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#406075 - 07/11/14 05:58 PM So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner...
Boomzilla Offline
buff

Registered: 09/25/13
Posts: 42
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!

Boomzilla

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#406077 - 07/11/14 09:01 PM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
Adrian Offline
axiomite

Registered: 12/27/08
Posts: 6613
Loc: It's all about the location.
Boom, which amplifier do you feel worked best with the M80s? I'm curious how the Pro-amps compared to the others.
_________________________
Half of communication is listening. You can't listen with your mouth.

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#406079 - 07/11/14 10:07 PM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
oakvillematt Offline
veteran

Registered: 05/06/14
Posts: 186
Loc: Oakville, Canada
It is interesting what you wrote. I had a completely different experience.

I will agree with you that the M80 are very forgiving in the placement. I found that moving them around inside my room had very little if any effect on the sound. You could get a bit more base boom if you put them directly into the corner, but that was just getting silly.

I will agree that they are a fantastic sounding speaker. I did find them very revealing for the source material that I used. I have quite a collection of music, but found that 30% of what I had sounded awful from the speakers. About 50% of my music sounded pretty good, but that last 20% was jaw dropping fantastic.

They lies the problem with these speakers. They truly play you back what is recorded. If your source material isn't up to snuff, then you better just hit the eject button and try something else. It just won't cut it. Find something recorded great and you will be in sound nirvana.

But where I found it different. I can't say I have the most expensive collection of amps or receivers. But I honestly could not tell the difference between my old cheep Yamaha receiver and my latest Anthem amp with a dedicated pre-amp. Whatever I used, the good recorded stuff sounded fantastic.. the bad stuff sounded like it was missing any life. And the rest sounded better than any speakers I have had in the past, but not quite at that perfect state.

I will admit that I have never owned a tube amp, nor could tell you what one sounds like.

I will admit that I have never owned an amp costing over 4 digits. Perhaps that is why I have not experienced a difference.

I will also admit that I traded in the M80 within the 30 days and picked up the LFR1100. It did make a small bit of a difference. And as they require a pre-amp out and 4 amp channels to work, I can't really test them with my old Yamaha or Nakamichi. So unless someone want to loan me more equipment to try them out, I will just stick with my current Pioneer Elite with it's pre-outs and the Anthem amp.

But part of me still misses those M80 as they did sound awsome and for the price they are, WOW, what a deal.
_________________________
Matt

People are like a box of chocolates. It's hard to tell initially which ones are nuts.

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#406080 - 07/11/14 11:07 PM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
exlabdriver Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/07/11
Posts: 1028
I have a tube integrated amp & for the life of me, I don't believe that I can hear any difference between it & my SS receiver.

Similarly, I changed out a complete set of tubes (10 of them) for a new backup set of another brand & I still didn't hear any difference between the 2 sets. This is contrary to all of the wisdom out there that espouses that different brands of tubes, types & vintage vs modern make big differences in an amp's sound signature. It doesn't for me; however, I might not be as susceptible to placebo effect like many others seem to be.

Tube gear does look cool though & I love being around them...

TAM

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#406082 - 07/11/14 11:51 PM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
Socketman Online   content
connoisseur

Registered: 07/12/09
Posts: 1194
Loc: Whitehorse YT
Tam , you know well enough that you don't have golden ears ,how could you possibly hear a difference. Maybe you can get an ear job next time LOL

Did that sub ever show up today??
_________________________
DOG is GOD spelled backwards.
I blame my terseness on my keyboard. smile

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#406083 - 07/12/14 01:24 AM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
exlabdriver Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/07/11
Posts: 1028
No!! It was in Nanaimo at 1 PM but never showed up an hour up the road. I waited all day only to have my hopes dashed, sniff!

I don't know if UPS delivers on Saturdays out here, but if they do, it'll probably be on my doorstep before I get up in the morning.

Actually, I could probably use an ear job, but then I might find that my speakers are bright, ha!

TAM

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#406084 - 07/12/14 01:37 AM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
Socketman Online   content
connoisseur

Registered: 07/12/09
Posts: 1194
Loc: Whitehorse YT
Sorry to hear , damn delivery companies they don't realize how important I think I am. I am not sure if UPS deliver Saturday's down there but they sure don't here. I have learned to not stress as much over deliveries, its been a long hard road. It will be there soon enough.
_________________________
DOG is GOD spelled backwards.
I blame my terseness on my keyboard. smile

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#406085 - 07/12/14 03:12 AM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
brwsaw Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 10/12/12
Posts: 1050
Boom its good to see you're happy. You took so long to post your thoughts I'd wondered if you'd sent them back.
_________________________




I spend a lot of time trying to find a way to save it.

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#406087 - 07/12/14 12:17 PM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
exlabdriver Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/07/11
Posts: 1028
No big box here this morning, sniff. The UPS Tracker has changed from 'Friday' (yesterday) to 'Unknown' now. I expect that this means Monday now.

What is interesting, it probably was driven right past me on its way to their depot in Campbell River that is 45 minutes up the road from us...

TAM

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#406096 - 07/13/14 09:56 AM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
Boomzilla Offline
buff

Registered: 09/25/13
Posts: 42
Adrian - To date, the "amplifier horse race" is too close to call. On some material, one amp is better by a nose, on other material, the second amp sounds better. The only constant I've seen is that amplifiers that don't like low-impedance loads don't do as well with the Axioms. My Crown PS-400, while a GREAT amplifier on higher-impedance speakers (such as my previous Definitive Technology SM-65s, rated at 6 ohms) failed to have sufficient dynamics with the M80s.

The "pro" Crown amplifiers are half the price (or less) of an equivalent home audio amp with similar power. Their performance, even with the Class-D modules, is equivalent to the the Class-A or Class-AB contenders. Therefore, I consider them a true bargain & recommend them highly. The all Class-A Nakamichi Stasis 5 sounded more open & airy on top, but the Crowns are no slouches. Of the Crown line, the amp that I have liked the best is the XLS-1500. They're powerful, cheap, and every time I play them, I'm surprised by their fine sound. Don't run them bridged - they sound better in stereo.

Oakvillematt - I'm not at all surprised that we have different experiences. You seem to be searching for a system that will make all your recordings sound good. I would rather have the unvarnished truth (even if it reveals some of my recordings as poor-sounding). When I want some "glamour" for the less-than-great recordings, I switch my tube buffer into the system. It conceals a multitude of recording sins.

exlabdriver - The newer tube products are engineered to sound neutral (as are the newer SS products). Therefore, I'm not surprised that they sound similar. Older tube products, however, (think Dynaco, et al) sound significantly more distinct.

I'll post more comments as time goes by. I'm particularly interested in what the Yamaha RX-A1040 will do with these speakers. AV receivers, traditionally, have profoundly sucked with low-impedance speakers. We'll see...

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#406100 - 07/13/14 12:12 PM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
exlabdriver Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/07/11
Posts: 1028
Boom:

I agree with your assessment of modern tube amps; however, when I researched extensively online wrt to replacement tube choices, there were so many comments on how certain tubes sounded in my my amp, I became quite cynical as to what people were hearing.

I just didn't experience anything like that when I tried different tubes at home...

TAM

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#406101 - 07/13/14 01:30 PM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: exlabdriver]
tomtuttle Offline
axiomite

Registered: 06/20/03
Posts: 8290
Loc: Tacoma
Great post! Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

I can't help but think that having a well treated listening room contributes meaningfully to your enjoyment.

Cheers!
_________________________
bibere usque ad hilaritatem

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#406132 - 07/14/14 08:25 AM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
oakvillematt Offline
veteran

Registered: 05/06/14
Posts: 186
Loc: Oakville, Canada
Originally Posted By: Boomzilla

Oakvillematt - I'm not at all surprised that we have different experiences. You seem to be searching for a system that will make all your recordings sound good. I would rather have the unvarnished truth (even if it reveals some of my recordings as poor-sounding). When I want some "glamour" for the less-than-great recordings, I switch my tube buffer into the system. It conceals a multitude of recording sins.


I don't know if I'd say I a looking for speakers to make everything sound good. Its more that I am looking for speakers that will give me the best sound for the music that I like.

I know that some of the recordings that I have will never sound as good as others. Lets face it. The Forgotten Rebels recorded most of their stuff in a basement using a cheep 8 track bought at a garage sale. it will never sound that good, but the gritty bad recording is what makes it so great.

I understand that when the Rolling Stones recorded most of their early stuff, the sound reproduction of hi-fi equipment in the 50's and 60's would mask the limited dynamic range that was recorded. So it is understandable that these needed to be "remastered" A.K.A. re-processed to augment digitally what was never there in the original recordings. If you wanted the originals to sound good, then don't get good speakers.

You are right in suggesting getting a tube pre-amp to warm up the sound and add back in what may have been taken out in compensation for the hardware of that era.

What is sad is that it's becoming more common now for recordings to be compressed to sound good on your ipod/iphone ear buds as that is where the music is mostly being listened on. Are the real hi-fi of today destined to become relics to the slave of convenience.
_________________________
Matt

People are like a box of chocolates. It's hard to tell initially which ones are nuts.

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#406179 - 07/15/14 01:42 PM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
CatBrat Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 5876
Loc: Milky Way Galaxy
So NOW I'm a real boy!


Sorry. Couldn't resist.

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#406188 - 07/15/14 06:19 PM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
Boomzilla Offline
buff

Registered: 09/25/13
Posts: 42
Hi exlabdriver - I have no experience with "tube rolling," so I can't comment on it. From what I've read, some components are more sensitive than others.

Hi tomtuttle - YES, the first few absorber pads I installed made a HUGE difference, the rest, far less. Again - If you control slap echo, most other things (except bass resonances) take care of themselves.

Hi Oakvillematt - I agree with you that much current music is compressed for headphone use. I don't know what to do about it, but to select what I like to listen to and hope it's well recorded...

CatBrat - You SLAY me! LOL

I had four friends over this weekend to listen to the Axioms. They wanted to listen at 100 dB plus levels. In my room, at that volume, the Axioms just weren't at their best. One of the guys was a bass head and wanted significantly more bass than my Powersound Audio XV-15 would put out ( ! ). He was also disappointed because the Axioms didn't sound like his Klipsch speakers ( ? ). Another guy was accustomed to listening in a much larger room at live concert levels & was disappointed that the Axioms weren't able to do stadium volumes ( !! ). They all allowed, however, that the M80s sounded "good" in my room.

I don't listen loudly, I don't care if every recording doesn't sound good (I prefer accuracy, thanks), and I don't want to vibrate my fillings out (except occasionally). The Axioms, crossed over the the sub at 80 Hz, are a GOOD match for my room and my preferences. Although they might not have been the first choice of my friends, I think that these ARE the speakers for me!

Boom


Edited by Boomzilla (07/15/14 06:25 PM)

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#406192 - 07/15/14 09:26 PM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
oakvillematt Offline
veteran

Registered: 05/06/14
Posts: 186
Loc: Oakville, Canada
Boom, that is such a great story. I know where you are coming from. I had a fellow over as he was interested in listening to my Axioms. He has a set of Paradigm speakers. I was curious to what he thought so I let him listen

He commented that my LFR's didn't have enough bass and the high end was off. Well, after adjusting my receiver eq, bass and treble controls, he concluded that yes the speakers were all right but needed a whole load of adjustment to get them sounding proper. I thought it made everything awful.

Personally I usually listen in pure direct mode as it gives me a nice clean sound.

So over the weekend I went to his house to listen and found his speakers to be rather muddly. Took a look at his pre-amp and found his treble cranked up to 7 and his bass all the way to 10.

Sort of explained his comment to me about my LFR's
_________________________
Matt

People are like a box of chocolates. It's hard to tell initially which ones are nuts.

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#406196 - 07/16/14 02:49 AM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
exlabdriver Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/07/11
Posts: 1028
Listening preferences are nothing but totally subjective.

This is why I find most of the speaker reviews, assessments & recommendations from the vast majority of users/posters out there are totally irrelevant to me or anyone else.

Boom & Matt - thanks for your experiences with those other listeners. This corroborates my longstanding sentiments exactly...

TAM

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#406201 - 07/16/14 08:16 AM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
Boomzilla Offline
buff

Registered: 09/25/13
Posts: 42
Previous speakers that have sounded best in my room include Dahlquist DQ-10s, KEF studio monitors, Thiel 1.5 and 3.6 models, and Klipsch La Scalas (?). My M80s cleave closer to the Thiels, of course, but with the same smoothness of frequency response, and somewhat better dynamics.

Unlike the previous speakers, the M80s are NOT amplifier-sensitive. My old DQ-10s wanted Adcom amps or they had no dynamics, the Thiels would sound tight in the bass only with LARGE McIntosh or Emotiva amplifiers, and the La Scalas sang only with tubes - go figure!

My only criticism (to date) of the M80s is that at very, very high volumes (that I never listen at), the upper midrange (soprano voices) can become slightly shrill. This is not audible at lower volumes, and therefore not a problem for me. I've noticed the high-volume shrillness at that specific frequency range with multiple amplifiers, though, so I'm thinking that it's an artifact of the M80s themselves - not the associated equipment. Since other speakers don't have that problem in my room, the room itself is not the cause, either.

The "new" version 4 tweeters (which I have in my speakers) are noticeably less hard sounding than the version 3 tweeters which my friend has in his M80s, so if Axiom offers those as an upgrade, I'd think them worth the money.

I've got an AV receiver on the way to temporarily replace my current separates. I've never liked (any) AV receiver that I've heard. Their amplifiers are insufficient to adequately power low-impedance speakers. Both pairs of Thiels, some Magnepan 1.6s, and my current M80s are all four-ohm loads and/or difficult to drive because of crossover complexities. This Yamaha may surprise me, or not...

In any case, I'll continue to occasionally post about my M80s if I have anything new to say. Feel free to ignore my posts as you see fit.

Cordially - Boomzilla

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#407120 - 09/10/14 12:07 PM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
Boomzilla Offline
buff

Registered: 09/25/13
Posts: 42
And just as an aside, I recently tried my Axiom M80s with a variety of preamps and power amps including:

Audio Research LS2B MKII tube/FET preamp
Musical Fidelity X-Cans 3 tube headphone/pre amp
Yaqin SD-CD3 tube buffer

and

Audio Research D90 tube power amp
Crown XLS-2000 power amps (used as both stereo & mono)
Emotiva XPA-5 solid-state power amp

Each combo offered its own advantages and disadvantages, but ultimately, the combo that sounded best with my M80s in my room was the Yaqin tube buffer driving two channels of the Emotiva XPA-5.

Now I've added an Emotiva center channel & I'll see how they all do on movie sound!

By the bye, in my particular room, the M80s (not the high powered - just the standard ones) do NOT supply satisfactory bass. If I had some "tone controls," this might be fixable but without them, the speakers are bass shy. It doesn't matter to me because I run the M80s in "small" mode from my Oppo BDP-105 with the below-80-Hz sounds supplied by a PowerSound Audio XV-15 subwoofer. That blends perfectly with the M80s and the combo is ideal for music and impressive on movies.

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#407156 - 09/12/14 07:58 AM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
Murph Offline
axiomite

Registered: 10/05/06
Posts: 6835
Loc: PEI, Canada
Thanks for keeping us updated Boom. Interesting stuff.

Curious.
Is it fair to say the M80s are "bass shy". They were certainly not designed to compete with a subwoofer for deep LFE frequencies. Depends what previous models you are comparing to I guess. There are some floor model speakers that attempt to do both functions, but an M80 is not one of them.

While not 80s, I've heard some impressive bass for thier size out of M60s in large mode for my casual stereo setup upstairs. In the HT room, I have another pair with a good sub and run them as small to get the full effect for movies and super bass heavy tunes, as per thier intended design.
_________________________
With great power comes Awesome irresponsibility.

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#407254 - 09/16/14 09:35 AM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
Boomzilla Offline
buff

Registered: 09/25/13
Posts: 42
Good points, Murph - so allow me to clarify.

Bass (for all speakers) is a placement-sensitive issue; imaging is the same. However, the best location for one is rarely the best for the other. I've placed my M80s for superior imaging. In that location, and in my room, yes, they are "bass shy." This isn't the fault of the speakers. I could easily find a "compromise position" where both imaging and bass would be 90%, but that's not good enough for me.

Therefore, I use the subwoofer to make up for the bass that I lose by locating the speakers far out from the walls.

I've also, lately, had the good fortune to acquire some Audio Research tube electronics (D90 amp and LS2B MKII preamp). The M80s have quite a different sound with these than with my usual solid-state electronics. The midrange is lusher, the treble a bit softer, but the mid-bass is far more solid. The effect on male voices is to make them more "present" in the room. The effect on orchestral music is to bring out the cellos, basses, and tympani.

So will I keep the tubes or go back to solid state? Time will tell...

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#407256 - 09/16/14 12:51 PM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
bridgman Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 5419
Loc: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
Yep, amen to that. I got lucky and finally found a spot where bass and imaging were both pretty good, but I had to rip out a bunch of living room furniture and lean Roxul panels up against half the windows to get there -- and even with all that imaging is not as good as it was in some of the previous locations.

Your experience with the tube electronics are interesting... I'm still toying with the idea of trying a tube pre-amp to see what difference it makes.

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#407273 - 09/17/14 05:07 AM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
Boomzilla Offline
buff

Registered: 09/25/13
Posts: 42
Hi bridgman -

May I recommend the Yaqin CD3 tube buffer? It's inexpensive, and gives 90% of the best tube sound I've ever heard without the sloppiness. It really is a fine product, particularly for its price.





Edited by Boomzilla (09/17/14 05:11 AM)

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#407279 - 09/17/14 11:36 AM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
exlabdriver Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/07/11
Posts: 1028
I looked long & hard at the buffer; however, I snagged from ebay an almost new Yaquin MC-100B integrated tube amp for about double the price of the buffer.

I expected a huge difference in sound from my SS gear, but it really didn't happen for me. I really like it though, especially its appearance because tubz are cool...

TAM - in Flagstaff & heading for the Grand Canyon trying to outrun Odine.

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#407361 - 09/21/14 06:43 AM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
Boomzilla Offline
buff

Registered: 09/25/13
Posts: 42
Hi exlabdriver -

Today's tube equipment is deliberately designed to have less "tube sound" than did products of old. Therefore, differences ARE more subtle - typically a bit more soundstage width/depth and a touch of "lushness" in the midrange. I like the sound of my tube buffer, and the majority of friends who have heard it agree.

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#407650 - 10/14/14 02:18 PM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: Boomzilla]
bridgman Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 5419
Loc: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
Thanks Boomzilla. Was about to try the CD3 tube buffer, but made the mistake of staring at my system for a while trying to figure out what upgrades I would probably want to do in the future. I decided that supporting some kind of digital sources would probably be the next step, so instead of the CD3 I ordered a TubeDac 11 from Grant Fidelity (basically a DAC/pre-amp with tube buffer on the output).

Figured that would also let me use a digital connect for the CD carousel, which I remember sounding just a tiny bit better than the analog (with levels at least casually matched).

I guess the obvious configuration options are :

- as a DAC, connect DAC out to receiver AUX in, continue using receiver pre-outs to drive power amp

- as a pre-amp, connect receiver tape-out to TubeDAC aux in for phono & tuner, connect CD carousel to optical in, connect tube out to power amp

At least one of those should work smile

EDIT - oh yeah, the other planned upgrade is an acrylic platter for the turntable, since some idiot purchased a moving coil cartridge (Denon DL-110) before remembering that the Debut Carbon had a steel platter.


Edited by bridgman (10/14/14 02:21 PM)

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#407653 - 10/14/14 10:40 PM Re: So NOW I'm a real Axiom owner... [Re: bridgman]
bridgman Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 5419
Loc: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
Actually the configurations get more complicated if I want to be able to flip back and forth to see the difference made by (a) tube buffer and (b) CD going through external DAC rather than built-in DAC.

Reviews suggest it comes with a bunch of cables, looks like I'll probably be using them all.

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