Ok, the Axioms arrived yesterday but I had to wait until today for the receiver before I could set everything up and hear how it all sounds. Let me just say that I'm really impressed and only have a few slightly negative comments, but I'm getting ahead of myself. How about we take this one step at a time...
*** Disclaimer: I'm not a professional reviewer and I'm in no way an expert. I'm just really enjoying my purchase and I'm trying to give back to the message board that I've learned so much from over the past 8 months. What follows are just my opinions. ***
First the system specs:
Speakers: Axiom M60ti
Receiver: Harmon Kardon 3480 - 120 watts per channel
Cable: Blue Jeans 12ga. No terminators.
CD Player: Old cheap Sony cd player, cdp-315 High Density Linear Converter -- whatever that means
Room Size: Approximately 14' x 26' x 8' - Speakers around the middle of the long wall, listening area directly across from them (about 11 feet way).
I ordered the speakers fairly late on Monday evening, and they arrived Thursday morning (I live in Michigan, btw). The boxes were in very good shape -- some folks mention that the outer box is pretty beat up when they receive them -- even though the speakers always seem to come out alright I was glad to see the boxes undamaged. The driver was kind enough to bring the speakers into the house which was nice because these things are *heavy*!
Here's a picture of one of the boxes...
They even included instructions on how to open the box!
I've always wondered what people meant when they talked about the double box packaging. Simple solution that surely offers quite a bit of protection during shipping.
Just for fun I've included a picture of the accessory pack:
The steel spikes used for placing the speakers on carpeted surfaces were surprisingly heavy. They had a nice solid feel. Don't drop one on your foot!
This is one of those little things that really impresses me. I know, I'm easily amused. I liked the way that the speaker is shipped upside down. This way, when you open the package the speaker is in the right position to mount the feet.
Here's a picture of the back of the m60 with two of the vortex ports shown. I was kind of surprised that the ports are actually made out of some sort of hard plastic. Not that it matters, but I just assumed they were vinyl or something similar. I think the color of this photo seems pretty accurate to my eye on my monitor.
The finish is truly flawless. I'm a woodworker hobbyist and I can of course tell that it's not real wood, but I still think they look great and I'm pretty picky about that sort of thing. It's the one thing that kept making me consider the rockets. Here they are sitting side by side. Grills on:
But I think they look better naked. My wife calls it speaker porn!
And here they are in pretty much the final position. Notice that I don't have the receiver setup yet.
My wife was kind enough to find an excuse to leave the house on an errand so that I could really check them out once I set everything up. I powered them up, popped in Pink Floyd - The Wall was immediately impressed. No break in necessary (either for my ears or the speakers). I literally knew within 5 seconds that I would be happy with my choice. Over the next hour I listened to The Eagles - Hotel California, Cake - The Distance, a bunch of Rush and a few other songs from various CD's. The only one that didn't sound very good was the first track of Queen - Live Killers. I noticed quite a bit of sibilance (that's where the s's are over pronounced, right?) but I think it was just that live recording. Yep, I just popped the CD into my computer and listened to the song on my headphones and I still hear the same effect. It's just the recording I guess. I hadn't listened to it in years so I guess I just forgot what it was like. One of my first thoughts was wow, there's plenty of bass. Over time, I started to change my mind a little bit, but I'll get to that in the downsides section.
I tried moving the speakers around a bit, setting them either closer to the wall and/or entertainment center or moving them further out. They seemed to sound great no matter where I put them. I did notice a slightly nicer openness with the grills removed, but it could have just been psychological.
Even when listening to them at very loud levels (-5db) I was just truly amazed at how effortlessly they reproduced the music. And when I closed my eyes it seems like the singer was standing between the two speakers. I guess that's what they mean by soundstage. I had honestly never really experienced that. The other thing I noticed was that they even sounded great when I went to the kitchen to wash some dishes. I was afraid that you might really have to be in the sweet spot to really enjoy the music, but for me that doesn't seem to be the case at all. After an hour of playing at about -15 to -5db which was about as loud as I could take it, the top of the receiver was barely warm. That was another thing I'd worried about based on what I've read on various forums.
With my old Bose wave radio, my ears would ache after about 20 minutes of listening. And of course, I could never play the Bose at the volumes that I can with this system. I didn't experience this at all with this setup. Granted, it's not a fair comparison, but since it occurred to me I thought I'd point it out.
Now the downsides. If I'm using the term correctly, they speakers might be a little bright for me. I think my room is pretty hard (I do have carpet, but the walls are pretty bare and instead of curtains we have aluminum blinds). I found I liked the sound just a little bit better with the treble turned slightly down on the receiver. Perhaps I'll order the resister from Axiom, but I want to give it a few weeks first. Also, although my first thought was that the speakers had plenty of bass, I still think I want just a little bit more. I think it's mostly that I'd like to feel the music a little more. Mind you, I could feel the bass beat through the seat of my pants, but I still think an ep350 might be just the trick.
Btw, my wife told me that even though the windows were closed in her car, she could hear my music from the driveway. The windows were closed in our house too! As impressed as I was by how loud they could play -- and I mean *LOUD*, I think I was more impressed by how great they sounded even when played at very low levels. I was afraid that the bass would disappear when played softly but that wasn't the case at all. Whether I played the very loud or fairly quiet, I still experienced the same clean, detailed sound that I was hoping for.
So, to sum up. I'm thrilled that I have this system. Even with the few minor downsides, It's literally the best stereo system I've ever heard! I can't believe it took me this long to finally make up my mind. Thanks again to the regulars on this forum that make the Axiom community so great.