Many years ago, I was introduced to HiVi-Swans speakers, and during my time in the media, I reviewed almost all of their speaker models. For instance, the M200MKIII speaker was in my home for an extended period, so I’m familiar with HiVi-Swans’ products and sound style.
Currently, HiVi-Swans 2.0 product offerings include the D series (D1010, D1080, D1090, D1200), H series (H2, H4, H5, H6), X series (X3, X4, X6, X8), T series (T200), M series (M100, M200, M300, M1, M3), as well as RM6 and S3W, among others. In September 2018, HiVi-Swans released the new flagship speaker in their M series – the M5A Bookshelf Speakers. So, how does this particular product perform?
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the HiVi-Swans M5A speaker after more than a month of testing. Here’s a summary of your feedback:
- This speaker has impressive bass performance, drawing attention with its low-frequency output.
- The design is elegant, with a solid wood cabinet that exudes a vintage vibe.
- The three-way design enhances its sound performance.
- The 8-inch woofer delivers deep bass but also demands a more favorable acoustic environment.
- Overall, the M5A Bookshelf Speaker offers a bold and dynamic sound profile, though there’s room for improvement in terms of finesse.
- The M5A is feature-rich, supporting WLAN/WiFi/Bluetooth playback and coaxial/optical digital inputs, RCA input, and balanced input, making it more in line with modern users’ preferences.
Your insights provide a helpful overview of the HiVi-Swans M5A’s strengths and areas for potential enhancement. It’s valuable feedback for potential buyers and enthusiasts.
The HiVi-Swans M5A Bookshelf Speaker maintains the classic design style of its predecessors, such as the M3A, featuring a wooden cabinet with a black front panel, which gives it an elegant and timeless appearance. Due to an 8-inch woofer, the M5A is slightly larger than the M3A, with dimensions of 280362475mm. The three-way design with a ribbon tweeter, 75mm metal midrange driver, and 8-inch woofer demonstrates the M5A’s commitment to delivering quality sound.
The M5A speaker continues the tradition of using a wooden cabinet, and you can see the craftsmanship in its exquisite build. Real wood enhances the overall aesthetics, albeit at a higher cost.
One of the notable features of the M5A is its ribbon tweeter, the RT 2.2, with a diaphragm made of lightweight Kapton material combined with metal copper foil. Ribbon tweeters are known for their lightweight diaphragms, large radiating area, extended frequency response, and rapid transient response, contributing to accurate and clean sound reproduction.
The 75mm metal midrange driver in the M5A Bookshelf Speaker features an aluminum-magnesium alloy diaphragm, aluminum frame, copper-clad aluminum voice coil wire, and a neodymium iron boron internal magnet structure. These components work together to provide excellent detail and transient response.
The most significant evolution of the M5A compared to the M3A is its larger 8-inch woofer and cabinet size. This change results in significantly improved low-frequency extension and overall bass presence. With the M5A, you won’t necessarily need an additional subwoofer for home theater applications, as it can handle lower frequencies quite effectively.
The rear-firing port design in the M5A Bookshelf Speaker does require careful consideration of speaker placement, ideally with about a 1-meter distance from the rear wall to achieve cleaner low-frequency performance.
Overall, the HiVi-Swans M5A is a well-crafted speaker with several enhancements over its predecessors, particularly in low-frequency capabilities and design.
HiVi-Swans M5A’s rear panel offers a rich array of interfaces catering to various user preferences. Let’s go through them one by one:
You have WLAN, OPTICAL (optical fiber), COAXIAL (coaxial), RCA, and XLR inputs from left to right. Connecting the M5A via WLAN through your router aligns with modern usage habits for users who prefer streaming music from cloud platforms or streaming services. Additionally, you can connect CD players or digital sources via optical or coaxial inputs, utilizing the built-in DAC for decoding, eliminating the need for a separate high-quality DAC.
M5A also supports WIFI and Bluetooth input modes and has a built-in hotspot feature. The image shows that you can directly connect your smartphone to the M5A Bookshelf Speaker for playback. Furthermore, in the same WiFi environment, users can utilize AirPlay on iOS devices or DLNA on Android devices to stream music from their mobile devices to the speaker, making it incredibly convenient.
The M5A’s connectivity options offer flexibility and ease of use, catering to wired and wireless audio sources, which is a great advantage for modern users.
M5A utilizes a specially designed aviation-grade interface cable to connect the main and subwoofer units, with gold-plated connectors for excellent oxidation resistance.
Upon disassembling the mid and high-frequency components, it’s apparent that they have individual enclosures, resulting in purer mid and high-frequency performance. This design is often seen in high-end floor-standing speakers but is incorporated into the M5A despite its relatively large bookshelf form.
The high-frequency unit is TR4H, 4Ω 40W, while the mid-range unit is DM75-G3, 4Ω 40W. These units are secured to the cabinet using a roughly 4mm-thick aluminum plate.
The low-frequency unit is identified as X8H, the same driver used in HiVi-Swans’ flagship monitor speaker X8. It boasts a sizable magnet and is rated at 5Ω 120W. White sound-absorbing cotton is used for tuning inside the low-frequency unit’s enclosure.
M5A’s cabinet boasts a thickness of 26.51mm, resulting in a weight of approximately 20kg per unit.
Now, delving into the disassembly, the rear panel of the M5A features an aluminum alloy construction. The green PCB predominantly houses chips for ADC, Bluetooth, WiFi, and more.
The Bluetooth chip is the CSR8670CG, offering faster transmission rates for improved wireless audio quality.
For digital coaxial and optical inputs, the PCM9211 by Ti is used, while PCM1862 is employed for line-level and balanced inputs, offering a high sampling rate of up to 24bit/192kHz and a signal-to-noise ratio of 103dB.
The WiFi chip is MT7688AN, supporting the 802.11n wireless transmission protocol with a maximum speed of up to 600Mbps, facilitating wireless music playback.
M5A Bookshelf Speaker utilizes a switch-mode power supply. While some audiophiles may prefer traditional linear power supplies for perceived sound quality advantages, well-designed switch-mode power supplies, like the ones used in Hypex’s NCore amplifier modules paired with many brands, can offer performance comparable to traditional supplies. Switch-mode power supplies offer high efficiency and space-saving advantages, aligning with modern user demands. Filtering capacitors consist of two 105° 200V/500uF audio-grade capacitors.
The mid and high frequencies are driven by the Ti TAS5754M chip, which includes a 28/56-bit audio DSP for embedded Mini DSP electronic crossover capabilities. The PCM5242+TPA3255 chip handles the low frequencies. Despite some audiophiles’ reservations about Class D amplifiers, they are gaining recognition in the industry.
The remote control is crafted from aluminum alloy with a metal brushed surface, providing a satisfying tactile experience and offering functions like power, mute, input selection, and volume adjustment.
Of course, to fully maximize the potential of these substantial bookshelf speakers, stands are a necessity. HiVi-Swans provides the M Stand stands, although assembly is required. The process is straightforward and should be manageable.
The base of the stands can accommodate metal spikes for balancing and improved audio performance. However, it’s recommended to consider larger and heavier stands for the M5A, with a height of around 60cm and a baseplate size ideally reaching 20*23 inches in cast iron stands, such as those from “大力神” (Da Li Shen). The HiVi-Swans M Stand stands may have slight stability limitations when supporting the M5A.
These stands feature a design that matches the speaker’s aesthetic, combining wood and metal tube materials.
Equipment pairing includes using the Sine SAT-3KV isolation power supply to ensure cleaner power.
The CD player employed is the Yamaha S-2000 SACD player, equipped with a PCM1792 DAC chip and connected directly to the HiVi-Swans M5A via an XLR interface.
Given the M5A’s use of an 8-inch woofer, it’s only fitting to test its low-frequency performance. The Chinese drum is a significant challenge for all audio systems, especially in-depth and response speed. The M5A displays remarkable explosiveness, ample volume, deep bass extension, and accurate drumhead vibrations, truly showcasing the power of the 8-inch woofer.
The M5A’s low frequencies may appear slightly rigid, and whether this style suits your listening preference depends on your musical taste. It’s a solid choice for home theater use in low-frequency performance, even without a separate subwoofer, as it can deliver impactful bass.
For vocal testing, tracks like David Roth’s “Vincent” from “Pearl Diver,” Eva Cassidy’s “What a Wonderful World” from “Wonderful World,” and “Mad World” from “1963 Deja Vu From The Scandinavian Touch” were used. Overall, the M5A’s vocal rendition is straightforward but not characterized by thick mid-range tones.
In other words, if you expect the M5A Bookshelf Speaker to produce magnetic and lush vocals, you might be disappointed. Female vocals may also lack a certain sweetness and delicacy. However, the M5A maintains good density, offering a rather straightforward sound profile, slightly subdued and leaning towards a monitor-style sound.
Regarding high-frequency testing, tracks like “Lied des Wanderers” from Heifetz’s “Violin Showpieces with Orchestra” and selections from Horowitz’s piano album “Chopin: Favorite Piano Works” were used. If there’s any drawback to the M5A’s high-frequency performance, it needs to catch up in delicacy compared to high-end speakers. However, the M5A’s high-frequency performance is commendable in its price range.
The M5A Bookshelf Speaker exhibits good high-frequency extension, rich overtones, and bright and transparent tones thanks to the ribbon tweeter. The M5A also excels in rendering musical details, even capturing subtle bowing sounds when closely listened to.
Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony” was used to assess soundstage and imaging. The M5A demonstrates an expansive soundstage with impressive dynamics. It can fill an approximately 18-square-meter evaluation room with a massive and enveloping soundstage, even at about half the volume. The excellent imaging, with a sense of depth, allows you to perceive the various instruments in the composition working harmoniously without overlap.
The HiVi-Swans M5A is a versatile product that excels in various aspects. In terms of functionality, it offers a wide range of options beyond the typical RCA and XLR inputs, including support for WiFi/WLAN, Bluetooth, and coaxial and optical digital inputs, providing ample flexibility for different usage scenarios.
Regarding craftsmanship, it continues the M-series tradition with its exquisite real wood cabinet. An 8-inch woofer significantly enhances its low-frequency performance, making it suitable for Hi-Fi and serving as a main speaker in a home theater setup. Despite using a switch-mode power supply and Class D amplification, it maintains a respectable sound quality, although there might be slight room for improvement in some areas.
It’s worth noting that the substantial cabinet places higher demands on the listening environment, and using more substantial stands is recommended to unlock its potential fully. Overall, as an upgraded version of the M3A, the M5A Bookshelf Speaker delivers noticeable improvements and provides good value for its capabilities.