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#342088 - 03/14/11 03:52 PM M22 first impressions
Dave B Offline
old hand

Registered: 06/08/10
Posts: 79
Loc: Chicago
Fedex put my 2nd M22 on a different truck, but it got here, so all is good. I've been listening for about two hours now.

Background: This room is a family room, so appearance matters. It's a secondary listening/viewing area, as I have a 14x12 projector room downstairs. It, like everything else, is constantly evolving. This family room is about 14x14 but completely open to the kitchen and eating area on the left side. I decided that Axiom offered the best value, sound, and looks for this room last year, but marriage, home automation, pet surgery, and other things got in the way so I only just now ordered my setup. I went with a VP100 on-wall for the center channel in white to blend in with the fireplace mantel, QS4s for the rears instead of QS8 because they're cheaper and I care very little about the performance of the rears in this setup, and the EP175 because this room is below the upstairs neighbor's bedroom and if we want house-shaking bass we can go downstairs. Obviously, the excellent return policy made it much easier for me to choose the lower end options without fear that I'd hate them.

For a while when I moved in I used my old PolkAudio RT1000ps up in this room. They sounded pretty good. Those speakers are pretty weird, in that they are extremely room-dependent, having ranged from excellent to total crap in different homes I've had over the years. I openly profess to not having detected a pattern at all to this, other than that they have done pretty well in rooms that are wider than they are deep. So they worked quite well up here, and they clang around and fatigue my ears downstairs in the 14x12 room. But down there they work very well for TV and movies, so I'm not in a huge rush to replace them.

Anyway, for the last 4 months I've had my old Polk RT5s with newer RT55i tweeters in them, using my incredibly sophisticated maple 24" barstools as stands. These speakers are mediocre at best. They were just filling space until I ordered the Axioms.

My other critical listening experience has been with several different Revel Performa and Theta products that my cousin has owned in a near-perfectly set up room. I am 100% behind the opinion that for most of us, the room matters almost as much as the equipment. My experience with the Polks really backs that up.

Current Setup:

Music source is a first generation AppleTV sending Apple Lossless tracks via SPDIF to a Nakamichi IA-1z. A vendor screwed up and sent me the wrong 12awg cable, so I am stuck using 41 strand count 14awg wire doubled up running through the floor to the M22s for now... So basically 82 strands of 14 gauge. There's a 50 foot non-premium RCA sub cable to the EP 175. Like everything else, this is still evolving. It still needs the hefty 12awg cable and for the center to be hooked up and I still need to do the crawl test. For now the sub is in the place where it looks best, which is on the wall to the right of the couch, 15 inches from the corner. It's set at about the midpoint on the back. The right front speaker, as the photo shows, barely clears the giant chair that is too big for the room.

[img]http://www.axiomaudio.com/boards/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showpic&id=1150[/img]

The Boston Cherry was a near-perfect match to the adjoining kitchen (and the ceiling fan). Excellent:

[img]http://www.axiomaudio.com/boards/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showpic&id=1146[/img]

Eventual center location:
[img]http://www.axiomaudio.com/boards/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showpic&id=1148[/img]

Rear location. I'd have gone lower except the wiring came with the house. You can see my workspace to the right of the pic, in the eating area. I often listen from there rather than the couch.

[img]http://www.axiomaudio.com/boards/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showpic&id=1149[/img]

2ch first impressions:

- They're pretty bright.

It sounds weird to say that after owning Polks for so long, as the RT1000s especially are quite bright, but these are definitely different.

In some music, like Garcia/Grisman or Prydein, this suits the music very well, but Norah Jones's voice every time she started to sing in "Don't Know Why" was kind of harsh. Unexpected... she's not exactly Joan Osborne. (Diana Krall, however, sounded just right.) In general, I like it bright, though, and I assume this will smooth out a bit as they get broken in.

- Detail has improved noticeably

I'm noticing a very big difference in the separation and quality at the high end. Multiple saxophones in some Bela Fleck tunes, for instance, are much easier to pick out and tell apart. When I hear applause it seems like I can hear each individual pair of hands clapping together. This is very impressive. In Dire Straits' Ride Across the River I heard a few background effects at a few points that I hadn't heard before. A few sax bits got a bit quieter, shoved more into the background, which I assume was intended.

- The louder the better.

At lower volumes without listening critically the speakers are better than the Polks but it's not night and day. But once I crank it past 40 they really start to shine. Little details start to show up and things start seeming different. Male vocals like Sinatra and Michael Buble (aka wanna-be Sinatra) really jump. Organ music... wow. Huge, huge difference. I played Tocchata and Fugue in D loud enough that I could hear it from the back alley with the doors closed and the speakers seemed to want more. (My dogs did not share that sentiment.)

- The EP175 is just right.

Maybe in movies there'll be some times when it's inadequate for this space. But if I'm going to really go for a theater experience, I won't be in this room. For 2ch music it's great. I don't require a ton of bass, but this can give me more than I want if I ask it to. This is nice, because now I don't have to pay more for a bigger unit. It's as nice and tight and accurate as I expected, even with an inferior cable. I can imagine it'll only get better if I can ever figure out this damn ground loop issue I've been having.

- Soundstage is not there just yet.

I blame the fireplace and setup for this. I haven't tinkered with it yet (not that I have a ton of placement flexibility) but the soundstage was what immediately jumped out at me as superior about the M22s when I listened to them last summer. I was hearing things in a Mark Knopfler recording from all around me, a full 360 degrees. It was a similar room too. Perhaps it's the fireplace, perhaps it's the glass doors to my right, perhaps it's the giant chair, but that same wow factor isn't here yet. It's not bad, by any means - for the most part with my eyes closed I can't pinpoint each speaker location - but it's not appreciably better than the RT5s were in the same location. I can tell they want to be placed differently if I listen to Dave and Tim at Radio City. That recording just seems off compared to before, almost as if one of the speakers is much farther away than the other. So I'll just have to play around with that some more.

- Appearance is great

They M22s seem tiny to me after being used to the much wider Polks, but the cherry veneer is very realistic and high quality. The black magnetic grills are great and obviously the build is solid. The sub is sized perfectly for the room too. Not too big or too small. Passes the WAF test. My only suggestion is that perhaps Axiom could offer another one or two options for the nameplate color. The silver Axiom logo is really shiny and kind of sticks out at me. I'd prefer a darker or gunmetal one. Also (and I know this is meaningless), the custom label on the back isn't anything special. If I wasn't already waiting ten days because of the white center channel, I would've been kind of bummed about having to wait ten days for that. It's the back of the speaker so it wouldn't be anything special anyway, but I guess it's just worth mentioning: If you're ordering a stock color and could have it in 2-3 days otherwise, there's no reason to add the custom label and have to wait longer.



I have done a lot of jumping around and some recordings have changed relative to the polks and others haven't. Right now I'm over in the kitchen to type this and am just letting Jellyfish - Bellybutton play. So I'm not in between the speakers. But I'm really noticing a huge difference in the detail and separation. (Bass over here could be better, so I guess that's one "drawback" of the 175 - that when I'm in a crappy listening position it doesn't blow me away. As if anything would.)

At some point I'll figure out how to mount the center (there's not enough room under the shelf to slide it over the built in bracket, so I have to get clever) and will get to play with some 5.1 stuff, but honestly, as long as all five speakers play and add the surround effects that's enough to satisfy me. I'm not sure I'd be the best person to write a review for a surround setup anyway. I really only care about music.

At this price, just to get attractive speakers that fit the room and house and take up less space, I'm already totally satisfied. I know that with fine tuning of the placement and some more hours of listening they'll only get better. The right cable will help too. Trading the AppleTV for an Auraliti and maybe a different DAC would be another step, perhaps. For now, though, for what I paid, I'm thrilled. A full setup for under $1800. Can't beat that.

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#342090 - 03/14/11 04:05 PM Re: M22 first impressions [Re: Dave B]
MarkSJohnson Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 09/27/04
Posts: 11444
Loc: Central NH
Awesome. I'd love to hear another review after you've had them for a week!
_________________________
::::::: No disrespect to Axiom, but my favorite woofer is my yellow lab :::::::

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#342092 - 03/14/11 04:34 PM Re: M22 first impressions [Re: MarkSJohnson]
Dave B Offline
old hand

Registered: 06/08/10
Posts: 79
Loc: Chicago
Just noticed that I left the switch on the sub at the 150hz. Whoops. Now I get to listen to everything again!

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#342093 - 03/14/11 04:44 PM Re: M22 first impressions [Re: Dave B]
2x6spds Online   content
connoisseur

Registered: 03/16/02
Posts: 3146
Loc: CA, USA
Must have missed it, but what kind of amplification are you using?

If you crossed the speakers and sub at 150Hz that would tend to fill out or overfill the 100Hz-150Hz frequency range. Might be expected to sound a bit plummy.
_________________________
Enjoy the Music. Trust your ears. Laugh at Folks Who Claim to Know it All.

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#342094 - 03/14/11 04:49 PM Re: M22 first impressions [Re: 2x6spds]
Dave B Offline
old hand

Registered: 06/08/10
Posts: 79
Loc: Chicago
Nakamichi IA-1z. Small speakers and Normal sub setting. I don't fully understand how the crossing over happens but my understanding is that the amp has it set at 80 by default. I'm not really sure how the switch on the sub would even matter in that case, though, unless it's still sending > 80 to it from the amp.

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#342095 - 03/14/11 05:04 PM Re: M22 first impressions [Re: Dave B]
ClubNeon Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/06/09
Posts: 3466
Loc: Western Maryland, USA
Since your receiver has its own crossover setting, the sub should indeed be set to 150 Hz.

If you were driving your sub using the speaker-level inputs, and then using the speaker-outs to continue on to the M22s, then you'd play with the sub's crossover to get the best blend.

So put it back at 150, and everything you heard was valid.
_________________________
Pioneer PDP-5020FD, Marantz SR6011
Axiom M5HP, VP160HP, QS8
Sony PS4, surround backs
-Chris

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#342097 - 03/14/11 05:18 PM Re: M22 first impressions [Re: ClubNeon]
Dave B Offline
old hand

Registered: 06/08/10
Posts: 79
Loc: Chicago
That makes sense.

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#342098 - 03/14/11 06:13 PM Re: M22 first impressions [Re: Dave B]
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
Congrats on the purchase! You have the same setup that I do. It has been a prized possession of mine for years, I've brought the axioms with me every place I've moved smile

The M22's respond very well to equipment upgrades too, mostly because they are such transparent speakers! Tubes work very well.

I also have my M22's on "barstools" at the moment like you. I found that in my room, at about 2 feet away from the wall, the bass sounds the best. 6 inches can actually make a lot of difference, so play around with the distance from the wall.

BTW, I always thought the M22's sounded a little better in smaller rooms. In one large room setup I ended up getting a lot of plants in the house and additional furniture over time, and that helped the M22's sound "closer" like they do in small rooms. But 3 of those setups were in dorm rooms...so...take that advice with a grain of salt wink

Good luck!


Edited by danmagicman7 (03/14/11 06:36 PM)
_________________________

M22s|VP100|QS4s|HSU STF2

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#342109 - 03/14/11 08:28 PM Re: M22 first impressions [Re: danmagicman7]
Dave B Offline
old hand

Registered: 06/08/10
Posts: 79
Loc: Chicago
I navigated my rat's nest of wires and got the full 5.1 hooked up. My center isn't hung yet so it's sitting on an old Polk in front of the fireplace at about the level of the lowest driver on the M22s, which are on 24" stands. That's a good height for them if I'm sitting with perfect posture but 20-22 might be better.

On cable my choices at the moment are 2 Fast 2 Furious (yuck) and a Jill Scott concert. I can't believe there's not a hockey game on.

I used the awful car movie to make sure everything was getting a good signal and polarity was right (can't really tell that from the test tones, and I'm never positive I got it right with the new (to me) rear mounting bracket on the QS4s) then went to the concert.

The center channel is too quiet, relative to the fronts. I went downstairs to check the settings (this is the PITA part of having the home all distributed from one location: setup) and found that the calibration was set to 2 for the center and 3 for the fronts. I reversed it. Can't tell a difference. Am about to set it to 3 and 0 to see what changes. Delay is at 1ms for center and 5 for rears. I have no idea how I'll ever know if that could be better, as this amp is far too old for all the cool software toys.

I suspect that I'll never be satisfied with a center channel for music, but we'll see. I'm going to dig out the D+T Radio City BluRay, which I haven't opened yet, to see how that sounds.

For now, before playing with settings, I can say that the VP100 seems pretty accurate and clear with Jill Scott's voice. It just isn't loud enough. Perhaps I can get it right with some settings changes.

Dan, I am right about 2' from the wall if measuring to the front of the speaker. I spread them out a bit wider than the photo now that I have the center working. I will have to give it another go with the music to see how that affects it. I suspect it might improve. The corner chair looks even goofier now that I've moved it.

I suppose it won't be that much work for me to take these downstairs to see how they sound for music in the theater room. Maybe they'll blow me away and I can get a nice super-cheap setup that satisfies me down there...

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#342114 - 03/14/11 08:53 PM Re: M22 first impressions [Re: Dave B]
Dave B Offline
old hand

Registered: 06/08/10
Posts: 79
Loc: Chicago
0-3-0 (rears at 2) made a small improvement.

Then I put in the D+T BRD.

I actually have to get the programmer to change my inputs around so that everything runs to the same coax digital in on the Nak via the video switcher... for some reason on this old Nak the DVD input will only give me Pro Logic, so it's faking it. Random stuff like this is the only downside to keeping your older equipment around. (And I actually have two of these.) But running everything via coax through the Gefen switcher is a good idea and will let me have every video source in the full 5.1. Only trouble is I have to have it coded for me. frown

Anyway, at 0-3-0 with me telling it to play the 24/96 feed, whatever it's doing to the signal splits through the LCR... and I can only describe the vocals as "really goddamn loud." It seems to be splitting it up properly so the vocals are almost entirely in the center (though there's no crowd or anything in the rears right now for whatever reason) and I must say, the imaging and everything is very good and natural. Better than I expected given my bias towards 2ch music.

Just now he talked after a song and it sounded kind of fake. But maybe that was his mic. Who knows.

Obviously I have a lot of tweaking to do. I thought about it and this is the first time I've actually had all the speakers for a real surround setup since 2002 when I lived in California. I left the center and rears out there when I moved back and haven't set up a real one ever since. Amazing.

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