I ordered my Version "3.5" M80s in the transition period when the new tweeters were available, but the Version 4 designation wasn't yet available. The plates on my speakers say 3.0, but my friend's older 3.0 M80s have different tweeters. Cest la vie...
I've run my speakers with an Emotiva XPR-2 amplifier, with a Crown PS-400 amplifier, with a Nakamichi Stasis 5 amplifier, with an Emotiva XPA-5 amplifier, and now, with a pair of bridged Crown XLS-2000 amplifiers.
They're run as stereo speakers in a 2.1 configuration system (driven directly from an Oppo BDP-105 and with a Powersound Audio XV-15 sub) and in a 5.1 configuration for movies.
So how do they sound? I thought you'd never ask! Two things have surprised me about these speakers:
1. How little they care about placement. I originally put my speakers on some furniture casters so I could roll them about & try different placements. The sounded equally good at all locations, so I then installed the outriggers & placed them in locations of convenience. They image brilliantly regardless of positioning! Perhaps this is due to the nine ATS sound absorbers (and one corner bass trap) that I have in the room, but I doubt it. They just don't seem to care about placement. This is the exact OPPOSITE experience of my friend who has the older 3.0 M80s. In his room, even an inch makes a difference. Go figure...
2. How revealing the speakers are of ALL upstream equipment. Insert a preamp - the sound changes. Add a tube buffer - WHOA! Switch from one amplifier to another - Yes, Tinkerbell, one CAN hear the difference in amplifiers! Given smooth amplifiers with enough current to swing the 4-ohm Axioms, the speakers just virtually disappear, leaving a wide, deep soundstage. If the amplifier has even the slightest trouble with high amperage & low impedance, you'll know it instantly.
In the near future, I'll have the pleasure of reviewing the yet-to-be-introduced Yamaha Aventage RX-A1040 for Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity (www.hometheaterhifi.com
). I'll be using the Axioms as the main speakers for the review. Based on my experience so far with my M80s, I feel confident that they'll be sufficiently revealing to expose the Yamaha's best.
In the meantime, I've got friends from out of town coming this weekend to hear the Axioms. Hopefully, they'll take the time to write up their impressions too.
My conclusion so far is that the Axioms are equal to the best of the best loudspeakers I've owned (to date, the Thiel 3.6 and the Magnepan 1.6). Obviously, due to the radiation pattern, the Axioms are closer to the Thiels than the Maggies, but in my room, forward-radiating box speakers seem to do best.
So Bravo, Axiom - my M80s are a real hit!