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What would you do for approx. same $? Big 3-way CSW Tower IIs or Small 2-way Axioms?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Rich Malloy, Mar 5, 2002.

  1. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Kinda in a quandry here.

    I'm trying to complete a setup that will eventually be relegated to the bedroom, but will be my main gear at least until the summer. I'll be running an Outlaw 1050 in a moderately sized room (22x14x8) for 50/50 music/home theater (but I'm much more picky about the music). I certainly don't mind incorporating a sub with the smaller speaks for music, but I've always preferred 2-channel stuff straight (bypassing all DSPs/internal bass management).

    I know Cambridge Soundworks speakers are considered barely a notch above Bose around here, but at $400/pair for the Tower IIs (hifi.com selling on eBay), they strike me as a helluva bargain for a 3-way speaker with dual 8" woofers. I've demo'd them, in store, and was impressed by the big soundstage and good imaging (despite the very poor room/placement), but they did seem lacking in mid-range clarity, sounding more than a tad congested. This might have something to do with the fact that they were flanked on all sides by all the other CSW speakers and pushed flush against the back wall, but I've also heard this criticism from others.

    Since this is destined to be a second system, I don't want to go much more expensive than $400 or so for the mains (cheaper if I can get away with it). I've heard many good things about the Axioms, though I've never personally heard them. But for roughly the same price as the Tower IIs, I can pick up the Axiom M40s. For even less scratch, I can get the M22Ti or M3Ti bookshelves. And these speakers (particularly the bookshelves) garner much love on this and other forums.

    So, what would you do in my boots? The big CSW Tower IIs with the good bass extension and big soundstage, or the smaller Axiom bookshelves/2-way "mini-tower" with the (supposed) great midrange clarity and sparkling highs?
     
  2. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    The CSW towers have silk tweeters which put them far and away above the other small CSW speakers that all use mylar tweeters (not including the Newtons). If you have the floor space, and you prefer clean 2ch music, then I would say the towers. I don't like the bulky look of most tower speakers, but I prefer them for 2ch music.

    For about $200, you could get a pair of Paradigm Titans, which are what I'm running in my bedroom, with no sub. I'm very happy with them.
     
  3. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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  4. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Everything has to be taken with a grain of salt, as basically everything with respect to what one likes or dislikes is OPINION. Everyone hears something different, and based on that and their past experience, will form a different opinion. Compared to B&W Nautilus or Paradigm Reference towers, the CSW towers are obviously lacking, however they are not even close in price range.
    I got rid of my large floor standers in the main system due to WAF, but we are both pleased with the results, so it is OK. [​IMG]
    From CSW, I was actually pretty impressed with the Newton line. If they lowered their prices a bit more, they would be a serious contender for price/performance.
     
  5. Steve Raimand

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    Don't despair Rich. I am in the same boat in reading other's viewpoints on the CSW line. I paid more for the Tower II's. I had the same impression as you regarding the performance of these after I bought them. Then you read about the all the other choices out there from everyone and you start to doubt your decision. Analysis paralysis!

    Oh well, I just bought the SVS 20-39 PCi and am crossing my fingers that the sub will help out somewhat. You'll go crazy reading all of the input from everyone so at some point you gotta go with seems right to you. $400 for the pair is a great deal IMHO.
     
  6. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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  7. Tim Ebling

    Tim Ebling Extra

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    I just ordered a pair of Axiom M22ti's yesterday. They'll be here in a few days, so I can't yet comment on them but I'd like to add to this discussion by saying that according to Axiom the M40's and M22's will both handle low bass without problem. I was wondering this exact same question, and after perusing Axiom's message board, I found that Axiom wholeheartedly recommends setting your receiver to "large" for all their speakers from the M3ti's on up.
    I highly recommend reading the Axiom message boards for juicy info on their speakers!
    Axiom Audio
    Btw I will be posting my impressions on the M22's after they've broken in, but everything I've heard has been very positive. Also check the review links from Axiom's site, there are reviews of the M22's and M40's.
     
  8. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Betcha can't wait, Tim! [​IMG]
    What are you doing for stands? Have you seen these: http://www.axiomaudio.com/products.cfm?productID=SS16
    Even though the M3s look like one of the best speaker deals going, I'm considering either the M22 or the M40, both of which will cost me roughly the same as the CSW Tower IIs (the more expensive, floor-standing M40 works out to be about the same price once you factor in the cost of the stands for the M22). But I haven't read anything comparing these two speakers. Anybody?
    Since mine will be a mixed hometheater/music setup, it'll require a sub - so ultimately bass extension isn't a huge issue. I'm sorta getting away from my old music preference for full-range towers from a bypassed source, thinking I can probably live without the possible extra transparency and harmonic richness of a pure source in order to take advantage of the lower extension of a good sub. But I'm still really on the fence...
    I look forward to reading your impressions of the M22, Tim!
     
  9. Heath_R

    Heath_R Stunt Coordinator

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    I have the Axiom M3ti's and am very satisfied with them. I have 2 pair, main's and surrounds. With 2ch no sub I have no complaints with them at all. The imaging is very precise. I am still waiting on my sand filled stands to arrive, this may improve my low end, but I have no complaints with it the way it is.
     
  10. Tim Ebling

    Tim Ebling Extra

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    You're right, I can't wait - oh the torture of hitting refresh on FedEx's tracking website every five minutes! [​IMG]
    Have you read the review of the M40's? I believe he briefly compares them to the M22's.
    I almost sprang for the M40's as well, but since I already have a sub, I liked the idea of sacrificing a small bit of low end for the bookshelf model, which is more heavily reviewed (universal praise) and allows a little more in the way of placement options.
    As for stands, I'm still shopping. The wife didn't like the looks of the Axiom 16" stands, and I agree. Actually I think 16" is a little short for the speakers. I've been looking at some brands of 20" stands, but the WAF is making it a bit difficult to find both an acoustically functional and aesthetically pleasing stand in the sub $100 price range [​IMG]
    I'll be interested to see which way you go with your decision, Rich, since it seems that we are going for similar setups!
     
  11. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    I've still got some time before I make the final call on this - I'll probably make the purchase mid-April (unless I just can't wait any longer!).
    Please post when you find the stands you like - very important part of the whole bookshelf purchase!
    I think this is the M40 review you're referring to:
    http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/a...enniam40ti.htm
    He goes into some detail in comparing the M40s to the M3s, but I didn't find any direct comparison to the M22. I sorta feel the way you do about sacrificing the bottom end for an improved midrange since this setup practically demands a sub, but the notion that the M22 does in fact provide more transparency and accuracy in the mid-upper ranges compared to the M40 is something I've extrapolated from the M22's comparison to the M3 (which shares the same drivers as the M40) in this review: http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/a...niam22tise.htm
    And on top of these questions remains the basic one: for the same price, can any of the Axioms compare to the CSW 3-way/4-driver Tower II?
    And one other question: considering the titanium tweeters in the Axioms, I should think that only an Axiom center channel with identical tweeters would match it sonically. But I haven't heard squat about the quality of the Axiom CCs! Since mine will be a music-first system (it's ultimate destination is my bedroom - a long, rectangular, acoustically decent bedroom!), center channel considerations certainly aren't paramount... but I'd like to know if I'm gonna run into trouble on this end! CSW's Centerstage would match the Tower IIs perfectly, and I was actually quite impressed by it. Ahhh.... decisions....
     
  12. Dan_Jones

    Dan_Jones Stunt Coordinator

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    I personally have a pair of M3Ti's, VP100 and M50Ti's and am blown away by them daily. Their sound is so clear and detailed; truly a much more accurate speaker then I had heard before. The M50's without a sub (eventhough I have one hooked up) can shake the couches alone. The midrange and highs are where these speakers really shine...truly has to be heard to believe it for the price.

    At this price level, Axiom can't be beat IMHO.
     
  13. Tim Ebling

    Tim Ebling Extra

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    Rich,

    Funny you should bring up the issue of CC - I failed to mention that my order from Axiom included a VP150 center. My system is primarily for HT, and personally I believe that for HT the center is the single most important speaker in anyone's setup, and should not be skimped on. Thus the VP150 for me - some may say it's overkill, but the last thing I want is wimpy vocals!

    Again, quoting from the Axiom message board, the VP100 and the VP150 are both timbre matched to the M22 - and I'm pretty sure they'll also match all the towers as well, so either speaker should work fine for you.

    When I get the system up and running I'll also comment about the VP150.

    Incidentally I made a post here a couple days ago asking for comments about the VP150, and only got two replies, but both were very positive. If you want a reviewer's opinion, click on the review of the Epic 80 system (link on Axiom's site), which inludes the VP150. Again, it's very positive.
     
  14. Jedd

    Jedd Second Unit

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    You also can order M-50 outlets = $495, and drop MBR (5%) -> $470 shipped.

    TowerIIs will cost you probably the same after shipment.

    So I'd say Axioms are way to go.
     
  15. Ryan Muldoon

    Ryan Muldoon Auditioning

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    Tim,
    I'm most interested in your take on the VP150 when you get it. I was planning on getting a VP100 along with M22Ti's for fronts and M3Ti's for rears (and an Adire Rava sub), but I've been reading that the Woofer-Tweeter-Woofer arrangement causes "lobing" off-axis, which is is audible. So I've adjusted my buying plans to get another M3Ti for the center, and I'll have to figure out a good way to place it. But if that isn't necessary, I'd like to hear about it!
     
  16. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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  17. Tim Ebling

    Tim Ebling Extra

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    Ryan, here's a Q&A (direct copy and paste) from the Axiom message boards about the exact issue you're talking about:
    --------------------------
    After extensive research online, reading numerous reviews, and trying to wade through all the bovine excrement, I am 90% sure of purchasing an Axiom 6 speaker set-up. As I will be using this 80%-90% for music I would appreciate any input on this. M22's for Front with EP350 sub. How would an M3 work for the Center with 2 M3 for the rears? Would the price diff. be worth considering the M50's for the front, during HT use would the 50's overpower the M3 center or would the VP150 be better match. I've read lots of commentary on the negative side that a center is regular speaker on its side. I am new here lots of questions so any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance
    ---------------------------
    If you use an M3 for the center and it will not be overpowered by the M50s or the M22s if you adjust your receiver settings accordingly, but it could end up being the limiting factor in your overall output. Though the M3 is shielded it is not designed to be closer than 6" to the television screen, this will be irrelevant if you have a rear projection set. If you were to use the M3 for a center I would not suggest laying it on its side, as you would not have symmetrical off axis performance. The vp150 however is designed to lay flat with the dual tweeter array to the outside, will not be the limiting factor in the overall output, and is shielded to be able to sit directly on top of the TV. I think the best overall arrangement would be the vp150 with the M22s. The center channel is a very important speaker in your home theater system.
    Ian Colquhoun
    Axiom President & Chief Engineer
     
  18. Tim Ebling

    Tim Ebling Extra

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    One more thing - here's another quote from Ian about pairing the M22's with the VP150:

    ------------------

    The M22s with a sub will be perfect in your room. Both the VP100 and the vp150 are perfectly timbre matched to the M22s so either will work great in your system. If you go with the vp150 the impedance difference is not an issue and the output level for the center channel can be adjusted in the set up mode of the receiver but I do not think you will find the vp150 will have too much output for the M22s. As for the advantages of the vp150 in your system, it would be the improved right to left imaging of the vp150 because of the array we can use with the dual tweeters.

    Ian Colquhoun

    Axiom President & Chief Engineer

    ------------------

    From reading this and other such posts it does appear that the VP150's driver arrangement was altered to reduce cancellation from the tweeters, which are now much further apart.
     
  19. Daniel T

    Daniel T Stunt Coordinator

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    I just want to put another vote for the axiom speakers. I have the M3tis, VP100, and the QS4s and love them. Dan_Jones recommended them to me when I was first looking to replace my existing speakers and I can't thank him enough. If you do plan to go with the axiom speakers you might want to try Marc at http://www.audioshop.on.ca. His prices are in Canadian dollars and US money will go a long way. Good luck.
    Daniel
     
  20. Jedd

    Jedd Second Unit

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