|Axiom M80ti Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Saturday, 01 January 2005|
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Axiom Audio has quickly established itself as one of a small number of players in the ultra-competitive Internet-based, direct-to-the-consumer speaker business. With an understated Canadian style, the Axiom folks bend over backwards to offer AV advice in place of crafty closes and hard sells. Consumers who find their value-oriented speakers without researching Axiom’s reputation are often shocked at how low-key and fun the experience of buying speakers can be.
As you might expect, the Axiom website is extremely well designed and rich in content for those looking to learn about speakers, audio and home theater systems in general. Unlike many mass market and mid-level retailers, Axiom has truly informed advisors awaiting your call. The most notable of these is resident audio-video expert Alan Lofft (former editor of a number of top AV publications), who is available to prospective and existing Axiom clients for help with everything from tuning a subwoofer to speaker placement and far beyond. While you can’t go into a showroom and see and hear Axiom speakers the way you would with comparably-priced speakers like Polk, Definitive Technology, Paradigm or Energy, what you can do is audition the Axioms for 30 days in your living room. Many discerning consumers are looking to this model as the best way to know for sure that you are getting the best speaker for your dollar in your own media room. While you can get other speakers to demo at home if your platinum card has enough limit on it, with Axiom you get a lot more time to test, tune and enjoy their speakers before you tie the knot.
The Axiom Audio M80ti is the company’s top loudspeaker, with a retail price of $1,240 per pair. This speaker is a medium-sized tower, measuring 39.5 inches high, 9.25 inches wide and 17 inches deep, weighing 55 pounds. The cabinet has an unusual wedge shape that Axiom Audio calls its “anti-standing wave” technology that minimizes parallel internal surfaces in an effort to reduce standing waves and cabinet distortion.
The cabinet comes in a choice of four faux finishes: beech, maple, black ash or cherry. The cabinet is very well finished, considering its price. It appears very much like a real wood veneer, as you might expect from a speaker costing many times the price. The Axiom M80 Ti has a driver array of two one-inch titanium tweeters, two five-and-a-quarter-inch aluminum mid-woofers, and two six-and-one-half-inch aluminum woofers above a Vortex port. The back of the speaker is noticeably narrower than the front baffle, due to the cabinet’s acoustic design. The back panel features two more Vortex ports and dual five-way binding posts. The reported system response is 34Hz-22kHz, with an amazing reported sensitivity rating of 95 dB/1w/1m, making these speakers extremely easy to drive on even a modest receiver (provided the receiver can safely drive 4 ohms).
The Axiom speakers were easy to unpack and came with both spikes for carpeted surfaces and rubber feet for hard floors. A wrench was thoughtfully provided for installing the spikes or feet, as well as tightening the binding posts.
I experimented for quite a while with the positioning of the speakers. I ended up with them just over two-and-a-half feet from the front wall and five-and-a-half feet apart. It took some time to achieve the right balance via positioning of the speakers. I found that these speakers like a lot of room around them to sound best. With ports front and back, they need room to breathe. After setting the speakers up, I let them break in for the better part of a week before sitting down for any serious listening. All my listening was done with the grilles removed, allowing me to see the attractive silver-colored drivers.