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Active loudspeakers


Sveda Audio

Price (in Poland): 2200 euro/pair

Manufacturer: Sveda Audio
ul. Makowska 10 | 06-300 Przasnysz | Poland
tel.: +48 730 111 818
| e-mail:

Country of origin: Poland

ull-range, active, short and medium field monitors in the D’Appolito arrangement.
Yes, that's how Mr. Arek Szweda, the owner and chief designer of Sveda Audio, describes these speakers on his website. You're reading and audio magazine that presents reviews of home audio equipment so you won't find such a description here too often. But that's how the guy who created D’Appo sees them so we should take a closer look and verify whether it is accurate or not. FULL-RANGE: indicates that D’Appo are not some small, shelfspeakers, but rather a large one capable of delivering a full range, top to bottom. But since these are not (large) floorstanding speakers they have to have some limitations. Manufacturer declares a frequency response of 48 Hz - 20000 Hz +/- 1,5 dB, and 40 Hz to 30000 Hz +/- 3dB. These are quite impressive figures that actually allow him to call his speakers „full-range” ones.
„Housing design is exceptionally rigid, providing excellent loudspeakers separation from the electronic section.”
One of the advantages of active speakers is their large mass introduced by built-in amplifiers with their heavy power transformers, and additional internal baffles separating electronics from drivers, which also improve cabinet's RIGIDITY (more rigid cabinet = less vibrations). These speakers fully benefit from that plus there are additional internal brackets (see drawing), and the cabinet itself is built with thick MDF boards – 26mm front baffle, and 22 mm all others.
„Design assumed maximum neutrality and linearity of sound reproduction, which has been achieved at an extremely high level, providing attractive price at the same time.” NEUTRALITY is a key word in a pro-audio world whether equipment is used in studios, or during concerts. Usually it translates to lack of any coloration, which means in fact lack of any additional elements in music. Such products are not perfect though, because of what is NOT there in the sound. Mr. Arkadiusz Szweda while working on D’Appo spent countless hours listening – not just to the prototypes of speakers but also to an influence of particular passive elements. We discussed this matter and he confirmed that each element had its own „sound”, which means introduced something specific to the sound of speakers. It was really unusual and refreshing to see such experience and knowledge (as it is in fact, about the knowledge) presented by the guy working for years at the other, professional side of the „studio's glass”. As for speakers' features – they are paired up within 0,25dB (!) tolerance, there are active filters with a slope of 24dB per octave on the input that deliver signal to three (!) 150W RMS amplifiers in a separate chamber. That's still not all there is about these speakers. As Mr Szweda mentioned he searched for the best each small element and as result he decided to use NOS Siemens capacitors, selected NOS resistors, and instead of using regular computer flat cable he chose a very expensive military grade cable with silver plated copper as conductor, placed inside Teflon insulation. Drivers are placed in D’Appolito arrangement (that's where their name came from) and are linked with cables that are not soldered, but clipped. Surely soldering is the best connection but it makes it more difficult to replace driver in case of its failure, which in studios sometimes happens and than the key thing is to replaced them as soon as possible. It took Mr. Arkadiusz quite some time to find proper, gold-plated clips, but he did.

As you have already noticed this time we are reviewing a product that is different from most of these commonly used in our homes: these are active speakers, and their natural domain seem to be recording and mastering studios. So why are we reviewing them here, in a hi-fi and hi-end magazine? Well, as I already explained Mr Szweda obviously he learned a lot about „audiophile” products and decided to use some solutions taken from these in his speakers. On the other hand it seems that currently active speakers finally get proper attention from audiophiles. Have a look at PC audio market – a lot of such systems use active speakers! And what is a modern recording studio if not an advanced, complex, computer based system with external peripherals – reverbs, special effects and so on, but still the recording is done in a computer. So creating a product intended for both, professionals and perfectionists seems reasonable.
A great advantage of this solution is its simplicity. All one needs to do is to deliver a signal at certain level to speakers and that's it – they play music. A source of that signal might be a CD Player with an adjustable output signal level. There are a lot of such devices on the market with outstanding output stages like players by Ancient Audio, Ayon Audio, files player by Ayon and Linn – just to name few examples. Does it get any simpler? Yes, it does. One might use a computer and an USB DAC with volume control and that would make a simplest one, on one hand, and an open for any files formats and resolutions on the other.

Recordings used during test (a selection)

  • Carole Creveling, Here Comes Carole Creveling, Euterpean Productions/Sinatra Society of Japan XQAM-1021, CD (1956/2008).
  • Chet Baker, Chet Baker sings and plays, Pacific Jazz/EMI Music Japan TOCJ-90028, HQCD (1955/2006).
  • Daft Punk, Random Access Memories, Columbia Records/Sony Music Japan SICP-3817, CD (2013);
  • Eva Cassidy, Songbird, Blix Street Records/JVC VICJ-010-0045, XRCD24 (1998/2010).
  • Joe Pass, For Django, Pacific Jazz/EMI Music Japan TOCJ-90027, HQCD (1964/2006).
  • John Coltrane, One Down, One Up, Impulse! 9862143, 2 x CD (2005).
  • Laurie Anderson, Homeland, Nonesuch 524055-2, CD + DVD (2010);
  • OMD, English Electric, 100%/Sony Music Japan SICP-3810, CD (2013);
  • Pink Floyd, Is Anybody Out There? The Wall Live, EMI 5235622, „Limited Edition”, 2 x CD (2000).
  • The Beatles, Please Please Me, Apple/Toshiba-EMI TOCP-51112, CD (1963/2000).
  • The Modern Jazz Quartet, Pyramid, Atlantic Records/Warner Music Japan WPCR-25125, “Atlantic 60th”, CD (1960/2006).
Hi-res files
  • Random Trip, Nowe Nagrania 005, CD + FLAC 24/44,1 (2012);
  • SATRI Reference Recordings Vol. 2, Bakoon Products, FLAC 24/192.
  • T-TOC Data Collection Vol. 1, T-TOC Records DATA-0001, 24/96+24/192, WAV, ripy z DVD-R.
  • Al Di Meola, Flesh on Flesh, Telarc, 24/96 FLAC, Ľródło: HDTracks (2011).
  • Charlie Haden & Antonio Forcione, Heartplay, Naim Label, 24/96 FLAC, Ľródło: NaimLabel.
  • Dead Can Dance, Anastasis, [PIAS] Entertainment Group, PIASR311CDX, "Special Edition Hardbound Box Set", CD+USB drive 24/44,1 WAV (2012);
  • Depeche Mode, Delta Machine, Columbia Records/Sony Music Japan SICP-3783-4, FLAC 24/44,1, Ľródło: HDTracks (2013);
  • Miles Davis, Tutu, Warner Brothers Records, FLAC 24/96, Ľródło: HDTracks.
  • Persy Grainger, Lincolnshire Posy, Dallas Wind Symphony, dyr. Jerry Junkin, Reference Recordings, HR-117, HRx, 24/176,4 WAV, DVD-R (2009).
  • Sonny Rollins, Tenor Madness, Prestige, WAV 24/96, Ľródło: HDTracks (1956/2012).
  • Stan Getz & João Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto, Verve, 24/96 FLAC, Ľródło: HDTracks (1963/2012).
  • Stardelay A New High Fidelity, Ozella Music OZL22006CD, FLAC 24/44,1 Ľródło: Linn Records (2008).
Japanese editions of CDs and SACDs are available from CD Japan

When I first sat at the large Soundcraft 6000 console in a control room of Juliusz Słowacki Theater I was overwhelmed by a huge number of devices surrounding me. It was almost 20 years ago, and a studio was designed for making analogue recordings and that's why we used multitrack Tascam recorders and three huge Struder mastering recorders. We had, which was quite unusual, especially at the time, huge, 3-way, sealed cabinet Altec/Lansing speakers hanging above our mixing console. These speakers were driven by 500W Altec/Lansing amplifier. At the same time at home I had 4 huge Tonsil speakers stacked one upon another which constituted kind of „speaker tower” taller than myself. I have no idea how my lovely wife was able to tolerate these at our home but maybe woman's intuition told her already then, that audio would be my future trade... .
Anyway. The aforementioned system, used in a studio I worked in, sounded much better than anything else I'd heard before and to be honest listening to my own system at home was no fun at all. I think it was then when I seriously developed my love for headphones. My wife gave me for my birthday Beyerdynamik DT-990 Pro (600 Ω) cans, that still use today, and these offered me a sound of similar quality as our studio system – clear, dynamic and highly selective. /p>

I worked in many studios since then, and I listened to many studio systems, some better, some worse, but it seems that this first experience is still most vivid in my memory. Over time I learned to notice some weaknesses of studio amplifiers, monitors, and near-field listening in general, and I started to appreciate what audiophile world brought to my listening experience.
I haven't been working in studios for many years now but I still help setting up audio systems for some small concerts so I stay in touch with a „pro” world. That might not be much but it's better than nothing. That's why I felt quite special, excited when starting an audition of Mr. Arek Szweda's speakers – I felt like taking a trip to the past. But on the other hand I was also a bit afraid. Too many times have I experienced a „good” sound, according to studio guys, that was not so good according to audiophile standards. Both worlds have a different definition of a good sound. Usually none of the parties is 100% right. So, I was excited and yet uncertain of what was I about to witness while listening to D’Appo.

When one starts to listen to this type of design, meaning active, near field (or not near but still for close range) speakers one needs to „accommodate” first to adjust one's expectations toward the sound. It is important to realize that there is no such thing as „universal sound”, or the „correct sound” – even the sound of live instruments gives one only some idea about how the instrument should sound, as it sounds differently in a different rooms, also depending on a type of music and so on. Played, or reproduced music is always some sort of estimation, or interpretation. Sveda Audio speakers do interpret recordings in their own way.
Although studio monitors are supposed to deliver nothing but clear, transparent sound, they do change signal just as any other speakers do. And while they do it in a certain way, all compromises seem to create some pattern, so we can treat them as any other, although in this case active, speakers.

And when I came to that conclusion it made me wonder about how many of home audio systems deliver somehow distorted sound with compressed dynamics, regardless their price. Ono of the best in these aspects, very expensive Amphion Krypton3 speakers, driven by an ultra-fast Soulution 710 amplifier, delivered even more powerful, faster, and less limited sound. But that's a system that costs 200+ KPLN, cables not included!

In comparison Mr. Szweda's speakers seem to show the right touch when it comes to tonality, with definitely extraordinary dynamics. The latter is expressed mostly as selectivity, that allows D'Appo to present each instrument as a separate entity, separate source of sound, instead of to emphasize the attack of each of them to achieve the same goal. Selectivity seems to be a key word when you talk to some sound engineer, but they often confuse it with resolution. I think that most of these guys never heard a sound of a high-end system, nor understood it. There should be proper classes helping them with that at the University, or something like that... But the selectivity as such is a most useful tool, because it gives your a proper inside to the recording, proper clarity and transparency. If these are the aspects of sound you care about most you won't find any other system (power amp + speakers) up to at least 20 kPLN that could compete with D’Appo. I'm not even sure if you could find anything at this price. A selectivity of these Polish speakers doesn't mean, fortunately, that they deliver lean sound. That's what often studio monitor do – they forget that a sound is not just about an attack phase, but also about sustain and decay. D'Appo selectivity is outstanding but what you get is also a proper tonality, based on a rich, full sound. Their presentation is about the truth though, about... high fidelity – that's a fact. Nothing is being „polish”, „rounded up”, made sound nicer than it really is. On the other hand weaknesses of recording, if any, are not emphasized It's a truly beautiful compromise between presenting the truth about recording and the beauty of the music. Home audio system tend to sugar up the sound to make it sound nice. Sveda Audio speakers immediately showed me what was the problem with a Carole Creveling (1955) recording, simply showing that this is more than half a century old recording. But it also nicely differentiated recordings coming from Coltrane's One Down, One Up (1965) and Joe Pass' For Django (1964). The former contains quite „dirty” sound recorded during concert but never meant to be published, the latter, a studio album, offered warm, sophisticated sound. But it was the live recording that seemed more dynamic, more natural, like while presenting the truth about timbre, dynamics and so on it managed somehow to convey the energy that surely appeared when fantastic musicians played one next to the other. The jazz recordings were not the only ones that benefited from a fast attack and very nicely defined and controlled bass. Large, sealed enclosure and powerful amplifiers with active filters gave me the opportunity to play really loud Depeche Mode Fragile Tension/Hole To Feed. There was this fast kick of a kick drum without any smearing, and wonderfully differentiated bass. Again – clarity and lack of compression were behind created spectacle – I listened to it carefully, even though I know this recording by heart, just to find out how particular fragments would be played by these speakers (to be precise when I wrote „no compression” I really meant a very low one, much lower than any other speakers were able to present).

Then I moved to some older recordings -, rock, rock-blues, and krautrock (jazz-blues-electo) and this might have been even more exciting experience. Most recordings of this type of music are quite poor – lots of compression, many overdubs, poor mastering. Still D’Appo were able to show the differences between particular recordings like The Layla Sessions by Derek And The Dominos, Blues by Breakout and Et Cetera by Et Cetera. And the differences between them are huge – a dark, very closed-in recording of Eric Clapton's band, very „light”, bright and lacking transparency one of Nalepa's band and i really nice re-issue of Wolfgang Dauner's band album. Those differences were clear immediately after I started to listen to each of them. But still D'Appo were able to relay a dense, „smoky” atmosphere of Layla and other songs. Also the energy of Dariusz Kozakiewicz guitar so nicely caught on tape by Janusz Urbański, despite some shortcomings of this recording in general, was clearly present. It surprised me by really powerful sound – something that „audiophile” systems failed to deliver with this recording. There was kick, drive and lots of power. And there was always plenty of bass, which was another significant difference between these speakers and other studio monitors I knew. Such speakers are usually designed to work placed against the wall, sometimes supported by a subwoofer and when it comes to working in a regular room they often deliver rather „dry” and lean sound despite lots of equalization options such speakers are equipped with! I always hear a boosted bass as a boosted bass not as „leveled” one. In this aspect these speakers are quite unique – using adjustments I managed to choose settings that gave me a flat response with a fast, dynamic bass, without superficially sharp edges. It is soft when needed, and extremely taut when it matters, like e.g. When I played Depeche Mode – and there is one more important factor – it was not only taut but nicely differentiated! The upsides of a sealed enclosure were obvious – no „boomy” bass, no coloration, but on the other hand there were no downsides of such designs, at least none that I could hear – I didn't not miss any dynamics, which happens with that type of speakers.


I mean Mr. Arek Szweda really well with his new enterprise – he knows exactly what he wants to achieve and he has a drive to get there. Additionally he obviously really listens to his creation – you can't build such a good speakers just designing them in your computer – you need to listen to them, make adjustments and listen again, and so on. These is quite versatile design, and its top selectivity doesn't „kill” the music. You get a great inside into the music, but still enjoy listening to it, still get moved by emotions embedded in it, still see a picture painted by the recording, assuming that it is there, of course.
These are not perfect speakers, as there are none. Some compromises designer had to make had to be done to come up to a certain price of that product, which in case of D’Appo is more than reasonable. It had certain problems with getting proper depth of the soundstage. Precision with which phantom images are shown in the width of the stage is surely way above average. Instruments keep their proper size. They don't have the proper depth though, so they are not shown as fully 3D bodies. So there is no perfect depiction of rooms acoustics, at least if we mean a 3D shape of it. Basing on my experience I can tell that this is a common feature of most studio monitors.
Other than that D’Appo could be an element of a refined, minimalistic home audio system of a true audiophile/music lover. Maybe even more of music lover than audiophile, although I usually try not to separate these two categories. Audiophile might not like the inability to try many amplifiers and cables. On the other hand all he needs is a source with volume control (even a computer with USB DAC with volume control will do) or adjustable signal level and that's it – he has a complete system. These speakers are very transparent as they immediately showed me the difference between Ancient Audio Lektor AIR V-edition connected directly to them, and the same source but connected via Ayon Polaris III preamplifier. Even though the preamp created nicer, bigger phantom images, I had no doubt that it was also responsible for losing some resolution and differentiation capability of CD Player. That's something I should really think about…

D’Appo are large monitors, especially their depth is quite impressive. Large mass allows them to sit tide on their stands. The choice of stands is crucial – manufacturer offers proper, metal ones, that are 600 mm tall. Mine were slightly taller with their 650 mm. These are speakers for close to midrange listening – in my system it was rather mid-range, not near field listening. They are fed with a linear signal that needs to be delivered by a devices that allows you to adjust the level of this signal. It might be sent via unbalanced (RCA) or balanced (XLR) cables and my test proved that balanced connection ensured better resolution of the sound. I used Acoustic Revive XLR-2.0PA II cables. Manufacturer delivers D’Appo with nice power cables – I used these for the part of my test and then switched to Acrolink 7N-PC9300. In my opinion all studio guys should give a chance (with these speakers) to some top quality, refined power cables! Mr. Szweda implemented a lot of adjustment options in his speakers and I used them a lot. I boosted bass range using shelving filter and the other option too, and limited treble using a - 2 dB shelving filter. I performed an A/B comparison with A and B known. My reference speakers were Harbeth M40.1 driven by Soulution 710 amp. The source of signal was Ancient Audio Lektor AIR V-edition with adjustable output signal level, and a computer via inexpensive D/A converter USB iFi Audio iDAC with external power supply iUSB Power (see HERE), and a iTube buffer with volume control.

D’Appo are large, active standmount speakers. They require 600 mm tall stands and their manufacturer offers them too. He can also supply you with necessary cabling. Speakers come equipped with nice looking power cords. Sveda Audio speakers sport 3 drivers in a D’Appolito setup, meaning with two identical mid- lowrange woofers placed symmetrically on two sides of a Scan Speak 18W/8424 tweeter . Each of them is driven by its own 150W amplifier preceded by active filters. That's the difference comparing to bi- or three-wiring, where the passive filters follow amplifiers. These are studio monitors which requires high connectivity and adjustability. There are two input – non-balance RCA and balanced XLR/large-jack 6,3 mm (so called „combo”). The latter is preferred as the whole circuit is balanced. There is a small switch that allows you to chose between inputs, but it doesn't really cut off any of inputs but rather, when unbalanced is chosen it short-circuits the „-” signal. That means that both input are active all the time – I wish there was a „mute” switch that would actually cut off the input from the rest of the circuit. There is also a XLR output meant for connectivity with a subwoofer.

The input sensitivity can be adjusted with a small pot connected with a 8-step resistor ladder. Additionally there is also a „-10 dB” switch. There are some controls that allow to adjust tone. On of them allows to adjust a level of tweeter (-1 dB/0/+1 dB), which allows to adjust the sound to listener's preferences, or to room acoustics. A separate filter changes treble range within + / - 2 dB limit. An adjustment for low range is even more complex:
- bass boost: it corrects processing of lower frequencies, that are modified by a sealed enclosure of speaker; as Mr. Szweda says, it makes the bass characteristic more like a bas-reflex one, („it doesn't boost bass, it extends it”),
- mid EQ: it emphasizes midrange, to make vocals better pronounced; this filter is meant to be helpful mostly in studios,
- low EQ: it boosts 50-60 Hz range,
- a shelving filter boosting or lowering low range by +/- 2 dB.
There is also a ground LIFT switch that breaks ground loop.

The enclosure is made of MDF, 26mm (front) and 22 mm (rest), with internal bracketing. The reviewed pair was finished with high gloss black lacquer, but other finishes are also available. All the controls are placed on the back wall that sport a metal module with all the electronics hidden behind it. There is a red radiator there – you should be careful with it as it has quite sharp edges. Near the bottom, on the back panel there is an IEC socket with mechanical switch with red backlit. There is no classic LED on the front baffle. Fit and finish is simply perfect.

Technical specs (according to manufacturer)

Frequency range:
48Hz - 20 000Hz +/- 1,5dB
40Hz – 30 000Hz +/- 3dB
Filters: active with 24dB per octave slope
Electronics: three 150W RMS amplifiers placed in a separate chamber
Sealed enclosure with internal bracketing
26 mm thick front baffle, other panels 22mm thick
Monitors paired within 0,25dB accuracy
Dimensions (h/w/f): 600 x 220 x 500 [mm]


- Turntable: AVID HIFI Acutus SP [Custom Version]
- Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory ZERO (mono) | Denon DL-103SA, review HERE
- Phono stage: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE
- Compact Disc Player: Ancient Audio AIR V-edition, review HERE
- Multiformat Player: Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD
- Line Preamplifier: Polaris III [Custom Version] + AC Regenerator, regular version review (in Polish) HERE
- Power amplifier: Soulution 710
- Integrated Amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
- Stand mount Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
- Stands for Harbeths: Acoustic Revive Custom Series Loudspeaker Stands
- Real-Sound Processor: SPEC RSP-101/GL
- Integrated Amplifier/Headphone amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
- Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-6, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-300, review HERE | Sennheiser HD800 | AKG K701, review (in Polish) HERE | Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, version 600 - reviews (in Polish): HERE, HERE, HERE
- Headphone Stands: Klutz Design CanCans (x 3), review (in Polish) HERE
- Headphone Cables: Entreq Konstantin 2010/Sennheiser HD800/HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE
System I
- Interconnects: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, review HERE | preamplifier-power amplifier: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
- Loudspeaker Cables: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review (in Polish) HERE
System II
- Interconnects: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0PA | XLR-1.0PA II
- Loudspeaker Cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA
System I
- Power Cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300, all system, review HERE
- Power Distributor: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate, review HERE
- Power Line: fuse – power cable Oyaide Tunami Nigo (6m) – wall sockets 3 x Furutech FT-SWS (R)
System II
- Power Cables: Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version, review (in Polish) HERE | Oyaide GPX-R (x 4 ), review HERE
- Power Distributor: Oyaide MTS-4e, review HERE
- Portable Player: HIFIMAN HM-801
- USB Cables: Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP (1 m) | Acoustic Revive USB-5.0PL (5 m), review HERE
- LAN Cables: Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA (kable ) | RLI-1 (filtry), review HERE
- Router: Liksys WAG320N
- NAS: Synology DS410j/8 TB
- Stolik: SolidBase IV Custom, read HERE/all system
- Anti-vibration Platforms: Acoustic Revive RAF-48H, review HERE/digital sources | Pro Audio Bono [Custom Version]/headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, review HERE | Acoustic Revive RST-38H/loudspeakers under review/stands for loudspeakers under review
- Anti-vibration Feets: Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc/ CD Player/Ayon Polaris II Power Supply /products under review, review HERE | Finite Elemente CeraPuc/ products under review, review HERE | Audio Replas OPT-30HG-SC/PL HR Quartz, review HERE
- Anti-vibration accsories: Audio Replas CNS-7000SZ/power cable, review HERE
- Quartz Isolators: Acoustic Revive RIQ-5010/CP-4
- FM Radio: Tivoli Audio Model One