The Swan F2.6 is a 3-way 4th order vented box system with powered 1-way sealed box system, it is actually 2nd from the bottom of the Ultimate Series- it is Swan's answer to whether it can replicate it's statement F2.3BF in a smaller more accomodating package.
Based on the package itself, it is a half or pint sized version of the F.2.3BF. It is not a stripped down version similarities rather than differences abound. The F2.3BF utilizes 16 RT 1.3 isodynamic ribbon tweeters and 16 DMO midrange drivers the F2.6 uses 8 of each. The major difference is in the mid woofers and powered subwoofers, where the F2.3BF uses 4 x 6.5" PD6 midwoofers and an outboard 15" subwoofer, the F2.6 has 2 x L6-4R midwoofers per side and an integrated 150 watt rms 10" side firing powered subwoofer in each cabinet. The front drivers are mounted to an aluminum faceplate midwoofers mounted to their own faceplate. Just slightly over 4 ft tall and 14" at their deepest point they are over 2 ft shorter than the F2.3BF and much more accomodating in mid size rooms. Though, don't let the small size fool you, as I am finding out they will over power a small and some mid size listening rooms! Take heed if you are foolish enough like I am to put them in a small room (13' x 12' 4" x 12') you will yearn for larger accomodations.
Swan controls it's price points by putting most of the money in outward appearance, great looks, excellent cabinetry and great drivers. They do cut some cost internally not vying for exotic cabling and capacitors like Aurum another great Chinese speaker builder who uses exotic cabling and Raimund Mundorf M-cap Supreme & MKP capacitors from Germany in their speakers. I am not an expert on such things but do know they make a difference as I did a direct comparison on different caps inside of speakers made by VMPS.
The F2.6 is a line source speaker that relies on the foundation of low distortion and power, and I can attest it is both things in abundance. In considering driving these speakers appropriately I wanted to make sure I had enough reserve power for these babies, their nominal impedence is 8 versus 16 ohms in the F2.3BF and 89 versus 90 db efficiency of their big brother. I chose to use my Wyred4Sound 500 watt stereo amplifier, I think I have successfully linked an amplifier which will not compromise the F2.6's sound quality. I am also using a PS Audio preamp which has been modified by Cullen Circuits (designers of my amp) and an ESound platinum CD player. External wiring is by Nerve Audio, very good inexpensive cable (see http://www.nerveaudio.com/products.asp
The F2.6 is a very finicky speaker, each change of components to every movement (and they are very heavy > 200lbs each) of the speaker created something different in the soundfield. Initially I toed them in only to find in my room I compressed the sound field. I finally settled on pointing them straight ahead (47" from the front wall 19" from the side and 64" apart).
From the first CD it was plain to see that Swan did not create a cheap version of the F2.3BF but a speaker designed to create a statement of it's own. It is a paradigm of balance, a blend of subtlety, tonality, imaging and dynamics. Transparent to a great degree going much further than my F2.2 and with some of the aforementioned potential upgrades can go to a higher plateau! It is very difficult to create a speaker of this magnitude with this many drivers paper and ribbon, upper and lower midrange, powered and unpowered behave appropriately, with different dispersion patterns, power handling capabilities, etc. behave appropriately in any room especially a smaller than required one. I can't get it to disappear, but I am close, damn close, especially with this much surface area across the face to boot!
The one thing I liked about the F2.2 was it's bass power, and the ability to sound real and play deep, that was it's forte'. Now add outstanding midrange drive and outstanding treble balance and you get a giant leap forward in the F2.6. This speaker goes deep, down into the low 20s. Now I must warn you I am probably a fan of speakers that emphasize the mid to upper bass. Though this speaker sounds extremely coherent to me.
Last Sunday I saw a magnificent performance by Stanley Clarke with a very remarkable pianist named Hiromi from Japan whose style reminded me of the great Ahmad Jamal. I went straight home and fired up the system and listened a cd I had just purchased by Hiromi, my my did the piano have a realistic presentation. from top to bottom this speaker seems to have the coherency I am looking for in a speaker, I cannot hear the drivers as individual components, they integrate as one seamless instrument (after much work with the phase, crossover and gain controls on the subwoofer) portraying the musicians as a group, not emphasizing one over the other.
The midrange is lifelike on most instruments one of my test tracks is an Opus CD, "House of the Rising Sun" with Cyndee Peters on vocals. I have heard this CD on many great designs from Wilson to Magico. The F2.6 keeps pace, the vocals are delicate and slightly laid back while the Tenor sax has power and majesty. There is a sax solo where you can actually tell the sax player is moving to the front of the band. This CD has it all, from vocals to bell sounds, and they are all realistically rendered by the F2.6. Another CD I like to use is by Oscar Peterson, "We Get Requests" which portrays the piano very realistically. The resolving power, transient speed, and timbre are remarkable. As I am writing this I am listening to the 25th anniversary rendition of "Kind of Blue," wow Miles trumpet, Coltrane's tenor and Cannonball's Alto sound 'in the room' realistic so dense and the saxophone's reedy and full bodied. These things start and stop on a dime, I hear subtle nuances I have not heard before... The soundstage is sharply between the speakers, still playing with absorption and diffusion....
I still have a lot of work to do, still fine tuning, Nerve Audio is sending some different cables for me to try, we'll see....