When I was speaker shopping my final choice came down to a pair of Focal Chorus 807 monitors and the M80s both for around 1200/pair at the time, I didn’t get a chance to listen to any Focal Chorus tower speakers. I preferred what I would call the light aery enveloping presentation of the Focal’s for most music over the M80s at the time. However, a big portion of my music listening is Goa trance, and other techno/rave music which requires an authoritative midbass punch which no monitor is going to achieve. I also preferred the M80s for movies hands down, though I never mixed in a subwoofer when listening.
My main use was/still is home theater and I wanted speaker that were a non-reflective black (focals were shiny black). I suspected I’d want a 3rd identical speaker for a center channel and the focals only came in pairs. I also preferred the selection of other speakers available especially the surrounds in the Axiom line for home theater use. So I ended up going with the M80s since the Axiom speakers did more of what I was looking for. Also over time I came to another realization as to why I preferred the Axioms when I read this review of the M2 bookshelf speakers:http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/0509/aperion_intimus_5b_axiom_m2v2_paradigm_v6.htm
Sitting down to listen to the M2s also didn't blow me away...at first. I played one song, then another. Then another. Then an entire side. Then... hey, I haven't heard this album in a long time, I should put that on. What I realized, after a few hours of being pulled completely out of "speaker evaluation" mode, is that the M2s are the least colored speakers in the group. My notes from my listening sessions with the Axioms are suspiciously sparse: "nailed it", "impressively involving", "perfect?", etc. While the Paradigms may have sounded lusher with the string trio, or the Aperions may have delivered rock music with more punch, the Axioms lacked any of the other speakers' tonal caveats. If they weren't the best at every type of music, they were the best at any type of music. I'd like to add that the M2's neutrality extends all the way to the grilles as I thought I heard a touch more air in the highs with them off, but the impact they had on the sound was so minimal I wouldn't make a strong recommendation either way.
That same tonal neutrality extends across the entire line from M2 to M22 to M80 I know because I own all of them.
Actually the only speakers that came close to the M80 in overall presentation were some Paradigms and B&Ws at 2 to 3 times the price of the M80s respectively. I am still thinking about some day getting a dedicated music system for in another room but just don’t sit in one place long enough listening to music to justify the expense. Also I’ve since learned much more about how room and room treatments including furniture affect the sound from speakers and know now that the curtains I put around the walls and the big chairs I got would have deadened the light aery sound of the focals.