The proverbial "giant killer"

As I research a new pair of speakers, I was intrigued to read about loudspeakers from companies like Triangle (France) and Swans (China). These companies seem to be offering exceptional technology at fair prices. They all manufacture their own drivers, so they are not buying standard, third-party production units and installing them in furniture grade cabinets. I’m beginning to think there are some practical explanations for their ability to offer what might be considered high-end products at a reasonable cost, one of which has a big impact; namely economies of scale.

I work for a high-end manufacturer of PC components, so amortization of costs based on production forecasts is not new to me. I also have a custom cabinetmaker as a neighbor, so I have a good idea what it would cost to construct a nice, well braced, furniture grade cabinet. I believe a big part of the reason that a small floor-standing, 2-way speaker would cost $20K is that there is a tremendous amount of research and development expenses being amortized into a very low forecast of sales. As sales volumes rise, the price of the system falls. A company like Swans, on the other hand, with massive manufacturing and sales capacity, could offer similar technology for 1/10th the price.

The reason I raise this point is that I’m curious about companies like Triangle and Swans…..Swans, for example, seems to offer “high end” products, and they even manufacture their own drivers, but their economies of scale evidently allow them to offer products at very, very competitive prices. I read where someone actually dissected a pair of Swans Diva 6.1 speakers clad in genuine rosewood, and found the parts quality (driver, crossover, cabinet construction, etc.) to be as good as the typical $20K system. Are these products overlooked by audiophiles because of their origin? Is it their low prices?

My question is, are speakers from the likes of Swans and Triangle truly “giant killer” products that are being overlooked by audiophiles for unjustified reasons?
Good question. As I recent convert from B&W 802d to Usher BE-10 (Taiwanese) I can relate to your post. For me, I had to fight my own unjustified prejudices and preconceived notions of high end gear coming from Asia. I think the popular convention is that Asia is only good for high quantity, low quality products. Yes, historically Asia has been great at producing things cheaply. But recently, we have seen higher quality products coming from Asia. I personally do believe Asian high end audiophile products have begun to and will continue to change the landscape of our hobby. I am a firm believer in competition as a catalyst for innovation in terms of technology and price. Now some people will make mention of the unfair advantage Asia has in the wages it pays its employees. I agree that this is a built in adavantage but every manufacturer will have to deal with it because Asia is not going away. The end result is better products at better prices. So in a nutshell, I absolutely believe high end products can (and it has already started to) come from Asia.
My question is, are speakers from the likes of Swans and Triangle truly “giant killer” products that are being overlooked by audiophiles for unjustified reasons?
I've not heard Swans. I've heard Triangle speakers on several occasions. With the right amp, and in the right room, they can sound good...but I would not own them. FWIW, I don't find any speaker to be a 'giant killer'.
I don't believe there is such a thing as a "giant killer." You have to match any speaker to the room and then match the amplifier to the speaker. You can take a very expensive speaker and make it sound bad very easily. OTOH, you can take a moderately inexpensive speaker and make it sound great with some work.

Triangles can take a lot of work but if you put forth the effort, they will reward you in a big way. Don't give them the effort they require and they will bite you. So yes, they are fantastic speakers in the right circumstances. Never heard of Swan.
Giant Killers are actually Giants purchased used.
One answer...have a listen. If (you) think that, "that" speaker system has the sound you are looking it.

This ain't rocket science, or..."economies of scale". It's about design and implementation. Once you get it home...say "hello room"....I hope we can work together.

My system is made up of mostly older components, however...each component was chosen "by me"... and is very close to what, I as a listener want "that" component to contribute in sound quality, ie...low freq's...mid freq's...hi freq's.

There is no "The proverbial "giant killer"....if it sounds is good.

Giant Killers are actually Giants purchased used.
Bingo. A bargain, as it were.
I have no comments about this particular company but in general I continue to hear a number of problems with piracy and stealing of intellectual property when dealing with chinese electronics makers. I spoke to the head of a well known speaker maker at a recent industry event who related the story of how a MAJOR speaker maker outsourced production to china. audits revealed that tens of thousands of units were being billed to the US speaker manufacturer but were actually being sold out the back door to the chinese market - local factory pocketing all proceeds. Then the factory trademarked the US makers name in china and continues to sell those speakers in china under the US name - having paid nothing for R+D or licensing or all the other US costs such as retirement/benefits, etc.

Then you have a company like APEX (low end chinese stereos) which was charged with never paying licensing fees for technologies used in its products.

So in addition to a wage differential, I beleive china is not always competing on a level playing field - if they do not recognize the validity of US intellectual property law, trademarks, patents, etc.

I've recently bought a few chinese items and have been happy with them. but there is one item in which the licensing of the technology is in dispute and this troubles me. I do not want to steal from hardworking americans (or anyone for that matter.)
I don't believe there can be a giant killer in speakers. Most of the parts - drivers and electronic bits are made with automation and mass production so they cost about the same anywhere in the world. Same goes for particle board and wood veneers. The assembly doesn't take much time so there's is not going to be huge savings to building in Asia (5 hrs x $1 vs. 5 hrs. x $20 = not that much). For larger speakers, shipping from Asia would offset some of the savings. So the remaining cost driver is design and research time. So unless someone is Asia does something like the Canadian government did a few years back and sponsor R & D to spawn the industry, and then decide to give it away, I don't see a giant killer.
Tvad's on the money, buy new and for the most part it won't appreciate will it? Buy a used piece after some research and even if you don't like it you can usually sell it for same or near.

Concerning China, I've bought a Chinese integrated, Eastern Electric M520 and love it...after I threw out most of the chinese tubes! The designer didn't steal ideas, he used a 60 year-old 'freeware' design that Mullard created to sell their tubes...good old ingenuity!

Speakers, I've listened to many, even bought a pair sight unseen, but had a 60 day return option, Reference 3A de Capo's, marvelous speaker, but now I'm off to flea amps and they don't work with them.

A giant killer is in the eye of the beholder, or the buyer.

When you consider how quickly you get into diminishing gains in this hobby, and when you figure out that satisfaction is typically much more about personal preference than any other factor, giant killers become more abundant than actual giants. It is a long road though to really understanding what you want in the long haul, and you've got to get past the psychological things that push you to associate cost with quality or care what someone else thinks when they ask about your system.
Lots of good points above.

To suggest that quality is related to country of origin is prejudice of the highest order. As the Chinese increasingly learn what consumers in a market oriented economy want, they will become a formidible force given the competitive advantage they have in labour costs. They will very soon be in North America with their cars. No doubt they will be lacking somewhat, the same way that Hondas, Toyotas, and Hyundais were lacking when they first introduced their cars here. But those companies learned quickly didn't they, and it will be the same with the Chinese. It's sad the way the big three American auto makers are dismissing the threat of Chinese cars, the same way they dismisssed the Japanese and the Koreans.

A few years ago a Japanese motorbike manufacturer, I think it was Honda, entered the Chinese domestic market. The Chinese reverse engineered the bike and sold it at a fraction of the cost. Honda bought a couple, took them back to Japan, and analyzed the materials and construction. They then withdrew from the market. They concluded that the quality was just as good and that they couldn't compete on price.

Got a bit off track there. Anyway, there is no reason that the same thing can't happen with other products such as electronic equipment.

In addition to the labour cost advantages, I am sympathetic to the intellectual property issue noted in Gdoodle's post. You have an even greater price competitive advantage when you don't have to pay for R & D, or amortize the cost of same in your products. Just ask Hollywood what they think of the Chinese. It's a major international issue with China at the moment that goes far beyond our little world of electronics.
If you are still researching a speaker purchase you owe it to yourself to look into Polk Audio's LSi series. Polk has the economic advantage to build quality speakers at affordable prices. I don't know about "giant killers" but definitely high value, especially used. Good luck with your search.
I have heard and considered Swan Diva's. But if it's internals are the same as a 20K speaker, then show me that speaker and show me its buyer because I've got a few things they might be interested in. I would say the 6.1's have the typical parts for a speaker in its price range and maybe twice as much...depending. But if I'm not mistaken most of its parts can be found at Parts Express, price them for yourself but a 20K speaker it shouldn't make unless the enclosure is finished with gold. But again it's the sum of the parts that matter and they do make a nice sounding product with an attractive finish and is one to be considered within its price range.
IME... Tvad, Boa2, and L'wood are right. Buying giants used (especially older giants) gets you more bang for buck than anything else out there.
Swans use Hi-Vi drivers, are they the same company? I don't think much of the Swans x-over.

Some of the internet direct companies are great values and others aren't. Just like in brick and mortar stores.
"giant kiillers" yeah on the budget and the ears,
lol I've heard both.
without question, companies that sell sell lots of speakers generally price their models more favorably. many audiophiles enjoy paying more for exclusivity. thats always been the case.
The top of the Wilson line of speakers are giant killers (IMO)
I'm sure, like the SPCA; there must be one for Giants?? I'm sure they resent this phrase,strongly. Re. baseball, I'm a Dodger fan so the phrase is useful for this baseball connotation.
The top of the Wilson line of speakers are giant killers (IMO)
At over $100K, I'd have to classify them as giants. Although if they drink the blood of the $1 million Kharma's, then I suppose you have a point.