Surround Sound Speaker Systems

Axiom Epic 80-800 Speaker System: M80v3 Tower, VP180 Center, QS8v3 Surround, and EP800v3 Subwoofer

ARTICLE INDEX

Setup

Installation was easy for me since I am familiar with Axiom's optimal placement guidelines. The towers were placed eight feet apart and toed in slightly. The center was placed on a sturdy pair of stands I had on hand from Sanus Systems. I was initially concerned about the three rear ports being too close to the wall. Ian Colquhoun recommended a clearance of two inches so I went for three. That put the front baffle only a little back of the M80s' front plane. Remember the VP180 is 17 inches deep. You will need to consider your placement options carefully so as not to choke this cabinet. If you use a shelf, be sure your furniture has an open back. Like a tower, the VP180 sounds best freestanding. With a three-inch gap, I heard no artifacts from the ports at all.

The QS8 surrounds were hung on the brackets already in place from my personally-owned QS8s (version 2). The EP800 went in the front right corner, next to and slightly in back of the neighboring M80. Though Axiom didn't send me spikes for the towers and sub, I had some extras on hand so I made use of them. The VP180 includes large and dense rubber feet and I employed these as bumpers to isolate them from the top plate of the Sanus stands. I also angled the front baffle slightly upward to fire directly at the listening position. The M80s place their tweeters perfectly at ear level for a listener and seat of average height. The QS8s work best in my room about two feet above ear level.

If you've read my past speaker reviews, you know I'm a firm believer in room EQ. I've used both Audyssey and Anthem's excellent system. I recently added an Integra DHC-80.1 pre-pro to my reference system and it includes Audyssey MultEQ XT. Through much trial and error, I've worked out a solid and repeatable mic placement scheme which gives me great results.

Begin by setting your sub's gain control to the 12 o'clock position. Make sure there is no ambient noise whatsoever. Use a tripod or mic stand rather than setting the mic on your chair. Don't even consider holding it in your hand. Start with the mic in the main seat exactly at ear level. Refer to the drawing below to see the rest of the positions. It is important to match heights perfectly whether the mic is on a chair or over the floor. Positions 2 and 3 are equidistant from position 1. Positions 4 and 5 are approximately 30 percent of the distance between 1, 2 and 3 and the opposite wall.

When complete, Audyssey had selected crossovers of 40Hz for the mains and center and 90Hz for the surrounds. Ordinarily, I would raise these but I found quickly that 40Hz was just right for the front three. With my QS8 v2 surrounds I had used 120Hz but 90Hz was better suited for the v3 models. The M80 is a truly full-range speaker and that goes for the VP180 too. It's the lowest reaching center I've ever experienced. I couldn't wait to hear the vocals from this puppy. The only anomaly was the sub distance which came up as 22 feet. This was obviously wrong so I corrected it to the proper number of nine feet. I did try using 60Hz for the fronts but I found the bass less agile and less focused around the crossover point. The EP800 is better left to explore the depths while musical bass is handled by the other speakers.