Thanks so much for all the wonderfully in-depth responses so far! I know this is a question that's been asked myriad different ways in myriad different threads. But when it comes to these "buy before audition" deals, I think it really helps to have the collective experience of so many committed (obsessed?) individuals, and then wading through a large sample of subjective opinions before coming to one's own - and then hoping it all bears fruit when it comes to the actual speaker decided upon!
To put a bit of a finer point on it, I'm fairly certain that my listening preferences would favor the Divas (giving up some precision and articulateness for a smoother, less fatiguing sound). I've heard the Divas described as having "an English sound" whereas the Axioms boast "a Canadian sound", and generally speaking I think I prefer the former.
In terms of my front mains, then, I think the Divas are definitely the way to go. And I do put a much greater priority on good music reproduction than I do on ideal movie soundtrack reproduction, and I think the Divas would get the nod from me here. But I have to remember that I'm buying into a family of speakers,
and I have some serious doubts about the surround speakers offered by Swan.
I've heard some good SACDs and the occasional DVD that places instruments in the rear channels, but generally speaking, I'm talking about 2-channel
music reproduction as being very important to me. When it comes to the surrounds, my priority is definitely for movies. And I have a very definite preference for dipoles. And all I know about the Diva dipoles are that they were incorrectly manufactured (weren't wired as mirrored pairs), and Swan simply left it at that (suggesting to re-wire on one's own after purchase without voiding warranty). But unlike the very good reviews of Axiom's unique surround speakers, I haven't heard squat about the Divas... except to note that most folks tend to put a pair of monopole 2.1's back there.
And it's perhaps no small point that Swan does not sell individual speakers (I'd much prefer to run a single rear-center for 6.1 - more economical, for one, and I think it sounds just fine this way with my current setup). Though I've considered the possibility of finding someone in my same shoes willing to go in on a pair, I'm more impressed by Axiom's willingness to sell single speakers without adding a ridiculous markup.
In other words, I see problems lying all along the road should I decide to go with the Swan family of speakers. Expensive problems, relatively speaking. Ones that I could potentially live with so long as the 2-channel music reproduction is so much more to my liking (over, say, the Axioms). But, in terms of the company as a whole, its product offerings and flexibility, it's entire complimentary line of speakers - and the value of each - I still feel much more comfortable with Axiom than with Swan.
(And if I go with the Axioms, I'll most likely put M50s upfront rather than M22s. I'm not a bass-hound, but I don't think the M22s will be sufficient sans sub (for music). The only issue is that my wife might kill me on the day I haul those big towers in, whereas she'll love the Divas... even after I tell her how much more they cost.)
[BTW, I always chuckle when I read the mental machinations of someone on the verge of an upgrade decision - it's all weird priorities and unique limitations. Hope you guys don't mind me thinking out loud in here. You've all been a huge help thusfar... but I'm still thinking!]