I’m actually a bit put off by the review Ian posted because of what it implies about the M80v2:
“The changes that you've made to the M80s are not subtle. It is that different! The first thing that I noticed was that the sound stage increased, dramatically. I describe it now as voluminous, wide and deep but at the same time, minutely precise. It's like the curtains were pulled back away from the stage. The sound field increased in all dimensions. I especially hear a lot more spatial depth. It's much easier to locate the position of performers in the sound field. The sound is especially seductive. It wraps around you.
Translation: The M80v2 has a thin soundstage lacking depth and precision while sounding somewhat muffled.
The sound seems much more uniform over all frequencies. . . . This is how I feel about these speakers. My impression is that you've particularly smoothed out the transition between the mid range and highs.
Translation: The M80v2s exhibit an uneven frequency response particularly when transitioning between the highs and mids.
I am particularly blown away by the high end of these speakers. There's a new precision and GREATLY increased detail in the sound. . . . I'm hearing the 'core' of the sound with all music through this system like never before. Solo instruments and voices sound live, with minute detail in the sound. . . . I listened to a lot of music louder than one probably should and the sound was not fatiguing. There's so much space around the upper frequencies. . . . Additionally, there's a nice big fat, spacious area in the mids. Also of note are trumpets and brass. Rather than going 'ouch' on a loud passage, you get chills. Again, 'expansive' comes to mind. . . .
Translation: On the M80v2 the high end lacks precision/detail giving the sound a “recorded/reproduced” quality. Listening to them is fatiguing and even painful during loud passages. Also, the mids sound a bit sucked out.
About a year back the Skiing Ninja made similar comments on the Tweak City forums about a new crossover he designed for an AV123 speaker. The implication to the owners was that the speakers they presently had sounded like crap but would be greatly improved by replacing the crossover. The Ninja was taken to task by the speaker’s owners for the way he made those comments. This review about the M80v3 compared to the M80v2 gives me the same bad vibe. IMO singing the praises of the M80v3 could have been done more subtly and w/o essentially putting down the M80v2 in the process. I know that was not the intent but it was the result.
Note that I’m not criticizing Axiom for improving it’s speakers nor wanting to share their enthusiasm for the improvements. I just preferred the way the transition from “ti” to “v2” was handled (more subtly). This was handled much more like other companies do when rolling out a new speakers model even though the improvement process (incrementally upgrading) was still the same. Sure it will all blow over shortly and the hoopla will likely generate more sales than it looses but it moves Axiom one step closer to being like “all the other companies” IMO. Offering upgrade kits does mitigate this somewhat though at that price IMO it opens the door to reevaluating other brands which one can surmise have also undergone improvements over time.