Swan M200 MKII Active Desktop Loudspeaker System
Today’s product of the day is the Swan M200 MKII active speaker system, sold in the USA by The Audio Insider. Longtime readers of my column and site know The Audio Insider for their outstanding, high-value Acculine speakers with leaf tweeters. This is my first experience with Swan products, which have something of a cult following. After my experience with the Swan M200 MKII, I wish I would have tried them sooner.
The Swan M200 MKII speakers have built-in amplification and are designed to be used with computers or any other audio product with a line-level output. Suggested retail price is $399 per pair, but they are available from The Audio Insider for much less… if you want to find out what you can actually buy them for, you will have to read the rest of the article! I’ll provide a small spoiler up front, though- these are a steal at the price and like the Acculines, one of the best buys in audio.
M200 MKII with accessories
The Swan M200 MKII is delivered with a length of 18 gauge speaker wire, white cotton gloves, and two connecting cables: a miniplug to RCA stereo (used with iPods, computers and portable music players) and an ordinary RCA stereo cord. I like that the M200 MKII uses a standard RCA stereo input, making it easy to use them with any component.
Though they are marketed as multimedia speakers, they are not small. The Swan M200 MKII speakers are about the size of a small bookshelf speaker. The styling and quality of construction is top class and they look like a pair of exotic speakers such as Thiel, but in miniature. The simulated walnut completely fooled me as it looks and feels real.
Use the gloves!
The Swan M200 MKII comes well-packed and each speaker is in a cloth bag. The fine finish picks up fingerprints easily so be sure to put on the gloves before you take them out of the bags.
M200 MKII woofer
M200 MKII soft dome tweeter
The Swan M200 MKII uses a 5″ woofer and a 25mm soft-dome tweeter.
M200 MKII Grill Cloth has a nice, tight weave
The grills are rigid and feel very sturdy. The cloth has a strong, coarse weave and feels tough as well.
M200 MKII controls. No balance control, but you probably won’t need it.
Controls for volume, bass and treble are on the front of the speaker containing the electronics.
M200 MKII rear view
Speaker on the right contains the dual amplifiers. Plug it into the wall and use the included speaker wire to connect the terminals with the other speaker, then turn on and enjoy! You can use a longer run of wire if you want.
Power side of the Swan M200 MKII. Terminals connect to the matching terminals on the other speaker. The box and speaker say “Swans” but they are marketed in the USA as “Swan.”
My iPod Nano connected to the M200 MKII using included RCA-to-miniplug cable.
Sound and performance
Looking at the pictures it is easy to see how beautiful these speakers look. As for their performance, the easiest way for me to tell you is to say they sound as good as they look- beautiful, with an air of quality and refinement.
The volume control is set so that you can’t overdrive the amplifier and create distortion, so even with the volume turned up all the way the sound is exceedingly clean. This limits the total output somewhat and they won’t shake the room, but they play loud enough to fill an average sized room with satisfying sound. This attention to detail in the design is evidence of what a serious audiophile product the Swan M200 MKII really is.
I was expecting something good, but they exceeded my expectations. Midrange detail was extraordinary. I listened to Broon’s Bane from Rush Exit: Stage Left from my iPod and the guitar sounded full, rich and natural, with every pluck of the string rendered gloriously, every resonance finding its way to your ears. Next was Arirang from the New York Philharmonic’s concert in Pyongyang. The winds wove their beautiful, yet haunting melody and the string instruments sounded rich and natural with textured nuance coming through with every note. The applause at the beginning of Elton John’s Benny and the Jets sounded real and Bonnie Rait’s voice in I Can’t Make You Love Me sounded simply magnificent, conveying emotion and power.
Bass response is tight and surprisingly deep. You won’t need a subwoofer with the M200 MKII.
M200 MKII as computer speakers
Using the M200 MKIIs as computer speakers, I placed them about 24 inches apart and angled them in slightly. This placement placed my head directly in the sweet spot with my ears about 16 inches from each respective speaker.
I wasn’t prepared for what I heard. Much like it does on a Thiel, the M200 MKII’s slanted cabinet design does its job to enhance stereo imaging as I experienced a precise, holographic soundstage that seemed like a 1/50th scale version of my Ohm Walsh 5000 speakers, presented in front of me on my desk instead of filling my room. At close range with the volume set lower due to my proximity to the speakers, they sounded even more natural and effortless than they did when I first fired them up as whole-room speakers.
If you want to use them with a computer, size is a consideration as they really aren’t small. If you have the room on your desk, you will be thrilled. If you don’t have the room, see if you can make some!
The M200 MKII: Not a one-trick pony!
The beauty of the M200 MKII is they work so well in so many ways. With their excellent sound, built-in power and the common RCA connection you can use them with lots of different components. I hooked them up to an iPod in a spare bedroom in my home, placed them about 6 feet apart and listened to them from about ten feet away. They sounded like a pair of fine quality bookshelf speakers hooked up to a clean-sounding receiver. Bass was solid, deep, and right and stereo imaging was very good. They do not seem especially placement-sensitive, either.
With a TV
The M200 MKII speakers can be connected to a television’s analog outputs to provide high quality, room filling sound at low cost and with great simplicity. Connecting and using them is a cinch, and everything you need is included. The fine styling and finish would find itself at home even on the most elegant, expensive TV stand.
Swan M200 MkII as home entertainment speakers
Connect a DVD player or CD player to the RCA inputs and you have a stereo with high-end sound, perfect for an office, a dorm room, bedroom, a garage, anywhere you may want to enjoy good sound. You could even connect them to the output of a phono preamp and use them with a turntable. Just be sure to use a long RCA cable and locate the turntable some distance from the speakers.
I tremendously enjoyed reviewing these speakers and highly recommend them… oh, yeah, I said I would tell you what they sell for! The Swan M200 MKII MSRP is $399, and they are normally discounted to $299 at The Audio Insider. At the time of this writing the Swan M200 MKII are on sale for only $189 per pair, and you know they are a safe buy because The Audio Insider has a 30 day in-home satisfaction guarantee. With the M200 MKII’s fine sound quality, even if they didn’t have built-in amplification they would be a bargain at the price. Given they are essentially an audio system out of the box, the value equation becomes extremely compelling. Just keep in mind that if you use them as stereo speakers in a room, they won’t play as loudly as bookshelf speakers connected to a receiver.
Stop back tomorrow for another interesting Product of the Day!