The usual disclaimers apply to this as with all reviews ever done non-scientifically, these are only my findings and YMMV.
The music I have played on these speakers ranges from Holst' - The Planets, Van Halen, Pink Floyd,James Taylor and Simon & Garfunkel, to name but a few. I tried to put them through the paces as best as I could. I also played some DVD's, LOTR, U-571(lots of whispering in this).
Most of you know my system. It consists of a Denon 3808 and I stream music from my NAS with FLAC files. I did use my Samsung DVD HD-931 on occasion, but I found there to be no difference in SQ so I mostly used the NAS(for music only) for convenience. The M22v2 and the M22 Ninja Masters have the same db output with pink noise, so calibration differences are a minimum.
A close up of my light maple M22 and Greg's HG Cherry, what a contrast!
A couple of shots of the different networks, first up the M22v1 and the Ninja Masters.
now a shot of the M22v2.
As I have already eluded to, the M22 Ninja Master crossover's brought out more detail than I have heard before. On Diana Krall's - All or Nothing at All, there is a string pluck at the end that has great tone and presence to it, much like the real thing. I(those at the session also) could hear some back ground noise, what I thought sounded much like tape hiss. I have never heard that sound before and it is only really noticeable on this track, so it is not an electrical issue or anything else. Vocals come through crisp and clear. The fire crackling in LOTR, where Gandalf is sitting in front of the fireplace smoking, is so clear, I thought there was something moving around in the room creating the noise. The Ninja Master XO's also present better sound seperation from the instruments. You can really make out the individual sounds from all the instruments being used.
The soundstage is more expansive and encompassing as well, the clocks ticking and alarms going off in Pink Floyd - Time, literally surrounds the room in raucous alarm clock fashion, when I closed my eyes I thought I had bells going off over my head and coming from the other side of the room.
The bass comes through very nicely for the little bit that the M22's present, with Gwen Stafani's-The Sweet Escape, the bass is very evident and controlled.
There is a down side to all of this detail, there could be an increase in the perceived brightness by those that feel Axioms are bright in the stock form. There is more upper end detail and with this comes more sibilance. I have found most of Diana Krall's cd's to contain a fair amount of sibilance with my stock M22v1 and with the M22v2, that were used as a control sample. The Ninja Master crossover brings this out even more so. During Simon & Garfunkel - The Sound of Silence, there is an instrument that plays through the right speaker for most of the song. I have no idea what it is, but it is high pitched, possibly distorted and my said she couldn't stand it through the Ninja Masters, but it was ok through the stock M22 v2.
I must say that there were only a few cd's where this was an issue, most of the music and DVDs I played never sounded shrill or over the top, just more details and seperation and an expanded sound.
For the more lifeless cds(Van Halen - 1984), the Ninja masters could not add anything to help them out and some other cds just sounded out right bad(the latest offering from Simple Plan comes to mind) and I most likely would never play them on these speakers again.
Mojo stated "I really liked the sound of the Ninjas. However, I wonder whether I would like that sound day in, day out.."
I very much like the Ninja Masters and did prefer them to the stock M22v2 as well. This leads me to another note. When I returned my M22's to their stock v1 crossover, I thought I could hear almost the same vocals as on the Ninja Masters, they are more prounced on my M22v1 than on the M22v2, at least in my room and to my ears. I still have to confirm this with a quick A/B with Mojo and hopefully Greg and anyone else intrested in the comparison.....
Sean just pointed out through an email that one of the things he was looking for was better off axis response, if the Ninja Master M22s are sounding to bright, a toe out movement instead of the usual slight toe in may help. I guess I am not quite done yet.
Are these crossovers an upgrade? That is an individual decision, some will think so, others will not. Is it a change? You bet.