In-home A/B test of Studio40's and M22Ti's

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Lee Daza, Aug 24, 2002.

  1. Lee Daza

    Lee Daza Agent

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2002
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hi all,

    I was reading another thread here in HTF and people were raving about the sound of Axiom speakers, even saying someone should buy the M22Ti's over Paradigm Studio/40's. I happened to own Studio/40's and went through an extensive auditioning process before I bought them, but never had a chance to hear Axioms. Paradigm is know for providing a lot of sound for the buck, and even the POSSIBILITY that a $400/pair speaker could equal or beat a $1000/pair from Paradigm was intriguing. So... I ordered a pair and gave them a listen, planning to move them to upstairs when the comparison was over.

    Now granted I think most of you wouldn't compare M22Ti's to Paradigm's Reference series, instead using their Monitor series as the guinea pigs. Unfortunately I don't have Monitors, and I thought if the M22Ti's did in fact impress me it would REALLY be something worth spreading around as that is a huge difference in price. In addition, besides having less lower end, the Studio/20's are just as rich sounding and these words apply equally to them.

    Well, after a hour of 'break in', and then comparing the two for another few hours, I can say you get what you pay for. I'm not going to say the M22Ti's sounded bad, but close your eyes and imagine this scenario: You walk into a room and hear music playing... you can clearly make out the vocals and the music sounds nice, but you can't place where it's coming from. You continue on through the room and after passing through another doorway... wham! THIS is where the music is coming from! Suddenly you hear the fingers sliding on the strings, the detail of every aspect of the music is clearer, the strikes on the snare drum are clean and tight in space and time, the musicians are right THERE.

    I'm sure people have experienced this many times. When you are in the room with the speakers, at the correct position for optimal imaging, the sound is SOOO much nicer than from an adjoining room even though you hear it fine. I'm here to tell you that THAT was the experience formed inside my head when I switched from M22Ti's to Studio/40's from my listening position via remote. This was no subtle difference, but virtually night and day to my ears.

    I tried the speakers alone, speakers with subwoofer, M22Ti's on the inside(closer together) with Studio/40's on the outside, then the reverse, Monster M-series cable on the Axioms and regular XP cable on the Studio/40's(didn't try the reverse), different styles of music, etc... just to make sure the drastic difference I heard wasn't something other than the speakers. I even used an SPL meter to make sure volumes were kept identical.

    Anyway, just wanted to inform those that haven't had the chance to hear Axiom M22Ti's that they sound nice, but(IMO) you're not going to get a miracle for your $400. If you are considering spending more for B&W, Paradigm, Energy, etc, rest assured that the money will be well spent if you can afford it. There are definitely times when a cheaper product can stand toe-to-toe with a more expensive brand, just not in this case.

    I apologize if this is 'obvious' or has been hashed over a dozen times already, but another actual A/B listening opinion never hurts. Apologies do NOT go out to M22Ti owners, since they got a good speaker for the money and this post is in no way trying to imply they are deficient.
     
  2. Jack Keck

    Jack Keck Second Unit

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2001
    Messages:
    269
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    This question, or some varient of it,has come up quite often here. Been answered, too. Just not as well or in as much detail as you did. Thanks for your insights.

    Did you think teh M22s are adequate for your second system?
     
  3. Robertto

    Robertto Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 23, 2002
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    See I have to disagree with you there. Not that the 40s are better than the 22s but on the bang for your buck issue. I actually only paid $300 for my 22s (factory outlet).

    I was auditioning the studio 20s, 40s, and 60s yesterday for a friend's system and while extremely impressed with my Axioms when I got home and started playing my system. I said to my self for the $800 dollars I spent on my VP150 and 4 M22s compared to the $2,000 my buddy has negotiated the Studio 60s, 20s and Studio ctr I thought I had a pretty good deal. The studios are better and they should be. But for that relative $1,200 price difference I think the Axioms are pretty damn good. Even my buddy noted that the Axioms where a great set of speakers for the money.

    Bottom line is that the M22s are a much better comparo to the Moniter series.

    IMO, the Axioms give you great clarity, but sometimes are a tad too bright but once they break-in (which is obvious when you compare my 3 month old 22s vs 1 day old VP150) do calm down a bit.

    It all comes down to taste and for the money I just thought the Moniters (3 and 5) did not give the same level of clarity that the Axioms did.

    Just an nother opinion for people to chew on ;-)
     
  4. Phil_Lunar

    Phil_Lunar Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2002
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  5. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2001
    Messages:
    1,077
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  6. Lee Daza

    Lee Daza Agent

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2002
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I've been playing the M22Ti's for hours trying to break them in some more, and I'll post impressions after at least another 24hr of break-in.

    Jack- The M22Ti's are definitely good enough for my secondary system, they sound great. Which leads to...

    Robertto- You won't get an argument from me that M22Ti's are a super speaker for the money, and probably more bang-for-the-buck than my Studio/40's. I thoroughly enjoy listening to them, and am definitely keeping them. Will you get TWICE the sound quality going with the Studio/40's(seeing as they are twice the price or more)? No. When I say 'there is a night and day difference' I don't mean that night is bad! Just that there is a distinct enough difference in 'presence' to justify the extra $$$ if you don't mind spending it. (I would love to hear what kind of bookshelf Axiom could make for $1000/pair as well!)
     
  7. Lee Daza

    Lee Daza Agent

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2002
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Martice,
    Yeah I knew somebody would mention the short break-in.[​IMG] I hear all different opinions about how long it should take, from Zero to 100 days. I've had my Paradigms for 1 week, so I guess I'm not fully 'used' to them either. I will however keep the M22Ti's playing, and use them as my music speakers for a good while longer in their current A/B setup with my Studio/40's because I am interested to see what I think long term as well.
    Was it a landslide? Well if I tallied yes/no votes based on the various features for a speaker that matter to me(fit and finish, imaging, clarity, dynamics, etc) then yes they all went to the Studio/40's and it was a landslide. However HOW MUCH the Studio/40's won by varied significantly. The Axioms are very well built and created comparable sound during a stretch of piano in a favorite song. Slam and ability to convey impact(of snare drums for instance, not necessarily deep bass) are no comparison, as is the detail of individual instruments audible on the Studio/40's that I can't quite make out on the M22Ti's. I'll keep listening and posting impressions(even though my ear is far from 'golden':b )...
     
  8. Robertto

    Robertto Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 23, 2002
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Now I think you hit the nail on the head. Is there enough difference in performance to justify the additional investment? I'd say yes as well. Especially when you consider the deal my buddy is getting (mentioned in original post). But since I am in a appartment and it is not my final system I can't rationalize it.

    Now interestingly enough I will be auditioning the Onix Rockets today. It will be really interesting to see how they stack up vs the Paradigms.

    Oh, and I am coming to the conclusion that while the Axioms due the HT thing well they really handle straight music much better. And ironically enough my ht/music ratio has changed to 40/60 since I got these speakers, from 70/30 before that.
     
  9. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2001
    Messages:
    3,126
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Lee, when you were doing this testing did you know which speaker you were listening to? Psychoacoustics is very real. I think we have this going both ways. Those who want to believe the more expensive speaker is better do, and those who want to believe the cheaper speaker can compete with the more expensive speaker do.
    If you can get someone to do the switching for you, with you not knowing which speaker you are listening to that would help a lot in this little experiment as well.
    I liked this little anecdote about psychoacoustics posted in another thread. It illustrates the point well (and it's a big name in the audio world that did the experimenting).
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...334#post948334
     
  10. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 1999
    Messages:
    639
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  11. Lee Daza

    Lee Daza Agent

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2002
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Dustin,
    I agree that knowing which speakers are playing can influence what you hear. However, I happen to own BOTH of them, not just the cheaper or more expensive pair. If the cheaper ones aren't as good I just move them to a secondary system. If the cheaper ones are as good or better I can still return the more expensive ones and count my blessings that I found such a good deal. Either way I'm a winner.[​IMG] As I said earlier though, the difference is not subtle if done side-by-side and I flip back and forth.
    I'll have someone do the switching for me if I can this weekend. I know many people don't buy into the blind A/B test as a valid method, but I can't see how it can HURT, so I'll give it a try. I was actually kind of hoping the Axioms would blow me away because I can't resist finding inexpensive yet high performance stuff!
     
  12. Phil M

    Phil M Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 1999
    Messages:
    161
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Lee:

    I also own the Paradigm Studio 40's and I can speak from experience, your 40's need more than a week to break-in themselves.... I almost returned mine after the first week!

    Since that time (2 years ago) I've A/B'd them against several different speakers all at home & side-by-side(visit my webiste) and to me, the 40's always hold their own.

    I'm not saying the 40's are the best speaker in the world, just that they are very solid in most all areas.

    Phil
     
  13. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2000
    Messages:
    8,967
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hehe, this never fails. So it must be break in period.
    Or psychoacoustics.
    After that, it will probably be placement "These speakers are very sensitive to placement!!!"
    Then it will be Room Acoustics.
    Then of course, the sources and component synergy (cables?...).
    Is it possible that a 1000/pr speaker, generally acknowledged as the best bang for the buck in its price point might simply be better than... (gasp!) a $400 offering?
    --
    Holadem
     
  14. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 1999
    Messages:
    639
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  15. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2001
    Messages:
    3,126
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Mark,

    Why doesn't it apply? Pyschoacoustics is the pyschological study of hearing. Now granted for most this means studing how we hear and often has little to do with HiFi. But it can include areas of interest to us. Like when we hear great differences in products when there aren't any.

    Time and again I'm sure if you took two audio products that a person thought had a night and day difference when they knew which they were listening to, they couldn't consistently pick the one they thought better in blind comparison.

    Holadem,

    Breakin, I'm not sure how real. I don't put a lot of stock in these 100day numbers though. I really don't think you'll get any major changes after a few solid hours of use. But one speaker could be at a disadvantage if it was straight out of the box.

    Placement, non issue from his above description.
    Room Acoustics, non issue, comparison done in same room.
    Sources, non issue, same used for both.

    I guess it's my scientific background, but I put a lot more stock in blinding testing results than any other type.

    Oh, and my comments where not meant to be from the perspective of defending either speaker. But personally, I think with blind testing, he will still consistently pick the Studio40 over the M22ti.
     
  16. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 1999
    Messages:
    639
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  17. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2001
    Messages:
    3,126
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    You're playing with semantics. Scientific study of the perception of sound and the psychological study of sound are the same thing.

    Biases and visual queues affect how we perceive the sound of speakers, amps, wires anything else in auido equipment. Psychoacoustics has shown us this is true and is why I say it is very real (meaning many things besides the actual sound affect how we perceive the sound). Blind testing is a control that elliminates color, biases, visual queues, etc from affecting how we perceive sound.

    If you don't compare audio equipment in a blind fashion there are many other things that can be affecting your perception of the sound besides just the sound. Compare the equipment in a blind fashion and your decision will be based only on the sound.

    After you have made the decision on the sound, then weigh in the other factors like cost and asthetics.
     
  18. Lee Daza

    Lee Daza Agent

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2002
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Update:
    It took a lot of effort(not easy to make it a really blind test), but over a couple hours my cousin helped me try several genres of music in a blind test. We could only use the beginnings of songs since my CD player does not allow reverse scanning, so he flipped a coin to determine which speakers to try first, played the first minute of a song, then switched to the others and did the same. He then flipped again and did the same thing with the same song. We did this with Sting, Rush, Inkuyo, Andrea Bocelli, Tchaikovsky, and Eric Clapton.
    I chose the Studio/40's every time with no exceptions. I sensed an almost 'hall like' quality to the sound of the Axioms, almost like they had built-in DSP processing[​IMG]. I much preferred the Studio/40 sound, where the music seemed to be right there in front of me, clear and live-like. The Axioms were definitely more laid-back(not quite as dynamic...maybe the mid/bass driver of the 40 is lighter and more responsive?) but still produced a nice sound. I think the slightly more distant-sounding and more diffuse imaging of the Axioms almost lent a slight 'music hall' sound to my ears, which was nice even though the Studio/40's provided more detail. It was this more 'accurate' imaging(can imaging be accurate? maybe I should say discrete?) and impressive clarity that made it easy to know when I was hearing the Studio/40's.
    I can tell you that I've warmed up to their sound(the M22Ti's) considerably since I bought them. I still prefer the Studio/40's by a good margin, but though initially I didn't really like the sound of the M22Ti's much at all, I can see now how they are well liked by those that have them. It's during playback of music like Inkuyo's 'The Double-Headed Serpent', which is beautiful Andean music from the time of the Incas, using very airy ancient instruments and crisp stringed instruments, that the Studio/40's really shine though. The detail is so fine that fingers moving on the strings and breaths over the primitive tube-like instruments come alive and add immensely to my enjoyment.
    Anyway I'll keep playing and enjoying the M22Ti's, hoping as some people seem to suggest that a prolonged break-in will only make them better.
     
  19. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 1999
    Messages:
    639
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  20. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2001
    Messages:
    3,126
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Great second report Lee. [​IMG]
    The only other thing I'd be interested in (although since you were able to achieve 100% accuracy in preferring the Paradigms it's not that necessary) is that on occation have the person switching between the components being compared play the same speaker twice and see if you pick the same speaker over itself or say they are the same speaker.
    Also very important in doing this type of comparison is making sure both speakers are level matched. Level differences can really muck with results.
    Mark, then what is the correct term for what I'm talking about? From my point of view phsycoacoustics will encompass both what you have described and what I have described.
     

Share This Page