Axiom Epic 60-500 Home Theater Speaker System

      Date posted: October 24, 2005

Sugg. Retail: $3377.25 CA; $2788.25US incl. shipping,
M60TI Front: $1090.00 pr; $900.00US pr
Size: 37 1/4″H x 9 1/4″W (Tapers to rear)
VP-150 Centre: $465.00; $385.00US

Size: 27″H x 7 1/2″ W x 6 7/8″D
OS-8 Surround: $600.00 pr; $500.00US pr
Size: 8 1/2″H x 11″W x 5 3/4″D
Axiom Epic 60-500 System
EP-500 Subwoofer: $1400.00; $1150.00US
Size: 19 1/2″H x 15″W x 20″D

Manufacturer: Axiom Canada Inc., RR. #1 Hwy. 60
Dwight, ON P0A 1H0 (705) 635-2222 FAX 635-1972
Toll-free (877) 862-9466

(Reprinted from the Fall 05 Audio Ideas Guide)

      In the spring I ventured north to visit Axiom, who are situated just the other side of Dwight, Ontario (east of Huntsville in cottage country) where founder and owner Ian Colquhoun grew up. With Ian and his delightful wife, Amie, I toured their factory and woodshops, as well as Ian�s haunt, their extensive R&D facility; as I write, Axiom is installing an even larger anechoic chamber for measuring speakers, the original one modeled on that of Canada�s NRC (National Research Council). This bigger reflection-free room will allow more accurate response measurements to lower frequencies, hopefully making for better speakers.

      Well, they’re already doing very well at this, judging by the Epic 60 - 500 home theatre system reviewed here. The front M60TI uses a pair of 7″ woofers, a 5 1/2″ midrange, and a metal dome tweeter, the enclosure having a trio of ports, one at lower front, the other pair on the rear. The woofers and midrange employ aluminum alloy diaphragms with large rolled rubber surrounds. The VP-150 centre uses the same midrange driver in triplicate flanked by a pair of tweeters at either end. This array is intended to minimize driver lobing (acoustic interaction that causes a dip in midrange response), and I�ll have more to say about how successful this is below. It�s quite a large box horizontally, and will work best with larger-screen TV displays.

      And as we look at the OS-8 surrounds, we see the same tweeter and midrange drivers in duplicate, the latter used more as a bass/midrange unit. It is a bipolar speaker, designed primarily for wall mounting, with the bass/midranges mounted on top and bottom and the tweeters on slanted panels on the front. We measured these in a slightly different fashion because of the unusual configuration. All are finished in a quite attractive light Beech vinyl, with Cherry and black Ash also available. The cabinets are all asymetrical, with sides tapering to the rear to minimize internal reflections, and are internally braced to reduce vibration. These are all quite heavy speakers for their respective sizes, suggesting that cabinets walls are thicker and stiffer than those of most other speakers. According to the Axiom web site, “The Epicenter EP- 500 subwoofer�s custom-programmed DSP controls every frequency from 16 Hz to 100 Hz, maintaining a smooth, flat response within 1.5 dB across the range.”

Axiom EP-500 Subwoofer

      “The EP-500’s massive 12′ aluminum driver with a 3-inch diameter dual voice coil, and its companion 500-watt power amplifier are tightly controlled by the DSP. Its special algorithm commands the subwoofer to deliver peak performance without ever being overdriven.” To prevent subsonic response, such as turntable rumble and other things you never wanted to know were on your recordings, the EP-500 rolls off steeply below 18 Hz, this controlled by the DSP. The quite large cabinet is front ported.

      The measurements for the Axiom Epic 60 - 500 system tell quite a story, most of it very positive in terms of performance. Let’s start at left with the subwoofer, since we’ve just described it. At top at 100 Hz we see the highest crossover position, which can be clearly seen to live up to its designation, rising about 4 dB below 40 Hz, and still going strong at 20, confirming specifications nicely. The curve below, 80 Hz crossover, also dovetails nicely with spec, and also rises at the bottom. Below, the 60 and 40 Hz settings are very similar down to about 40 Hz, where they diverge a dB or so, the lower one hitting 20 Hz a few dB up, with the 60 Hz one about a dB or so higher; though they measure very closely, the

Axiom Epic Measurements

change in switching between them is very audible, a bit of a surprise. It’s amazing how much a little difference can make to the ear, something to be kept in mind when setting up a subwoofer in a room. All in all, this is an exceptional subwoofer that proved to have strong, powerful response at all audible bass frequencies, and the ability to play very loud without strain or woofer rattling. This is a sub I would seriously consider on its measureable and audible merits were I seeking a new source of deep bass.

      The M60TI proved to a superb companion to the EP-500, with response of +/-2 1/2 dB from 100 to 10,000 Hz, with a gentle rolloff above and below these frequency points; in the critical midrange and treble it is even flatter, +/-1 dB from 1 to 10 kHz, and down only about 4 dB at 15 kHz (these curves are just below the Summed Axial Response [SAR], which I’ll address shortly). At the bottom end, the rolloff is smooth and gradual after a 3 dB bump at 100 Hz, down about 2 dB at 50 Hz and about 7 dB at 30 Hz, response that can be enhanced by room placement. The M60TI is very linear, and almost almost certainly the best speaker I’ve measured at its price point in recent memory.

      Moving down the chart, the third set of curves shows response of the VP-150 centre channel. Designed to avoid the midrange losses off axis of so-called D’Appolito designs (where the tweeter is flanked by a pair of woofer/midranges), it places the tweeters on either side of the lower frequency drivers. As can be seen, this is not entirely successful, either, the O, 15, and 30 degree curves diverging several dB in the midrange. However, the curve off axis by 30 degrees (the lower one at 4 kHz) is the smoothest, and should provide good centre fill for listeners seated at either end of the couch. Note also that the midrange dips on the various axes are all at different frequencies, which will smooth the average response, as seen in the SAR (top).

      A big surprise to me was the very compact OS-8 surround, which showed response of roughly +/-2 dB between 200 and 15 kHz. In this case I measured it straight on, with the lower frequency drivers facing upwards and downwards and the tweeters angled to either side on their small baffles, and then (bottom on the chart) on each tweeter’s 0 degree axis. Since both tweeter-facing measurements were identical, only one is shown, and it is within about 2 dB of the frontal curve through the midrange; this is a very flat surround speaker with excellent dispersion, suitable for mounting on walls, or on the special tubular stands offered by Axiom that allow full radiation of the down-facing woofer/midrange. For discrete surround, such as Dolby Digital or DTS, the OS-8 will offer a combination of good rear spatial accuracy and a nice enveloping ambient field. It is, I must say, a fine feat of engineering in a bipolar speaker system.

Axiom Epic Driver (rear)

      The Summed Axial Responses are at top overlaying each other, and the close resemblance of front and rear speakers is seen with the midrange dip of the centre also evident. These curves are unsmoothed to show greater detail, and indicate how smooth a system the Axiom Epic is in this iteration (if you go to their web site, you’ll find numerous systems based on various Epic series speakers).

      Sonically, the Axiom Epic 60 - 500 system brought it all together, with frequency response as wide as one could want: true 20-20 kHz performance, exceptional dynamics, and a sound that was detailed and free of listener fatigue at virtually any level. Timbre matching was excellent, the midrange fitting in better than would be expected from the measurements. You may get a little more refinement from more expensive systems like the Klipsch (the Klipsch Reference RVX-54 Home Theater Speaker System, also reviewed in the fall 05′ issue), but here we find a high level of performance for the price.

      I liked its natural and effortless quality with both soundtracks and music, and highly recommend it to those looking to put together a home theatre speaker system on a budget of about $3000.

Andrew Marshall

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2 Responses to “Axiom Epic 60-500 Home Theater Speaker System”

  1. Barry Birnberg c-ca Says:

    RE: Axiom
    I am interested in purchasing a Canadian Sound System for my 15 X 18ft Living/dining area. Most of my music is Jazz or other vocals and FLaminco or full orchestra Classical. MY present front speakers aqre old “dB plus” floor boxes, about 12″ square by 3 ft. tall. I do not know where to begin. I am prepared to retire my old Teac Multiplex, and Sony 5 DVD player. Can anyone at Axiom help me? I will also use this for my 27″ TV sorround sound as well. CAqn it be done for under $700?
    Barry Birnberg

  2. Andrew Marshall c-unknown Says:

    AM replies:

    Hi Barry, I suggest that you spend some time on the Axiom site, and enlist the services of their consultant, Alan Lofft, who is an old friend of mine, an experienced and credible journalist. He can advise you better than me in tailoring an HT component system around their excellent HT speaker packages. Budgets are always an issue here, and you’ll have to figure out what you’ve got available for this project.

    It sounds like the audiophile aspects of the new system are as important as the hone theatre side, so make this clear to Alan.

    cheers, and good luck with it, Andrew

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