Ok finally sitting down to give a little more thorough review of this speaker or is it a summation of the things I have posted here and there.
I have some pictures already up on the forum here
for those interested. I can add some more by request.
My system consists of a Denon 3808 and my Axioms, M80v2, QS8 v1 and the VP160v3. I also have a PB13 Ultra to round out the bottom end. I stream my music from my NAS to the 3808 in FLAC. My Blu Ray player is a Samsung BDP1400 and the Blu Rays were watched in DOLBY TRUE HD or DTS-HD. My previous centers I have used, Axiom VP100 and 150, my M22v1, M2, M60 and finally a VP180. I have tried a few other non Axiom centers, (Sony, Paradigm) but I know these speakers the best so they are my reference points.
Build quality - Excellent as usual, this is a preproduction version so there might be a few differences from the production models but from what I have seen this speaker is built just like all other Axiom products, it is sturdy, effectively braced and weighs in at 48lbs according to my scale.
Size - the size of this speaker will not lend itself to just any home theater. You will need 10 13/16" minimum height to allow for a smidgeon of wiggle room and 30" in width, the depth is 14" and with the ports on the front you can slide this speaker right up close to a wall or back of a cabinet.
I have listened to everything I can get my hands on in multichannel. My first experience was a few quick scenes from U-571 with the DTS soundtrack. I watched the boarding of the submarine and the gunshots had a very visceral effect, good impact from the center, right where it should be. The depth charge scene had more feel to it than I have had with my previous centers, the VP180 and an M60 withstanding. The VP160 easily out muscled my M22 as a center during this scene ( I swapped one in just to compare). The soft whispers of the dialogue were delivered with pristine accuracy and never once did I strain to hear what they were saying.
I quickly put in the BR extended edition of The Fellowship of the Ring. The clanking and banging of swords, the 'TING' of spear through armour came through with effective clarity. Gandalph's mumblings seemed to be more intellible than with the other centers I have used to watch this movie, certainly better able to keep the dialogue upto the same levels as the M80s are playing at, I think it might have even bettered the VP180 during this type of scene.
I more recently watched Avatar and once again all the jungle sounds came through with great accuracy. I watched this movie from an off axis position and the dialogue was just as clear and nearly as loud as when I moved to the sweet spot, I measured about 1 db lower between the 2 positions, excellent performance for being off axis. The crispness of the 'TICK' off the golf ball off the putter was amazingly precise. My wife even commented on how nice it was to hear ALL the dialogue and sounds so clearly.
My family and I watched various movies (Spy Kids, Nanny Mcphee Returns, Mr. Popper's Penguins, you get the idea family movies) streamed from our cable provider and the VP160 was able to handle these compressed soundtracks with the same clarity and strength as if I was playing the DVD, dialogue was clean and sound effects seemless across the front soundstage.
Watching sporting events has been improved as well, no longer am I hearing the crowd through the M80s over top of the center channel. The VP160 is able to keep the announcers voices elevated over the crowd sounds.
For music I watched my BR of David Gilmour - A Night to Remember. The VP160 brought new life and imagery to this Blu Ray. The VP160 withstood the wail of the guitar and David's vocals powered through with grace and clarity.
I also watched The Eagles - Farewell Tour Melbourne DVD. I was able to listen to this DVD with a new enjoyment of their music. The bass is very strong during many of the songs on this DVD and the VP160 handled it with great ease, the highs from the trumpet during the encore just before Hotel California sounds very real to my ears, nice and clean
I also listened to various CD's in Dolby PLII, each and every one of them was brought to a new life in surround sound. I never liked listening to music this way before but the VP160 is up to the task of staying with the M80s, I now prefer to listen to music in this manner.
I have yet to try the M22's with the VP160 insted of the M80s, hopefully I will get to try this soon, I will have to wrestle my M22s away from my parents HT for an afternoon.
Something to note about the VP160 is the smoothness it has over my M80v2's. During a listening session with mojo(former forum member) we discovered that the 160 has less sibilance than my M80s. It is not distracting in any way, it was just something we noticed as we played with the settings for the center channel. As the center 'width' was increased (more sound from the center) the sibilance was greatly reduced from her recordings, not an entirely bad thing. As we reduced the center width more sibilance came back into play; noticing this makes me want to upgrade to the M80v3, maybe in a few more years......
Thanks for reading.