My answer pointed out that the M3 gave the impression of having more bass output than the M22, partly because of the M3â€™s bass hump around 100 Hz. Another forum regular (Jakewash) gave another reason for the M3â€™s bass sounding more prominent, noting:
“The difference is whether or not you like your midrange sound equal/upfront to the bass (M22) or laid back (M3). The M3 actually has a midrange dip that makes the upper bass sound more prominent than the midrange giving the illusion of more bass when in fact it is less midrange.”
Thatâ€™s also true, as Axiomâ€™s founder and chief designer Ian Colquhoun once explained to me, saying that the 6.5-inch woofer he chose for the M3 uses a “mechanical/acoustical roll-off” (no crossover components on the woofer) and because the larger 6.5-inch woofer cone canâ€™t play as smoothly or as high into the midrange as the 5.25-inch woofers on the M22, the M3â€™s midrange output sags a bit and is lower than the M22â€™s, so the M3â€™s bass output is heard as greater. Conversely, the M22â€™s smaller woofers work more smoothly and have greater output into the midrange; hence we hear the M22â€™s midrange as having more detail and clarity.
Getting loudspeaker tone quality exactly right is really a matter of balance. Even slight variations in the relative contribution of bass, midrange and treble may dramatically alter our impressions of a loudspeaker. If you have too much bass output relative to the midrange, the mids and highs may seem a bit recessed or muted and less detailed. If a speaker is shy of bass, its midrange becomes more noticeable and we may describe its sound as â€śmiddyâ€ť or â€śthinâ€ť (lacking bass), because the midrange and treble are too prominent.
What weâ€™re really talking about is a speakerâ€™s relative frequency responseâ€”its response to every musical frequency. The goal is to have a smooth and equal response to all the sounds in the bass, midrange and treble that undamaged human ears can hear. We can measure that frequency response very precisely in Axiomâ€™s large anechoic chamber and describe it and show it on a graph, with the deviations away from perfect response noted by the bumps and squiggles in the response curve and described with an overall plus- or-minus-so-many-dB rating. But describing “musical balance” in laymanâ€™s terms is a lot easier to understand, hence we use terms for the M3 as being “laid-back” in its midrange response, or having a “warm” bass output. Likewise, the M22â€™s “detailed and articulate” midrange is really a function of its having a smoother and more linear midrange response than the M3.
When a loudspeaker gets virtually every frequency right and in just the right balanceâ€”the Axiom M80, for exampleâ€”we techies describe its sound as well-balanced, wide-range and “neutral” or “uncolored,” meaning that the speaker doesnâ€™t unduly emphasize or favor one frequency range over another. Another tech term is â€ślinear,â€ť which is just another way of saying a speaker has a very smooth frequency response with everything in balance.