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#429660 - 07/17/18 09:31 AM So... was the upgrade worth it?
TDIPablo Offline
old hand

Registered: 04/04/17
Posts: 91
Loc: Ottawa, Ontario
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…

Music
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!).

Movies
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.

Video Games
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.

Preliminary Verdict
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.

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#429666 - 07/18/18 10:35 AM Re: So... was the upgrade worth it? [Re: TDIPablo]
Mojo Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 01/21/07
Posts: 4734
I haven't heard the EP175 so I can't comment on how it may sound against the EP500. You'll want to make sure phase and gain are set correctly at the crossover frequency for best results. Although my EP800 sounded very good "out of the box", it didn't peak in performance until I engineered its position and settings.

As for the center, in my system there is a world of difference between the 160 and 150 for both movies and music (PLII and Neo). I much prefer the simulated surround modes over stereo now that I have the 160.

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#429671 - 07/18/18 07:22 PM Re: So... was the upgrade worth it? [Re: TDIPablo]
bridgman Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 6098
Loc: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
Congrats on the new speakers.

Mojo made an interesting point about preferring simulated surround to stereo after upgrading the center channel. I tried the same "surround vs stereo" comparison when I had VP100 center and concluded that I liked stereo better, but maybe it's worth re-doing those tests now I have the VP180.
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M60ti, VP180, QS8, M2ti, PC-Plus 20-39, EP500v3
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#429676 - 07/20/18 09:30 AM Re: So... was the upgrade worth it? [Re: TDIPablo]
TDIPablo Offline
old hand

Registered: 04/04/17
Posts: 91
Loc: Ottawa, Ontario
Mojo, based on your observation, I did more experimentation with music listening but using Dolby Surround and DTS:X modes instead of All Channel Stereo.

Unfortunately, under my current configuration, the VP180 simply overpowers the M22's and QS4's and I'm finding the sound stage simply too directional. That said, I haven't run my system though a new Odyssey AccuEQ setup routine and the VP180 and EP500 are operating as my VP150 and EP175 were setup...

I hesitate to do so as for movies and games, the set-up is amazing and music is really a less than 20% function of my home theater. I spend more time listening to music either in the kitchen (SONOS Connect:AMP and B&W in-ceiling) or in my living room (NAD and Totem).

Maybe I'll just copy my current settings and see if I tweak the VP180 with Odyssey AccuEQ if music gets better and movies and games don't get worse.


Edited by TDIPablo (07/20/18 09:33 AM)

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#429677 - 07/20/18 10:56 AM Re: So... was the upgrade worth it? [Re: TDIPablo]
bridgman Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 6098
Loc: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By TDIPablo
Maybe I'll just copy my current settings and see if I tweak the VP180 with Odyssey AccuEQ if music gets better and movies and games don't get worse.

A possibly simpler option would be to just change center channel level manually rather than using Odyssey. You would still have to record current settings but only for one channel...

In the specifications section the VP180 has the same output levels at 1W as VP150 did, but because it is 4 ohm (vs 6 ohm for VP150) the same level setting would still result in more power going into the VP180.

I *think* you would need to take center channel level down ~1.5dB to get the same SPL but it's been too many years since I have done that math and I seem to be getting rusty.


Edited by bridgman (07/20/18 10:56 AM)
_________________________
M60ti, VP180, QS8, M2ti, PC-Plus 20-39, EP500v3
2 pr M5HP, Sierra-1, M40ti, M3v4, VP100
UDP-203 smile

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#429678 - 07/20/18 07:35 PM Re: So... was the upgrade worth it? [Re: TDIPablo]
Mojo Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 01/21/07
Posts: 4734
All channel stereo should never have been invented. I mean, think about it - how can you have all channel stereo? Some dweeb figured out it can be done and some marketing flunkie made it stick. It's a perfect example of why some features just shouldn't exist even if they're possible. I'd bet there's no difference in the results of a functional brain scan of a lobotomized patient and an all channel stereo listener. When you listen to all channel stereo, you are lobotomizing yourself so you gotta cut that shit out!

As John is suggesting, you need to re-calibrate. You think movies sound good now but they'll sound even better after re-calibration...and so will music. Trust me on that one.

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#429680 - 07/21/18 05:00 PM Re: So... was the upgrade worth it? [Re: Mojo]
bridgman Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 6098
Loc: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By Mojo
All channel stereo should never have been invented.

Uh-oh, now you've done it. This thread is about to get really long shocked

I think the rationale for multi-channel "stereo" was that stereo is inherently a compromise and not capable of fully capturing all the nuances of the original performance.

That said, I grew up with stereo and to me "that is what music is supposed to sound like". In fairness, one of the reasons I feel that way is that my legs are too long for me to fit in the seats at most live performance venues so my listening experience may be a little biased towards stereo.
_________________________
M60ti, VP180, QS8, M2ti, PC-Plus 20-39, EP500v3
2 pr M5HP, Sierra-1, M40ti, M3v4, VP100
UDP-203 smile

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#429681 - 07/21/18 05:38 PM Re: So... was the upgrade worth it? [Re: TDIPablo]
Mojo Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 01/21/07
Posts: 4734
"I think the rationale for multi-channel "stereo" was that stereo is inherently a compromise and not capable of fully capturing all the nuances of the original performance."

Right. That's exactly how the marketing flunkie promoted the dweeb's invention.

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#429682 - 07/21/18 06:35 PM Re: So... was the upgrade worth it? [Re: TDIPablo]
Gr8_White_North Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 07/12/09
Posts: 2254
Loc: Whitehorse YT
AWWW come on Mojo tell us how you really feel.
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What others think of me is none of my business.
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#429683 - 07/21/18 07:18 PM Re: So... was the upgrade worth it? [Re: TDIPablo]
Mojo Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 01/21/07
Posts: 4734
It was a mentally and physically exhausting week. The part about multi-channel stereo was the final ice pick in the head for me so I let out some steam.

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