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  1. #1
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    Smile Audition Review of Axiom M60 VP150 QS8

    This is a review of an audition session of a gentleman's Axiom speakers and setup. My buddy and I went to his house Sun afternoon prepared for a good hour or so of excellent music on superb speakers. I am currently looking at purchasing the Axiom epic 80-500 setup and running it with Yamaha v2600 receiver and c750 or 950 DVD player. I wanted to audition an M80 but there was no one around my area that has offered an audition for the M80. One person offered to audition his audio system and it has the following, 2 M60ís, VP150, 2 QS8, HSU subwoofer, all powered by Rotel Receiver and amp with Denon 2900 dvd player, connected by Blue Jean cables.

    His setup is in his family room with hard wood flooring. There is a nice large rug and coffee table separating the sofa and tv stand. His tv stand is very elegant and looks really nice in his room. The sub is placed to the right of the sofa out of view and the surround speakers are placed parallel with listeners ear when sitting on sofa. I have never had the opportunity to listen to DVD-A or SACD and I asked if he could demo some of his albums. I chose to listen to Ray Charles-Genius Loves Company track 9 and Norah Jones-Come Away with Me. I will comment on Norah Jones because that is what blew me away the most. We listened to Come Away with me and I was shocked at how talented a vocalist she is! The M60ís really brought out her consonants and vocal intonations one may never hear unless they have a good system. The recording was so good in surround as the upright bass and piano molded as one. If you listen intently the QS8 will pick up the variations in guitar playing re: plucking vs picking. I was amazed at the detail that the VP150 portrayed with her voice, it was warm and really picked up the detail in which the vocalist emphasizes consonants. As a vocalist myself I know that recording in studio is very difficult due to words coming out muddy and intelligible because consonants arenít emphasized, however, you cannot overdue it or else you sound clipped and musicality is thrown out of the window. All in all I am totally sold on the DVD-A and SACD, and the Axiom speakers really made my listening experience all the better.

    Next, I had made an ďauditioningĒ cd of all the tracks I wanted to hear. The first track was BYU Choir Complete Accapella Works of Eric Whitacre- Water. The track is filled with lush lyrics and dissonant chords. It takes a serious pair of front-speakers to really bring out the chords and inner parts. The m60ís really paid attention to the alto and tenor parts; the sopranos werenít overly bright or harsh and there were instances the bass part went lower than I ever knew because I havenít heard it on a good system yet. I am a tenor myself so I tend to listen to that part and it is difficult for speakers to utilize the warmth of the alto/tenor section of most choirs, the M60ís had no problem. Track 2 was BB King and Clapton- 3ío clock blues- I was interested in what the speakers would do with guitar tonality mostly. The guitar tonality really shines on the M60, you can truly tell the difference between Clapton sound and Kings sound. Nothing beats live but Iíve heard both live and their guitar tones on the M60ís sound very similar to when they play live. You can really feel the emotion through the guitars and vocals through the speakers.

    Track 5-6 were Bobby Mcferrin Circlesongs ĖCirclesong 5 and 6. As one can imagine it is very difficult for a speaker to portray the vocal skill of McFerrin, however all the subtle nuances only he can sing come forth. Both tracks have very difficult rhythm and chords but each part can be followed because the speaker has perfect mid-range balance. On every-day speakers it is difficult to pick up the inner parts of the chord because it isnít clear, however, the M60 has excellent mid-range levels where one can follow the baritone notes and feel the chord progressions. Tracks 8 and 9 were Take 6 from their new project Feels Good, Family of Love and Just in Time. Just in Time is purely accapella vocal jazz at itís finest. Those who have heard Take 6 know that they are best in the business for male vocal accapela singing; their vocal arrangements are out of this world and are the most difficult to sing and follow. Right from the start I had to replay the first 15 sec of the introduction to really appreciate their skill. They do so many things that a regular speaker will never uncover; I have listened to that track 3802423908 times and was never able to understand the wording during the scat portion of the intro on my speakers at home. Today I was finally able to clearly hear what they are saying and the progression of the chords because it was so clear and defined. As I already mentioned I had to play the track over like 3 times because I couldnít believe how crisp the sound was.

    There were 4 tracks of chill/downtempo/house, 1 track of Glen Miller, and 1 track of Gypsy Kings. The bass end of the speakers represented the familiar house beat with lazy jazz spread over the mids and highs. Some speakers I had demoíd had too much bass and boomed out the beats with a harsh punch to it but the M60ís was light and feathered. This allowed the horns, keys, and/or solo instrument to shine. Lastly, I wanted to listen to some Hammond B3 gospel music and put in Steven S Golden Jr. Organ music really pushes speakers to the test because I listen for the differences in organ tonality with drawbar shifts and tremolo. The M60ís produced a wonderful tone and picked up on the lower manual chord tremolo while solo tone wasnít overly bright which is very difficult for speakers. The Hammond organ is a very busy instrument with varying tones and I think the M60 did it very good justice.

    Following listening to my audition selections he thought we would like to hear some other groups he liked so he introduced us to Pink Martini, Dead Can Dance, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. I was so happy he let us listen to them because I think Pink Martini is so good, I am going to go and pick up their 2 projects as my next musical purchases!! If you arenít familiar with Pink Martini or Dirty Dozen Brass band go check out some of their stuff. Closing out the session I wanted to see how the speakers did with movies so we decided on LOTR Fellowship of the Ring. The opening sequence is narrative with the opening into the battle scene. I was AMAZED at the warmth and creation of the narrative in the VP150. I couldnít ask for a better sound than what came forth and during the battle scene all the busy effects were wonderfully portrayed with the Q8ís.

    All in all I am very impressed with M60, VP150, and QS8. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with Axiom and I went in not trying to think of all the good press and comments people have with it, not to mention the awards they have won. Axiom truly does live up to its reputation and I am totally sold on their speakers. I listen to all types of music except hard rock and concentrate on jazz/blues, vocals, classical and downtempo/house genres and the M60 is truly versatile enough to handle them. My buddy and I decided the strength lies in the balance between the mids and highs. For classical music the mids is what truly brings out your winds section, the alto-tenor lines, and the viola/cello. Highs come in for horn section, sopranos, and violins. The mids are the most crucial sections for classical and choral music and this speaker really brings out the definition between the various registers for instruments and voice. The only minor negative I can say for this speaker, and I emphasize minor, is that it doesnít push a LOT of bass w/o sub. Now I must clarifyÖbass is something different to everyone, bass in the M60 is perfect for my house music because it is underlying keys and solo work over it, however if I put on some Mos Def or Common I donít think it would have enough bass for my hip-hop tastes. With that being said I wouldnít ever say that the M60 lacks in bass, it is just different for all types of people. I will have a sub to help out with some of the lower bass to fill out the lower end for when I do listen to hip-hop or organ music. The VP150 does just what it was made to do with warm tone and accurate reproduction of vocals. Whether movie or music this is a perfect speaker and it looks good too! The QS8 is just splendid and performed wonderful in opening sequence of LOTR and surround audio.

    In closing, I will be purchasing Axiom Epic 80-500 soon and look forward to sharing my system with others. Axiom is an excellent company and they make quality speakers with a price to knock your socks off. Those who are reading this and are leaning yay/nay in whether to get them or not, I hope this review has been helpful to you in leaning toward the yay. Thanks to this board in your assistance and guidance for my HT audio experience.

    Jason

    Ps
    Sorry for the length!!! I'm not the best at doing reviews, if this has helped even one person then it served its purpose!

  2. #2
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    Awesome review! I too am looking into Axiom. I will be fallowing this thread closely.

    Thanks,
    Don

  3. #3
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    Very informative review. I haven't managed to hear an Axiom speaker for quite a number of years but they have an excellent reputation. The NRC measurements of the M80 at Soundstage.com show quite an improvement over earlier version, which still looked pretty good. I suspect the minor peaks and dips in the upper bass come from the multiple drivers and I wouldn't worry about them. The listening window curves are very flat and even where it counts most and the dispersion is excellent.

    http://www.soundstagemagazine.com/me...s/axiom_m80v2/

    What do they sound like on massed upper strings, i.e., the violin section of the orchestra?
    "Opposition brings concord. Out of discord comes the fairest harmony."
    ------Heraclitus of Ephesis (fl. 504-500 BC), trans. Wheelwright.

  4. #4
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    oh my goodness, i just typed a response to the thread and it was almost done about 3 paragraphs long and i lost it because i accidently hit the back button clicker on my mouse!!!!!!!!!!!!! ok im so angry right now but let me see if i can do this again...

    don, if you haven't allready done so i suggest going over to axiomaudio.com and read their forum information. also, there is a section of the forum where users audition their axiom setup and you can schedule a time to go over and listen to the speakers like i did. what speakers are you intending on researching?

    pat, thank you for the link, i must admit that a lot of that information went over my head i didn't ever do well in physics, do you think you can help explain it to me and those who read this thread? i would appreciate it!! when we went to the audition we didn't listen to a specific orchestral song which was just strings. we listened to the soundtrack of LOTR which has a lot of strings in the score and a lot of samples. thus, the following is a review of the violin sound based upon hearing strings in LOTR, i imagine it was recorded with real people and not keyboard? anyway, as a violinist of 12 years i am looking and judging speakers based up on the reproduction of trills,runs in long slurs, and reproduction of the high notes. i auditioned the B&W 802's and in all honesty that speaker was the best in reproducing an orchestra, however, that speaker set is $12 000. thus, i have to find a speaker that can do it within my budget. the axiom i auditioned was the M60, however, I am looking to purchase the M80. I was unable to audition the M80 because there is no one offering the 80 for audition in my home area. The M60 was very clear, defined, and balanced when listening to LOTR score. The violins were not overly bright and one could appreciate the fingering on the long slurs. What sometimes happens with "average" speakers is you get to hear the run and you know that they are accomplishing a difficult passage. However, with the M60 one can appreciate the fingering during the slur because of the clarity and definition of the reproduction. I believe that quality of speaker and reproduction of sound is parallel. Can you find speakers that perform better with orchestral music, yes, however, how much are you willing to spend is the important question?

    with that being said, i have a very critical ear because i do sing accapella vocal jazz and choral music, i have been a director for octets and mens groups for a good amt of years. my ear is very tuned to the finer detail of the baritone and 3rd tenor notes for accapella groups. as i mentioned in the original review i also follow the intricate alto and tenor notes for choral music. the m60 is so balanced with the reproduction of these frequencies and this speaker satisfies my ear's critique. i could have this speaker and not question whether i could have bought better. i just can't wait to hear or purchase my M80's. anyway, if you are into good choral music, i suggest BYU Choir- Complete Accapella Works by Eric Whitacre, this by far is the most challenging choral cd to use when auditioning speakers, Rach's Midnight Vespers is the next. unbelievable chords and dissonance just abounds from mr whitacres arrangements. anyway, thanks for the comments on my review, i try to be as thorough as possible but i end up rambling....sorta like this one!!!!

    Jason

  5. #5
    Tyler Acoustics Fan drseid's Avatar
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    Very informative review Jason, I enjoyed reading it. I wonder, have you auditioned other speakers to compare to the Axioms? If so, which ones were they and how did they fare?

    Thanks,

    ---Dave
    Integra DHC-40.2 Pre/Pro
    Coda 2 X 200 Watt Amp
    Rotel RB-985 5 X 100 Watt Amp
    2 Tyler Acoustics 2 Piece Linbrook Signature System
    1 Tyler Linbrook Signature Center Channel
    3 Tyler Taylo Reference Monitors
    1 ACI Titan II Sub
    Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD
    Panasonic BDT-210 + 350 Blu-ray
    Consonance Droplet CDP-5.0
    Sony 55NX-810 1080p 3D-LED HDTV

    Office:
    Opera Audio Consonance CD-120
    Jolida 1301A 2 X 30 Watt Int. Amp (Sovtek Tubes)
    Opera Audio Consonance Eric-1 Speakers

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    hi Dave,

    thank you for the kind words re: my review. as far as speakers I have auditioned i have listened to the whole low-mid level line of brands at circuit city. of course i didn't care too much for them. from going to various home theatre strores in the area I have listened to the following B&W 802 803 and 804, infinity kappa 600, klipsch Rf 3 and 7, and a paradigm studio 60..i believe that was all of the speakers i have auditioned. my favorite out of all of them was the BW 802, it was also the most priciest!! the 802 truly had the balance between mids and highs the best, not to mention the bass was very full but subtle if that makes any sense? i wasn't impressed with the infinity's, i liked the klipsch rf 7 but the horns were a little too bright and i was lost in too much of the highs. the paradigms were prob the second best because i felt the balance was good but i just didn't get that "wow" effect. actually the BW 800 series was the last speakers i listened to before the Axiom's and i thought that was really good since i only had about 2 month gap between auditions so the thoughts and memory were still somewhat fresh in mind. are there other speakers out there that I should audition, yes, the questions is how many do I have to audition before i just throw my hands up and say....ok i can't choose!!! at this point i am sort of set in getting the axiom 80-500 because I am very happy with the company, the reviews i have read, and my own experience with their m60.

    jason

  7. #7
    Tyler Acoustics Fan drseid's Avatar
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    Absolutely agree Jason that at some point we all have to say "OK, enough is enough, I have to make a decision" -- in your case looks like you have found that point. Definitely the 802s are *much* more expensive than the Axioms... so if you found the Axioms to be competitive with them for probably 1/4-1/5 of the 802s price a pair, that would sure be a good selling point in my mind too. :-) The excellent customer service you have received is just icing on the cake... sounds like a very good deal.

    Good luck with them, I am sure you will be quite happy.

    ---Dave
    Integra DHC-40.2 Pre/Pro
    Coda 2 X 200 Watt Amp
    Rotel RB-985 5 X 100 Watt Amp
    2 Tyler Acoustics 2 Piece Linbrook Signature System
    1 Tyler Linbrook Signature Center Channel
    3 Tyler Taylo Reference Monitors
    1 ACI Titan II Sub
    Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD
    Panasonic BDT-210 + 350 Blu-ray
    Consonance Droplet CDP-5.0
    Sony 55NX-810 1080p 3D-LED HDTV

    Office:
    Opera Audio Consonance CD-120
    Jolida 1301A 2 X 30 Watt Int. Amp (Sovtek Tubes)
    Opera Audio Consonance Eric-1 Speakers

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