Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684

Posted by: Lobo

Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 03:51 AM

Let me start by saying that I’m not a sound engineer. I’m a simple guy who happens to be interested in home audio. I’m new to this forum and would like to share my experience with the time I’ve spent researching for the right speakers for my new Marantz SR5004 receiver. Hopefully, my experience would help those like me who first stumbled onto this forum to ease the process in making a final decision.

Over the past 3 months I’ve been comparing tower speakers in the $1000 CDN price range. I’ve read up on as many reviews online and read through as much information I could comprehend in understanding speaker specification and lingo. I’ve read through countless articles in my attempt to articulate and evaluate my short list of speaker towers.

I have auditioned the following speakers at my local retail store: Focal 714, B&W 684, PSB Image T5. I’ve also been fortunate to have a member of this forum open his home for me to audition the Axiom M60V2.

To set the stage, I have no control over each speaker set up as each speaker was auditioned at different locations. I simply had my set of CD’s on hand, my ears, a clear mind, my pen, and my trusty moleskine notebook. I spent about an hour listening to each brand of speaker. My CD list included: (1) Eric Clapton - Unplugged ; (2) Puccini - Turandot (Decca Record); (3) Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Jupiter; (4) Eric Clapton - Slowhand (SACD); (5) Diana Krall - When I Look In Your Eyes; (6) Beethoven - Symphony No.9 (Karajan Gold Recording)

Focal 714: $1200 CDN a pair
Where’s the bass? It appeared that I was missing the bottom half of the bass sound. With that initial thought in my mind it was difficult for me go beyond how “thin” these speakers presented itself. The speakers sounded “forward” in that the singers voice sounded too close to me. I also sensed that I did not appreciate how “bright” it sounded. My final comment to this speaker was that it’s over all appearance was forward thinking in that it tried to get away from making it look like a simple vertical box by adding other geometric shape to mask it’s vertical appearance.

B&W 684: $1000 CDN a pair
I felt that his had a better job of sounding “complete”. The bass was round and I could appreciate the bass line in the CD’s I plugged in. Listening to my collection through this speaker made me first appreciate a good vs. bad recording. This was also the first instance where I could hear detail in the high’s from which I have never heard before in my CD collection. However despite the positive thoughts I was writing on my notebook, I could not get away from the fact that as the tracks played on it was becoming more and more difficult for me to listen. I rationalized that this was due to B&W’s tweeter was too “harsh” for my liking, this was what the retailer was selling me on and it was the one aspect that I had difficulty appreciating. The overall appearance was comparable to fashion-glossy-magazine. Nice clean lines, very pleasing to look at from a minimalist point of view.

PSB Image T5: $1100 CDN a pair
This was a disappointment to begin with; the first comment I wrote down was “$300” for a piece of equipment valued at $1000 retail. To me the sound was “recessed”, in that it truly sounded like it someone was speaking from inside a box. I noted “sibilance” on my notebook. I also commented on how the sound felt really “dry” and “lifeless”. It is obvious that this speaker was at the bottom of my list. By this time, I’ve heard enough speakers and I really had nothing positive to write in comparison to the other brands already auditioned. For the overall initial appearance I simply wrote “ok”. Perhaps I was blinded by my initial comments on it’s sound to even give it’s appearance a once over.

Axiom Audio M60V2: $915 CDN a pair
The audition started on a good note. My first word on my notes was “presence” I honestly could not believe how the sound felt three dimensional. I also noted that I was listening to these speakers in someone’s home and not a professional studio. The bass line was “fat” and had a complete “rounded” punch. I also noticed in the classical recordings i could distinguish male and female voices in better clarity. For my thoughts on the value of sound i wrote “$2000”. The last comment I wrote was that the room felt bigger when I closed my eyes. The overall appearance was as advertised and as the owner pointed despite this set being purchased from the outlet store we both could not find any noticeable blemishes. He did admit that one of the grills had a slight bulge onto the speaker but wasn’t sure if this was considered a defect as he could barely notice it when installed. I noted that “it’s not sexy” and it’s most likely what a preconceived vision of a tower speaker should look like.

In addition to these speakers I’ve also had the privilege of auditioning other models / brands in a different price range to get a better appreciation of what good sound is suppose to sound like. These speakers include: PSB Imagine T ($2400 / pair) , Focal 826 ($3000 / pair), B&W 800 Diamond ($24,000 / pair).

My final selection: Axiom Audio M60V2. Over all I weighed my decision on what I wanted out of my speakers; I wanted the best possible sound for $1000, I wanted to appreciate bass lines from my favorite bass players, I wanted all the “transparency” i could afford in a speaker, and lastly I wanted a set of speakers from a manufacturer I could trust.

*Pls. “Delivery Fairy God Mother” - get my speakers to my door sooner then expected...*
Posted by: CV

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 03:56 AM

Welcome to the board. Nice first post. That was probably more helpful than any post I've ever made here. Good luck on the wait.
Posted by: grunt

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 04:36 AM

Thanks for your post. I like your rating method of assigning a dollar value to the speakers it gives a tangible assessment to rate the relative values of them.

I like “detailed” speakers so I also auditioned some different B&W and Focal speakers from you in the same room as the M80s. I actually liked both of them a little better than the M80s, however, not nearly better enough to justify the price difference. Looking like a trustworthy company also played a major role in my selecting Axiom as the ID brand to try out.

I wish you an early delivery.
Posted by: fredk

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 05:41 AM

Excellent first post Lobo!! I have heard others who's opinions I trust criticize the B&W 600 line. You are a brave man listening to the 800D though. I have avoided the temptation because I would probably lust after them for the rest of my life.

 Quote:
I wanted all the “transparency” i could afford in a speaker

I think that's a great description of the Axiom line.
Posted by: SirQuack

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 06:56 AM

Great review, looking forward to your feedback once you get some Axioms in your home.
Posted by: terzaghi

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 07:52 AM

I agree, very good first post!
Posted by: MarkSJohnson

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 09:12 AM

Awesome, Lobo...and welcome to the forum. I'm glad your journey left you satisfied, no matter what your choice.

I do have to wonder, though, how it all might have worked out differently if you used a cowhide-covered notebook instead of a moleskin notebook.

I guess I should let it go, 'cuz it's too early in our relationship for deep philosophical discussions.
Posted by: pmbuko

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 09:22 AM

Thanks for sharing your opinions, and welcome!
Posted by: Adrian

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 09:33 AM

Welcome Lobo, very good post. Surprised you didn't also audition some Paradigms in there too, given the type of speaker it looks like you're after. Enjoy the M60s!
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 10:17 AM

Excellent post. Glad to hear that you found speaker you liked, even happier to hear that they're Axioms! (See another thread re: validating ones own choices...)
Posted by: davidsch

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 10:26 AM

Excellent first post! Welcome! Wait until you hear how much the sound improves with an EP500 or EP600 added to your M60s.
Posted by: casey01

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 11:53 AM

I couldn't think of a more thorough method of determining one's decision on your choice of speaker choices than what you did in these assessments. I wish all would do it in this manner so one doesn't go in with any preconceived ideas before the final buying decision is made. The vast majority decide on what someone else tells them, by reviews, or by the convincing of a sales person in the retail outlet in which they are looking.(present company excluded, of course).

Not only did you compare different speaker brands but also those manufactured in other countries such as Focal and B&W. It is important also to note Focal(JM Lab)manufactures models up in to the range of tens of thousands of dollars as well.

It has been discussed on another thread that maybe Axiom should bring out a "premium" speaker line. Perhaps the existing line now IS already "premium".

Be that as it may, you have done your research well.
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 12:00 PM

 Originally Posted By: casey01
It has been discussed on another thread that maybe Axiom should bring out a "premium" speaker line. Perhaps the existing line now IS already "premium".


QFT.
Posted by: axiomoholic

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 02:00 PM

For the older crew here ( that includes me):

http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/forumsandlists/f/whatisQFT.htm
Answer: This peculiar QFT acronym expression stands for "Quoted For Truth". It has two particular meanings when used in a discussion forum.

1) QFT is an expression of agreement and support, where the user stands behind you and one of your statements. This commonly occurs in controversial topics where opinions are very heated, and people will choose sides in an argument. If someone "quotes you for truth", they are paying you a compliment, and siding with you in the discussion.
Posted by: EFalardeau

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 02:13 PM

Oh! I thought it meant "Quest For Tires". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.C.%27s_Quest_for_Tires
Posted by: MarkSJohnson

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 03:12 PM

I got Quantum Field Theory on Google.

Maybe we could get Ken to write complete words in the future so we don't have to look up his acronyms?
Posted by: Micah

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 03:32 PM

I enjoyed your post very much Lobo (is it alright to call you Lobo? Or do you prefer Sir Lobo?), FINALLY someone who can stick to a budget!!! \:D

As for the preium Axiom product. Although I realize that up there at Axiom they feel the M80 is the ultimate in design theory, I too would be very interested in a special edition M80 with higher grade drivers, and perhaps a premium crossover as well... just for shits & giggles. Not to say that the hardware installed in our M80's aren't any good. I enjoy mine daily, no complaints here. But someone mentined in another thread that SVS's tweeters cost $180 bucks each, or something like that, and that got me to thinking what Axiom could do with some ultra-premium components in their towers.

That's not to say that a $180 dollar tweeter necessarily sounds better than a $90 dollar tweeter, but we all know the old saying, "it doesn't matter how big, or how fast you are... there's always someone out there who's bigger and/or faster". Therefore while the drivers Axiom uses in their speakers definately do a great job, at a fantastic price-point, I for one would be super interested in seeing what they could do with even better components. Call them "Super M80's", or "M80 Ultra's" or something like that. Charge two or three times their normal price. But other than the innards, don't change anything else, keep the same design theory and everything. A few extra custom finishes would be alright, but that isn't really what I'm concerned about.

What really peaks my curiousity is finding out how much further Axiom can take a great sounding, yet affordable speaker. If the current M80's can compete with speakers costing two to three times as much, could a set of M80's with truely top-shelf components compete with speakers in the $10,000 to $15,000 dollar range? Or do the compenents they now use match up with the cabinet design so perfectly that another arrangement simply would not work? I guess what I'm asking is are the M80's truely the very best speakers Axiom knows how to build? Or are they the very best speakers they can build while retaining an obtainable price tag by a large portion of the consumer base?

I understand Ian's philosophy has always been build the best speakers the customer can afford to buy. I'd just like to know what he's capable of building without that restriction.
Posted by: fredk

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 03:43 PM

 Originally Posted By: EFalardeau
Oh! I thought it meant "Quest For Tires". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.C.%27s_Quest_for_Tires

I got as far as Quit Farting...
Posted by: fredk

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 03:46 PM

 Quote:
I understand Ian's philosophy has always been build the best speakers the customer can afford to buy. I'd just like to know what he's capable of building without that restriction.

A pair of B&W 800Ds? Though I'm sure some would prefer double Ds...
Posted by: Adrian

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 04:30 PM

If Axiom were in fact to make a premium speaker, they should imo do it with music in mind, unless they plan on making accompanying centres and surrounds to go with it, which would be a huge undertaking and quite risky. It may add confusion to the mix if these "premium" speakers use different drivers ect, thereby sounding different, and people want to use them in an HT. "Where's the matching surrounds, centre channel..."

I thought of suggesting a slightly larger woofer, perhaps 7" or 7 1/2" to extend the bass a little more on the towers, but then what about people who may want to add more channels to a previous HT. Another thing I'd look at, is possibly developing a ring-rad tweeter like SB Acoustics or Vifa's XT which are very detailed and clean on the upper freq's. There are some extremely good ones on the market for $40-50 and if Axiom could come up with one in that price target....There's a lot of things to consider, and having too much to offer could dilute the brand. There's no doubt Axiom could put some $400 Scanspeak tweets and $500 drivers or develop their own at great cost, it's just whether it's going to be good business sense to do so. There are many good quality alternatives to expensive drivers and tweets out there to companies like Scanspeak, such as Vifa, Peerless and SB Acoustics to name a couple.

I'm all for experimenting, as a side project, making an upscale bookshelf as a marketing test, then depending on where that goes, for the moment it's best not to mess too much with what works.
Posted by: MarkSJohnson

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 04:46 PM

Honestly, I don't agree with the Pro sound direction....especially as it relates to studio monitors.

There are SO many of them out there, many with a loyal following based upon reputation of the monitor itself or reputation of brand (or sometimes just brand name recognition) that a new company would, I think, have a hard time breaking in with enough sales to make the R&D worth it.

Especially with the company known for consumer products, how many setting up a mixing / recording station will choose Axioms over Genelec, JBL, Mackie, Tannoy, Yamaha, KRK, Fostex or even Behringer or Alesis?

ADAM is pretty new and has had good success in breaking into the market, but they started as pro monitors and then moved to consumer products after.
Posted by: tomtuttle

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 06:55 PM

Lobo, welcome and thank you for an excellent review.

Wishing you many years of enjoying your M60's.

LT61 will provide you with an official M60 Posse decoder ring in due course.
Posted by: BlueJays1

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 07:21 PM

The Scan-Speak tweeters are really nice Adrian.
Posted by: Adrian

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 07:42 PM

The Revelator tweeters look pretty cool with them sharp pointy things in the middle.
Posted by: JohnK

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 684 - 03/26/10 10:19 PM

Micah, I doubt that Ian feels significantly "restricted" in his design considerations. Over the years there've been several individuals who've suggested to him that he use "quality" components. One of the examples I recall where he gave a specific answer is found here .

These thoughts appear to flow from an urge to tweak in an increasingly untweakable audio world and exhibit a(somewhat naive in my view)faith in the "you get what you pay for" nonsense that sellers of high-priced goods and services love to trot out when they lack objective support to justify themselves.
Posted by: Lobo

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 6 - 03/27/10 01:51 AM

Thanks for the warm welcome everyone!

 Originally Posted By: Adrian
Welcome Lobo, very good post. Surprised you didn't also audition some Paradigms in there too, given the type of speaker it looks like you're after. Enjoy the M60s!


I did have Paradigm on my list. I just could not get around to auditioning it... I guess you can say "Life" took over. I felt confident that the four I shortlisted was enough for me to make me pull the trigger. Perhaps the real reason... the Marantz SR5004 looked sad in the three months (and counting) hooked up to my old satellites.
Posted by: Adrian

Re: Axiom M60 vs Focal 714 vs PSB Image T5 vs BW 6 - 03/27/10 09:56 AM

Sometimes it's difficult to narrow down ALL the speakers you want to audition, never mind locate them all, lol. In my case, I could not locate Energy Veritas nor Mirage OMD's, and I live close to their headquarters! Don't fret over not auditioning the Paradigms however, by most accounts, the Studio series sound very similar to the M series from Axiom.