Vigilant Audio SwitchOne Review: The SwitchOne is small enough to fit anywhere but powerful enough to fill large rooms. Find out more in our Vigilant Audio SwitchOne Review!
When looking at powered bookshelf speakers, especially for the desktop, it often becomes a tradeoff between sound quality and size. A smaller speaker gives you more room to work with, but it can also rob you of low-frequency response, making your music sound lifeless.
The Vigilant Audio SwitchOne Powered Speaker System ($249) I’m looking at today is a compact bookshelf speaker setup designed to provide high-fidelity audio playback for both home studio and hi-fi applications.
Each speaker in the pair is about the size of a transistor radio (4.3″ W x 7.1″ H x 7.1″ D) and features two active drivers along with two Passive Radiators per side.
They are engineered to provide great separation and bass response, especially for their size. So is the SwitchOne system the answer for those with little space but still desire big sound? Read on, and I’ll let you know the scoop!
My time with the SwitchOne speaker system was my first experience with a Vigilant Audio product, and I have to say I was impressed!
The company makes products primarily aimed at the home studio/content creator crowd, and the SwitchOne system has the utilitarian look of modest studio monitors.
The build quality was impressive, with thick MDF cabinets wrapped with a scratch-resistant matte black finish.
The individual speakers are much heavier than they look, and a quick rap test reveals a remarkably inert enclosure. Each speaker in the pair houses a .75-inch tweeter, a 3-inch poly cone driver, and dual 4-inch passive radiators.
Separate Class-D amp channels for the High and Low frequencies power the two active drivers in each speaker. Ten watts per channel go to the tweeters, and twenty watts go to the woofers.
Because of this setup, the SwitchOne speakers play with a much larger scale than you would expect from such a diminutive system. More on that later in the “listening” section.
All the amplification, connections, and controls are located in/on the “powered” left-side speaker, which feeds power/signal to the “passive” right-side speaker. The system uses a proprietary cable to connect the two speakers, so a cable upgrade isn’t really possible if you like to tweak or need more distance between the speakers.
Speaking of connections, in the rear, you get a single set of 1/4″ balanced stereo jacks and a single set of unbalanced RCA jacks for line input. You also get a 3.5mm aux input in front of the powered speaker and a 3.5mm headphone output.
Wireless connectivity is also available via 5.0 Bluetooth, but there’s no option to use advanced codecs like aptX, AAC, or LDAC.
Also in the rear of the powered speaker is a button for Bluetooth Pairing, a power switch, plugs for the power cord and speaker cable, along with a switch for the hifi/studio DSP modes.
Regarding the hifi/studio DSP switch, it lets you switch between a “studio” sound profile for content creation or producing music to a “hifi” sound profile for casual music listening.
The “studio” profile provides a more of a “flat” reference sound, albeit with a touch of added bass energy from the passive radiators. The “hifi” mode provides more a V-shaped EQ, with tastefully added volume in the treble and bass for a more exciting sound. To me, both modes sounded good, even though I preferred the studio option for most music.
One thing that I found curious about these speakers was the placement of the power switch. Usually, it’s placed in an easy-to-reach spot on the front somewhere, but here it was on the back of the speaker, which is inconvenient as far as I’m concerned.
I also would’ve liked the option to switch the left/right orientation of the powered speaker. Being able to change this makes placement easier since you can position the speaker with the power cord closer to your available outlet.
Neither one of those is a deal breaker, but they’re worth mentioning.
In addition, if you plan to use this system with a turntable, keep in mind there’s no built-in Phono Pre-Amp. You’ll need a turntable with a Phono Pre-Amp built-in or a stand-alone unit.
Accessories include an instruction manual, rubber feet for the speakers, the proprietary cable to connect them, plus the power cable/adapter, and a 3.5mm to RCA cable for connecting a source. No remote, but that’s not the end of the world since most folks will be using these on a desktop within reach.
Vigilant Audio SwitchOne Review: Listening Tests
As per usual with Powered Speakers, setting up the SwitchOne system was a cinch. After placing them on foam pads on the corner of my desk, all I needed to do was connect them with the signal cable and plug them in. It only took about five minutes to get them going after pairing them to my phone via Bluetooth.
I played a bunch of music from the TIDAL app on my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, and the first thing I noticed was just how big these little speakers played. They easily fill up a small room with their relatively balanced sound, and they provide enough bass punch to keep from sounding too thin in the process.
Not only that, the Bass was deep and articulate, providing dynamics that were much stronger than I expected when pulled these speakers out of the box.
Along with the Bass, the SwitchOne system had good detail on the top end, providing good presence and sparkle without being overbearing. The mids were also detailed and natural, adding some nice texture to the vocals and instruments.
That said, I found a little bloat on tracks with heavier bass. This is something that happens with passive radiators from time to time, and they did have a tendency to slightly overpower the mix at certain points. However, most of the time, they filled out the sound nicely, adding a satisfying weight to the presentation. They also played with good composure, even when pushed.
Additionally, this system had a pretty wide soundstage with decent separation, which added some realism to the presentation. Listening to Patricia Barber’s “This Town”, I really enjoyed how the speakers put Barber front and center in all her glory, reproducing her vocal with plenty of nuances.
Also, the upright bass was clearly placed to her immediate right, residing in its own little bubble, as was the backing piano to her immediate left.
The separation was even more distinct when I connected the iFi Audio xDSD Gryphon DAC using the included 3.5mm to RCA cable, showing that these speakers can scale up with a good wired source.
While I spent most of my time using these speakers in their “studio” DSP mode, I also spent some time listening in the “hifi” mode. If you want a livelier sound, with a little bit more Bass punch and sparkle up top, the hifi mode does a good job of giving you a little extra excitement without overdoing it. Even so, I preferred the more balanced “studio” option at the end of the day.
Vigilant Audio SwitchOne Review: The Wrap Up
In the final analysis, the Vigilant Audio SwitchOne speakers are not what I would consider a bargain at $249. By that, I mean you can probably find larger (and louder) speakers with more features (like digital and phono inputs) for the same money.
However, if you’re hurting for space and you want a compact speaker with great detail and deep bass, I think you’ll have a hard time finding a competitor with the same range as the SwitchOne. These speakers have excellent dynamics for such a small speaker, and that’s where they make their mark.
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I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My hunger for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.