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I prefer Denon and Harman/Kardon A/V receivers because of their combination of features, stable amplification (these will drive 4-ohm loads like the Axiom M80s without difficulty; many other brands will not), reliability, and affordability. Avoid Onkyo, Sony, etc. I use the H/K AVR 525, which I like a lot. The new H/K AVR 7200 has massive power output and is excellent. The Denon 1804, 2803, 3804 are all very good as well, and will drive M80s with ease.
Thanks for your e-mail. The finishes are covered with "vinyl-wrap," which is very persuasive and convincing compared to the cheesy-looking vinyl wrap of speakers built in the '80s and early '90s (we still have a few of those kicking around the office!) Ironically, back then, all Axiom finishes were genuine wood veneer, but we had to drop that to stay competitive. The new custom finishes are r emarkable-looking. The gloss birdseye-maple is a stunner, even up close. Even our regular finishes have wood-like texture and are of high quality.We have the M22s and M80s in light maple, and it looks real, and indeed, the aesthetic appearance matches the sonic performance.
General answer to questions about why Canadian, and specifically Axiom, speakers are better than B&W and other British and US brands, for significantly less money: (use it for questions about the "Canadian sound")
In a general way, you'll find that the best Canadian-designed speakers from Axiom, Energy, PSB, and Paradigm will exceed the quality of a given B&W model at significantly less cost, mostly because the Canadian brands like Axiom have greatly benefited from acoustical research and design at the National Research Council in Ottawa, where Axiom prototypes are still designed and auditioned under rigorous scientifc controls, a facility unavailable to British manufacturers and unlike virtually any other in the world. The virtue of the best Axiom and other Canadian models is a neutrality and transparency that eludes most of the British and American competition. Some B&Ws are quite pleasant, but they tend to be inconsistent from one model to the next.
Also, here's a general statement about Axiom's sound quality compared to British, American, US and Canadian brands, with specific brand and model references:
In a general way, Axiom speakers will deliver more neutral and transparent sound than most prominent American (Thiel, Polk, Boston Acoustics, DefTech, etc), European and British brands (B&W, Kef, Monitor Audio, etc.) for a great deal less money. The only US brands that are comparable to Axiom are Snell, Revel, and Vandersteen, all of which are much more expensive.
Axiom systems are tonally extremely similar to the expensive lines from our main Canadian competitors (Energy Veritas, Paradigm Reference Studio, PSB Stratus, etc.). The M60s, for example, are very close to the PSB Stratus Gold or the Paradigm Reference Studio 80s or 100s (but with smoother, more neutral bass). They are also similar to the Energy Veritas 2.3, which are $2,500/pr. The M80s are comparable to the Energy Veritas 2.4 ($3,500/pair)
So if your client wants to spend $3,000 or $4,000 a pair for the front speakers, the Energy Veritas models are excellent, but they won't sound any better than the $1,100 per pair Axiom M80ti's. These Canadian competitors all maintain large, expensive dealer networks in the US and spend millions on US advertising. We do neither. That's why their speakers are much more expensive than ours but are not superior sounding. And it's also why you can only hear our speakers on a 30-day in-home trial.
At 4,400 cu. ft, your new room is more than twice the volume of an average living room (2,100 cu ft). If you accept the compromises inherent in any compact bookshelf speaker, even used with a subwoofer, then you could consider using our M22ti's with a subwoofer like the Axiom EP350 (a sub with a 12-inch driver and 200-watt built-in amplifier).
I normally would not recommend compact speakers for a room this large. If you like listening at levels approaching concert-hall volumes (85 to 95 dB SPL) especially at distances of 14 feet, then the M60ti floorstanding speakers (they are quite narrow—9 inches— and just 37 inches tall) would do the job and be the appropriate choice. You could decide later whether to add a subwoofer for deeper bass extension and greater output. The M60s are 8-ohm speakers and your Nakamichi will drive them without difficulty.
If you use compacts like the M22ti's in your big room—the M22ti's will play remarkably loud with a subwoofer in an average living room (see above)—you will have to be careful about maximum loudness levels because the drivers are fewer and smaller. Think of speakers as electro-magnetic reciprocating air pumps, which is what they are. Bigger rooms require larger pumps, so to speak, otherwise you'll drive compacts into distortion if you try and push them to the loudness levels that floorstanding speakers reproduce with ease.
Building speakers can be an enjoyable hobby, but the results nowadays seldom match the sound quality from carefully designed high-quality speakers like Axioms, Revel, and a few others. Speaker design is now a science rather than a "black art," which it was until the late '70s, when most of the significant advances in speaker design occurred in Canada, Australia, and Scandinavia.
The relevant specifications for our Axiom models are on our web site. Understandably, we don't give away our proprietary designs for our Axom drivers, crossovers, or enclosures.
There are numerous web sites for home builders. A fascinating magazine called Speaker Builder has been available for years. Post your query on our Axiom message boards for more home building and kit sites.
Generally, you'll get the best picture and sound quality for the least expense from Panasonic, Toshiba or Sony DVD players—the co-developers of the DVD format. There is no significant difference in sound quality in DVD players at $99 or $400 or more. If you want a DVD player capable of playing high-resolution DVD-Audio discs (or SACD discs), then the player will cost substantially more. Whether or not either of these high-res audio formats will survive is anyone's guess.
Any bookshelf speaker intended to be used in a vertical orientation, like our M22ti's, will sound different—just how different will depend on your room and the speaker placement, since the room is the "forgotten component". The M22ti's, our best bookshelf, and the model I use with a subwoofer (no bookshelf has deep bass output) is fairly accommodating to horizontal placement. I was surprised how little the M22s were affected when I tried one as a center channel on top of my TV. I'd advise against putting them inside an enertainment unit, but you can always try it and see whether the sound is significantly degraded by boundary effects. You can see reviews of the M22s at audioholics.com, audioworld.com, and audiovideoreviews.com.
At Axiom, we conduct both tests using pink noise as well as dynamic tests to create the maximum amplifier power rating for each Axiom speaker. In the case of the M80s, they have been tested a minimum of five hours using modified pink noise at 400 watts rms from the amplifier. Furthermore, they have been tested at this level for 100 hours using highly dynamic source material. We keep the ratings conservative, i.e. the tests are actually done at 600 watts for a 400-watt maximum power rating. In fact, the M80s have been tested up to 1200 watts without any problems.
Given the size of the room, the M22ti's would be a better choice. They also have a little more midrange and upper octave detail than the M3ti's and a really 3-D like soundstage. The M2i is a great little speaker for the money, close in detail to the M22s, but not its equal. The M22s are audibly superior. The M3ti is a bit "laid-back" in the mids. I use the M22s with an EP175 subwoofer.
You can always adjust the subwoofer volume if you are worried about offending neighbors. Moreoever, most Dolby/dts A/V receivers have a "Late Night" mode that is switchable. It compresses the dynamics of all soundtracks so that the loudest parts are much reduced in level and the quietest parts are raised so you can still hear the dialog. It's quite useful for watching Dolby Digital DVDs late at night and not offending neighbors.
Sorry to report that all in-wall speakers produce fairly degraded sound. I'd really like to persuade you not to use in-wall speakers. I've never heard any that are decent, certainly not from Niles, Klipsch or Sonance. If you must use them for space reasons, I understand, but you'll have to accept a major compromise in fidelity and musical accuracy.
The reason is that when you inset a speaker into a wall, the wall itself becomes part of the speaker and boundary effects (the wall is like a huge front speaker baffle) changes the sound dramatically and always negatively.
I've never heard an accurate, fine-sounding in-wall speaker that approaches the performance of, say, the Axiom M22ti's. It's the reason Axiom doesn't build in-wall speakers. If we find a way to make good ones, then we will.
Some of our competitors build some that are tolerable (PSB and Paradigm) but "tolerable" isn't my idea of high fidelity. And in-walls won't tonally match Axiom's neutral and transparent sound.
If you accept somewhat degraded sound quality, then use identical in-walls. Otherwise, consider wall-mounting a pair of M22s with a bracket mount that keeps the speaker out from that bad ol' wall by a few inches.
When you recess a speaker into a wall, you are still left with the same problems that beset in-wall designs—the wall becomes part of the speaker's front baffle, and changes the sound, always negatively.
If you must do this, leave a few inches around the sides and rear of the speaker, and let the front baffle protrude a bit so it extends beyond the wall surface. You might find the sound quite acceptable. I've never heard an M22ti installed in such a fashion but you would be starting out with an exceptional speaker, so it may still sound pretty good. However, I can assure you the sound will change.
As an alternative, why don't you consider using three Axiom M2i's as your left, center and right channels, all wall-mounted using our Full Metal Bracket (or some similar bracket) plus two QS4 quadpolar surrounds (they're quite compact and are supplied with their own wall-mount brackets).
Well, in-ceiling and in-wall speakers all have fairly crummy sound (the wall or ceiling becomes part of the speaker baffle, and colors the sound, just one of the inherent liabilities of in-wall stuff, which is why we don't build any. If we find a way to build great-sounding ones, they'll be on our site.
You likely know that 5.1 movies are mixed with dipole/quadpole type surrounds at the sides, but you do have an option. Get the QS8s and our Full Metal Bracket for each, and mount them from the ceiling at the sides. The QS8s yield a very generous envelopment and are very accommodating to eccentric or asymmetrical installation (mine aren't at the same height or opposite, or at the same distance and they sound wonderful).
If you must use in-ceiling, well, you're on your own. I've never heard any I've liked, including Kef, for the reasons I've cited.
Interesting question, and, a complicated answer. If you have a really big space, like a loft, or a big room with a vaulted ceiling, of course you can use four floorstanding speakers like the M80s as fronts and surrounds. But—and it's important—for movie soundtrack playback, the whole idea of using mulitpolar surrounds like our QS8s (or dipole/bipole types) is to exactly simulate the effect created in a large movie auditorium by rows of surround speakers down each side wall. (The large auditorium inherently creates the mix of direct and reflected sounds because the arrival times are much longer in a movie theater than in a domestic living room.) Almost all movie soundtracks are mixed in studios with dipole/bipole type surrounds at the sides of the listening area because they create the rich envelopment and immersion in the surround field that we experience in a big movie theater, so if you want to hear movie soundtracks the way they sounded to the director and sound engineer, then quadpolar surrounds should be used. I also feel they tend to be superior at delivering surround envelopment in most domestic spaces. It works perfectly if you use a good companion subwoofer to handle the deep bass chores. In fact, there is no sacrifice in musical fidelity, in my experience.
I also prefer QS8-type surrounds for music playback, because of the generous listening area they deliver while still retaining directional acuity for sounds or music hard-mixed to a rear channel. Others disagree on this point, believing that DVD-Audio and SACD multichannel music should be heard with direct-radiating rears. In my experience, QS8 type surrounds are superior for music because the "sweet spot" is not critical at all, whereas using direct radiators at the rear produces a very critical sweet spot. In my tests using direct-radiating rears with DVD-Audio and SACD, the illusion collapses to the nearest speaker when you shift your seat a foot or so. Using QS8s/QS4s, this doesn't happen.
" I would reccommend the Xitel Pro Hifi Link www.xitel.com. The benefit of this device is that you bypass your soundcard by using a USB connection. Then you have 2 options with the Hifi Link: YOu can use it to do the DAC or you can hook it up to a receiver with either an optical or coaxial connection and let your receivers DAC's do the conversion.
When you use a sound card in the computer to process the DAC you are subject to all the electromagnetic interference inside the computer. Moving the conversion outside of the "box" to your receiver provides you with a pure digital connection with no interference.
as an addded bonus, the Pro Hi-fi link comes with 30 feet of optical, coaxial and analog RCA cables, plus the USB cable and the hifi link istelf all for $99.
Check it out, mine works great, the only con is that you have to disable your soundcard (through Windows control panel) to activate the hifi link. This only takes 2 seconds and you can change back to your soundcard whenever you want."
This one is for customers who ask about using bipolar speakers for the front main channels for home theater, especially bipolar towers with built-in subwoofers (DefTech make a number of models like that). There a few comments on 5.1 and 7.1 as well, and I addressed the subject of using multipolar surrounds for home theater and why. . .
First, all subwoofers interact with the particular dimensions of the room in which they are placed, so experimentation in placement is always required.
It is true that bipolar front channels produce a wide soundstage that is very enjoyable for stereo 2-channel listening (I own both types of speakers, and large ones, so I know) but they are not recommended for home theater use because you want precise imaging for movie sound, and you do NOT get that from bipolar speakers at the front. Anyone who recommends bipolar speakers for the front channels is ignorant of how movies are mixed and played back in cinemas. Besides, 5.1-channel movie soundtracks are mixed with direct radiators at the front and bipolar/dipolar surround speakers at the sides. These precisely mimic the effects of rows of surround speakers in large cinemas. That is what Dolby Labs recommend, and what I've found to be most effective. By the way, while I was an A/V magazine editor, I have attended three Hollywood soundtrack mixing sessions.
The bass management in your receiver/processor redirects all the important low bass below 80 Hz (that usually works best) to the LFE channel and hence to the subwoofer. That's how soundtrack recording engineers mix it.
A good center channel like the Axiom VP150 is important, but the timbral match with the front left and right are just as crucial.
"Axiom sells direct from its web site on a money-back 30-day in-home trial basis (we have one remaining dealer in Toronto). If you are not satisfied, you pay return shipping by the least expensive means. That isn't refunded.
When the speakers are received, you get a full refund of your purchase price. All speakers are shipped 3-day FedEx and include shipping and all taxes.
The Denon 1804, 2803, 3804, 3805 are all very good as well, and will drive M80s with ease. So will the new NAD A/V receivers. Avoid Onkyo, Sony, Pioneer, Yamaha, etc if you get the 4-ohm M80s. All these brands will either shut down, overheat, or invoke current limiting, which severely limits power output. If you want to get one of these brands, choose the M60s, which are tonally almost identical to the M80s and an easy 8-ohm load (the M80s will play louder in bigger rooms and have slightly greater bass extension and output).
Axiom systems are tonally extremely similar to the expensive lines from our main Canadian competitors (Energy Veritas, Paradigm Reference Studio, PSB Stratus, etc.). The M60s, for example, are very close to the PSB Stratus Gold or the Paradigm Reference Studio 80s or 100s (but with smoother, more neutral bass). They are also similar to the Energy Veritas 2.3, which are $2,500/pr. The M80s are comparable to the Energy Veritas 2.4 ($3,500/pair).
You can buy any combination of Axiom speakers or systems with or without the subwoofer, even single speakers at half the per/pair price. Any five items purchased at the same time get you a 5% discount. A speaker pair is two items.
You can order from the factory outlet ("blemished" stock, but the blemishes are invisible and they are acoustically perfect and fully guaranteed) for a further 10% discount, but you have to wait—up to 5 weeks for some popular finishes. Check the factory outlet page for the different wait times. It's updated every Wednesday.Lastly, visit the Axiom message boards on our home page. There are lots of helpful Axiom owners there who are very knowledgable."
Q. What type powered subwoofers are best for music?
Designers go to considerable lengths to reduce edge cancellations and effects of a speaker's own front baffle and grille cover. Good speakers are designed, measured, and intended to operate more or less in free space, unencumbered by extra cabinetry. Of course, we all live in rooms (the other enclosure!) so a speaker should be positioned to avoid gross effects from nearby walls by allowing some space between the wall behind the speaker and any side walls.
But installing a speaker into an EC undoes all the good intentions of the designer by substituting new cabinetry that will generate reflections and cancellations that can't be controlled.
If you must do this, there are a few steps you can take to reduce boundary effects. On the doors in front of the speakers, use a plain grille cloth with no decorative wooden or plastic latice work. Remove the M80's own grille (or whichever Axiom speakers you have) and move the speaker as close as possible to the grille cloth of the EC's door. If it protrudes somewhat, even better. Use it without the doors if you can convince your spouse that it will sound much better (and it will. .) .Try an A/B test with one M80 or M60 out in the room and the other in the EC, using your receiver's balance control to go between one speaker and the other. If you hear dramatic differences in sound quality, with a "hollow" or colored sound from the speaker in the EC, you'll know how much you sacrifice in fidelity and transparency.
Don't "bury" the center channel speaker at the back of a shelf. Try and use it on top of the TV or on a shelf just above the TV (or beneath it) with the front edge of the VP100 or VP150 slightly protruding or angled down in the direction of your seating area. Use hockey pucks or rubber doorstops to raise the back edge to angle it towards the listening area.
The subwoofer is the one speaker that you cannot place into an EC and expect it to work properly. Its performance is very dependent on its location in the room relative to your listening area. A good place to start with a sub is putting it into a corner (any corner) and, if the bass is too boomy, gradually moving it out of the corner along one wall or the other until you get smooth, deep bass heard from several seating locations in the room."
Axiom's M80s are extremely well-balanced and linear. They do not have edgy treble unless the source material is badly engineered. The M80s will reveal the liabilities of EQ's pop/rock, country or classical CDs, and there are lots of lousy recordings around.
First off, I'm rather cynical about a lot of so-called "room treatment" aborbers, diffusers, etc, most of which are overpriced and ineffective.
You want a reasonable mix of reflective and absorptive surfaces. Too much absorption and the sound will be dull and muffled, with a somewhat diminished lateral soundstage. Too much reflection can cause an upper midrange and treble misbalance.
All rooms have nodes—areas of bass exaggeration and cancellation. You can sometimes correct for large peaks in the bass with parametric EQ, but you cannot correct dips or cancellations. Effective bass absorbers are large, ugly and expensive. If you position your subwoofer and M60s according to some of the tips on our site, you should be able to achieve reasonably smooth bass in several listening locations—not all—but several. Perfect rooms do not exist.
Compare M60s to Other Speakers
You can try the M60s at home (what better place?) for 30 days. The M60's sound quality is comparable to several much more expensive competitor's models: the Energy Veritas V2.3i, which is $2,800/pair, or the B&W 703 ($3,000/pair). If you audition either of these, you'd have an excellent sense of Axiom M60ti's musical balance.
About the wattage: you can't compare wattage ratings among different manufacturers because there is no consistent standard. However, I recommend at least 80 to 100 watts per channel for larger rooms. Any of Axiom's speakers, including the bookshelf models, will handle amplifiers of that size with ease. You can find all of our suggested power recommendations in the specs charts. Click on "Comparer all Bookshelf speakers" at the bottom of the product page for each model. Or Compare all Tower Speakers.
Too small amplifiers damage speakers, not large ones, because small amps are overdriven into clipping distortion—which burns out voice coils.
Pin connectors are fairly rare except in pro equipment. We do not have spade-to-pin adaptors, nor do we sell pre-assembled cables for bi-wiring applications.
If you are handy with a soldering iron, Radio Shack may have pins that you would need to solder to Axiom bulk speaker cable. I can tell you soldering pins is not all that easy, so I'd recommend the bare cable to pin adaptors that don't require soldering. There would be no sacrifice in audio quality.
As long as your friend does not have a living room larger than 2,500 cu ft. (multiply length x width x ceiling height), then Axiom's Epic Midi home theater ($1,254 delivered, including shipping) or Epic Master ($1,397) would be ideal. The Midi system would be fine in rooms of 2,000 cu ft. or smaller; the Master system, which includes a larger subwoofer for bigger rooms, would be better in a bigger room up to 2500 cu ft.
Either of these Axiom systems will deliver much more transparent and musical sound than any Bose system at any price. The tiny Bose cube speakers sound overtaxed and strained even in a small room.
If the room is larger, I'd suggest going to the Epic Grand Master 175 ($1,625; slightly beyond budget) which would suit rooms up to 3,000 cu. ft. or even bigger.
You can mix or match any of our speakers. The system prices include a 5% discount. Any five items purchased at the same time get the same 5% discount.
Most of the big Japanese brands (Sony, Panasonic, etc.) know little about true hi-fi speaker design, so the speakers are built as cheaply as possible, for maximum profit, with no regard to fidelity or musical accuracy. These companies know lots about good electronic design but little or nothing about speaker design.
At best these speakers will be mediocre to poor in sound quality. If you accept them for what they are, OK. But they are not "high fidelity" or musically accurate.
Fortunately for some Canadian companies like Axiom as well as some US and British brands, Axiom has specialized for 25 years in nothing but careful speaker engineering.
Most Japanese branded speakers are built by other manufacturers at the lowest possible price. Likewise speakers from computer brands and, sadly, Altec Lansing, which was once a good-quality US brand, but no longer.
The reason that most speakers used for stereo are physically large is that in most cases, there is no subwoofer being used in the stereo setup to handle the low-frequency sounds. To get low frequencies from a speaker enclosure requires larger woofers and a big enclosure.
When movies or TV shows are mixed in Dolby Digital 5.1 (or dts 5.1), all the low frequencies are assigned to the subwoofer (Low Frequency Effects) channel. In a home, the Dolby Decoder extracts the LFE channel info and routes it to the subwoofer, sending the midrange and highs, which provide directional cues, to the satellite speakers.