M0 Setup and Installation
Since this is an on-wall product, the only way to properly evaluate it is to install it on a wall (duh!). Since I've no need for additional 5.1 systems (I'm sure I could find a room if I really wanted to), I enlisted the "help" of a friend. This family lives about 4.5 hours away from me though we see each other at least a few times a year. After experiencing surround sound at my house, the father has been itching for a system of his own. The problem is that their room is at the front of the house and really doesn't have space for freestanding speakers or even small bookshelf speakers. It's small (20 by 13.5 by 8 feet tall) but open to the rest of the house (including the left wall which is open at the top to the kitchen). The wife isn't all that interested in large holes in her wall since this probably won't be their last home and didn't want in-walls. The solution? On-walls.
The nice thing about on-walls is that you can install them with minimal damage to the existing structure. You need about a 2" square hole so that you can see and fish out the wire as it is dropped down the hole. A 2" hole is fairly easy to repair (certainly easier than a speaker sized hole) so the wife was happy. The size of the Axiom M0's also impressed her as she was afraid I'd try to press on her "man sized" speakers like the ones I have. Basically, the M0s had all the things she wanted - small size, on- instead of in-wall design, and minimal visual impact on her carefully tailored décor.
While I'm not going to walk you through the entire install since we've done that a number of times on this site, I will give you the highlights. If I had to sum up the experience, I'd say, "There is always a way." No matter what your room looks like or the challenges you face, there is always a way to get surround speakers up. There just is. It may not be easy and it may not be fun, but there is a way. From the onset, I elected the help of Clint DeBoer (Editor-in-Chief) for the install that I thought was going to be pretty easy. Even though the right surround was on an exterior wall, the roof was far enough overhanging that we thought we could still have access to the header. There were other problems with the left surround specifically that the top of that wall was open though we thought we could run the wire down the half wall and across the top. Well, we found out that it wasn't all that easy as the roof was extremely shallow and absolutely PACKED with insulation, the walls were plaster instead of drywall, and all our plans ended up having to be changed on the fly. This is part and parcel of installing speakers and in the end, no matter what we ran into, we were able to figure out a workaround.
You'll really have very little problem understanding how to install the brackets and wires once you read the instructions. Our review pair of speakers were so new that they actually were marked W0 instead of M0 (one of those last minute name changes). Only one of the brackets had the +/- stickers on it though the final product will, making knowing where the wires go absolutely no problem. The Axiom Accent M0 speakers have some interesting differences than other on-wall speakers, most notably, the bracket. As mentioned above, the bracket doubles as the termination point. You'll be tempted to try to install the wires in the bracket before you install them on the wall. While this will certainly work (and I did it this way on most of the speakers), I'd suggest installing the bracket first before terminating the wires. You'll want to loosen the terminals before you mount the bracket to the wall but once you do, you should have no problems inserting the wires and locking down the terminals according to the directions.
M0_bracket_bottomThis is where I ran into one of my few criticisms of the M0 speakers. The termination points on the bracket consist of dual screws to sandwich the wire between two plates. On each of the five brackets I had, at least one screw either threatened to or actually did strip. In one case, we had to drill out the screw and go with only one screw on that wire. In the future, I'd like to see either more robust screws or ones with an Allen wrench end, or perhaps some sort of spring or compression type terminal. I could envision some kind mason jar like lock down for the wires.
The brackets, while innovative and unique, weren't without their quirks. While I never experienced this myself, the owner of the home reported that from time to time one of the speakers would pop off the bracket. While the speaker didn't fall off the wall (and in fact it was still fairly securely attached), it moved just enough to break the connection. This would have the effect of either disengaging the speaker completely or causing it to crackle. A quick push down on the speaker would reseat it on the bracket and re-establish the connection.
The second issue I ran into was the actual size of the speaker. They are SMALL. While that's a good thing for decorators, it isn't so hot for hiding that hole you used to run the wires. The real issue is that the speaker, because of the bracket, sits off the wall. This gives anyone that is to the side of the speaker a possibility of seeing the hole. Even if you limited the hole to a 2" square, the speaker is only 6" wide. In the best possible situation you're within an inch of the edge. As the speaker sits about 1/2" off the wall, this can be clearly visible. While I'm still a fan in general of the Axiom M0 bracket, I wish there were some sort of masking system for the edges.
The M0s were paired with both the EP125 and the EP400. The M0s are rated down to 160Hz (-3dB) while both of the subs are only rated up to 150Hz (-3dB). While I'm sure there is some wiggle room there, you can see the irony. Setting up the subs was similar for both with a single RCA from the receiver. I turned the crossover up as high as possible for each sub and switched them out from time to time. I also asked the owner to switch between the two subs from time to time as I was preparing the review. His evaluation will be included below. What was nice was that no matter what sub I used, I had little problems calibrating and matching with the M0s. Of course, with the EP400, I had much more extension and volume and the trim control gave me many more options to fine tune the bass based on the room. This is an untreated living room which is common for this type of system. It is small but open to the rest of the house. While this makes the M0s job easier, it isn't kind on the subs as the rest of the house essentially becomes a bass trap. Luckily, the EP125 did just fine as far as SPL levels were concerned. I placed the subs up near the front of the room, which I highly recommend for any sub/sat system, but particularly with a system that will be crossed over has high as the Axiom Accent system. This will help reduce noticing the sub, as anything above 80Hz is localizable by most people. I highly recommended running dual subs (placed towards the front of the room under the main channels) for a small system like this for this very reason.
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Just an FYI that something's goofy with this article.