Axiom Audio A1400-8 Setup
Moving the Axiom A1400-8 amp around my test bench and home theater rack proved much easier than the typical power amplifier I review. Despite its enormous power supply and bodacious output capability, it’s a lightweight on the scale, barely hitting 60lbs. This is just the way I like electronics to be given my numerous back issues caused by years of abusive weight training and lifting heavy Class A/V amplifiers. The one unusual thing you will find about this amp is the absence of unbalanced connectors. When I first heard about this, I thought to myself, are they kidding? Nope they weren’t. In order to minimize chassis height, they went with all balanced connectors and included gold-plated straight and right angled unbalanced phono and RCA mating connectors. I’ve never seen this approach before with consumer gear but I liked it. I tested both the balanced locking connectors and the RCA mating connectors and they fit nice and snug. The speaker binding posts are a bit cramped in the chassis but luckily each adjacent-channel pair speaker connector is the ground side to prevent arcing or shorting.
Speaking of shorting, I’ve never seen so many warning labels slapped onto an amplifier before. There are numerous shock hazard logos and high voltage notifications placed on the amp chassis and user manual and they made it exceedingly hard to remove the top chassis cover to get a peek inside. Considering that the power supply working voltage is very close to the rated wall voltage and this sucker is capable of dumping all of that current into any given channel at a time, I certainly understand their cautionary notes and encourage all users to heed their warnings.
The power receptacle is located at the bottom of the chassis making this amp difficult to rack mount (more on this later) and the unit comes with a 6-ft 14AWG 3-prong power cord. The master switch is located on the back panel and the amp has trigger capability via a mini plug. The trigger worked correct only when the front panel standby button was depressed as stated in step 6 of the slim but useful user manual.
I placed the A1400-8 on my esoteric Audiav Crystal Series C4 AV Rack and connected it up with Kimber 8PR speaker cable, Sonicwave balanced cables and Blue Jeans 1694A composite RCA cables when conducting unbalanced tests. I used my Denon AVP-A1HDCI and Denon AVR-5805mkII as the preamps, the Denon DVD-5910CI and Yamaha MCX-2000 as the sources. The A1400-8 was powered by my APC S20 power conditioner that had no troubles at all powering this amplifier even with its enormous inrush current draw during power up. Axiom recommends NOT plugging this amp into a power conditioner, which for 90% of the ones on the market, I’d tend to agree with, the APC S20 being one of the few exceptions. I utilized my RBH Signature T30-LSE reference series speaker system and threw in my Status Acoustics Decimo bookshelf speakers for comparative purposes.
I don't mind the M3, I loved them at first until I listened to other speakers over the years. They are certainly not perfect. Axioms customer service is terrific. I wouldn't rate them an 8.5 out of 10 from my own subjective non-controlled listening. I find them to be too colored with vocals to give them that high of a score. That's my biggest issue with them. Also sometimes there can be some weird harshness present on some recordings. I am thinking it might be the metal cone breaking up as it lacks a proper crossover on the 6.5". If I remember correctly it is only a 1st order on the tweeter and the woofer rolls off naturally.
your assessment is dead on. I discussed this in my review of their outdoor version of the M3s which share the same crossover design and parts:
As for customer service, they have some of the best in the business IMO.
Another problem with using employees along with being able to pick out their own speaker in a blind test is the ability to bias the subjective listening scores. It would be very easy to score a speaker much better if you could tell the other speaker was clearly awful, but in the case where one is better you can always score them to be similar to avoid offending your employer. Your speakers can never lose.
Hence how the term "similarly good was born". This is how most of the companies that run DBTs do it however.
Here is an example of their DBT run by their own employees: http://www.axiomaudio.com/archives/October2010.html [axiomaudio.com]
guess who won the comparison
As for an employee taking part in a controlled test I know I would have a very difficult time being unbiased even if done blind.
Bingo! Last time I visted Axiom they put me through their "double blind test" procedure. Prior to going they sent me a pair of M60v3s for our most recent $1k floorstanding shootout [audioholics.com]. I spent over 1 month listening to those speakers. When I sat in their blind test, I identified the M60s everytime. I know the sonic signature of an Axiom speaker since I've listened to it so extensively. Listening blind doesn't remove that bias.