- excellent overall performance and value for money
- outstanding mid- and high-frequency response: transparent, smooth and detailed
- rich, enveloping sound stage in both stereo and surround configurations
- attractive timbral match among main front, center and rear surround speakers
- light in the bottom end, with or without the subwoofer active
- center-channel high frequency performance not as airy and extended as main L/R pair
It’s no hype, the Axiom Epic Grand 5.1 surround speaker package really is an exceptional value in mid-price home theater and high fidelity. If you’re looking for a complete 6-speaker set-up in the under-$3,000 (US) price range, you should definitely consider the Axioms. For budgets under $2,000 (US), the low price and 30-day in-home trial makes it a no-brainer: go for it!
The shining stars of the system are the M22 main L/R bookshelf (rather large bookshelf!) speakers, which sound superb in any configuration – 5.1 surround, 2.1 stereo, even 2.0 stereo (without the subwoofer). They have the smooth mids and extended high end, airy transparency (close your eyes, the speakers disappear), and good off-axis response (minimizing the “sweet-spot” issue) that you would expect of much pricier speakers.
The QS8 rear/surround speakers are also stellar performers, a near match for the pleasing sonics of the front pair, and distinguished by an unusual 4-way multipolar radiating design that contributes a convincing sense of well-defined, enveloping space to the whole system.
The VP100 center-channel speaker, and the EP175 powered sub are each good in their own right, though not on the same exalted plane as the main and surround speakers. They are well up to the challenges posed by today’s Dolby Digital movie soundtracks. But for high-resolution music sources (DVD-Audio, multichannel SACD), the sub is a bit light in the very deep bass, also a little slow to articulate in engergetic mixes; and the center has a warm, velvety quality that doesn’t always suit a music production where wide-range material is prominent in the middle.
These minor quibbles aside, the Epic Grand system is a great all-round performer, and a terrific choice if you expect to listen to a wide range of material, both movies and music, in a variety of configurations. You’ll have to spend a lot more money to get better sound and flexibility.
- M22 front L/R bookshelf speakers, dual 5-1/4″ aluminum-cone woofers, 1″ ferrofluid-cooled titanium tweeter, video shielding, 5-way gold-plated binding posts, anti-standing-wave cabinet.
- QS8 rear L/R surround speakers, quadpolar multi-directional design, dual 5-1/4″ aluminum-cone woofers, dual 1″ titanium tweeters, 5-way gold-plated binding posts.
- VP100 center-channel loudspeaker, dual 5-1/4″ aluminum-cone woofers, 1″ ferrofluid-cooled titanium tweeter, video shielding, 5-way gold-plated binding posts.
- EP175 175 Watt powered subwoofer, 10-inch cast aluminum basket driver (woofer), dual vortex porting, variable low-pass filter, phase reverse switch, line-level input, speaker-level input and pass-through.
- all speakers available in choice of black oak, maple or Boston cherry veneer finishes, matching stands available for M22ti and QS8.