where's bdbf, did he get lost in the wilderness ;))
LOL, NO, I made it back safe and sound after avoiding getting run over a moose and eaten by two bears
Some people much more interesting lives than the rest of us
Yep, with a 6 weeks old baby, it's not easy to find some time
OK, lets start:
Getting to Axiom:
On Monday morning, my friend and I left from Toronto area around 9.30am. After driving for 2h30 through the vast canadian fields full of snow, we finally made it to Dwight. As expected, you can cross the town in about 30s by car
Since our appointment was for 1pm, we stopped at the Moose Cafe for lunch. If you guys one day visit Axiom, stop there, the burgers are awesome!
Entering the Axiom temple:
At 1pm, we headed to Axiom. As soon as we entered, everybody was very nice. I would like to thank Noreen from the reception, Peter from sales for giving me the tour, and Mike for setting up the system.
I am not gonna lie, when I entered the listening room, my first feeling was disappointment. First, it's located behind the machine that cuts the MDF for the speaker enclosure so There is always a constant noise. I thought that it would be disturbing while listening. Second and foremost, when I called last week, I mentioned that I wanted to audition the M80s, M60s and M22s for the front but also the EP500, VP150 and QS8 for 5.1 listening. I know that it's quite a bit but when I got there there was only the M80s and EP500 connected. There was a pair of 60s on the side wall so I asked if they could connect them as my main purpose was to A/B both. I didn't feel comfortable also asking if Mike could bring a pair of 22s since they were not in the room. My intention was to get towers anyway but it would have been nice to audition them if it would have been setup.Except for that everything else was great.
Both speakers look absolutely stunning. I was at first a bit worried about them being with a vinyl finish but the finish is wonderful. You have to look very close to notice that it is vinyl (I actually had to touch them to make sure)
The Audition (I know, you guys don't care about the rest ;)):
2ch without the sub:
We started with the 60s. My first impression was: WOW!. I found them to sound extremely clean and balanced. I used mostly "hotel california" from the Eagles to compare them. The guitars sounded crisp and clear, so did the drums. I was especially surprised with the amount of bass that they were able to output as I was expecting that from the 80s but not the 60s. I also found them to be extremely flat with no frequencies emphasized over others. Overall, I was very impressed, so was my friend.
Now the 80s. I played the same song and WOW, what a difference in bass, the 80s go much lower. The hit of the spanish drum at about 34s was just unbelievable. I felt that with this bass, no sub would be needed for music, only maybe for movies. At some point thru the song it even seemed that there was a little bit too much bass for my taste. However, the difference was not only on the bass, something else was there extra and until today, I am not sure what it is. If somebody that heard both knows what I am talking about and wants to explain it to me, please do so. As I mentioned before, I am not an audiophile so it is very hard to describe it in technical words. I just felt that when listening to the 80s, it felt like the soundstage became much bigger as if the M80s would be more forward than the 60s. Contrary to the 60s, I didn't find the 80s as flat, the bass was very clean but it seems that the high mids and the highs were playing a bit higher which is probably what gave it the more forward aspect.
However, this difference was not as noticeable while playing a female voice like Celine Dion or Holly Cole. When concentrating strictly on the voice, they seemed almost identical on both speakers but when listening also to the instruments, the difference was back.
As a few mentioned, I found that the 80s were more refined at lower levels that the 60s and as the volume goes up, this difference goes down.
2ch + sub:
As expected, the sub compensate for the difference of bass between both and gives the 60s a more full range sound. I found that crossing the 60s over at 60Hz or 80Hz gave the best result while the 80s still sounded good to me at 40Hz. As for without a sub, I still found the 60s more flat and the 80s with a bigger soundstage.
After a couple of hours of listening, my friend and I found that our hearing was getting tired and was not as accurate as at the beginning and if a decision had to be made, it should be soon. So we decided to take a brake and have a bit of fun and listen to some 5.1 stuff. We had to call back Mike so he could install a VP150 and also connect the QS8.
While he was preparing the room, Peter gave us a tour. It was great to see all the different process, from the machine that cuts the enclosures, to the soldering station where the components are put together, to the test setup of every speaker. What was very impressive was also the anechoic chamber. That's the first time I've been in a place with no echo at all, so that was pretty cool.
When we came back, we just had fun and put a couple of concerts in 5.1, Pink Floyd 1994 Earls Court London and The Eagles's Hell Freezes Over. I also put the scene of the Matrix when Neo and Trinity enter the building and go against the SWAT team. Of course all sounded nice and entertaining as it should be. The only thing that I found strange was that I was having a hard time hearing the QS8 but that might just be because I am not used to a 5.1 HT.
The hard part was when the time came to make a decision. I brought my friend along knowing that he has been a musician for 15 years and has been writing, composing and mixing his songs for about 5 years and that he would be a valuable critic. It seemed to me that the M80s sounded better. So when I asked him: "If it was for you, which ones would you pick" and he tells me the M60s, I was thrown off guard. He explained to me that he found the 60s to be more flat and actually more accurate than the 80s. For him, a guitar sounded more like a real guitar on the 60s than the 80s, same for the drums. He found each instrument to be more detailed on the 60s and the overall sound to be not as clear on the 80s. We both agreed that the 80s has something extra, but where he saw the extra as a "blur" I saw something extra that I like. So then the question was, do I trust myself and my untrained ear or do I trust my friend that has been involved in music for many years. After a long internal debate, everything went clear when my friend told me: "Bruno, these are two excellent speakers, and when it comes to this level of quality, it really comes down to taste, so pick whatever sounds better to you for whatever reason, you won't be disappointed with either one". And that's when I finally decided to get the M80s
The reason I decided to get the M80s are:
- To my ear, there was something about them, in the way they sound, that I liked better than the 60s,
- I LOVED the huge soundstage that they are able to give
- I really liked the extra bass and felt that for music I wouldn't need a sub. This is a + since i don't really know when I will be able to get one.
- I also watch a lot of movies and thought that the 80s had a tiny advantage in this domain.
- And the reason the most important of all is because the day before I went, I showed the pictures of both speakers to my wife and she said: "Get the big ones, they look better"
To the people that are reading this looking for the same answer, keep in mind that these are comments from a person who's ears are not as trained as many in this forum. I just picked whatever sounded the best to me. Do not think that since the M80s are Axiom's flagship, they would be the best, Like I said, my friend has been involved in music for 15 years and liked the 60s the best. It all depends on what sounds the best to you so if you have a chance to hear both, PLEASE do so.
Thank you all for your amazing comments and advice. I am finally a proud Axiom owner.
More importantly, do you want to belong to the club with the coolest secret handshake and decoder ring or not. M80s all the way!
FredK, you have no choice but to show it to me now