Test Report: Axiom Audio M60 v3 Tower Speakers

Speaker makers fall into two general groups: the Canadian school and the artsy school. The Great White Northerners - guided by decades of study conducted at the Canadian National Research Council in Ottawa - fuss and fuss until their speakers deliver perfect measured performance, then run test after test with trained listeners to make sure their speakers sound practically flawless. The artsy types may start with a by-the-book design, but from there they play it by ear, literally and figuratively - because to them, speaker design is an artistic expression. (There's also a third school - the ones who don?t give a damn - but they seldom find their way into S+V.)

The Canadians tend to be conservative. Their designs are almost exclusively straightforward box speakers with standard cone and dome drivers. Speakers from the artsy school often employ exotic drivers and - amboyant shapes. As different as the two approaches may be, though, there's no denying that both have produced great speakers.

Not every member of the Canadian school hails from north of the border, but it comes as no surprise that one of its members is the Ontario speaker company Axiom Audio. The new M60 v3 is a perfect example of Axiom's no-nonsense design. It's a traditional box speaker with two cone woofers, a cone midrange, and a dome tweeter.

Finding something unusual about the M60 is like trying to find a sour note on a Beyoncé CD. Okay, I did find a couple of things on the spec page worth mentioning. The vortex ports are said to deliver deeper bass without creating noisy air turbulence. The titanium-dome tweeter - well, the Web site doesn't say what advantage it offers, but Lockheed used a lot of titanium on the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, so it must be awesome.

Axiom's conservative design simplifies the process of building a surround sound system around the M60 v3. The company offers numerous center speakers, surround speakers, in-wall and on-wall speakers, and subwoofers; most of which should blend nicely with the M60 v3. Axiom Audio speakers are available exclusively through the company's Web site. If after 30 days you decide you'd prefer something a little more bodacious, the company will take the speakers back and refund your money; all you pay is return shipping.

Can a speaker with such a conservative pedigree possibly deliver a compelling sound? Let's hook 'em up and find out.