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#2680 - 04/16/02 05:48 AM M50s vs M60s - a personal review
Randyman Offline
veteran

Registered: 03/29/02
Posts: 184
Loc: Honolulu, Hawaii
Well folks, for those of you that are interested (in one man's opinion), in a comparison "review", I currently have a pair of M50s and M60s sitting side by side in my living room HT/stereo setup. I promised to write my impressions of them and I am still comparing the two - but not for long - as one pair HAS to go back. (sorry Ian)

For the skeptics: Both sets were the Factory Outlet models. Both arrived when they were supposed to via Fedex – and in perfect condition (all the way out to Hawaii) and the appearance of the 60s is virtually flawless! (and only 3 very minor blemishes on the 50s) So NO complaints from me about looks.

Just for reference, they are connected to a Sony STR-DE915 (100w x 5) DD Receiver (built prior to DTS), a Sony DVP-S360 DVD/CD player, and a Technics SLQ2 DD turntable w/Audio Technica AT15S cartridge. (OK - so its not all brand new, but I am putting 2 kids thru college!) My "other" speakers were Sony APM-55 (3-ways) that have the square, flat, drivers and a honeycomb aluminum surface for the woofers. They were pretty good moderate priced speakers 20 years ago. (OK - yes, I used to work for Sony many years ago!!!) Now that is out of the way, here are my impressions:

First off, I was surprised at how dis-similar the speakers sound. I guess I expected them to be closer than they are, but the overall timbre character seems to be pretty similar. In my listening environment, the bottom end response is pretty much identical (and very good) but the 60 do go a bit lower. Both are tight, controlled and not boomy at all. But on some music, at times, it almost seems that the 50s give a little more punch (at the same volume) than the 60s do. I have a theory as to why, and I suspect it could be because of the midrange crossover point.

The upper midrange is where the difference between these 2 models really presents itself. As I had suspected, the mid driver in the 60s really does make a difference. For my ears, vocals really come to life in the 60s. Very clear and very clean (did I mention very clear?) Strings are smooth and sweet- you can almost count the hairs on the bow, and the brass has that initial bite I love so much. In direct comparison the 50s are "softer" less distinct - or not a sharp - as if the singer was behind a screen (sorta muffled – but that is a really bad description of the effect) At times I enjoy this more mellow characteristic, but even so, the musical detail doesn’t altogether disappear, it’s just less pronounced. On some songs/recordings the upper mids of the M60s (like from an electric guitar solo or an alto sax) almost seem a tad “bright” (could it be my DVD player?). They are so intense/clear that they seem as if they are almost piercing (like - have you ever experienced listening fatigue from a horn loaded midrange/tweeter?) This is a similar effect, but not nearly as bad. But I have to say that overall I much prefer it to the ever so slight softer sound of the 50s.

On the very high end both the 50s and 60s tend to sparkle but to me the 60s are (again) slightly more clear, more distinct, and “crisper”. Percussion sounds are much more real - the ting of the cymbals, the ring and resonance of a bell, the snap of the snare drum -more vibrant, alive. It's the leading edge of the "attack" that I really hear the difference - plus I think the reproduction of the transients are better - and this also adds to the realism. Again, the 50s do it pretty similar- but just not with the same definition as the 60s

Last but not least is the imaging. I was really surprised here – and I guess the dispersion characteristics (of the mid driver?) are the cause of it. The 60s are way superior! The soundstage really tightens up and the instruments are more precisely located. They provide a truly enjoyable experience for me.

Overall, I find the differences to be pretty much the same whether in low to moderate volume levels (such that you could still carry on a normal conversation) or pretty loud - when I am conducting along with Herbert von Karajan, or playing air guitar with Ottmar Liebert.

And as if you probably couldn’t tell – the 60s are staying here with me. I am so glad I didn’t “settle” for the 50s and took a chance on the 60s. Even though it will cost me to send the 50s back – I am doing the old Ren & Stempy “Happy Happy Joy Joy” dance!!!

So that's my impression of the two. Personally I think that most people would be happy with either speaker - 1. Because they are both pretty darn good, 2. Few will have the chance to listen to them side by side to make a direct comparison, and 3. The human tendency to accept (or learn to enjoy) the sound that we have. Have you ever tried to do a direct comparison of 3 or more speakers at once? Its pretty hard to do!

Well, I hope I have done the speakers justice with my mini review - and that this has helped some of you that may have been "on the fence” on trying to decide which to buy. Personally, I think the difference in $ is well worth it!
My sincere thanks to Ian and the whole Axiom crew. Fantastic speakers – at exceptional prices, and with superior customer service!

If anyone has specific questions concerning my comments/experience, I would be happy to answer them

Randyman


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#2681 - 04/16/02 09:41 AM Re: M50s vs M60s - a personal review
drptpcpe Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/07/02
Posts: 3
How long have the speakers been broken in? What I actually am referring to is the sharpness of the the 60 that you mention. I would like to know if that subsides and smooths out, (considering the 60's) or PSB image 4t.
thnx

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#2682 - 04/16/02 10:39 AM Re: M50s vs M60s - a personal review
Anonymous
Unregistered


Randyman

Glad to hear that you're so happy with the 60s. You replied to my post on M60s and treble and I think you were right on target. I suspect my buying decision process was much like yours: 80 too much... 22s probably sound great but I want more and who wants to buy stands... 40s, well got a great review but can two drivers really cover the spectrum? 50s same problem.....

I am extremely pleased with my 60's midrange and smooth natural presentation of voices. So I am glad to hear that your A B comparison validates my theory that the 60's 5.25 inch mid driver and lower woofer crossover/higher tweeter crossovers, would produce a better midrange. I am also happy that you rate the 60s soundstage so highly.

A couple things have become clear after a few weeks of fiddling around with these speakers. First, the break in period is not a myth (and it's not the period of time it takes your ears to become accustomed to new types of distortion)! The bass response is noticeably improved and I suppose this makes sense as both the Vas and resonant frequency of drivers will go down, say 20 percent, as the surround loosens up. Having said this I still plan to add a quality subwoofer for the below 50Hz information. Second, by 'toeing' in the speakers a fair amount I find the soundstage greatly improved. Don't know if this is my listening environment or typical of these speakers. Do you have the same experience?

Happy listening!




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#2683 - 04/16/02 03:14 PM Re: M50s vs M60s - a personal review
Randyman Offline
veteran

Registered: 03/29/02
Posts: 184
Loc: Honolulu, Hawaii
I recieved the M50s on Good Friday - and played them a lot right away to break them in (it cant hurt right?) The 60s came about 2 weeks later - so I have had them about a week and a half - but again, I have been using them quite a bit. I think it is possible that new drivers need a break in - but a requiring a month or more seems a bit silly to me!

I have a powered subwoofer, but did not use it at all during my comaprisons (that wouldn't be fair) and it really fills in the bottom on Rock music and HT.

I too find that "toeing" in the speakers a bit helps with the soundstage for good stereo listening. I don't notice too much difference though on HT soundtracks (guess it's all those other speakers that fill in the sound eh?)

Glad you enjoy your 60s as well. Maybe we should start a club or something - The 60s Generation! HA!

Enjoy!

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#2684 - 04/16/02 04:00 PM Re: M50s vs M60s - a personal review
jonesr Offline
regular

Registered: 03/18/02
Posts: 8
I also have the M60s and love the sound and increased imaging from what I was used to (15 year old 3-way towers). I mostly used my system for HT but now I am enjoying music a lot more. Everything is crystal clear and I can hear a lot more detail in the music and its very enjoyable now. Instruments sound like they are right there in the room. They are not really broken in yet but I did experience the break-in period last year with my sub. It did improve after some time so my M60s should even sound better soon......

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#2685 - 04/16/02 06:19 PM Re: M50s vs M60s - a personal review
ChrisR Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/19/02
Posts: 61
Loc: PA
Me too with the thumbs-up for the 60s! I agree that the most surprising thing for me was the midrange. I had thought that the midrange was the only good thing about my old speakers, but the 60s proved that even that was bad! I also have noticed some extra brightness on a few CDs, all of them older recordings converted to digital, with lots of brass. I think my old speakers didn't have enough high end to reveal the bad recording, or the bad source. (Old JVC CD player - needs to be upgraded!)

But the beauty of the midrange! I haven't tired of it yet!
_________________________
M60s, VP150, QS8 x4 ACI Titan II sub Anthem AVM20 pre/pro Anthem PVA7 amp Panasonic DVD-RP91

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#2686 - 04/16/02 07:16 PM Re: M50s vs M60s - a personal review
Anonymous
Unregistered


I had been considering the M50's but ordered the M60's this morning because I had figured the midrange would be much better- and like Randyman, I didn't want to settle for the M50's when I saw the M60's as a more long-term investment.
My question is, does the M60's come in one or two boxes? Also, how big are the boxes? I'm expecting them to arrive later this week, at work, and I would like to know what to expect.
Thanks.
-Brad

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#2687 - 04/16/02 08:38 PM Re: M50s vs M60s - a personal review
Randyman Offline
veteran

Registered: 03/29/02
Posts: 184
Loc: Honolulu, Hawaii
Both the 50s and the 60s come in two pretty large boxes. (each speaker in a separate box) And actually double packed. A box inside another box. Great packing for slippery handed carriers! Many giant staples and all taped up. Plain brown cardboard color. Take the size of the speaker, add about 6-8 inches in height, depth, and width and you will have the box size.

You are gonna enjoy them!!!!!

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#2688 - 04/19/02 11:43 PM Re: M50s vs M60s - a personal review
Anonymous
Unregistered


I received my M60's on Thursday morning. The boxes were 54 lbs each, so not something you really want to cart around. The FedEx guy didn't seem too thrilled about having to deliver them either.

When I initially hooked them up and started listening to music. I noticed what people mean when they talk about the "brightness". I heard highs that were at times piercing on some songs, but also heard sounds that I wasn't even aware were in the songs. It was such a HUGE improvement over the 3/4" silk tweeter of my old speakers. After playing them for several hours, they seem to sound better and better.
Tonight I sat down to see how they worked in the home theater department, and was VERY impressed. They work quite well with my 50W subwoofer. I have the M60's set to Large and sub set to Normal in my receiver's setup. Which works exactly how I wanted originally. In Music mode, nothing is sent to the sub, so the music sounds great. (In my opinion a subwoofer sucks for music) In Cinema mode, the LFE signals go to the sub, but the fronts handle the low frequencies that are meant for the fronts. There is no conflict between the two, as I would get if I set the speaker configuration to Large and sub to +Mains.

Next month I plan to add the VP150 and QS-4's to my system, so everything will sound seamless. For now I had to increase the center +2dB so I could hear it better, the M60's are definitely more efficient.

I am definitely very happy with my purchase. I definitely think the extra money spent over the cost of the M50's was a worthwhile investment for having a very clear midrange and defined bass without sacrificing either one.

-Brad

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#2689 - 04/30/02 03:04 PM Re: M50s vs M60s - a personal review
Randyman Offline
veteran

Registered: 03/29/02
Posts: 184
Loc: Honolulu, Hawaii
Brad,

Glad to hear your M60s meet your approval. I too hope to soon replace my Bose center channel and surrounds with the same as you are planning. Sould be an awesome setup. I also plan to get a new HT Receiver sometime soon. What are you using?

I am also curious to know the condition your 60 arrived in. i.e. condition of box, styrofoam, etc - plus how did the 60 look? (condition)
There has been some discussion as to how well the speakers are packed - just wanted to know your experience.

Randyman

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#2690 - 04/30/02 04:16 PM Re: M50s vs M60s - a personal review
CAV104 Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 118
Loc: Lake Worth, FL
Randyman,

Just thought I'd let you know that I received a pair of FO 60s about 3 weeks ago. They were double boxed and arrived in perfect condition. The strofoam packing was cracked but was held in place by the packaging. You may want to consider how you unpack the speakers when they arrive. I found it best to remove the box from the speaker vs. removing the speaker from the box.

Jim / CAV104

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#2691 - 04/30/02 08:48 PM Re: M50s vs M60s - a personal review
Randyman Offline
veteran

Registered: 03/29/02
Posts: 184
Loc: Honolulu, Hawaii
Aloha, CAV104

Glad to hear your 60s arrived in good shape - mine did too. And I found the same for getting them out of the box. Flip it over and remove the box - too much effort required to pull them out of the box!!!

Enjoy!

Randyman

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#2692 - 05/01/02 11:46 AM Re: M50s vs M60s - a personal review
alan Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 01/29/02
Posts: 3191
Loc: Toronto/New York/Dwight
Hi Randyman,

Meant to get back to you on your mid-April comparison of the M50s and M60s. Excellent, detailed review. I've not been able to do that comparison of the M50s and M60s yet, but from the differences you point out, it sounds like exactly the differences I heard in my A/B comparisons of the M3ti and the M22ti, the latter being much more detailed and neutral through the midrange and highs and the former (the M3ti) being "mellower" and softer.

Regards,
_________________________
Alan Lofft,
Axiom Resident Expert

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#2693 - 05/01/02 09:28 PM Re: M50s vs M60s - a personal review
Randyman Offline
veteran

Registered: 03/29/02
Posts: 184
Loc: Honolulu, Hawaii
Alan,

Thanks for the complement and info on your experiences. In truth, I was surprised to hear so much difference in the two. I expected them to sound more similar. But your equating of your experience to mine pretty much nails it.

At times I really struggle trying to put into words what I hear (or don't). I guess I should try harder to memorize those descriptions from "Stereophile" that HOLOGRAM mentioned several weeks ago!

I enjoy reading your posts and insights to all the topics brought up on the board. Please keep them coming.

Thanks again,
Randyman

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#2694 - 05/23/02 07:03 PM Re: M50s vs M60s - a personal review
fhw Offline
devotee

Registered: 11/22/01
Posts: 345
Loc: London, ON
Randyman,

Just came by this post even though it was weeks ago. Great review! Right now I'm using M3s as the fronts, but I'm getting imminently closer to buying a pair of towers for the front. Naturally, the choice is boiling down to M50s or M60s.

My wife and I listen to a wide range of music (well, scratch that...my wife listens to a wide range of music, I listen to rock when she's not around). Almost zero is "critical listening" i.e. paying close attention to imaging, etc. since we tend to putter around the apartment when the stereo's on. What I really love about the M3 is that because it's a little on the mellow side (as is my receiver, the Arcam AVR100), I can play music in the background for hours on end without any listening fatigue at all.

Do you find yourself getting any fatigue with the M60, notwithstanding the added detail and improved imaging? Did you try either speaker with movies? How did the M50 do with opera or classical music i.e. are major orchestral elements "missing" from what's in the mix?

I appreciate the advice from your first-hand experience.

Thanks,
fhw

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#2695 - 05/23/02 09:42 PM Re: M50s vs M60s - a personal review
Randyman Offline
veteran

Registered: 03/29/02
Posts: 184
Loc: Honolulu, Hawaii
fhw,
Thanks for the complement!

My 60s anchor my 5.1 HT system, and I often listen (in 2 channel mode) to classic rock, classical and some jazz. (I am not an opera fan) on both CD and vinyl. I listened to music and DD DVDs on both speakers. And I can honestly say that for HT, the differences in the speakers did not seem all that great. (probably due to the fact that much of the critical vocals come from the center channel) My critical listening/comparing came from 2 channel stereo (with my sub turned off)

I am very familiar with the listening fatigue problem that you mention. That is why I cannot stand to listen to a horn loaded midrange (or mid/tweeter) in a speaker. It sounds great for about 5 minutes, then YEOUCH! My ears go flat and the sound becomes almost painful to listen to.

In all honesty, I will say that certain music tends to have that effect on the 60s. I think it's more the Pop music that was recorded "hot" with emphasis on midrange. Since the 60s have so much more "presence" than the 50s(my opinion/description), then I believe this recording effect is exagerated. I accepted that small amount of that effect because the high frequencies were so clean, crisp and clear (is this a speaker - or a beer advertisement?) And I just love sparkling highs! (aaahhhmen) And I think the extra driver and crossover point in the 60s is what makes such a critical difference from the 50s. Yes the 50s still DO sound good. But they ARE more softer and/or mellow. So many singers voices do not "stand out" as much. But its really not muffled.

I will give you similar advice that I used to give young GIs when I used to sell stereo equipment in Germany. Since you admit that you seldom set down and "really listen to music" and evaluate the sound as a critic, then your evaluation choices are different from someone who does. My advice was: don't spend the money if it really isn't that important to you. Do worry about what someone else thinks. Do what makes you happy. You would very likely be happy with either. The 50s cost less, weigh less, are a bit smaller and are slightly less precise (accurate) in sound and imaging (to ME!) BUT if you don't have a pair of 60s to compare them too, I don't think you would know that!

I hope this helps you. But if you have other questions/concerns, I will be glad to answer/offer help in any way I can.

LUCK!

Randyman


Edited by Randyman (05/23/02 09:46 PM)

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