one-time solution, then you can buy MKII and keep them for long.
      I hope, it was somewhat useful, let me know for any query!!
      Check out here:
      Amazon India: http://amzn.to/2okuyAB
      Amazon USA: http://amzn.to/2olLSpq

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