I celebrated the settlement of a case last night. I had a few friends over (audio nuts), broke out the good scotch (Bunnahabhain 25 Year Old Single Malt), the cigar box. I fired up the Axiom LFR1100 Actives with the Penta ADA1500 amps, the Oppo UDP205 and started with the explosively percussive soundtrack to The Accountant. The attack of the drums was stunning. Volume was high, impact incredibly powerful, and never a hint of compression, glare, clipping ... only the pure reproduction of the soundtrack. Then Holly Cole's great album, Temptation. The Axioms reproduced her voice beautifully. The mids (where the music is) were pure, rich and accurate.
One friend has a pair of Marten Django XL speakers (about $15,000) driven by top of the line EAR mono blocks and preamp. He wouldn't say the Axioms sound better, but he kept muttering, "these are good, really good!"
I love my main 2 channel system, Harbeth Anniversary 30.2s, Line Magnetic Premium 845 amplifier with NOS 1964 Bugle Boy 12AX7s, Full Music 300Bs, Nordost Frey 2 speaker cable, Marantz SA10S1 disc player. As to 'attack,' dynamics, transient response, there was no comparison. The Axioms are significantly superior. The mid range of the Harbeths driven by an excellent tube amplifier (and an $8,000 Marantz disc player) are arguably superior, but in terms of the overall presentation ... winner: AXIOM! Who would have figured?
I have spent some time with the wonderful Rogers Audio integrated tube amp driving the beautiful $10,000 Wharfedale Elysian4 floor standers. I love this combination. The system is a giant killer! However, I think the Axiom LFR1100s are simply superior. Why? DYNAMICS! The Axioms are incredibly dynamic. PURITY! I think this is, in part, due to the fact that the Axioms have done away with the cross-overs. Instead, each speaker is driven by 5 channels of amplification mediated by the excellent DSPs.
I have also spent a lot of time with a pair of Wilson Sasha DAWs (about $38,000) driven by a gorgeous D'Agostino power amplifier (would not look out of place in Captain Nemo's Nautilus), D'Agostino preamp and DCS Rossini ... about $200,000 worth of audio. This is a remarkable system, and so much more expensive than the Active LFR1100s that it would be unfair to compare them. Nevertheless, the Axioms do not embarrass themselves in the comparison. But, there is just something unique and wonderful about the Wilsons and the Sasha DAWs are, IMO, the sweet spot in their lineup.
A word about the appearance of the speakers. The Axioms have the gorgeous rosewood satin finish. I am waiting for these speakers in the high gloss finish, which I prefer. The Harbeths are beautiful sounding speakers but the walnut cabinets look like the box speakers come in. Actually, they look like a wood crate which you if opened would be full of fish. Brits.
Bottom line: the Axiom LFR1100 Actives with the twin 5 channel ADA1500s are truly world class speakers. I did not expect the digital amps to compare with my favorite tube amps, but the combination is fantasic. Bravo Axiom!