After 3 months of waiting (because I wanted to pick up the speakers myself, not because Axiom was slow!), I finally traded in my VP-150-OW and EP-175 and managed to squeeze in a new VP-180-OW and EP-500 into the minivan along with 3 kids, a wife, and a week’s worth of cottage gear! (See my review of my trip to Axiom in the Axiom Water Cooler Forum
Water Cooler Forum).
I knew the VP-180 was big but nothing really prepares you for how big it really is. I was worried the t-bracket wasn’t going to be strong enough to hold up this 54lb monster! Luckily, I have a stud perfectly centered to mount the bracket and the VP-180 slipped in nicely where the puny, by comparison, 17lb VP-150 once was!
As for the EP-500, it shares the exact same foot-print as the EP-175 making it easy to place.
Now for some testing…
Debbie and Ian both suggested Barenaked Ladies as source material due to wide acoustical mix of instruments, vocals, and generally good recording. I set up my receiver to all-channel stereo and let loose BNL-Gordon ripped to FLAC using a SONOS:Connect. Sure enough, Steven Page’s voice was crystal clear, Ed Robertson’s guitar sang (including fret noise details), Jim Creeggan’s double base boomed out of the EP-500 along with Tyler Stewart’s drums, and Andy Creeggan’s organ and cornucopia of other instruments could all be clearly heard and blended well into a nice sound stage. I then ran through some of my other favorites including Kavinsky’s OutRun album (Nightcall was simply amazing with Lovefoxxx’s vocals!), Stone Roses (who doesn’t like a little Fools Gold?), Vangelis 1492, and a variety of jazz and classical. However, I’ll be honest, the music playing ability of the VP-150 and EP-175 was never an issue for me so the VP-180 and EP-500 on initial sampling was a bit of a letdown. I still prefer to go 2.1 when listening to music and the M22-OWs and EP-500 sounded no different than when I had the EP-175… well, there was a difference. Whereas I had the EP-175 set at almost ¾ volume, I had to turn down the EP-500 to just below ½, otherwise it was too boomy (I still have to play around with settings to get things just right!).
Happy, but not thrilled yet, I then ventured into movies which I hoped the VP-180 and EP-500 would shine as this is where the VP-150 and EP-175 left me wanting more.
First up, Matrix Lobby Scene… Bingo! This is why I upgraded! Where the VP-150 had trouble competing with the M22’s music volume, the VP-180 took control and shell casings hitting the floor were now clearly audible.
Next test, opening battle scene in Gladiator. Decent with the VP-150, outstanding with the VP-180. Voices are now crystal clear through all the battle noise whereas before, I knew they were there but couldn’t quite make them out.
There is a scene in Wall-E (Chapter 22) where Wall-E is floating in space propelled by a fire-extinguisher. Usually a great test for surround speakers but… there is also center channel dialogue from the humans. Again, the VP-180 handled this beautifully making me feel like I was really in the middle of it all.
Now for EP-500 sub tests…, seismic bombs in Star Wars Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan vs Slave I. Again, Bingo! The EP-500 clearly outshines the EP-175 in this department. The whole basement shook with each explosion.
Opening scene, Edge of Tomorrow… also known as a sub killer with many a forums warning users. For the first pass, I turned down the EP-500 to 1/2. Beautiful. Second pass, I turned up the volume to 2/3. Wow! Ok, third pass at 3/4… I nearly wept with joy. I didn’t have the nerve to go any louder for fear of blowing a driver or breaking a window 
My last test was with the train crash scene in Super 8. I really thought I was on the train.
This I left to my 14 year old to test. He came back with a big smile on his face. He claims he was better able to hear direction of “enemies” in Fortnite and that explosions were more satisfying. He said driving in Forza: Horizon 3 was also more satisfying and he could really feel the engine revs through the sub.
Being more of a Halo guy myself, I did appreciate the clarity coming out of the VP-180 especially when shooting the mechanical “Promethean Knights” and clearly hearing Cortana’s directions over all the explosions.
I’m very happy with the upgrade. I haven’t had a chance to watch a movie end-to-end yet where I’m focused on the entertainment and less on the electronics/speakers. I’m sure things will get better as a make minor tweaks and the speakers break in.