Complete home audio newbie, could use some help!

Posted by: Artisan

Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/04/11 03:18 PM

Greetings. I first learned about Axiom Audio about four or five years ago when I started looking into home audio/home theater. Searches and reviews lead me to this site and I'm sold on the Axiom line. I even registered under a different login name and made a few forum posts a few years back but I can't remember my old password.

Anyway, I've recently started upgrading my car's audio system (2009 Honda Fit Sport, Pioneer 3200DVD head unit, soon to be filled out by a set of Hertz HSK 165 components, a JL Audio XD700/5 amp and a JL Audio 8w3v3 sub in a ported enclosure... can't WAIT!) and it got me thinking once again about home audio.

My requirements are that this home audio set up will be used primarily for music. Musical fidelity and clarity are my paramount concerns.

I live in an apartment with an average to above-average living room where the home theater will reside. I have neighbors below me and to each side of me.

I have a Samsung 46" LCD television that I love. I also have a Sony BDP-N460 BluRay player that handles any kind of CD or DVD/BluRay I have. I watch a lot of movies and a few select TV shows, but my primary use of my current audio system (a simple Sony CMT-HPX9 that I dearly love) is for music first and television/movies second.

I listen to primarily alternative and classic rock. My musical library contains Radiohead, Ween, Beck, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, They Might Be Giants, Johnny Cash, Dave Mathews Band, Nine Inch Nails, The Pixies, Primus, Built to Spill, David Bowie and Tom Petty, among many others. I occasionally play classical, country and blues, and sometimes even some disco and techno, but alternative and classic rock are my bread and butter.

I am torn between my budget and my desires.

My gut instinct is to buy a pair of M60v3s and use this as a baseline for an upgrade to an eventual 5.1 home theatre. This is offset by a desire for the 2.1 setup of a pair of M22s and an EP500. While the latter setup will provide deeper bass extension than the former, I am worried about having too much bass in an apartment where I have to keep an eye on my neighbors. Will the EP500 be overly obnoxious? Am I delusional in thinking the pair of M60s will be less obnoxious? I am not a bassaholic. I just want nice, clear, accurate bass that can keep up with the rest of the midrange and treble. Would I be well-served by nothing but a set of M60s? Would I be better-served by a set of M22s with either an EP350 or EP500? Would I be served better yet by some M60s and an EP350?

Here's where I get even more muddied. When I think about making the leap to a full 5.1 setup I run into all kinds of problems. Should I just go ahead and buy either an Epic Grand Master with the EP350 or Ep500, or should I step up to the Epic 60 with either the EP350 or EP500? Will the EP350 be a musical enough sub to round out the M22s for my musical desires or should the M22s really be paired up with the EP500 (or even the EP400)? Would the M60s be overly bass-heavy with the EP350 or EP500? Which sub is more musical? My gut desire points me to a range of the M22 theatre with the EP350 up to the M60 theatre with the EP500, and I'm leaning more towards either the M22 + EP500 and the M60 + EP350.

And now it gets even worse. When I try to use the Axiom HT Wizard I get even more suggestions. Depending on how I answer the questions, I get answers suggesting everything from an M2 setup up to an M60 + EP600 setup. Neither of those extremes really interest me. I guess I'm looking for some kind of sweet spot that resides in a range including the M3 HT setup all the way up to the M60 + EP500 setup. I'm leaning most towards either an Epic Grand Master 350, Epic Grand Master 500, or an Epic 60.350. That is not to say that I wouldn't be well-served by an Epic Master 350 or 500 with the M3 speakers. I really have no idea. I am so bewildered by the sheer volume of choices that I can't make a decision. I keep starting off with a pair of M60s and I keep ending up with Grand Master 500 or Epic 60 350 setup. Somewhere in that range of possibilities there must be a sweet spot.

I already mentioned that I'm not a bass head. I also don't want to annoy my neighbors. Should I just go ahead and buy the pair of M60s and call it a day? Or should I go with either a pair of M3s or M22s + either a 350 or 500 sub? I'm worried that the latter choices will be overly bass-heavy for my neighbors, while the former wont give me the musicality in the lower regions that I desire. If I do decide to buy either a set of front floor standers or a set of bookshelves + sub woofer then I will eventually upgrade them to a 5.1 system with probably set of QS8s and a VP100 or VP150. I could also spend more now and just buy a 5.1 system. I don't know. I'm beating my head against a wall, and I'm still at least three months out from making a decision.

After typing all of this nonsense, my gut instinct is still to buy a set of M60s and add the rest later.

All of this will be powered by a receiver in the ~$500 range. Right now, I'm looking at the Onkyo TX-SR608 shown here:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882120166

What say you, oh wise and powerful Axiom collective?
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/04/11 03:21 PM

I'd start with the M60s. I have M80s and an EP350 in an apartment, but my neighbors are older, possibly with hearing loss, and a strong streak of tolerance.
Posted by: pmbuko

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/04/11 03:24 PM

You don't need to worry about any well-designed subwoofer being too much unless you run it excessively hot. When you set up your system, proper calibration will ensure that all your speakers play at the correct relative volume.

My Axiom system is based around M22s and an EP500 and I never get complaints from my neighbors. I am not a bassoholic either and rarely listen at crazy volumes. If you're really looking for full-range, this combination will not disappoint.
Posted by: Argon

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/04/11 03:41 PM

I would go with the '60's. Plenty of bass for an apartment - I would think. I have and Epic 60 - 500 system. Since the receiver you are looking at will decode the latest formats, you will get lots of bass out of a 500 when viewing action movies. IF I was my neighbor I would be annoyed at how much the 500 can put out during a movie like Master & Commander or Transformers. I am not a bass head for music but for movies.... I can't comment on the 350 but I can tell you that I had problems with my 500 initially (all resolved now) where it would stop working. It sometimes took me weeks to realize it was not playing - only when I would see a scene in a movie and think - hey that should have had more oomph. Telling you this part is to point out that the bass coming out of the 60's is considerable. Later, you can add the sub of your choice. A sub definiatley adds to the movie viewing experience.
Posted by: CatBrat

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/04/11 03:46 PM

Here's where a lot of people cringe while presenting different views. There's one that says that M22's + sub woofer is as good as (well almost) as an M80. There's another group that says you are missing mid bass by going this route and should stick with either an M60 or M80. I'm of the 2nd opinion after living with M22's and EP350 for a while. I don't think the EP500 would give me that much more, except in volume (if turned up) and bass extension.
Posted by: Argon

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/04/11 03:47 PM

Waiting for the '80's crowd.....
Posted by: Adrian

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/04/11 03:55 PM

I would also go with the M60s. Perhaps if you move in the future you could add a sub for the extra/extended bass, but the M60s/80s go pretty deep on their own....you'll likely only miss a sub when playing certain movies with plenty of LFE's as mentioned. I wish we all had considerate neighbours like you Art!
Posted by: CatBrat

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/04/11 04:24 PM

Where's Fredk when you need him to say that everything is the same because the world is flat.... Oh wait...
Posted by: Artisan

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/04/11 08:26 PM

Wow, thanks for the responses so far. I didn't expect so many so quickly.

If I do go the route of two M60s for a front stage to start off, how will they handle the lower frequencies without an accompanying subwoofer? I don't listen to any pipe organ music, and only rarely classical. Will I be missing much in the way of detail down there if I'm simply running a true stereo setup? I'm in a situation where I want to have all the bass reproduction and quality that I can get for my listening enjoyment, but without going too bass-heavy and upsetting the neighbors. I'm worried that the M22s+EP500 will be too much, and the M60s by themselves will be too little. More and more, though, I'm leaning towards the M60s.

EDIT: Any thoughts on the Onkyo 608? Is there something else in that price range I should look at instead? The 608 looks like a very nice entry-level receiver and unless I'm missing something it looks like it should power an entire Axiom 5.1 setup with no issues. Would it handle the load of M80s?
Posted by: jakewash

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/04/11 08:35 PM

You won't notice that you are missing anything with the M60's till you do A/B testing. If you go with M22's you won't notice anything missing either. If you have the room for the extra depth of the M60's then I would get them as they will fill a larger room of you get a home or move down the road, kind of future proofing. If you get the M22/sub combo, from my exerience, you will get slightly better detail with lower bass extension, but this combo sounds a little less 'warm' than the M60's. It's really being pretty picky to tell any of these difference and I highly doubt you would be disappointed by either system.
Posted by: JohnK

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/04/11 09:39 PM

Arti, welcome back(whoever you formerly were). My first suggestion, which I view as more important than the M22/M60 question, since they're very similar from the mid-bass on up, is to definitely get QS surrounds along with your mains. You can at least temporarily get along without a sub or separate center speaker, but without surrounds you don't have an HT setup to enjoy both 2-channel(using a mode such as DPLII)and multi-channel sources.

As was said, you're in control of the sub volume and can adjust it to a suitable volume, considering even the neighbors. I use and highly recommend the M22/ EP500 combination, which is a full-range system lacking nothing in any frequency range. If budgetary considerations demand, there are fine subs available at lower prices from other sources.

Edit: I'd also suggest that you move up one step in the Onkyo models, primarily to get the Audyssey MultEQ(rather than 2EQ)for greater resolution in the room EQ, and possibly more importantly, equalization of the sub. The 707 factory refurb is available at A4L for about $400.
Posted by: MarkSJohnson

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/05/11 09:20 AM

I'd go with M60s for music listening. A sub like the 500 doesn't show it's real capabilities unless you're watching movies or, as mentioned, listening to pipe organ music. The 60's will give you all the bass you need for your musical preferences with less of a neighbor-annoyance factor.

Or, if your budget can allow...

Consider the M80s for their edge in detail and slightly lower bass if you're going subwoofer-less.

I think that's the first time I've ever recommended M80's, but I think that's what I'd do for a two-channel music system that doesn't involve pipe organs...
Posted by: Philippe

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/05/11 11:55 AM

M22 + 2 EP400 my friend. wink

Or if you looking for a tower, then nothing else than a M80. Got a little more bass extention than the M60, but have better clarity in the mids and trebles ( 2 mids and 2 tweeters. )
I actually run in a 3.0 mode (M80/VP150) and i rarely feel that i need a subwoofer.
And since you looking for a music setup first, you wont like having 1 subwoofer placing in a corner, you will feel the bass comming only form the sub, and this is really annoying.

I vote for tower, or M22 + 2subwoofers.
Posted by: fredk

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/05/11 04:14 PM

Originally Posted By: CatBrat
Where's Fredk when you need him to say that everything is the same because the world is flat.... Oh wait...

Listen here Flatcat... wink
Posted by: ClubNeon

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/05/11 04:14 PM

I run two M22s plus two small subs, and if it ever arrives a ButtKicker to fill in the bottom three octaves (5 to 40 Hz).

I like the idea of small subs acting as an extension to the M22s, but the EP400s are way too expensive. Something like the Outlaw M8 would be more in line: http://www.outlawaudio.com/products/m8.html
Posted by: fredk

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/05/11 04:26 PM

If the system were for music only, I would strongly recomment the M80s, skip the sub and call it a day. They are noticeably better than the M60 on their own because of the bass extension, more clarity at the top and a little better mid-bass.

However...

I was like you, looking for mainly a music system, but was surprised by how much good surrounds and a good sub added to the movie experience.

If it is beween the M22 and M60 with a sub, I would go with the M22 + sub. I had a chance to listen to all the combinations at Axiom, and was surprised to find that I had a hard time telling the difference between the M22 + sub and the M60 + sub (aside from the obviouse bass extension a sub gives you. This was with V2 product.

No matter which you choose, you will be very happy.
Posted by: Artisan

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/05/11 06:10 PM

Well if I total those up I come up with the following:

M22 + Ep500 2 votes

M22 + 2 Ep400 or two other small subs 2 votes

M80s 3 votes

M60s 6 votes


Two Ep400s is going to be way out of budget, especially considering that I'm willing to forgo even a single sub. Two $1000+ subs in tandem just doesn't appeal to my budget. Sonically, however, that idea sounds very intriguing.

I was kind of already persuaded against the M80s. From my past perusal of these forums I had come to the conclusion that the M80s don't offer much more over the M60s except that they will play a little louder, a little lower, and a little brighter. Considering the size of my apartment listening room, I figured the M60s were a perfect choice for floor standers. Without a sub, however, I can see giving the M80s a nod for their extra bass extension. I really don't listen at loud levels. That may change down the road when I own my own house, but for now I keep things at a very casual volume. Do the M80s really provide enough extra sonic beauty over the M60s to justify the extra size and extra cost? Not to mention being a 4 ohm speaker compared to the easy 8 ohms of the M60s? I'm not dead set against the M80s, but I had already decided previously that the M60s would be perfect for a set of floor standers if I decided to go that route instead of the M22s.

JohnK: What is Audyssey, and why should I be interested in it? What do I get in return for the extra cash by moving up a step or two in receiver?
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/05/11 09:00 PM

I don't have M60s, but my M80s do quite well at low volumes. I'm sure M60s would as well.

I just prefer towers to bookshelves. That's a personal preference; I know for a fact there are those who prefer bookshelves.
Posted by: BobKay

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/05/11 09:20 PM

Another vote for M60's, though Fred is correct. You won't be disappointed with any choice.

Best of luck with your final choice.

Oh, and Audyssey is a proprietary name for the multi-channel system that will self-set the best levels for the dynamic and frequency levels of each speaker. It sends out a signal to an included mike that you place in the room's listening positions.
Then it will do the calibrationns for the best result, based specifically on your room.
If you need more, or more detailed info, JohnK (and others) will happily help.




JJ
Posted by: JohnK

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/05/11 10:07 PM

Arti, Audyssey is an automated speaker calibration(sets levels and distances for balanced sound at the listening position)and room correction(modifies the frequency and time envelopes to partially overcome the distortions that all listening rooms impose on all speakers)system. Several such systems are available on various makes of receivers, but many(including me)consider it to be the most advanced system currently available on receivers. It's featured by makes such as Denon, Marantz, NAD and Onkyo. An included microphone is set at one or more positions to measure responses to test tones for the data needed for the calibration and room correction.

The 608 has the simplified Audyssey 2EQ, which measures from only two positions besides the central listening spot, and doesn't equalize the sub channel. The Audyssey MultEQ measures six or more positions for greater accuracy in the room corrections and also equalizes the sub channel for corrections in the important low bass frequencies. I consider that this easily justifies moving up to the next model level, which can be had, as I mentioned, for just a bit more.
Posted by: bdpf

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/06/11 12:10 AM

If you're sure that you'll stick with stereo listening and you don't listen to pipe organs, I'd get the M80s, you'll need nothing else. I've started to build my system slowly over a year ago and still didn't buy a sub. The only thing I am missing is the rumble from the LFE in movies, although if I play the movie at high volume I still feel my floor rumbling, they're able to produce that much bass. I had the chance to A/B the 60s vs 80s at the Axiom facility. At high volume, they both sound extremely close but at lower to moderate volume, the M80s have the edge IMO. To me, that + the extra bass extension + the bit more detail in the mids was worth the extra $$$.
Posted by: Artisan

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/09/11 04:26 PM

My god. I didn't want to get talked into M80s, but you sickos just might have done it. Sigh.

Well, thanks for the responses. I have a few more months before I'm ready to make a purchase. I'll probably end up with a starting point of either a pair of M60s or a pair of M80s, and a receiver with the full Audessey stuff. Damn.

See, the problem with that is that as you guys start recommending more and more expensive hardware, the overall cost of the entire system ends up being higher than what I'd anticipated. I could get an Epic 60.350 and the Onkyo 608 for just under $3000. If I start off with M80s and a higher-level reciever I'll be starting out at $2000 or more, with a final cost probably ending up somewhere around $3500-4000. I could certainly absorb the extra cost if I spaced out the purchases over a year or so, but damn.
Posted by: Argon

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/09/11 04:42 PM

GO with the Yamaha, the 60's and with the money you saved get a 150 center. You will NOT be disappointed.
Posted by: ClubNeon

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/09/11 04:46 PM

If you feel any better, I've been building my system for two years, and I only have M22s for my mains.

That said, I couldn't be more happy with the sound. I'd say get the M22s plus a pair of good subs.
Posted by: jakewash

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 02/09/11 08:20 PM

I just suggested trying out the M22's in your other thread, If you like them but still want to get floorstanders, Axiom pays shipping back for the M22's and you just pay the difference in the upgrade price smile
Posted by: Artisan

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 12/26/12 02:31 PM

I'm resurrecting this thread from almost two years ago.

I finally took the plunge. I've been toying with the idea of home stereo and theatre for about seven years and I keep coming back to this site. A couple weeks ago I saw that Newegg had the Onkyo TX-NR-818 on sale for $679 (down from $1199) and didn't think twice. I have it up and running with my Samsung 46" LCD, Sony BluRay player, and some oooold Infiniti Entra Point-Five speakers http://www.crutchfield.com/S-maAsg5cbPWz/p_108ENTRA51/Infinity-Entra-Point-Five.html.

Not five minutes ago I placed an order for two Axiom M60 V3s in the real wood Cherry/Chestnut finish, 25' of speaker wire and some dual banana plugs. I can't tell if I'm elated or full of buyer's remorse, but I do know that I'm giddy and can't wait for these to come in. Thanks to everyone in this forums who answered my questions over the years. I'll let you know how everything sounds when I get it installed. I'll almost certainly be back for technical help in getting it all set up and tuned.
Posted by: CV

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 12/26/12 02:39 PM

Very exciting! Nice grab on that receiver. I look forward to reading your impressions of the M60s.
Posted by: MarkSJohnson

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 12/26/12 03:01 PM

Great! I order new equipment and "toys" all the time for my business, but can remember feeling like a kid at Christmas while waiting for my Axioms. I don't know that there was ever another item ordered that I looked forward to more!

There's a running joke around here about "leaving nose prints on the windows" while waiting for delivery, and experiencing mysterious flu-like symptoms causing you to stay home from work a day after delivery! smile
Posted by: JBG

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 12/26/12 03:12 PM

hahahaha....
Posted by: fredk

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 12/26/12 08:51 PM

Originally Posted By: Artisan
... I can't tell if I'm elated or full of buyer's remorse, but I do know that I'm giddy and can't wait for these to come in. ...

I don't think you are allowed to have buyers remorse when it takes you almost 2 years to make the purchase decision. smile

I'm looking forward to your first post after listening to the M60s.
Posted by: Artisan

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 12/26/12 09:07 PM

Originally Posted By: fredk
Originally Posted By: Artisan
... I can't tell if I'm elated or full of buyer's remorse, but I do know that I'm giddy and can't wait for these to come in. ...

I don't think you are allowed to have buyers remorse when it takes you almost 2 years to make the purchase decision. smile

I'm looking forward to your first post after listening to the M60s.


It's actually taken me about seven! I had another account before this one.
Posted by: JohnK

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 12/26/12 09:55 PM

Arti, very good buy on the 818 and you'll certainly enjoy great sound with the beautiful M60s you're getting. You'll be able to use some of the Entra Point Five speakers for surround duties.
Posted by: jakewash

Re: Complete home audio newbie, could use some help! - 12/28/12 02:29 PM

What a steal on the 818, I heard this avr with M80s VP150 and 4 QS8s yesterday and it worked extremely well, almost made me want to sell my Denon 3808 and get one.