In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison

Posted by: cb919

In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/12/10 09:41 PM

OK, I finally got around to doing a direct comparison of the two speakers for center channel duties. See this thread that got the whole thing started for me.

I have been happily listening to my in/on wall system for the past ~2 years now. After reading the debate and discussions of horizontal vs. vertical center channels I had to try it for myself in my listening environment.

Starting off I recalibrated my system just to make sure everything was properly level matched and set with my standard in/on wall VP150. I then replaced it with the in/on wall M2 and performed calibration again. I had to bump up the center channel level for the M2 by 3 db which makes sense looking at the specs between the speakers. So, for switching back and forth between speakers I always changed the center channel level to match the speaker being used. Although this has nothing to do with real life listening, I already noted that the pink noise from the receiver for level matching had a much closer 'tonal match' to the left and right channels. Also note that I keep the EQ defeated on my receiver which is personal preference. i tried to keep the comparison as uncoloured as possible.

So, on to the real world then. My wife was interested in this so she actually sat with me and helped me with the comparison.

Music:
I listened to DM and TR at Radio City on Blu-ray. I noted that the the VP150 kept Dave's voice very anchored in the center and had a 'raspier' sound compared to the M2. I found the M2 created a more seamless soundstage with the front L&R channels.

Also listened to Alice in Chains "Your Decision' from the Black Gives Way to Blue album. (Thanks to Riker for introducing me to that album!). Both my wife and myself noted a 'fuller' sound and no noticeable off axis changes. I have one chair that's quite far to the right side of the room so my wife and I took turns between that seat and the sweet spot in the center. Again the VP150 sounded thinner and definitely did not fare as well in the bad chair.

Ok, M2 is winning so far, now on to movies.

We used the new Star Trek movie on Blu-Ray to evaluate any changes in dialogue between the two speakers. Started with the intro scene and then also went to the hangar scene where they are boarding the shuttles from Star Fleet Academy to go to their assigned ships.

In both cases we again noted that the dialogue was more intelligible from the M2 in both seating positions, although it was a larger difference again in the bad chair. Two particular things stood out however.

First, the horns that play during the opening Paramount scene as the scene fades into the space action - this had a far more natural and impactful sound with the M2 over the VP150. There's also a part where a woman gets sucked into space through a hull breach - just before she gets sucked out she screams amid the rest of the explosions that are happening. My wife turned to me and said she hadn't noted the scream with the VP but heard it with the M2. I heard it both times but I would agree it was clearer with the M2.

So, to sum it up, the VP150 is not bad by any means, but compared back to back with the M2 in my room with my equipment the M2 is clearly preferred.

I think this is a record long post for me!
Posted by: JohnK

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/12/10 10:19 PM

Very interesting report Dan, and not very surprising in light of the design problems that horizontally configured speakers face. If otherwise of similar overall capability, a vertical speaker would exhibit an advantage.
Posted by: jakewash

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/12/10 10:57 PM

Nice review Dan, thanks for taking the time to do the testing and report. smile
Sounds oddly similar to my M2/VP150/VP180 findings. wink

So Dan, are you going to be swapping out the IOW VP150 for a permanent IOW M2 center in light of your findings?
Posted by: cb919

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/13/10 10:17 AM

Jason, yup my findings were similar. I read your thread and comparison with great interest. Unfortunately a VP180 is just not in the cards for me.

I have been running the M2 for the last week ever since it was delivered, but did not get down to the back to back comparison until last night. There were a lot of subtle differences I did not mention to try and keep my 1st post readable. Specifically I did not bias my wife one way or the other, so I was pleased when we both had very similar opinions on the 2 speakers.

Yes, the i/o M2 is staying so now I have to figure out what to do with the i/o VP150. Drywall repairs and painting will be commencing this weekend. Actually that may motivate me to finish off the trim and closet doors in my HT as well! whistle
Posted by: grunt

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/13/10 10:56 AM

Thanks for taking the time to do and write up your comparison. Your findings match my comparison of the M2, M22 and M80 with a standard VP150. I think you said it best here:

Quote:

this had a far more natural and impactful sound with the M2 over the VP150.

Posted by: casey01

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/13/10 11:15 AM

Excellent post and one that continually verifies the findings that I have experienced with different horizontal center channels over the years in comparison to a regular vertically oriented speaker in that position. It just seems no matter how you slice it, voices just seem more natural with the vertically oriented box. Regardless of any advertising claims, it didn't matter how much money one spent either. I have a $1000 Totem sitting in my basement because it just wouldn't cut it. It is still a small horizontally oriented box with all its limitations.

One thing I have found and Alan Loft has mentioned this in a previous article, is that horizontal centers, including Axioms, are also much more susceptible to timbre changes when the speaker is moved to a different position which can be a real pain when you are trying to get as close a match as possible tonally to your L/R speakers.

In the end, if one wants to still use a horizontal center, usually because of practical space issues, the only way one gets around this problem, is getting a large full-range piece like the VP180 or equivalent OR smaller vertical as described.

I am wondering, for power issues, has anyone tried or have in place TWO M2s for center channel use and how do they sound compared to just one?
Posted by: bdpf

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/13/10 11:42 AM

Very nice comparison, Thanks.
Posted by: cb919

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/13/10 11:47 AM

Dean, that was probably the most telling part of the whole comparison - the loud brass horn section at the start of the Star Trek movie. Unbelievable how different the speakers sounded on that particular part. Shelley (my wife) actually turned to me and asked how a speaker 1/4 the size of the 150 could sound better. Anyway, I am now a believer in the vertical center channel.

Casey, I think in order to run 2 M2's you'd need to locate them above and below the screen, not side by side or you start creating a horizontal array again. I could be wrong but that seems logical in my head. confused
Posted by: grunt

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/13/10 11:53 AM

Originally Posted By: casey01

I am wondering, for power issues, has anyone tried or have in place TWO M2s for center channel use and how do they sound compared to just one?

Fred is I believe using over and under M2s as a center for his M80s.

Originally Posted By: cb919

Dean, that was probably the most telling part of the whole comparison - the loud brass horn section at the start of the Star Trek movie. Unbelievable how different the speakers sounded on that particular part. Shelley (my wife) actually turned to me and asked how a speaker 1/4 the size of the 150 could sound better. Anyway, I am now a believer in the vertical center channel.

Dan I would add that itís not just any vertical center channel but an Axiom M2 which IMO is simply a fantastic little speaker that compares favorably to the M22 and even the M80 when crossed over to a subwoofer.
Posted by: cb919

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/13/10 12:33 PM

Very true indeed Dean. I am often amazed at how great my system sounds. I have now found a way to make it sound just that much better. M2 - the little speaker that could!
Posted by: GTCS

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/13/10 09:58 PM

Thanks for the write-up Dan, very informative.

Bob
Posted by: wbedford

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/13/10 11:15 PM

Dan,

Great review comparing an M2 to a VP150. Months before buying Axioms, I read a post by Dean suggesting to us an M2 as a centre in vertical position. This led me down a path that eventually ended up with me using an M2 as a centre. Most people who stop by shake their heads until they hear a vertical centre speaker.

Over the holidays I will be trying 2 M2's as centres (2 inches apart, vertical position, slightly toe'd out) to see if there is any gains to be had. I will take pics and post.....
Posted by: grunt

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/14/10 12:09 AM

Keep in mind that placing two speakers playing the same signal that close together could cause serious lobbing at certain frequencies. I noticed it when I tried it with a couple M22s. So you may have to play with how far apart you place them if you hear a noticeable change in SPL move from one side of the listening area to the other.

When possible a better configuration for two center speakers is one under and one over the screen. It keeps the horizontal dispersion from being an issue and perfectly centers the center channel image in the middle of the screen w/o having to use an AT screen.
Posted by: jakewash

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/14/10 05:29 AM

I noticed the same thing with my M22's as well Dean. One above and below does appear to be the best placement for dual centers.
Posted by: CatBrat

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/14/10 07:48 AM

I tried 2 pairs of M22's for Left and Right channels, and it sounded funny side by side. But when I vertically aligned them, well that worked and I still have them mounted on my wall that way.
Posted by: wbedford

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/14/10 09:51 AM

Originally Posted By: grunt
Keep in mind that placing two speakers playing the same signal that close together could cause serious lobbing at certain frequencies. I noticed it when I tried it with a couple M22s. So you may have to play with how far apart you place them if you hear a noticeable change in SPL move from one side of the listening area to the other.

When possible a better configuration for two center speakers is one under and one over the screen. It keeps the horizontal dispersion from being an issue and perfectly centers the center channel image in the middle of the screen w/o having to use an AT screen.



Thanks for the tip. I'll try top/bottom as well.
Posted by: JohnK

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/15/10 09:26 PM

Bill, while you're at it, you might try simply placing one M2 on top of the other. Besides having both pointing forward, they could be swiveled into various toe-in/toe-out combinations.
Posted by: pheare

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/22/10 02:59 PM

I had to read this thread twice (and the one referenced in the first post once). Yhe m2 sounds better than the vp150. wow.

I get that people are saying the vertical arrangement is better - but what about the fact the vp150 has 3 more speakers? I guess they don't come into play?

I am seriously considering picking up some mains and a center in the next month or so. That is about a $260 savings over a vp150.

What about using an m3 instead of an m2?
Posted by: bdpf

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/22/10 03:25 PM

If you can accommodate a vertical center, all 3 should be the same across the front. The M3s will give you a bit more bass at the expense of a less pronounced mid-range compared to the M2s. It's all up to your taste.
Posted by: Adrian

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/22/10 03:29 PM

"Better" is a relative comparison. Anytime you can run exactly the same speakers across the L/C/R, they'll virtually guarantee a seamless front. Horizontal centres are often the only option (esthetics) for a lot of people.
Posted by: pheare

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/22/10 03:34 PM

I was thinking m22's for left and right and m2 for center. I could probably fit a m22 for the centre. My screen is 36 inches off the ground - not sure if that would make the centre m22 sit too low??

My room is about 15 deep x 12.5 wide x 8. 2 rows of seating. edge of front row seat is ~6 feet from screen/speaker. Listener's ears about ~6' 8" from screen/speaker.

Distance between center and main would be about 3 - 3.5 feet


Posted by: bdpf

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/22/10 03:51 PM

M2 will be a better match to the M22s than M3.
Posted by: jakewash

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/22/10 04:50 PM

2 rows of seating this will be tiered correct? If so then you might want to consider dual m2's, one above and one below the screen. The top speaker will hit the second row better.
Posted by: cb919

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/22/10 05:03 PM

Originally Posted By: pheare
I had to read this thread twice (and the one referenced in the first post once). Yhe m2 sounds better than the vp150. wow.

I get that people are saying the vertical arrangement is better - but what about the fact the vp150 has 3 more speakers? I guess they don't come into play?

I am seriously considering picking up some mains and a center in the next month or so. That is about a $260 savings over a vp150.

What about using an m3 instead of an m2?


The extra drivers in the VP150 help give the speaker a higher sensitivity rating than the M2. However the M2 can reach lower than the VP150 and has the advantage of better horizontal dispersion than the VP150.

As I said originally, the VP150 is not a bad speaker by any means, it's just that the M2 performed better in my room with my setup - YMMV.

The main thing with a center (vertical or horizontal) is that it tonally match your left and right channels. I'm simplifying this, but both the VP150 and M2 use the same drivers as the M22's which are my main L&R channel speakers. An M22 would be even more ideal as a center but that is just not a physical option for me. So to answer your question, I would only use the M3 as a center channel if your L&R channel were also M3's (or maybe the M50's which I believe use the same drivers as the M3) so that they are all closely tonally matched.

Given what I now know, I would definitely make extra effort to accommodate a vertical center channel speaker (or two as Jay suggested).
Posted by: pheare

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/22/10 07:32 PM

Yes tiered seating. 2nd row is raised 8 inches.

unfortunately, while my receiver will support dual centers, I didn't think to run wiring for dual centers. All my gear is in a room behind my back wall. Plus I only have about 14 inches between the top of my screen and the roof. only about 11 or 12 inches until the frame of my screen.

Plus I have a bulkhead in the middle of the room that would probably interfere with a top center anyways.

Works fine right now with my 12 year old Energy center.

Any thoughts on using an m22 as a center when the bottom of my screen is 36 inches. means the m22 would be about 14 inches off the ground. Which I guess isn't too bad given the m22 stand is 16 inches.
Posted by: pheare

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/22/10 07:45 PM

Originally Posted By: cb919

The extra drivers in the VP150 help give the speaker a higher sensitivity rating than the M2. However the M2 can reach lower than the VP150 and has the advantage of better horizontal dispersion than the VP150.


Got it. Thanks.
Posted by: JohnK

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/22/10 09:21 PM

PH, my view would be that the slightly lower position of the M22 center wouldn't be very significant, and that tilting it slightly backward would further lessen any difference.
Posted by: jakewash

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/23/10 12:54 PM

John covered it smile I will only add that the M2 and M22 would have the tweeter and the top driver in the same position height wise under the screen so really no difference between the 2.
Posted by: turbo16v

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/29/10 10:59 PM

I have a question..
Never been satisfied with my 150 unless I am sitting dead center. The side couches(off axis) volume is so low that the m80's just drown it out. I have been looking at other brands for centers.. I could fit an m2 or m3 in the spot where the 150 resides. Any thoughts on one or the other to give me the best off axis and blend with the m80's?
Posted by: CatBrat

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/29/10 11:39 PM

M3 would have the best tonal match only with the M50. M2 for everything else.
Posted by: JohnK

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/29/10 11:43 PM

Chet, the M2 should serve you very well as a center speaker and blend well with the M80s. The only advantage of the M3 would be a lower bass extension, which shouldn't be a problem with the M2 crossed over at 80-100Hz.
Posted by: jakewash

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/30/10 04:38 PM

I recently did some off axis listening with the VP180/150 and an M2. The M2 is the best one for off axis listening and is a near perfect tonal match for the M80's.
Posted by: grunt

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/30/10 04:40 PM

I second the motion!
Posted by: CatBrat

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/30/10 04:46 PM

I bet that means the M2 would make a good ceiling speaker! Yeah. Probably. Possibly. Perhaps. Coulda. Kinda. Maybe not.
Posted by: turbo16v

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/30/10 05:04 PM

Thanks for all of the input. smile
The m3 would fit the space better. but if you think I will get better matching performance with the m2 then I will go that direction. I can always build a little platform for it. I will have to do some drawing and see what I can come up with.

Thanks.
Posted by: turbo16v

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/31/10 12:16 AM

Ok screwed up. I didn't realize that the m2 was ported. The speakers home is in a cabinet so now I am looking at the
on wall or in/on wall m2. The website says they have the same response. Here is a pic of what I have now with the vp150 sitting on two shelves. Both of them could be removed and a solid surface could be installed between the two glass doors filling the entire center opening. Then I could mount the on wall or in/on wall m2 top center. Sound crazy?


Posted by: JohnK

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/31/10 12:29 AM

Chet, that shouldn't be a problem as long as the M2 has at least a couple inches behind it for the port to "breathe". No speaker should be recessed into an enclosure, regardless of whether it has a rear port. The speaker should extend a fraction of an inch beyond the front edge to minimize diffractions and reflections from the cabinet.
Posted by: turbo16v

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/31/10 12:37 AM

There is about 18" of open space behind the vp150 right now. The m2 would have the same if not more room behind it. I built the center shelf to be adjustable in and out. right now I have it out about 1" from the rest of the surfaces. So I could do the same thing with the m2.
Posted by: JohnK

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/31/10 12:43 AM

Sure, and obviously there's plenty of room vertically and horizontally.
Posted by: jakewash

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/31/10 08:03 PM

You should be OK to run an M2 in that space. When I ran the M2 or even my M22s I have about 7" of space behind the speaker for the port to breath and they sound great.
Posted by: turbo16v

Re: In/on wall VP150 and M2 comparison - 12/31/10 11:28 PM

Great Thanks grin