Jump to content



Sign up for a free account to remove the pop-up ads

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests and remove the pop-up ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.


Photo
- - - - -

Review: Axiom M60 V3 Tower Speakers

Hardware Hardware Review

  • You cannot start a new topic
  • Please log in to reply
19 replies to this topic

#1 of 20 OFFLINE   Doug Hess

Doug Hess

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 68 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 11 2013

Posted April 06 2013 - 04:45 AM

I should have known better. Anyone even kind of experienced with speakers knows that you should break them in[1] before even thinking about evaluate them. It’s day one of How to be a Home Theater Equipment Reviewer 101, which they should totally offer in college.

 

Over the years I’ve heard speakers change with use. Their suspensions loosen, they open up, they get a little more bass. But never have I heard a pair of speakers so completely change character in just a few hours.

 

Out of the box the M60s sounded thin, boxy, and constrained. But after putting them through their paces playing all of my standard demo tracks, I had to start over. The speakers that I began with were gone, and in their place were surprisingly competent towers with a lot going for them.

 

Who’s Axiom?

I’d never actually heard an Axiom speaker, though I’d read plenty about them over the years. So when our benevolent overlord Dave Upton offered me a set to review, I jumped at the chance.

Axiom Home Theater.gif

 

One reason I’d never heard any Axiom stuff before is that they don’t have any dealer network, and there is no store you can go to listen to the speakers before you buy. That’s a risky business move, but an understandable one from a financial standpoint. The company says they do this to pass the savings along to you, in so many words, but buying speakers without hearing them is a little like buying pants without trying them on--something I’ve sworn to never do again  . . . about 20 times.

 

To combat this natural wariness about buying speakers sight unseen and sound unheard, they offer a 30-day at-home trial. The advantage of this, of course, is that it lets you “audition” the speakers in your room, on your equipment, on your time. Okay, so this might actually be a plus.

 

But on the flip side, return shipping and brokerage fees are on you, big guy. On these speakers that would add up to $90 total, so I recommend that you do your homework before you order up a test drive.

 

The unboxing

The day I came home to find these on my front porch I wondered what I’d gotten myself into. The boxes are enormous and tell your neighbors that they’re probably going to be calling the cops this weekend.

 

But I was surprised that the speakers themselves filled less than half the volume of the cartons, and are packed so well that you’d think they were made to be dropped from a FedEx jet flying over your house.

 

Each M60 V3 speaker weighs 47.6 pounds and stands 37.5 inches tall. As is the current style for towers, they’re disproportionately deep at 15 inches, with a width of just 9.25 inches wide up front, narrowing toward the back, giving them a higher-end angled look.

 

I had a choice between Black Oak or Boston Black Cherry vinyl, and I chose the Cherry. It’s really hard to do a wood grain vinyl that looks good, so I wanted to see if Axiom had found some magic formula. They have not. They look fine, but you’d never confuse them for real wood up close, though that is an option.

 

In fact, nearly everything is up for negotiation. You really can get real wood veneer, or piano black, or you can match the paint on your walls. Yes, I’m serious. You can also choose your:


    [*]Grille cloth color
    [*]Logo color
    [*]Die-cast woofer (vs. stamped metal)
    [*]Binding posts (standard vs. bi-amp)
    [*]Custom feet or spikes (instead of the standard rubber feet)
    [*]Rear label (custom)
    [/list]

    Audio Jewelry.jpg

     

    I have never seen a speaker with so many options and ways to make your pair of speakers uniquely yours. Yet another advantage of ordering from the manufacturer and not a stocking dealer.

     

    Even as they come in standard clothes, there are a few things that struck me as noteworthy.

     

    First, they have three ports, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen on a single speaker, let alone one this size. Axiom calls these “Vortex Ports,” and they’re highly sculpted to reduce turbulence and “chuffing” so common with ported speakers.

    Axiom M60 Port.jpg

     

    Another interesting thing is that the gold-plated 5-way binding posts have holes large enough for sizable wire, which isn’t uncommon, and the holes are oval. That is uncommon in my experience, and darned handy.

     

    Finally, the grilles attach magnetically, and they snap right into place every time. Yes, this is a minor thing, and yes, I can’t imagine why every speaker doesn’t do this.

     

    The sound

    Once properly broken in, these are surprisingly good. The bass is rated down to a pretty modest 40Hz, but that’s with a +/- 3dB tolerance spec, so it’s a true 40Hz, and you can feel it. It doesn’t punch you in the gut, but it can convey a lot of the emotion in the music, and the addition of a very good subwoofer would complete the sound nicely. I chose to listen to these au naturale.

     

    Here’s my breakdown of the three-course meal:

    The highs are crisp but not harsh. They fall short of the most delicate highs out there, and they err on the softer side, but the good news for me is that I far prefer that to highs that err the other way, toward shrill. Haters will think they sound a tad rolled off; proponents will say they sound clear but not sharp.

    Test track: “Waiting for Love” on David Benoit’s Letter to Evan has some very light cymbal work.

     

    The bass response is competent enough that I had to remind myself that the largest driver was a 6.5-incher. Car guys often say that there’s no replacement for displacement, and I lean in that direction when it comes to woofer size, but the bass extension was better than I expected.

    Test track: Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” has some serious timpani that should sound both powerful and a bit hollow.

    Also, Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue,” which uses a massive pipe organ, should rattle your china.

     

    Mids were accurate and uncolored, though the best speakers are a bit more open and forward, with a sonic image that places the instruments and singer in the appropriate places in front of you. These made French horns, cellos, and vocals sound a bit . . . recessed. 

    Test track: Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat, both the title track and “Song of Bernadette.” This is a wonderful, uncomplicated recording of a beautiful female vocal.

    M60_freq.gif

     

    I have absolutely no proof that the cabinets are to blame for this slightly veiled and throaty midrange performance, but I suspect them. The long stretch of MDF going from the front to the back sounds a little hollow when you knock there, and I’ve heard this kind of “humming” resonance lots of times before.

     

    The ability of a set of speakers to create a sonic image is a big thing for me. It’s possible I put too much emphasis on it, but it’s something I listen for in every speaker I evaluate. But these confused me a bit. The sound wasn’t exactly confined to their respective boxes, but neither did it paint a picture between the towers. They sounded airy and undefined, even when toed in, with no real cohesive sound stage. I’ve honestly never heard anything quite like it without some signal processing. It kind of reminded me of Carver’s Sonic Holography generator, for those of you geriatric enough to remember that.

     

    Conclusion

    These things cost $1120 a pair. $560 apiece. $12 per pound. When you review anything--cars, speakers, gourmet spray cheese--you have to decide whether you’ll be grading in a way that’s absolute or on a curve. 

     

    My way is to point out the things a product does imperfectly, and then weigh it against the other factors, including cost. By any measure ($15 per vertical inch), these things are a really good deal. They might even be a great deal for those who read my criticisms and don’t find anything that’s a deal-killer.

     

    -Doug

     

    Rating_4.png

    Axiom M60 Specs.png

     

     

    [1]  I know this is still a point of controversy for some, including those in the Flat-Earth Club and those who are still waiting for conclusive proof of gravity.

    Attached Thumbnails

    • M60CherryBlack2.jpg


#2 of 20 OFFLINE   schan1269

schan1269

    HTF Expert



  • 16,319 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 04 2012
  • Real Name:Sam
  • LocationChicago-ish/NW Indiana

Posted April 06 2013 - 08:22 AM

I actually have one of the Carver Sonic Holography generators...and I'm not geriatric(not a spring chicken either).

 

I'm actually curious, in these speakers(not "these"...any with option) if the cast vs. stamped driver actually makes a difference.



#3 of 20 OFFLINE   Doug Hess

Doug Hess

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 68 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 11 2013

Posted April 06 2013 - 09:29 AM

Thanks for the reply and the great question, Schan. It's pretty hard to imagine practical way to do a side-by-side comparison of stamped vs. cast, and even harder to imagine that that would be the only difference.

 

But I remember a visit to MTX in Arizona some years back, and I asked one of their engineers about this very thing. He told me that stamped metal offered two key benefits: heat dissipation and shape.

 

The first one is pretty self-explanatory, but the second one clearly made my turn my head in confusion, much like a dog when you hide is treat. He responded by saying that cold-stamped metal will always want to return to its native shape and, over time, will warp ever so slightly, changing the relationship to all the moving parts in the driver. Die-cast baskets have no such issues.

 

He may have been crazy, high, or on an April Fools' Day bender, but that's what he told me.

 

-Doug



#4 of 20 OFFLINE   schan1269

schan1269

    HTF Expert



  • 16,319 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 04 2012
  • Real Name:Sam
  • LocationChicago-ish/NW Indiana

Posted April 06 2013 - 09:53 AM

I know the relationship of CS vs DC metal. I've restored a few cars over the years...and rebuilt engines. There is a reason why engine blocks are cast(I've actually done an aluminum head swap on a '69 Sprite)...

 

But at this size...is there really a bene to DC...??? Or (likely) is it a way to cost more money...

 

Regardless, a pair of their smaller speakers done AB...

 

Anyway, hardly the only company that offers their drivers both ways. Now it is a different story when a "finished" speaker company offers you a choice.



#5 of 20 OFFLINE   Doug Hess

Doug Hess

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 68 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 11 2013

Posted April 06 2013 - 10:04 AM

Well, regardless of any audible difference, real or imagined, I hope you enjoyed the review. :)

 

-Doug



#6 of 20 OFFLINE   schan1269

schan1269

    HTF Expert



  • 16,319 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 04 2012
  • Real Name:Sam
  • LocationChicago-ish/NW Indiana

Posted April 06 2013 - 10:16 AM

Good review...I have one for the speakers I have(not littering this review with what I'm reviewing) coming up.



#7 of 20 OFFLINE   mpompey

mpompey

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 70 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 17 2009

Posted April 10 2013 - 11:15 AM

I own a set of M60s in my room, and I fell in love with them the moment I first fired them up.

Pair these with a beefy amp, and they will not disappoint.

 

I will admit I'm a bit of an Axiom and Klipsch fanboy. But the these speakers rival alot of the

audiophile products that are oversold as some of the boutique store.

 

I'm actually considering upgrading to a set of M80s to better match my VP180 center speaker.



#8 of 20 OFFLINE   Doug Hess

Doug Hess

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 68 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 11 2013

Posted April 10 2013 - 04:16 PM

Given that you have the M60s, and you clearly like them, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on my review. No speaker is perfect, especially in this price range, but do you agree with my criticisms? Think I'm off base? Let's talk about it!

 

-Doug



#9 of 20 OFFLINE   Gary Seven

Gary Seven

    Grand Poo Pah



  • 1,517 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 15 2003
  • Real Name:Gaston
  • LocationLake Worth, Florida

Posted April 16 2013 - 11:31 AM

I will never buy a pair of speakers without auditioning which is why I never gave these speakers serious thought.  Based on your review, I think I made the right choice to avoid them.  If the speakers cannot create an accurate sound stage, then there is a problem right there.  Also, based on the pictures, the binding posts look a little cheap, though given the low price, understandable.

 

I was wondering if you experienced ear fatigue after extended listening?



#10 of 20 OFFLINE   Doug Hess

Doug Hess

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 68 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 11 2013

Posted April 18 2013 - 02:54 AM

Hi, Gary. There did come a time when I experienced ear fatigue, though it's hard to tell if it was the fault of the speakers. Some of the music, particularly as that first evening wore on, got a little loud. :-)For me, I've always associated EF (I think we've discovered a new syndrome here) with unrefined or especially sharp highs. That wasn't a problem with these.

 

I think you're spot-on about buying speakers only if you can audition them. It'd be one thing if they offered to pick up the cost of return shipping, but . . .

 

-Doug



#11 of 20 OFFLINE   fuzz092888

fuzz092888

    Agent



  • 25 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 02 2013
  • Real Name:Alex
  • LocationNew New York

Posted April 25 2013 - 11:10 AM

My original post got deleted, but the gist of what I said was that it was a good review, but I'd like to see a little more content.  Roughly 57% of the review, minus the intro and the conclusion, was a description of the company and the speaker (physical that is).  A measurement or two would also be nice just to confirm the measurement the company is providing (while also not providing how much smoothing has been applied).



#12 of 20 OFFLINE   Doug Hess

Doug Hess

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 68 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 11 2013

Posted April 27 2013 - 04:54 AM

Thanks for the critique, Fuzz. It can be a tough balance, but I chose to pay a little more attention to those things because of the company's unusual (though less so these days) business model and the fact that you can't just go see the speakers in stores. But I agree that the review was a little light on hard facts. I'll be sure to include more next time.

 

Again, thank you for the feedback.

 

-Doug



#13 of 20 OFFLINE   schan1269

schan1269

    HTF Expert



  • 16,319 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 04 2012
  • Real Name:Sam
  • LocationChicago-ish/NW Indiana

Posted April 27 2013 - 07:57 AM

I don't plan on providing "hard facts" in my review of what I have.

 

There is no way to duplicate anechoic room response. My room is different than his room, so my frequency plot would be different. Hard facts are pointless to try and get, period.

 

The speakers I am reviewing, I'm having a hard time believing they are only 88db efficient(no I haven't measured them). Granted the speakers I swapped out aren't exactly efficient(DCM TF600 and TF350 with a SurroundScape)...but these things make my Kenwood M2A act like it is a 600wpc amp...compared to the DCM.

 

Before, when watching Immortal Beloved(yes, that movie is as taxing as any action movie) the M2A would cruise on up into the 63/200 range. The same volume on the SVS arrives well below 63.

 

And the real reason hard facts are tough to come by...

 

Does anybody here know how tight the production tolerances are with Axiom? Do they test every single driver? Do they "return/throw away" all the ones outside 5% tolerance? Do they have a 10% tolerance? Do they test every 5th? Every 20th?

 

What?



#14 of 20 OFFLINE   fuzz092888

fuzz092888

    Agent



  • 25 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 02 2013
  • Real Name:Alex
  • LocationNew New York

Posted April 27 2013 - 08:12 AM

Hard facts are pointless....in your opinion.  So you're disputing the usefulness of quantitative data and quasi-anchoeic measurements and how they relate to in room performance?  Well I hate to break it to you but many of the industries leading experts would disagree with you.  

 

Why would Harman spend millions of dollars in R&D and pay Sean Olive all that money to do his testing if it didn't matter?  What is with the strong correlation between what most consider the "best" sound speakers and how they measure anechoically?

 

I'll have to agree to disagree and let the science, the research, and the controlled tests/experiments speak for themselves.



#15 of 20 OFFLINE   schan1269

schan1269

    HTF Expert



  • 16,319 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 04 2012
  • Real Name:Sam
  • LocationChicago-ish/NW Indiana

Posted April 27 2013 - 08:41 AM

My opinion comes from playing around with Home Theater since "before the center speaker".

 

My first foray into "surround" was Quadraphonic. Yes, that 4 channel turntable.

 

The first subwoofer I ever heard was a Goliath.

 

I've seen all the specs you care to see. I've seen where Stereophile magazine couldn't duplicate what was "told to them" by the manufacturer(whether word of mouth...or printed specs). Quite often, back in the day, many CE rags would show the specs between the two speakers they actually had...vs what they were supposed to be capable of. And we all know about "ringers"...

 

Amplifiers/receivers are one thing. The FTC guidelines(no matter how danced around they are) provide a somewhat realistic measure of what to expect, as long as you temper what is said...by how much juice is sucked off the wall.

 

Speakers. Geez.



#16 of 20 OFFLINE   fuzz092888

fuzz092888

    Agent



  • 25 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 02 2013
  • Real Name:Alex
  • LocationNew New York

Posted April 27 2013 - 08:53 AM

Time spent doing something does not dictate a mastery or understanding of all parts of that thing.  Your opinion is your opinion and I'm certainly not arguing that, but I will say that dismissing the objective side and "hard facts" is foolish at best.  

 

To be clear and so no assumptions are made about what I'm saying, I am not saying that speakers that measure identically or even similarly may sound similar.  



#17 of 20 OFFLINE   schan1269

schan1269

    HTF Expert



  • 16,319 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 04 2012
  • Real Name:Sam
  • LocationChicago-ish/NW Indiana

Posted April 27 2013 - 09:16 AM

You don't need absolute "understanding of all parts" to perform a review.

 

Robert_J. I know maybe 1% of what he knows about subwoofers. I don't care to know how to actually design a driver. Why this winding of a coil makes a difference over another way. Why over and under hung is better/worse for a given application. I care not. I have built my own subwoofers going by a basic design. Build a perfectly square box...that fits the driver. How many drivers out there will that box work for? Probably 90% of them.

 

What I do a "mastery of" is building systems for people to use. Give me a budget, a room, your sources and how "automated" you want it...and you'll get a working plan. My working plans seldom come with "what to buy". That is the job of the installer...after I've designed the plan. Architects rarely pick up a hammer.

 

Speakers, however, is my forte. Put me in a room with 6 different speakers...and I'll name which ones are playing.

 

Meanwhile, my review will come with a suggestion for the company I am doing the review for. Whether they can, or will, do the suggestion is up to them. They kinda started an entirely "new idea" in a speaker. One of those "major duh, why has nobody else done this"...(to be fair...the idea isn't new...the implementation is). I think they could come up with a slightly different speaker "box" and create a niche. I would buy it.



#18 of 20 OFFLINE   creativegeek

creativegeek

    Auditioning



  • 1 posts
  • Join Date: May 17 2013
  • Real Name:liam

Posted May 17 2013 - 04:06 AM

Great review.. I am looking to purchase these towers.. as speakers as I am building an entertainment unit. I do think it's a tab bit expensive so I'll have to look at other options. What do you propose I go for that's a bit on the cheaper side? 



#19 of 20 OFFLINE   Doug Hess

Doug Hess

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 68 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 11 2013

Posted June 24 2013 - 04:38 PM

Hi, Creative, and sorry for the long delay in getting back to you. In the next day or two I'll have a new review that may interest you. Stay tuned!

 

-Doug



#20 of 20 OFFLINE   Doug Hess

Doug Hess

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 68 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 11 2013

Posted June 25 2013 - 02:58 PM

Creative, this is the system I was talking about. The new review is up.

 

-Doug







0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users