Axiom Epic Midi 125 Speaker System


Epic Midi 125 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
EP125 v3 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $1,418 At A Glance: Distinctive cabinet shapes • Revealing voicing • Sold factory direct

Merriam-Webster.com defines a cabal as “the artifices and intrigues of a group of persons secretly united in a plot (as to overturn a government),” or “a group engaged in such artifices and intrigues.” For the past 30 years, Axiom Audio has been part of a Canadian cabal of loudspeaker manufacturers secretly united in a plot to overturn bad sound—ironically, with government support. The Ontario-based company is one of several brands that sprouted from Ottawa’s National Research Council facilities where Axiom founder and president Ian Colquhoun learned the art and science of speaker design under the legendary Dr. Floyd Toole.

Why do we say “secretly united”? Axiom is one of those well-kept secrets of the audio world, and that’s partly our fault. The company has been designing and manufacturing its products in Canada, right under our North American noses, yet this is the first review we’ve done on an Axiom product in about 20 years, despite the accolades the brand has attracted in the interim. So we’re playing catch-up with this review of Axiom’s Epic Midi 125 5.1-channel speaker package, which includes two monitors and a center in the front, dedicated diffuse surrounds, and a subwoofer. Let’s just say the secret is out.

I’ve Looked at Life From Eight Sides Now
Axiom covers most of the major loudspeaker genres, including tower, monitor, center, surround, outdoor, multimedia, hybrid in-wall/on-wall models, and 5.1-channel packages. Most are quite affordable, with the largest tower selling for just $1,500/pair (U.S. dollars). Noteworthy, though not reviewed here, are a couple of subs with tower-shaped enclosures, one of which is rated down to 13 hertz. Axiom sells to consumers in hundreds of nations in 11 currencies but not through brick-and-mortar dealers. Factory-direct sales skirt the usual retail markup in an effort to save you money.

The Axiom Epic Midi 125 sells for $1,418, with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and for U.S. customers, that comes with no extra charge for shipping, duty, or tax. They’re certainly affordable. But are they special?

Look at the M2 v3 monitor from the front, and you won’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Sneak around to the side, though, and you’ll see extra angles where the front corners of the box are chamfered, turning what would normally be a six-sided rectangular solid into a more geometrically interesting eight-sided enclosure. The VP100 v3 horizontal center is also unusually shaped, with a 90-degree angle joining the front and bottom surfaces but a less than 90-degree angle joining the front and top. This is part of Axiom’s ASW (Anti Standing Wave) design, which aims to reduce the undesirable acoustic effects of sound waves bouncing internally between parallel cabinet walls.

713axiom.fronts.jpg

Axiom designs and builds its own drivers, with each one “designed specifically for the job we want it to do,” Colquhoun says. The monitor shares variants of its 1-inch titanium-domed tweeter and 5.25-inch aluminum-coned woofer with the horizontal center, the latter doubling the woofer. A die-cast (as opposed to stamped) metal basket is available as an option for $15 extra, theoretically providing greater rigidity, though Axiom says, “Our testing shows it is not required with that driver.”

The QS4 v3 surround is a slightly different animal, with two tweeters and two 4-inch woofers, each on different surfaces of an eight-sided enclosure. The tweeters are angled at 45 degrees while the woofers are on the top and bottom surfaces. Axiom’s name for this variation on multi-pole speaker design—with each pair of drivers operating in phase with the other—is Quadpolar. Would the speaker require a wall mount to avoid blocking that bottom woofer? Not necessarily. Axiom does offer an optional FMS QS dual-column metal stand ($298/pair) that will provide support while allowing both woofers clearance to do their woofing. If you would prefer a swiveling and tilting wall mount, another option is the Full Metal Bracket ($44/each). But if you don’t need the swiveling and tilting, just connect the cables to the supplied T-shaped bracket and pop it on the wall.

713axiom.surrounds.jpg

This speaker system uses a combination of sealed and ported enclosure designs. While the center and surrounds have sealed acoustic suspension enclosures, the monitor and subwoofer have vented enclosures that utilize Axiom’s distinctively curved and ribbed vortex ports, said to reduce port noise when compared with a conventional straight-walled port. The monitor, center, and surround are efficient, with a claimed 1-watt/1-meter anechoic sensitivity of 90 decibels and “in-room” sensitivity of 94 dB. As usual, you’ll want to compare that to our measured sensitivity.

The EP125 v3 subwoofer, with its front-firing 8-inch aluminum-coned driver and dual front ports, has some unusual features on the back panel. The line-level input and output are not the usual RCA-type jacks but XLR. Why XLR? The company uses the same input board on its higher-end models—which are more likely to be used with a higher-end XLR-equipped pre/pro—and repurposes the board for lower-end models. This is likely to change in the forthcoming v4 generation. The XLR input can also accept a quarter-inch phone plug through a jack within the jack. If you need to plug in an RCA-terminated cable, and you probably will, a supplied adapter (RCA jack to quarter-inch phone plug) will bridge the gap. Why this unusual arrangement? Axiom explains that if you step on your sub cable, you could easily break an RCA jack; but if you step on the cable with this arrangement, it’s the adapter that breaks (and it can be replaced).

Actually—as I found when clumsily shoving the sub up against a table leg—the adapter doesn’t so much break as bend, and it can be bent back. I heard a slight hum when I first plugged in the sub, but a quick wiggle of the adapter fixed the problem. A chassis ground screw is also provided—its removal may defeat ground-loop-induced hum, which might occur when the sub is powered by a different mains circuit than the rest of the system (not the case in mine). The sub also has speaker-level inputs.

In lieu of a crossover dial, the sub has a crossover toggle with two positions: 80 Hz and 150 Hz. The latter setting, if it took precedence over the crossover setting in a receiver or surround processor, would allocate a much larger part of upper bass reproduction to the sub. However, Axiom explains:

“We were trying to keep it simple on our three smaller subs (EP125, EP175, EP350). The thinking was that if you were using bass management in the receiver, you would set the switch to 150 Hz”—which would effectively neutralize the sub’s internal crossover. “If you were doing a stereo sat/sub set with our M2 or M22 [both monitors], you would use the speaker-level input and set the crossover switch to 80 Hz, which matches nicely with the natural rolloff of the speaker. Our larger subs (EP400, EP500, EP600, EP800) all have five crossover settings.” I set 150 Hz in the sub and 80 Hz in the receiver, and the sub and speakers dovetailed neatly.

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Deus02's picture

I find the use of your term "underdog" quite humorous. Where have you folks been? This company has been in existence for 33 years(on their own and surprisingly not belonging to any larger CE conglomerate) and perhaps a review of their larger floor-standing speakers such as the M80, the new M100 and the widely acclaimed LFR1100 are in order here in which the latter in many ways, is breaking new ground in design and performance, especially for the money.

inzer585's picture

I would no call the LFR1100 as widely acclaimed. Theres only about 4 people that own them and only 1 or 2 subjective reviews with no measurements so far from being acclaimed. Also for $3700+ its far from a value, with cheap vinyl, stamped drivers, and Axioms typical cheap xover parts its not a value at all. Don't forget you need 4 channels of amps to power just a pair of LFRs.

The M80 and M100 are only decent towers in there price range and not exceptiona or bang for the buck performers. Combfiltering issues with the tweeters and the CTC spacing is to far from mid to tweeters. They also only come in cheap vinyl with optional finishes adding hundreds to thousands of dollars to match what most in the price point offer as standard.

Not much love for Axiom across the forums besides Axioms own boards.

I would also add I don't believe this Axiom package is a decent value. Not when you can pick up a HSU speaker and subwoofer package for $100 more that includes the VTF3 Mk4 and much larger HB1 mk bookshelfs and center. The EP125 is a sad excuse for a subwoofer (if you can call it a subwoofer) especially at $400.

Deus02's picture

Yep, you are obviously a disciple of the AVS/Audioholics crowd that has proven quite clearly by the antics of some of the principals of these websites in the past who were exposed for instigating these type of worthless comments that this group has proven for quite some time now when it comes to assessing anything about speakers, speakers, by the way, that were never even reviewed, that it has little or no credibility whatsoever.

Obviously, the opinion of the folks at HT is quite different.

inzer585's picture

So because you don't like my comment, its worthless? So anyone that comments about Axiom is instigating? Really? Point to me where I am wrong with my comments? I could say since your so adament about defending Axiom you must be a company shill to "plant" good comments on the net? Your doing whats called a ad hominem, ignoring what I actually said and bringing up something from some other boards while ignoring the substance of what I actually said.

The EP125 with a -3db at 47hrz and a price of $400 is not a bargain and is not a good performing subwoofer. The SVS PB1000 is only $99 more and has a -3db at 19hrz and double the power. The HSU STF-2 is another example of a cheaper subwoofer that performs better than the Axiom woofer.

Show me a review that has measurements of the LFR that shows its a widely acclaimed speaker? So far i've seen 2 people on Axioms board and one review of the speaker, can't really say "widely" acclaimed.

pklins's picture

This is an interesting read which pits the Axiom M3v3 vs a host of other speakers. The Axioms are the biggest and most expensive in the comparison yet they came out nearly dead last in a blind listening test and had some of the worst measured performance.

This just goes to show you price and fancy brand name doesn't always equate to better performance.

[[shootout result]]
http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/article/review-clash-minispeakers

[[Axiom M3v3 review]]
http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/article/review-axiom-audio-m3v3

b7fLuid's picture

Oh, where do I begin?

For disclosure’s sake, how about I preface my reply by saying I have owned a pair of Axiom M80v2 since about 2005. I thoroughly enjoy them and many of my friends have complimented them on their hi-fidelity and sound quality. We listen to music and watch a ton of sports and everyone seems to love them.

With that being said, I just have to laugh at the responses from both of you guys. It sure sound like you've got an axe to grind with this company, or have a hidden agenda, and it shows.

You first Inzer585. To specifically come onto a review and bash away at a company as you do is the first warning sign to people that what you're saying should be taken with a grain of salt. You've stated nothing I would accept as fact but merely opinion. Statements such as “there are about only 4 people that own LFR’s”, “requiring 4 channels of amps to power them”, and “that there isn’t much love for axioms across the forums” are comical and simply opinion/hyperbole. You somehow know every owner of a LFR1100 to accurately state the number of owners? Also, people who are willing to pay $3700 for a pair of speakers are people who have the money to power 4 independent channels. Hec, I've got four Outlaw audio monoblock 2200s powering my setup, and I've only got the M80s! Have you even done a blind listening test with any of their speakers before commenting on their quality? That vinyl you talk about is also a common material used by all manufacturers for products in this price range. The Hsu research speakers you reference are also not real wood, and the upgraded veneer rosewood they offer is just a veneer, and not a real wood cabinet. I’m not sure how anybody can call a company out without actually placing facts for people to see and consider. I guess we’re all going to have to accept the fact that the EP125 is a sad excuse for a subwoofer because you said so. Geez…

Pklins, you provide a couple of links to S&V mag and state:
“This is an interesting read which pits the Axiom M3v3 vs a host of other speakers. The Axioms are the biggest and most expensive in the comparison yet they came out nearly dead last in a blind listening test and had some of the worst measured performance.
This just goes to show you price and fancy brand name doesn't always equate to better performance.”

There are a couple of things wrong with what you’ve stated, and I’m not sure whether it’s to deliberately mislead, because you can’t read properly, or because you just have an agenda against Axiom Audio. First, the prices of each of the speakers are given, and it clearly shows that Axioms are not the most expensive speakers of the group. The Hsu Research HB-1 MK2 is $398/pair, Monitor Audio Bronze BX1 is $397/pair, and the Paradigm Atom Monitors are $398/pair. Count much, cause those numbers are higher than $379? Second, the authors of the comparison provide a caveat to their analysis:

“Note that while some of these speakers definitely outperform others, there was no clearly superior product. We generally agreed on which of these speakers are real contenders, but our personal preferences among the favorites differed. Picking a “winner” in this case would be arbitrary, so instead we’ll help you figure out which one or two might be the best choice for you.”
See what the authors did? They do have clear favourites, everyone does, but there was no clearly superior product. That’s a reasoned analysis and they even state that there was no “clearly superior product”. This is an important point and I’ll say it one more time so it’s clear for you – “there was not clearly superior product”. I would assume as much since they’re all roughly in the same price range and come from respectable companies. Yes, I can agree that maybe the Axioms didn’t perform as well, but you exaggerate their non-competitiveness, which shouldn’t make one draw the conclusion that “price and fancy brand name doesn’t always equate to better performance”. Especially since it would be ludicrous to use Axiom Audio and fancy brand name in the same sentence. In my opinion, they’re a sophisticated and understated brand who go for the value conscious buyer and who relies on some pretty darn good research conducted by the NRC to back their speakers.

The second link pklins provides for the M3v3 is actually a pretty positive review for those speakers which states:

“A longtime fave of home theater enthusiasts, Axiom sells its speakers direct through its Web site.”

“With a relatively large cabinet and one of the two largest woofers in this batch of minis, the M3v3 ought to have plenty of bass. And it does. It sounds fuller and more room-filling than any other speaker but the Hsu Research HB-1 MK2, although some of the smaller speakers, such as the Music Hall Marimba, came fairly close. It also plays loud, easily reaching party level when I slid the volume control up on my laptop computer connected to the Firestone DAC for Jeff Beck’s crazily dynamic, almost comically muscular recording of “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.” Given that the amplifiers used for this test are conservatively rated at 200 watts per channel, that’s pretty impressive power handling.”

“Every product has a buyer, so who’s the buyer for the M3v3? Someone who wants a minispeaker with ample, powerful bass output and who grooves on very mellow sound.”

I’m really confused as to why pklins would come up with such a negative conclusion to such a positive review?

Just before I sign off this too long-winded reply, it’s especially poignant to recall that we’re talking about audio equipment and it’s always overblown subjective nature. I’ve followed it for decades now and the more research I do, the more I realize how much marketing and hype go into this crazy industry. I’d love to call myself an audiophile, but that term is loaded and people who actually do call themselves that are probably douchebags trying to sell me on the idea that I need those $10,000 gold speaker cables, the newest class d, triple oscillating reverse flux capacitating power amp, or that somehow I can perceive the difference between a $10,000 pair of speakers hooked up to a usb DAC vs a PC soundcard with a flac vs. 320MP3 vs. vinyl recording. It’s all a joke to me and the more a reasoned person looks at audio equipment, the more they’ll come to realize, that you’ll spend the most you want to spend for something that you’ll enjoy listening to. I know there’s “better” equipment out there, and I’ve done my listening tests at other people’s houses and in store at fancy audio stores, and my conclusion was that I was willing to pay the money I had on the Axioms. They were the best value for the money and sounded just the same as speakers more expensive and less expensive than they were. With that understanding, the biggest reason I chose Axioms were for the 30 day trial, the excellent customer service I received from them each time I called, the non-existent aggressive sales pitches, their active forum filled with helpful people, and because I could talk to the president of the company if I had an issue or just plain wanted to shoot the shit. That’s value in my opinion, and how many companies can claim that?

Oh, and btw, I just thought it was interesting to find that Inzer585 had again bashed Axioms in the very S&V comparison review that pklins linked. That’s two reviews I’ve read and twice he’s had nothing but bad things to say about the Axiom brand. Coincidence? I think not cause Inzer585 is a known troll of Axiom Audio. Just do a search on google and read up. Here’s his quote from the S&V comparison review. Classic case of trolling with an agenda.

“from inzer585 on 04.02.13 at 7:26PM
Well to me Axiom seemed like it was the biggest loser in the shootout. Its usually hyped up quite alot about how it outperformed the $2500 B&W Diamond bookshelf in the Axiom controlled DBT. Seems like that might have been alot more hype than substance.
Looks like Axioms true performance range is middle to bottom of the pack in its price range. I don't see how it could ever compete with speakers costing 5x as much.”

pklins's picture

Holly Molly what a conspiracy for what speakers???? Seriously.

The reviewer from S&V was being diplomatic. You can see in the tone of his writeup that he wasn't happy with the Axioms or retesting them for that matter. I first read this review in the print version at a local bookstore and seem to remember they ranked each speaker. The Axioms came in near to last (behind the HSU's).

The reviewer made this comment which confirms this:
"Our listeners ranked the HB-1 MK2 in the middle of the pack, and the M3v3 toward the bottom of the pack."

My sincere apology if I read or interpreted incorrectly.

The -10dB cavity in the 5-10khz range is unacceptable IMO. All of the other speakers, especially the Paradigm Atoms produced much better measurements.

The Axioms are one of the most expensive in their standard vinyl finish. Slap on a veneer and they are priced higher than the rest in the shootout. A real wood veneer jumps the price to $538/pr. If you trick the speaker out with all the options the price skyrockets to almost $700pr!

That's a lot of money for a speaker that is shown to have deficiencies to its less expensive brethren.

b7fLuid's picture

oh stop the silliness. You obviously have an agenda.

I'm sure you know what the S&V reviewer was thinking. Not only are you a neutral and objective reviewer, but you're also a mind reader as well. Despite my quotes which clearly indicate that the reviewer was overwhelmingly positive, you've subjectively interpreted that as being negative. Thank you for pointing out that the reviewer is deliberately trying to mislead the masses. I guess S&V aren't as neutral and objective as they should be. They then must have the agenda and not you. Tell me something, why would a review site be diplomatic in a review by saying positive things about what they're reviewing? Do they owe Axiom Audio anything? You seem to be able to read minds. Please tell.

Also, if you're going to quote something and present it as fact you'd better be accurate. I'm not sure how you could be wrong on two separate points you make, and then follow it up by blowing them off after being called out for it. Essentially, those two points are now null because of that.

I've quoted directly from the article on a bunch of points, you should try doing the same to back up yours.

Again, it's pretty hilarious to find somebody so up in arms about a speaker that they've never auditioned. Talk about lame.

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