|Axiom Audio Epic Grand Home Theater Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Thomas Garcia|
|Saturday, 01 February 2003|
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Many home theater enthusiasts, myself included, often find themselves daydreaming about flagship processors, gargantuan amplifiers (the types that are capable of arc welding), cost-no-object speaker systems, and subwoofers that can register on the Richter scale. Unfortunately, many of these products can have prices in the stratosphere, at times approaching five digits or more for each component. The same enthusiast may not see the appeal in the necessity of taking out a second home mortgage in order to acquire the components for assembling such a “state of the art” system. Fortunately, there are many manufacturers on the market today whose business philosophy is to provide a high degree of performance without the soaring prices that these mega-systems often command. In terms of speakers, several Canadian companies have made great use of the National Research Council (NRC) laboratories to design great-performing speakers at very reasonable cost. For those who are unaware of the NRC, it is the Canadian government’s premier organization for research and development, devoted to assisting and promoting scientific and industrial research in a variety of different technical arenas.
Axiom, a newcomer here in the USA, has been one such Canadian speaker manufacturer that has taken advantage of this resource and is providing products with impressive performance at even more striking price points. Based in Dwight, Ontario, Axiom offers a full line of loudspeakers that include various multi-driver floor-standing towers, bookshelf monitors, surround sound speakers, and subwoofers. Their distribution in the USA is done via direct sales to their customers, with free shipping and a 30-day money back guarantee. With direct sales, Axiom reduces the level of distribution mark-ups and therefore can deliver their products to the end customer at significantly reduced cost. They also offer several packaged systems including a mid-price combination referred to as the Epic Grand Master Home Theater Speaker System ($1,510), the system provided for this review. This particular package represents an $80 savings over purchasing the individual components separately. The Epic Grand Master Home Theater Speaker System, which comes configured for 5.1 channel playback, is comprised of a pair of Millennia M22ti bookshelf two-way loudspeakers ($400 per pair), a VP100 center-channel speaker ($220 each), a pair of QS8 Quadpolar surrounds ($470 per pair), and an EP175 self-powered subwoofer ($500 each). As an addition to the standard Epic Grand Master system, Axiom also provided the VP150 Center Channel ($350 each) for review during the evaluation of this system.
The main speakers used in the Axiom Audio Epic Grand Master Home Theater Speaker System are the Millennia M22ti monitors. Each speaker incorporates a single one-inch titanium tweeter and two 5.25-inch aluminum midrange/woofers in a 19.7-inch-high by 7.7-inch-wide by 8.5-inch-deep semi-triangulated enclosure. This non-symmetrical enclosure is a feature that Axiom has utilized to minimize standing waves throughout their line of speakers. The M22ti’s enclosures are also vented, using what Axiom describes as a “vortex” designed port (somewhat resembling a corrugated tube) that is reported to increase the surface area of the port sidewalls and reduce the strength of eddy currents. This, combined with the curved entrance and exit from the port, helps eliminate port noise produced by the speaker. The Millennia M22ti and the center channel speakers were magnetically shielded, allowing the placement to be directly on top of or next to a standard CRT television. Axiom lists the weight for each M22ti at 16 pounds. In addition, all of the Axiom speakers are equipped with quality five-way binding posts that are easily accessible for making cable connections. In keeping with their philosophy of value engineering, Axiom utilizes a wood grain vinyl finish for all of their enclosures. Available in black oak, maple and cherry, the fit and finish of the vinyl covering was very good and did not detract from the overall attractive aesthetics of the Axiom system.
Occupying the center position of the Epic Grand Master Home Theater system is the VP 100, which also utilizes a one-inch titanium dome tweeter positioned between two 5.25-inch aluminum midrange/woofers. The VP 100 enclosure is also somewhat triangulated, offering a flat side for mounting the speaker directly above a monitor to create a straightforward radiating pattern, and a slanted face when positioning the speaker below the monitor, providing a slight angle up towards the listening position. Dimensions for the VP 100 are 7.5 inches tall in front, sloping down to six inches at the back of the speaker, by 17 inches wide by 7.5 inches deep and weighing in at 11 pounds.
In addition, for this review, the upgraded VP150 was employed as the center channel. The VP150 has a very unique driver configuration, with three 5.25-inch aluminum drivers flanked by two 1-inch titanium tweeters. This configuration provided a superior listening experience when sitting off-axis. With a height of 7.5 inches, width of 27 inches and a depth of 7.5 inches, and similar enclosure angles to the VP 100, the VP150’s profile looked sleek and slender placed above my viewing monitor. Weight for this speaker scales in at 17 pounds. This speaker was utilized throughout the following review and observations.
Serving as the system’s surround speakers were the Axiom’s QS8s. Axiom refers to this speaker as a quadpolar multi-directional-firing speaker, once again in a triangulated enclosure using two one-inch titanium tweeters firing at 45 degrees off-center and dual 5.25-inch midrange woofers, one up and one down-firing. Dimensions for the QS8s are 8.25 inches high by 11 inches wide by six inches deep, with a weight of 11 pounds per speaker. The surround speakers can easily be wall-mounted, using the hanging brackets that are provided, or placed upon specially designed stands to accommodate the unique driver configuration. For this review, the QSS8 stands were utilized, offering a high degree of flexibility while placing the surrounds for optimal integration. Dimensions for this stand are 36 inches tall by 12.5 inches wide by 13 inches deep.
Grounding the Epic Grand Master system was the EP175 subwoofer, which comes equipped with a 10-inch aluminum driver, a built-in 175-watt amplifier, and dual ports. Physical measurements for the EP175 are 17.5 inches high by 13.5 inches wide by 14.25 inches deep, with a weight of 30 pounds. Adjustability for the subwoofer includes a 30-150 hertz variable low pass filter, 0 or 180-degree variable phase switch, and output level control.