Brent's (denver) suggestion is probably the best idea. Spiffnme could give you a good idea of the Axiom sound with his M60s/VP150/QS8s. He works for IMAX, though, and has been crazy busy for the last 6 weeks. However, he has posted some in the last couple of days, so maybe things are slacking off a little. You'd have to PM him and ask.
The M60s are reputed to sound very similar, with the 80s able to play louder, and deeper into the frequency range. Should you like the sound of his M60s, or if you are unable to get a chance to listen to anyone's Axioms, you might then order the M80s alone. If you don't like them then you only have to pay return shipping on 2 speakers instead of 6.
While some of us own, and we all respect, the Axiom subs, a number of us prefer HSU subwoofers or SV subwoofers (SVS). One of the great things about the Axiom folks is that they offer a 10% discount if you order ANY 5 items. (i.e, 2 speakers, two stands, and 1 cord. OR, any 5 speakers. If you ordered the M80s, and you liked them, as long as you ordered the VP150 and the 2 QS8s (and the Axiom sub, if you chose) within the 30 day trial period of the M80s, you'd qualify for the 10% discount.
In addition, if you ordered your speakers from the Axiom Factory Outlet
(All speakers guaranteed sonically perfect, but possibly having minor cosmetic flaws), you would qualify for an additional 5% discount. I bought all my Axioms (other than my QS8s) from the Factory Outlet, and am quite content with them. No one would notice the flaws unless they were studiously looking for them.
You should not be afraid to call the people at Axiom, explain your situation (room size, etc.) and ask their advice. They are customer service oriented and will not try to talk you into anything you don't need or want. There are some amazing customer service stories on this forum such as this
, and this
I wouldn't be put off be not being able to find a lot of Axioms in California. Quantity does NOT equate to quality. I have no qualms about saying that you would be hard pressed to find superior speakers in this price range (though there are those which are comparable). However, as one regular here at the forum recently said ".......the more you read about speakers, the more you realize how subjective
(the topic) is...
" One man's "WOW" is another man" "UGH."
I've never heard the other speakers you are considering, so unfortunately I can't offer any opinion on them. Maybe others here have heard them and will be able to comment for you.
I know it's not easy making decisions like this. Just do your best, and good luck.
P.S. I believe you only have to pay return shipping to Buffalo, not all the way to Canada. Axiom maintains a depot there for returned orders. You should check with Axiom to be sure I'm not mistaken about this, or any other info I've passed along. I know it's hard to believe, but I have been wrong once in my life. (OK, TWICE!)