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Premium Member
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings - This is the second in a series of four loudspeaker tests being done as a listening only test at our place. The first review was posted last week for the Martin Logan ElectroMotion ESL Hybrid electrostat speakers ($2500 per pair).

As noted in the thread title, this is for the Axiom M50 floor standing loudspeaker, which starts at $998 per pair delivered to one's door (US dollars and shipping address).

To keep things simple, there will be quite a few "identical lines" between the two reviews, such as room set up, and music tracks used. The text is different for the actual listening tests.

There was some discussion about doing blind tests, and in both this review and the Martin Logan review, there were many blind tests done, with the notes taken before I knew which speakers were hooked up.

A decision was made NOT to do a comparison test at this time, but to rather just do 4 separate reviews.

A comparison test may be done this fall/winter in a GTG set up.

Here is a picture of all four speakers (The Axiom M50's are the smallest of the four, shown in genuine oak finish) ... the review text to follow in the next post:


Premium Member
629 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Axiom M50 Floorstanding Loudspeaker (M50)

MSRP: $998 to $1560 per pair (including shipping, in USD) depending on finish

System Frequency Response: 42-20,000 Hz +/- 3 dB

High-Frequency Driver: One inch Titanium Dome Tweeter

Sensitivity: 89 dB one watt one meter

Impedance: 8 ohms

Crossover Frequency: 2200 Hz

Woofer Type: Dual 6.5 inch Aluminum Cone woofers

Woofer loading: Bass Reflex Dual Vortex ports

Recommended Amplifier Power: 10–200 watts per channel

Weight: 38.3 lbs. each

Size: 35.5” h x 9.25” w x 13.25 d


The M50's are about as easy a set up as one could want. The speakers are well protected by foam and thick cardboard, and at 38.3 pounds, lifting them from the carton was simple. They come with rubber feet, which take about a minute to attach. Hook them up, and you are ready to listen.

Overall, the excellent packaging materials and ease of set up warrant a grade of "A".

The System and the Room:

The listening room is 44x14.5x7.5 feet with concrete walls, floor and acoustic tile ceiling. The associated equipment is a Marantz UD-5007 Universal player, a Marantz 7008 receiver and for some of the listening tests, an Axiom ADA-1000-5 power amplifier.

All listening was done with no Audyssey room correction applied, and no subwoofer in the system. The Marantz 7008 was operated in 2 channel mode for all listening. The speakers were placed appx. 4 feet from the back walls and 2 feet from the side walls.

Listening Tests and Observations:

Roger Waters "In The Flesh" SACD

This SACD has been a favorite test disc of mine for 11 years now. It's not the best sounding disc, but there is so much going on with it that I have found it a valuable tool for evaluating speakers. There are many tracks with background voices in them (particularly "The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking" and "Amused to Death"), and this is one of many of those tools. Compared to other speakers I have had here, the M50's are above average in terms of delineating these background voices. This was the first hint that the M50's might be able to play above their pay grade.

Macro Dynamics are about average on the M50's with this disc set - "Money" and "Another Brick in the Wall" are delivered with decent impact, and never sounded strained, even at listening levels that I (and several other listeners) found to be louder than we would ever listen.

Micro Dynamics are average overall - the bells in "Time" are clear with a lot of the "jump factor" that this disc is meant to deliver. Keep in mind "average" is in context to other speaker being tested, all in a far higher price bracket.

Sound staging is fairly deep - during "Perfect Sense", the voice of "Hal" from "2001: Space Oddity" starts behind the performers - and then projects out into the audience. He also moves nicely from left to right as he emerges. The projection out is comparable to the depth, and the M50's strike a very good front to back balance.

The M50's overall performance on In The Flesh was surprising. In the 3 plus months we have had them here, the M50's have played this disc at least a dozen times, and impressed everyone who heard them with their ability to "go loud" while never sounding harsh as one would expect in this modest price range.

Diana Krall Live in Paris:

The M50's next test was jazz and orchestra. The Diana Krall disc is more about detail and rhythm with emphasis on micro dynamics over macro. The M50's proved to be quite listenable: They don't astonish in any way, they just present the music. The soundstage was not as large as, say, the Legacy Signature SE's, nor the Martin Logan ESLs. But the soundstage was enjoyable and compelling. Krall's whispers were quite audible, and the brush on drums sounded natural. Her voice was the sultry voice we all expect from Krall. She is not a "shouter", she is a singer. A good speaker brings out a singer's voice as if he or she is in the room, and the M50's did so with ease.

Stand up bass was excellent, with a solid feel to the bass notes, along with the occasional snippet of "I just heard his hands slide on the string" detail. Brass instruments were never harsh, even at elevated levels. While they overall were not quite to the average in this test, they were quite close.

One aspect of this disc that I have noticed is a really good speaker will have one toe tapping and waiting for the next bass line, or brass crescendo, and thinking less about speakers, especially of one is enjoying an adult beverage. For an entry price at a kilobuck, the M50's did just that.

Tony Bennett Unplugged Live:

This disc starts off with drums, piano, stand up bass, and Tony crooning. The M50's do a solid job with both Tony's age ... and his incredible singing voice. Yes, you hear some crackle from him that wasn't there 35 years ago, but let's challenge any singer to match how this man can still hit the notes he does in his 5th decade performing. The man was 68 when he made this disc ... impressive.

The sound mix on this disc features Tony "front and center", and the M50's put him out front, right where he belongs. On "Fly Me To The Moon", Tony walks towards the back of the stage, and the M50's convey his movement with good depth... then he comes forward again, and one can "see him move" almost as well as with the more expensive speakers we auditioned.

"Speak Low" starts with a single person snapping fingers, and quickly goes to several, and it sounds like several distinct people snapping, with Tony's voice coming through like silk, the stand up bass crystal clear. With the M50's, a lot of that "I am there" feeling comes through. The best of the speakers we had here delivered even more of that "What's Tony doing in my room" feeling, but the M50's will make most grown ups smile while Tony entertains.

"I Left My Heart In San Francisco" showcases his ability to hit the notes, and the M50's make a credible statement about both how great he still is, and his age... then it goes directly into "Steppin Out With My Baby", and with the M50's, it's hard NOT to smile. When one thinks about the listening session on these two songs, one appreciates good engineering. When one is IN the listening session, one appreciates good music through the M50's.

"Moonglow" with KD Lang tests the M50's abilities with male and female voices simultaneously. A great speaker will put the image of them looking at each other, smiling while singing. While the M50's sound a little "smaller" here than the other speakers, they still gave a lot of that "live" presence.

The Diana Krall DVD and this SACD will definitely be required discs for all the speakers that are auditioned, and look for some comparisons and contrasts between the speakers with both these discs.

Steely Dan 2 Against Nature:

2AN has been a staple of mine in the arena of assessing speakers for over a decade, and with good reason. Vocals are quite varied, the disc is possibly the best recording from Steely Dan, and it provides a musical test from below 20 Hz in some songs. Plus, it's a fun listen.

The M50's demonstrated a lot of balance with 2AN. They mix a fairly deep soundstage, average detail, tuneful/punch bass and more than respectable delineation with vocals. The M50's are not the most detailed speaker in the test, but one is also never left wondering how much was left out.

2AN opens with "Gaslighting Abbie", then transitions into "What a Shame about Me". This transition in deep bass is well done. "What a Shame about Me" is one of several tracks with true "subwoofer deep bass", and the dual 6.5 inch woofers give a lot of the deep bass this disc dishes out - while not subwoofer deep, still more than one expects from a compact tower.

Soundstage is well placed - for example - On "Cousin Dupree", one can hear the vocals are towards the back of the stage. This is even noticeable when listening off axis, which other speakers in this price range miss.

Amber Rubarth: Novocaine (Legacy Audio Disc)

Before starting this test, I had never heard of Amber Rubarth. Legacy includes this disc with each speaker purchase, so when I got the pair of Legacy Signature SE's earlier this year, listening to it was a "must". This track has become an invaluable tool in testing a speaker. Her vocals are haunting, and the recording is a gem. Each disc has its own set of challenges for a speaker, and Novocaine is no exception. The challenge here is in several of the "soaring moments" in which Amber hits both her vocals and her guitar "hard", lesser speakers will muddy her lyrics.

The M50's sounded smooth and natural from the opening Acoustic Guitar through to her voice and the violins. One area in this disc that really places demands on a speaker is the off axis performance. The violins go from speaker "A" to speaker "B" several times, and are placed just outside the speaker. With the M50's one could sit directly in front of the left speaker, and still get that outside imaging of the violin of the right speaker. This is a rare commodity in a speaker, especially in its price range - or even above it.

The performance of the M50's on this song was the biggest surprise in this test, and made one appreciate just how good a speaker it is.

Supertramp: Brother, Where You Bound:

This disc from the mid 80's is another great test of a loudspeaker's abilities. The title song is 18 minutes long and has everything from acoustic guitar to well preserved percussion to astounding sound effects. In the middle of the song (one must leave politics at the door and just enjoy the performance), there is a march of soldiers that starts from the right side of the soundstage, crossing in front of you, then exiting left.

The M50's somewhat reminded me of the performance of the classic JBL L100's from my teens/early 20's, but without the weaknesses of the L100's.

The Kick drum is in the 40 Hz range, and the overall performance of this disc requires a speaker that loves macro dynamics in the bandwidth starting from 40 Hz up to our limit in hearing. The M50's just loved jamming this song. The "soldier's march" was as wide as one would expect - and again one got that "panorama", even when off axis.

This is an angry Rock Anthem, with powerful vocals, great guitar work and gnarly (hey, it's the 80's) percussion. The M50's took everything Supertramp threw at them, and just smiled. These speakers can not only make great unamplified music, they can ROCK.

Special Guest Disc - Uriah Heep Live 1973:

I first heard this disc when selling stereo equipment in 1980, a job I had to help pay for my university degree. I don't expect a lot of people reading this (if you got this far) to know about this CD (of course, the original I heard was an album). For a 42 year old recording, it's amazingly good. Vocals are something one must hear to believe. When Rolling Stone reviewed this disc in 1974, they had this to say ...

"Uriah Heep combines Heavy Metal power with Beach Boys Vocals".

A speaker REALLY needs to be able to rock with David Byron (lead singer - RIP) doing his signature screams, the band harmonizing, and the guitars blazing. For guilty pleasure, I will fire up this disc, lean back, and time warp back to the 70's.

The M50's showed that they can also be a lot of fun. Grab a pair, fire up this disc, listen to "July Morning", "Gypsy", and "Circle of Hands" and tell me you don't want to fire up a lighter along with 17,000 other maniacs.

Other discs auditioned:

Michael Stanley: Live at Tangiers (see Tony Bennett)
Steely Dan: Aja (see 2 Against Nature)
Pink Floyd: The Wall (see Roger Waters In The Flesh)
Dire Straits Making Movies / Brothers in Arms


The Axiom M50 is the Axiom speaker that gets "no love". It's hard to find a review. The company itself has stated the M60's outsell it by a large margin. So why bother testing out a speaker few others have?

This was simple: The M3 bookshelf from Axiom has received a lot of rave reviews, and is a simple, two way design. The M50 adds another bass driver, a larger cabinet, and keeps the simplicity of a two way speaker while adding a lot of power handling ability.

It's well engineered, and no matter what I hit it with, the M50's just kept delivering music. Crank it up for your buddies, and it will go loud, and do so without strain. Listen to jazz late at night, and even at 60 dB levels, it's still transparent. My preconception was this might make for a decent speaker. After a lot of listening tests (many of them blind), I found I was wrong. It's not a "decent" speaker. It's a very good speaker, with solid engineering and testing behind it, that does most things right.

It's not state of the art, but it's a speaker that will provide years of excellent listening. It competes quite well with anything I have heard in or near its price range, with its most compelling feature being balance.

It's also easy to drive - I spent several hours using a Denon 1712 receiver with the M50's, and with fairly high sensitivity and an easy, 8 ohm load, one can get excellent performance without needing to buy a $2000 ... or even a $1000 ... receiver.

The Axiom M50's warrant a "highly recommend an audition" rating.

Premium Member
629 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Chad - That sounds like a fun A/B test. With our new pre-amp based line switcher, we can facilitate a level matched, blind test with instant A-B switching between speaker pairs.

I am hoping to have a GTG in Erie when we get to cold weather, and you will definitely be invited to join us, as will other forum members.
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