AX-5 Reference Monitors

Posted by: corduroy41

AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/26/16 05:31 PM

Hi folks, my first post.. nice to be here. I've been meaning to join for quite some time, figured today should be the day.

So, I bought a set of AX-5's off a local guy on Kijiji a few years back. They were quite well maintained and looked over by a speaker tech and were/are sounding great at the time of audition. I couldn't get my money out quick enough and managed to haggle down the price in exchange for a set of nice, but in dire need of serious repair Chartwell PM100's.

I got them home, hooked them up, and they were even better on my home 2 channel setup than the one I auditioned them on! I love 'em and see no reason to upgrade for a very long time. I'm regularly sitting and staring at them in awe of how much detail, clairty, and bass these things produce!

To the point of my rambling post. I've done a bit of research around to see what the verdict is out there, and there's not a ton of info, but the general consensus agrees they're great. But I notice mine in particular look somewhat different from all the ones I've seen (not that many really, some ported, some bi-ampable), and wonder if anyone knows anything about them? Year of manufacture? Anything noteworthy about these ones in particular? Anybody else have the same ones? Guess I'm curious of their history a bit. Here's a gallery of a few shots I took when I initially got them. I have since better positioned them and have made a few upgrades to the system they're connected to as well. Have a look here:

https://imgur.com/a/WQwWP

Anyway, thanks for looking, and please let me know what you folks know or think! My friend seriously thinks that one day I'll sell them to him.. I'd have to fall on some desperate times to part with these.
Posted by: nickbuol

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/26/16 07:19 PM

Welcome. I don't have any information about your AX-5's, but they look really cool.
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/26/16 07:54 PM

Thanks! They look very cool but I think they sound even better than they look! Maybe I didn't post this in the right place?
Posted by: Mojo

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/27/16 11:27 AM

Wow, what a trip to the past! Are you kidding? Have you heard what a modern pair of speakers sound like?

I suppose what matters is how they sound in your Matrix and I am sorry to jar you into the reality in which I live. Just don't make the mistake of listening to speakers made in the last 15 years or you'll suffer from upgraditis.

Or maybe not...if your ears have the frequency response of a tuna fish! smile

I vote you donate them to the Axiom museum and beg Axiom to give you a credit towards a newer set of speakers. You only live once so why torture your brain?

Disclosure: I have never heard the AX-5 speakers and don't need to in order to reach my conclusion.
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/27/16 12:44 PM

Do tuna fish have ears? They are delicious though.

No matter.. I like what I hear.

I still can't tell if you're trolling me or you're a master of sarcasm.
Posted by: MarkSJohnson

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/27/16 01:08 PM

It's sarcasm. Note his disclosure at the bottom.

Quote:
No matter.. I like what I hear.

That's all that matters! Welcome to the forum!
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/27/16 01:25 PM

Lol, thanks.. I take most message boards way too seriously smile
Posted by: AAAA

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/27/16 02:32 PM

Blast from the past.

It would be great to hear a technical discussion on how the designs evolved over time. The directors commentary.... smile
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/27/16 02:45 PM

Yeah, I'd love to hear about that too.. I've read the old brochure with the review, and they look liked a hell of a flagship product of their time. On a side note, I did find a similar set on Kijiji a while back that had the subwoofer that paired with the AX-5's.. though the speakers themselves were still different from mine. I can't imagine the need for the extra bass.. these reportedly get down to 28hz already!
Posted by: nickbuol

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/27/16 05:44 PM

Mojo offers both truth and sarcasm. You will get only a good friendly bunch of folks here. Insults and belittling happen elsewhere. Some people here just take a little while to "figure out" but yeah, Mojo has a point. Speakers today generally sound a lot better. Newer driver and crossover technology, better cabinet designs, and things aren't worn out from old age or possible neglect.

If you like them, great, just beware of newer speakers as you may, again like mentioned, feel the need to upgrade.
Posted by: Mojo

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/27/16 05:52 PM

Tuna fish can hear between 100 to 1000 Hz. They are big fans of Bose.
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/27/16 08:03 PM

Originally Posted By nickbuol
Mojo offers both truth and sarcasm. You will get only a good friendly bunch of folks here. Insults and belittling happen elsewhere. Some people here just take a little while to "figure out" but yeah, Mojo has a point. Speakers today generally sound a lot better. Newer driver and crossover technology, better cabinet designs, and things aren't worn out from old age or possible neglect.

If you like them, great, just beware of newer speakers as you may, again like mentioned, feel the need to upgrade.


Yeah, I figured as with most forums, everyone has their ways.. it's all good.

And I won't ever doubt that better speakers exist. As much as I love the thought of having better, I have a harder time justifying cost. I'm more hifi on a hotdog budget than most here I'm sure.

As for eventually upgrading, one day I'm sure I will. Just not for a bit yet.. I'm enjoying these too much smile I've got too many other things to upgrade around me first.
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/27/16 08:06 PM

Originally Posted By Mojo
Tuna fish can hear between 100 to 1000 Hz. They are big fans of Bose.


So that's how Bose stays in business.. I've always wondered who buys their stuff!

Maybe they're heavily invested into the tuna fisheries too?
Posted by: Gr8_White_North

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/28/16 12:14 AM

I thinks its great that your super happy with your AX5's. Hell I'm rockin HPM 900's from 1980 ,you do the math. I have M80's and I have speakers I made myself from Axiom drivers and I love em all.

Posted by: Mojo

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/28/16 12:26 AM

My buddies loved their (now) 25 year-old speakers. So did I. Then I got M80s. Everything changed.

You don't have to buy M80s though to be closer to audio Nirvana. Heck, you don't even have to spend for M3s. A pair of the latest Andrew Jones bookshelves for $120, set up correctly in your room, serve as a cheap red pill.

Perhaps it's better however to enjoy what you have. The rabbit hole you are in right now may be more peaceful than the rabbit hole the red pill might take you into.
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/28/16 08:49 AM

Originally Posted By Socketman
I thinks its great that your super happy with your AX5's. Hell I'm rockin HPM 900's from 1980 ,you do the math. I have M80's and I have speakers I made myself from Axiom drivers and I love em all.



I love the look of those HPM's.. I've yet to hear any of the series, but from what I've read they appear to be praised. That's a nice little setup you've got there. There's so much of a lust around for the HPM 100's it appears.

I need to get around and do some auditioning. Lots to learn.

I have previously owned B&W V201's that were great, but I passed them off to a friend who better benefitted from them, I currently also have a set of Camber Laser 7's, ProAc Super Tablette's, Optimus Pro LX5's, and an early 90's generic JBL J series home theatre set. They all serve their purpose decently, though not outstanding. The ProAc's are my second go to set behind the AX-5's, but lack bass.
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/28/16 09:09 AM

Originally Posted By Mojo
My buddies loved their (now) 25 year-old speakers. So did I. Then I got M80s. Everything changed.

You don't have to buy M80s though to be closer to audio Nirvana. Heck, you don't even have to spend for M3s. A pair of the latest Andrew Jones bookshelves for $120, set up correctly in your room, serve as a cheap red pill.

Perhaps it's better however to enjoy what you have. The rabbit hole you are in right now may be more peaceful than the rabbit hole the red pill might take you into.


Well I could see how that'd happen. I've read some healthy praise for the M80's and though I haven't heard them, they do look like some high quality speakers. One day I'd love to hear them.

I've done some reading and research and those Pioneer Andrew Jones speakers come up all too often. Bargain hifi is an interesting market segment. I've been stuck in vintage territory for a few years, so switching to the new equipment market has been slow for me. Heck, the newest thing I own in my system is an Ortofon 2M Red on my ancient Thorens 125 MkII.

The only red pill I've swallowed so far is having all my components serviced. I've had my Nikko Alpha II recapped and modified and an H/K Citation 17s that was cleaned up. Next up is an overhaul on the turntable. It's been fun so far though. Gradually I hope to "upgrade" everything in the chain, but it'll take time. I've climbed in and out of the rabbit hole a couple times for the sake of learning. It's a long way down, err.. up.
Posted by: BBIBH

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/28/16 09:36 AM

As a long time owner of Axiom products, those models seem like early Axiom models. I owned AX 3, which were very similar and heard the AX5's on many occasions. Search the Water Cooler forum for historical references - and many visits, including mine in 1991 which shows the early views of the plant. The interesting design of the AX3 and 5 models were the cabinet within a cabinet with the original 3's front firing, and 5's rear firing, as the woofer was separated from the other drivers....oh, and the lifetime warranty, which I employed on several occasions to replace drivers. That played into my favour with Ian offering me a sensational deal to simply get my AX3's for the parts to re-purpose for use in repairing other AX3's to honour the "lifetime" warranty.

I can tell you with experience and without sarcasm, that my original AX3's do not compare with my M80's. I had lengthy discussions with Ian over the designs - having met Ian almost 30 years ago - and about the evolution of speakers, not wanting to trade in my AX3's....but I can tell you it was well worth the effort.

Though, based on your list of equipment, it seems you enjoy vintage equipment, so enjoy your journey!
Posted by: bridgman

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/28/16 12:24 PM

Nice speakers you have there.

I still really enjoy listening to vintage speakers... could just be because that's the sound I grew up with, but I often think there is... I don't know what to call it, open-ness, presence, dynamics... something you don't get quite as much of with today's speakers. It's probably like the tube amp debate...

I was about to ask whether you had the wedge or the box versions, but then I noticed you were kind enough to post pictures. Very nice.

And yes, Mojo does appear to be an actual master of sarcasm smile
Posted by: 2x6spds

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/28/16 12:25 PM

I have never had the pleasure of listening to any of the Axiom AX series speakers. However, I wouldn't discount the sound quality of all 1980s vintage speakers.

I have a pair of Dahlquist DQM 905s and a pair of their flagship DQM909s in 2 channel systems. I have owned Axiom M100s, M50s, M22s, M3s and M2s. The Dahlquists do not suffer from the comparison with the great Axiom speakers.

The Dahlquists have all Vifa driver/tweeters. They were designed by the great Carl Marchisotto (now see NOLA speakers).

Ian designed the AX series speakers. I suspect they sound great as well.

Vintage speakers, suspend judgment until you've heard them.
Posted by: bridgman

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/28/16 12:38 PM

Interesting... either I'm missing something or there are more versions of the AX-5 than I thought, ie more than just wedge vs box. The pictures I have seen are of slightly taller boxes with ports on the front, but yours appear to be sealed cabinets (or the ports are somewhere non-obvious or I'm blind).

There also seem to be different grill arrangements, with the grill covering the entire front in some cases but only coming ~3/4 of the way down in others.

Here is another flavor of AX5, with ports and a taller enclosure:

http://seventiesstereo.blogspot.ca/2011/04/speakers-i-wish-i-owned-first-in.html
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/28/16 01:00 PM

Originally Posted By BBIBH
As a long time owner of Axiom products, those models seem like early Axiom models. I owned AX 3, which were very similar and heard the AX5's on many occasions. Search the Water Cooler forum for historical references - and many visits, including mine in 1991 which shows the early views of the plant. The interesting design of the AX3 and 5 models were the cabinet within a cabinet with the original 3's front firing, and 5's rear firing, as the woofer was separated from the other drivers....oh, and the lifetime warranty, which I employed on several occasions to replace drivers. That played into my favour with Ian offering me a sensational deal to simply get my AX3's for the parts to re-purpose for use in repairing other AX3's to honour the "lifetime" warranty.

I can tell you with experience and without sarcasm, that my original AX3's do not compare with my M80's. I had lengthy discussions with Ian over the designs - having met Ian almost 30 years ago - and about the evolution of speakers, not wanting to trade in my AX3's....but I can tell you it was well worth the effort.

Though, based on your list of equipment, it seems you enjoy vintage equipment, so enjoy your journey!


Interesting.. I never thought about how the warranty would play into the trade up for parts. I have heard the AX-3's and was surprised how different they sounded compared to the AX-5's due to the lack of a midrange driver.

All this talk of the M80's though gets me more interested to hear them.
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/28/16 01:09 PM

Originally Posted By bridgman
Interesting... either I'm missing something or there are more versions of the AX-5 than I thought, ie more than just wedge vs box. The pictures I have seen are of slightly taller boxes with ports on the front, but yours appear to be sealed cabinets (or the ports are somewhere non-obvious or I'm blind).

There also seem to be different grill arrangements, with the grill covering the entire front in some cases but only coming ~3/4 of the way down in others.

Here is another flavor of AX5, with ports and a taller enclosure:

http://seventiesstereo.blogspot.ca/2011/04/speakers-i-wish-i-owned-first-in.html


Yes! This is what I was coming here for mostly. There seem to be a few variants. Mine are not ported. Almost all the other I see are ported, much like from the link you posted. I figured the wedge design was just a newer model, same with the taller variants. I thought maybe I had somewhat of a rarer model here and wanted to share to see if you guys knew anything interesting.
Posted by: brwsaw

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/28/16 03:13 PM

Fwiw there are vintage M80's.
At least of you think of them as 1st generation, 2nd generation,....etc.
Posted by: Mojo

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/28/16 03:44 PM

"Vintage speakers, suspend judgment until you've heard them."

All vintage speakers sound similarly good through tube gear smile.
Posted by: Mojo

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/28/16 03:46 PM

And yes, Mojo does appear to be an actual master of sarcasm"

I feel these boards need some spicing up smile.
Posted by: 2x6spds

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/28/16 03:52 PM

Well, yes, tube amplifiers do sound better. However, low efficiency speakers are a difficult load for low power SET tube amps.
Posted by: bridgman

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/28/16 11:11 PM

Originally Posted By corduroy41
Yes! This is what I was coming here for mostly. There seem to be a few variants. Mine are not ported. Almost all the other I see are ported, much like from the link you posted. I figured the wedge design was just a newer model, same with the taller variants. I thought maybe I had somewhat of a rarer model here and wanted to share to see if you guys knew anything interesting.

Ian has a great collection of speakers at the entrance to the factory (ie when you go from offices/labs to factory). Not sure if he has one of everything but he did have a number of different AX models last time I was there.

Hmm... the speaker collection isn't very far from the anechoic chamber... or the listening room. Hmm.
Posted by: BBIBH

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/29/16 07:12 AM

Originally Posted By corduroy41

Interesting.. I never thought about how the warranty would play into the trade up for parts. I have heard the AX-3's and was surprised how different they sounded compared to the AX-5's due to the lack of a midrange driver.

All this talk of the M80's though gets me more interested to hear them.


The AX 3's had the same drivers as the 5's - tweeter, mid range, woofer- just a smaller woofer. They were produced over the years with the shorter cabinet, tall cabinet and anti sound wave shaped cabinet.

The museum was moved when I was there for the 35th anniversary in Fall 2015, but I suspect it was a temporary thing, as it was in the factory near a new production area...but it seemed to have grown in the size of the collection!
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/29/16 08:14 AM

Originally Posted By BBIBH
Originally Posted By corduroy41

Interesting.. I never thought about how the warranty would play into the trade up for parts. I have heard the AX-3's and was surprised how different they sounded compared to the AX-5's due to the lack of a midrange driver.

All this talk of the M80's though gets me more interested to hear them.


The AX 3's had the same drivers as the 5's - tweeter, mid range, woofer- just a smaller woofer. They were produced over the years with the shorter cabinet, tall cabinet and anti sound wave shaped cabinet.

The museum was moved when I was there for the 35th anniversary in Fall 2015, but I suspect it was a temporary thing, as it was in the factory near a new production area...but it seemed to have grown in the size of the collection!


Sorry, I was thinking of the AX-2's.. I forgot the 3's had the midgrange driver.
Posted by: BBIBH

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/29/16 10:03 AM

No worries, and if you want to read and see history, search for "Axiom Factory Visit - Circa 1990" and "Axiom Brochure - Circa 1989"...as well as simply factory tours, as many have been there over the years.
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/29/16 07:20 PM

Originally Posted By BBIBH
No worries, and if you want to read and see history, search for "Axiom Factory Visit - Circa 1990" and "Axiom Brochure - Circa 1989"...as well as simply factory tours, as many have been there over the years.


Will do.. thanks!
Posted by: Mojo

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 08/29/16 09:13 PM

Someone had a very strange hobby as a kid.

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/Axiom-AX-5-speaker-review-reprint-/350025276103
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 09/01/16 04:49 PM

Originally Posted By Mojo


Yeah, these print ad seller guys are kinda wacky. But I guess there's a market for everything these days.
Posted by: Ian

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 09/20/16 01:15 PM

Welcome corduroy41. Those are very early AX5s you have. I would say around 1984. The original 1981 version did not have an aluminium cone subwoofer in the rear. I did design them at the NRC using all the technology we had at the time. Those were the early days of understanding the family of curves and the affect they had on Double Blind Listen Test results. Julian Hirsch gave them an outstanding rating back in the day and noted that they were “the flattest loudspeaker he had ever measured”. What we are producing today has all the latest technology built in relating to the family of curves that has been discovered over the past 33 years by ourselves and others. We have also made big improvements in the available dynamic range. So an upgrade to a current model is something you may want to consider at some point. When you are ready let us know because we would give you a trade up value for your AX5s to put in our museum. It is also worth noting that not all speakers available on the market today will sound better than your AX5s; there is still a lot of disregard for the family of curves in speaker design, even today.
Posted by: Mojo

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 09/20/16 07:30 PM

Originally Posted By Ian
It is also worth noting that not all speakers available on the market today will sound better than your AX5s; there is still a lot of disregard for the family of curves in speaker design, even today.


Like anything made by Wilson Audio.
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 10/17/16 10:00 AM

Originally Posted By Ian
Welcome corduroy41. Those are very early AX5s you have. I would say around 1984. The original 1981 version did not have an aluminium cone subwoofer in the rear. I did design them at the NRC using all the technology we had at the time. Those were the early days of understanding the family of curves and the affect they had on Double Blind Listen Test results. Julian Hirsch gave them an outstanding rating back in the day and noted that they were “the flattest loudspeaker he had ever measured”. What we are producing today has all the latest technology built in relating to the family of curves that has been discovered over the past 33 years by ourselves and others. We have also made big improvements in the available dynamic range. So an upgrade to a current model is something you may want to consider at some point. When you are ready let us know because we would give you a trade up value for your AX5s to put in our museum. It is also worth noting that not all speakers available on the market today will sound better than your AX5s; there is still a lot of disregard for the family of curves in speaker design, even today.


Thanks for the reply Ian! It's been a while since I've had the time to follow up with this thread.

So yesterday came about and I typically fire up my stereo to listen to the ever popular Psychedelic Psunday on Q107 out of Toronto. I'm enjoying away for the first few minutes but something wasn't right. The tweeter of the right channel is acting up. I ran though the usual checks.. loose connections, flaky speaker wire, bad amp channel.. no luck. Tried a spare set of speakers, and yep.. the tweeter is cooked. I've since emailed the customer service contact and hope to hear about a replacement. But this got me thinking. Maybe an upgrade is in order.

I'm hard pressed to upgrade these speakers only due to how nice they sound, when fully functioning of course. What's a natural upgrade path or comparable model here? I've been eyeing the M80's, but I've never heard them. I just don't know where to go from here.

On a side note, I'm considering a trip up to Bracebridge this coming weekend. I'm sure I could find the time to bring them by if this is at all possible.
Posted by: BBIBH

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 10/17/16 10:11 AM

I was in a similar position with the AX3's I mentioned. I traded them in on M80's and I can tell you the new lineup is light years ahead of the AX line......
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 10/17/16 10:24 AM

Originally Posted By BBIBH
I was in a similar position with the AX3's I mentioned. I traded them in on M80's and I can tell you the new lineup is light years ahead of the AX line......


Yeah, that's what I'm gathering from all the info I've read. I'm sure if I get around to listening to the M80's I'll break that sentimental bond to these AX-5's.
Posted by: Mojo

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 10/17/16 11:41 AM

You'll quickly re-purpose the AX-5s as firewood after listening to the M80s.
Posted by: BBIBH

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 10/17/16 12:10 PM

See what value Ian has for them, as I bet he will be eager to have them. The original models had lifetime warranties - which Ian and I chatted about how to define "lifetime"..the speaker or mine!
Posted by: bridgman

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 10/17/16 12:27 PM

Originally Posted By BBIBH
The original models had lifetime warranties - which Ian and I chatted about how to define "lifetime"..the speaker or mine!


I expect the usual practice is to to exhaust all of the commercially reasonable options for extending the lifetime of the speaker first, and then start exploring options for shortening the lifetime of the owner smile
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 10/17/16 01:04 PM

Originally Posted By BBIBH
See what value Ian has for them, as I bet he will be eager to have them. The original models had lifetime warranties - which Ian and I chatted about how to define "lifetime"..the speaker or mine!


I too was wondering the same thing about the warranty. What was the conclusion of that conversation?
Posted by: BBIBH

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 10/17/16 01:31 PM

If I recall correctly, the conclusion was the bar staff asking us to leave, as they wanted to close!

Keep in mind this was at the 35th Axiom Anniversary party, so we were preoccupied!

I don't think it was determined in all fairness
Posted by: corduroy41

Re: AX-5 Reference Monitors - 10/17/16 02:27 PM

Lol.. things got a little hazy eh