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REVIEW: Axiom Audio M3ti Speakers

Model: M3ti
Category: Speakers
Suggested Retail Price: $275
Description: Bookshelf speakers
Manufacturer URL: Axiom Audio
Manufacturer URL: Axiom Audio

Review by drew8mc (A) on March 22, 2004 at 13:51:27
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for the M3ti

Oh no, not another review of these speakers. Read on.

I have often wondered how there were so many inmates, and yet there doesn't seem to be too many reviews based on the number of members here. Then I realized that I owned quite a bit of equipment and have never penned a review myself. It's not until you sit down to actually write one of these that it becomes apparent how difficult this task really is. So what follows is my first attempt at a review. First, however, "allow myself to introduce........myself" (that's Austin Powers for all of those who need help).

I arrived at this hobby through my father. I remember back in the eighties when I was a kid (yes I'm only 25) when my father bought what had to be the first CD player in my town, certainly the first I'd ever seen. He bought an entire Yamaha system (parts of which I'm still using) that at the time I thought was the coolest thing I'd seen. Then in the 90's he put together part of a pretty good hi fi consisting of a Micromega CD player, AI Modulus 3A, Mesa Baron, and some decent Energy speakers (he never could afford the Dunlavy SC-IV's). I went with him to the hi fi stores a few times and listened to various systems. But at the time I didn't fully understand it, didn't know what to listen for, not to mention I couldn't afford any of it as a teenager. During college my father had let me use his old Yamaha system, which I paired with some KLH (Frat-house approved) speakers with big 15" woofers that could rattle the windows at will. After college he let me keep the system and I bought a pair of Acoustic Research AR-9's (not the vintage version). While they aren't necessarily audiophile approved, they have been great fun, and I'm sure I could have done a lot worse. It wasn't until I bought them that I started to understand what this was all about and that's when "the bug" really bit me.

Because I had never seen a review of my AR-9's and I was now reading many reviews on-line, I started to wonder what they sounded like compared to all of these other speakers that get glowing reviews. So I decided to put together a bedroom system and to buy the mother of all glowing review loudspeakers, the Axiom M3ti. "But Drew" I hear you ask "You bought a speaker on reviews alone?" Yes I did the audiophile no-no. It was a cheap way to find out, firstly, what all of the damn buzz was about, and secondly, how the old Yamaha and AR-9 gear stood up. I also bought a Marantz CD-63 and an Onix A-60 integrated for this bedroom system.

So now you know about all of the pertinent background info for this review. And I hope that you understand that my comments are based on these limited experiences in hi-fi. I haven't been doing this for 35 years or tried dozens of different loudspeakers. I'm still at the beginning of my journey.

I've owned the M3ti's for about a year and a half. If you don't know these speakers you are either new to this hobby or have been living under a rock for the last 5 years. I suggest you look to any of the professional reviews for a full description of these little guys.

A quick note about stands. I bought some super cheap stands from Audio Advisor that didn't weigh much more than 5 lbs. Later, through the mapleshade catalogue, I got the idea to take the posts off these stands and sit the speakers on the base and tilted back, like some of the Mapleshade maple stands. I'll be damned if the bass didn't go deeper and was better defined, as well as images solidifying. I then got some 1-1/2" thick granite slabs and set them on that which was much better.

If I dissect this speaker into it's component parts in the typical audiophile fashion, i.e. bass, mid, treble, imaging, soundstaging, timbre, and the rest the M3's perform very well. Individually, they do most of these things (less bass extension) better than my AR's. Images are stable and well defined. In a Dorian recording of Mozart's Requiem, the 4 singers are set up in a row, going from bass to soprano from right to left. You can easily determine their position even when they are singing together. They throw a pretty big soundstage. In fact, their off axis response must be pretty good because they sound pretty similar everywhere in the room. They do voices very well. The midrange, in general, is rendered with an accuracy that my AR's lack. The treble is nicely extended, and cymbals have a great shimmer and excellent decay. What's available of the bass is quick, taut, and tuneful. I miss the low end punch on some music. I listen to everything from chamber music and small choral to hip hop and techno. It's on the more beat heavy music (rock, hip hop, techno) that the bottom end shows it's lack of extension. There's just enough weight that Jazz sounded livable. Brian Bromberg's bass in the opening song of his "Wood" album has ample weight and that great aptly named "woody" sound. To get this ample bass response required a lot of volume, unfortunately, which I'm not that thrilled about, it being a bedroom system and all. I think that gear will steer one toward certain music that plays to it's strengths. I found myself playing small chamber works, small jazz groups, solo piano, folk. The M3's seemed to get congested with more complex music. Some have characterized them as being a bit bright, but I don't think that's true, in my experience. They have a forward presentation, that when combined with a lively room, could turn bright. They have a very neutral tonal balance which is perhaps not always such a good thing. Read on.

Many reviews might stop here, and they would call this another winner, but this isn't the whole story. Even though all of the individual traits seem to do everything right, something's wrong. I find them boring. My mind wanders when I listen. I often pick up magazines instead of listening. It doesn't draw me in. Perhaps this is a system synergy problem. I'm not sure. The Onix A-60 I use in my bedroom hasn't impressed me all that much. But even when I hook them up downstairs to the warmer system in the living room, there is no life. I'm not sure if tubes would help or not. Their neutral tonal balance means that the budget SS equipment they are most likely to be paired with may not be the best solution. It may be the perfect speaker for those running vintage tube amps like Fischers or Scotts. Never tried it but maybe that would be a good balance. Ultimately, I chalk this up to a good learning experience. It's often hard to find out what you DO like until you find out what you don't. They are so cheap, however, that it almost doesn't make sense to get rid of them. Perhaps I'll put them in my kitchen where I can groove out while cooking or entertaining.

Others may have different conclusions, and I would welcome responses to this where people can share what has worked for them.

Product Weakness: Yawn!
Product Strengths: Pick any individual trait.

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Onix A-60 integrated, Yamaha M60 Power amp
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Yamaha C-80, Musical Fidelity CD Pre24
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Musical Fidelity CD Pre 24, Well Tempered Record Player, Integra DVD player feeding Channel Island Audio VDA-1 DAC
Speakers: Acoustic Research AR-9 (new version)
Cables/Interconnects: Cheap Acoustic Reseach, Straightwire Maestro
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Everthing from Classical to Hip Hop
Room Size (LxWxH): 12 x 12 x 8
Time Period/Length of Audition: 1.5 years
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Axiom Audio M3ti Speakers - drew8mc 13:51:27 03/22/04 (14)

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