It all started a little more than a month ago, when MCodanti and I took a long car trip to Reno to attend a Chris Isaak concert. During the trip, we listened to our favorite CD's over and over on our fairly decent car stereo system, and I really enjoyed it. When we got home, I realized that I had long ago stopped listening to music at home because I couldn't stand what the music sounded like coming out of the cheapo KLH home theater speakers. Mind you, these speakers were hooked up to a Onkyo TX-DS939 - no slouch of a receiver at all, so it was just the speakers that were the problem! So, the search began, and we listened to speakers all over town, and in a weak moment, bought some Polk R50's at Circuit City (they sounded better than anything else we had listened to up to that point and were on a good sale). I was pretty happy with them because they're light years better than the KLH's.
Then I mentioned our speaker shopping woes at work, and someone pointed out an item that gets rave reviews on AudioReview.com - the BIC DV62s with crossover mods by Ed Frias. Another fellow at work decided to take the plunge and buy these, and he was nice enough to let us have them for one day to audition. They're good for some things - low volume listening, especially for music without voice, but upper range male and female voices get really nasal and honky on them, and they turned totally muddy at mid to higher volumes, so I ruled them out. Our friend at work is happy with them, but he was replacing some 20 year old Advents and "doesn't like bass or loud music".
In listening to the Polks compared to the BICs, I could hear something I would say sounded "processed" about the Polks - as if there was some echo being added to the music, some times it wasn't as obvious as others, but in some cases, it totally spoiled the music. Speaker placement helped some, but didn't totally eliminate it.
Also, my other half, MCodanti, was now looking for a new center channel and surrounds, since the old KLH had become just so much 'junk' in comparison. Another weekend spent auditioning speakers, all over town, but nothing seemed right. I pointed him in Axiom's direction, and we both read all the reviews, but we really wanted to hear them before buying them. Happily, last weekend, we had to make another 1400 mile drive to hear Chris Isaak (again!) play at the Saratoga Mountain winery. MCodanti found a dealer (Audible Arts) in San Jose that carries a couple of the Axiom speakers. Jeff setup the R40's in his listening room and let us listen for at least an hour. I was sold. These were the ones. No added echo, no tweeter fatigue, no honkiness, beautiful imaging. Clean pure music. Of course, they were hooked up to a $1,000 CD player, hooked to a $3,000 amp, which I'm sure helped.
MCodanti ordered a pair of M60's (plus a pair of QS8's and a VP150) as soon as we got back, and they arrived today. I'm very pleased with them, but now it's going to cost even more - as we'll have to do something about the 'live' room we have, plaster walls, hardwood floors, blinds instead of drapes. So we spent $1,500 on speakers, and now we'll have to spend another $3,000 to modify the living room so that the speakers sound their best.