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Audioholics On Location: Factory Tour #4 of Axiom Audio

by September 23, 2008
Axiom Woofs

Axiom Woofs

As head honcho of Audioholics, I am privy to some perks that come with the job including handpicking the products I really want to review, delegating the ones I don’t, or choosing what companies I’d like to visit for a brief vacation… er… I mean tour of their facilities. Visiting Axiom Audio up in Dwight Ontario has become a yearly summer routine for me, one that I hope will continue on as a long lasting tradition. When the arrangements were made for my visit, I couldn’t help but wonder what cool things I would be shown and how cold the water at the Colquhoun dock house would be this year. I brought some extra layers this time around as I prepared to brave the cooler weather as a thin blooded Floridian who is used to swimming in the “bath water” temperature of the Gulf of Mexico.

NoreenThis being my 4th visit to Axiom, the factory tour was becoming old hat to me. In fact as you walk into the Axiom building, Noreen is still there handling customer support. This picture of her, stolen from their website, is exactly what I see every year as I walk towards the lab.

So what could Axiom possibly show me that I haven’t seen? Heck at this point, I could probably get a job at Axiom as their official tour guide. Considering they work only 4 days / week during summer, this is a job I am strongly considering applying for. The hours are good and you certainly can’t beat the scenery or weather (sans the cold lake water which I am sure I can numb to with enough liquor).

The Electronics Lab

The propeller head hangout, I mean the Axiom design lab, is loaded with enough sophisticated test gear to analyze the spectral decay of a gnat fart. They’ve got some serious gear here including the Audio Precision SYS 2722 Audio Analyzer – the most advanced audio analyzer in the industry (we also have one in our own test labs - score one for Audioholics). There is an array of power meters (they say "metres" but whatever), tone generators, magnetic analyzers, and o-scopes. It’s like a candy store for electrical engineering geek types in there. I was having momentary flashbacks from my telecom days working for a leading communications company. Luckily those experiences were short lived and long behind me now.

EP500 test load  Speaker loads

5.4 kwatt load strapped to EP500 (left)    Real World  Speaker Loads (right)

Now if this isn’t a cool way to reconfigure an EP500 (left pic), I don’t know what is. You will notice the resistor bank loaded on each sidewall of the cabinet. This creates a test load capable of sinking up to 2000 watts into an 8, 4 or even 2 ohm load, a necessary evil for properly testing the very powerful A1400-8 multi channel power amplifier. They don’t just stop at a powerful resistive load. Axiom wired it up Back to the Future style to include reactive loading using a multitude of woofers starting with the 12” driver in the EP500 all the way to their adjacent subwoofer room loaded with more loudspeaker drivers (right pic). Reactive loading testing is imperative for amplifier stability testing and determining how well it will perform with real world test loads, particularly their A1400-8 amplifier.

CSA Testing in Lab

STL NoticeThe Axiom lab is like a fully armed and operational battle station. It has enough sophisticated test gear to run a third world country and with their new additions, they can likely power one as well.

The lab has been expanded to include a STL Safety test area that is ISO17025 certified to do IEC60065 (Global) safety testing. This is engineer jargon which basically ensures that Axiom products passing these tests will not cause any harm when installed in households throughout the global marketplace. With an amp as powerful as the A1400-8, it's nice to know that at any given time, it won’t transform into an evil Decepticon or shoot Sith Lord sparks down the power lines from the attached receptacle.

Tom with AC Global Power SourceA really slick and cool new addition to their arsenal of test gear includes a Global AC Power Source (see Tom Cumberland to the right) which can generate any AC line conditions on the planet. It is certified test equipment that has its standards traceable to the NIST. I'm guessing this device also doubles as a taser (extra crispy style) to keep out nosey audio reporters trying to catch a scoop on the next secret project under development so I kept my distance.

Temperature & Humidity Testing

Shown below is one of Axiom’s newest toys. It’s an Environmental Chamber which is used for certification testing to ensure a product can withstand temperature and humidity extremes for anywhere Axiom ships. If their customers decide to take them to Antarctica… well… they are on their own. Here we have Axiom's very own President Ian Colquhoun posing in front of the chamber (left) and me closing the door on him (right) in hopes of filling his shoes and donning the Axiom badge at least for the moment. Behind the chamber doors, the temperature can go from –20 degrees Celsius to +100 degrees C (that’s –4 degrees Fahrenheit to 212 degrees F, respectively), perfect for those rainy cold days in Canada. I bet this is how Canadians get a suntan in the winter months.

Ian in Temp & Humidty Chamber  Chamber closed

Read on for NEW products including a flagship subwoofer to take the crown from the EP600.

New Axiom Products: EP800 Subwoofer, T2 In-Walls, Mini 5.1 System


EP800 Subwoofer - King of the Hill

EP800 SubwooferJust when you thought Axiom was content with their EP600 refrigerator-sized subwoofer, they upped the ante by unveiling a more powerful EP800 sub to claim the throne. While the physical size is identical to the EP600, the EP800 is a sealed design. Replacing the port is another one of their 12” long throw aluminum drivers.

Since both drivers are wired in parallel, the rated amplifier output jumps up from 600 watts to 1000 watts making me wonder why they just don’t call it an EP1000. The EP800 has several advantages over the EP600. - since it doesn’t have a port, it can play lower without having to contend with port noise. In fact, they set the roll off to 12Hz (as indicated in the left graph below) as opposed to 20Hz tuning of the EP600. While there is no musical content down in that region, it is still pretty cool to have a sub that plays down that low. According to Ian, the goal of the EP800 is to have the widest bandwidth linearity and output in a subwoofer in its price class. As you can see in the SPL vs frequency graphs (below right pic), they certainly make a compelling argument.

EP800 vs EP600 EP800 max SPL

Ep600 vs EP800 Bass Extension Comparison SPL vs Frequency Graph of EP800 (1 meter, 4pi)


Once the EP800 is playing at around 110 dB at 1 meter in 4pi space, the -3dB point moves up to 22Hz. Above those levels, we see additional compression at both frequency ends caused by the DSP purposely limiting the output to keep distortion low and thermal compression down to a minimum. In comparison, most subs that don’t employ a form of limiting will simply exponentially increase distortion output and mechanical noise when tasked to play at their limits. Instead, the EP800 will simply play lower to avoid such sonic nasties. Another advantage of the dual driver approach of the EP800 over the single driver ported EP600 is the former can play louder at certain frequencies with about ½ the distortion since each driver will move only ½ as much to do the same work.


I’d really like to see Axiom employ a selectable HPF (or subsonic filter) to allow for a user adjustable low end roll off they prefer in their systems. In my opinion, it would be a better use of power and also prevent unwanted driver excursions for turntable users. To take it one step further, it would be an added bonus to also be able to select the rate of roll off like Velodyne allows in their DD series of subs. This is a great tool for installers to better blend multiple subs in a system, especially if they are not all the same brand or design types (ie. vented vs sealed).

EP800 Xover points


Here is a graph of the EP800 showing the adjustable LPF intended to be used for subwoofer / satellite systems.


T2 In-wall Speakers

T2 in-wallsAxiom unveiled a new in-wall speaker system with built in back box enclosure that is a snap to install. Unlike their W-series in-wall/on-wall type speakers, there is no mounting bracket necessary to install into the drywall prior to installing this system. Instead, the T2 system has an efficient built-in clamping mechanism that anchors the speaker firmly to the wall or ceiling when the screws are tightened. Whether you choose to mount it in the wall or ceiling, it’s as simple as cutting the correct size hole into your drywall, installing and screwing down the clamping mechanism.


Like the Architectural series (ie. W2s), the T series include built in back boxes to provide the right enclosure volume for the system to work optimally while also better isolating it from internal wall resonances. Axiom claims most in-wall speakers recess into the wall which can result in degrading sound characteristics. Their product instead protrudes 5/8” off the wall to prevent these issues. It’s unclear as to the actual real world benefits of slightly protruding the front baffle from the wall but as I understand Dr. Floyd Toole’s most recent research, one of the main reasons people prefer identical box speakers over their in-wall counterparts is that the former have more numerous and louder lateral reflections due to cabinet diffraction. I respect Axiom’s effort to matching their in-wall speakers to the sonics of their box speakers as closely as possible so perhaps every little bit of tweaking can help in achieving this noteworthy goal.


The T2s are a two-way design in a sealed enclosure with an aluminum 5 ¼” woofer and 1” titanium tweeter. The frequency response is rated at 70Hz to 20khz +-3dB. Price of this system $446/pair, just like the W2s, and come in three standard finished (black, white, silver) or paintable MDF.

For more information on the T series in-wall speakers, visit: axiomaudio.com/t2.html


Mini 5.1 Audio System
More big news from Axiom came during my recent visit in a very small package. They are gearing up to put forth a 5.1 speaker package that occupies a similar footprint to the infamous “cubed” speaker systems popularized by the company that begins with the letter “B” that many Audioholics love to hate. Unlike the typical cube speaker system, the Axiom Mini is designed with performance in mind with its 3 ½” aluminum woofer and ½” titanium tweeter. The speakers are so small (2.3 x 6. x 6.5 d x w x h)) that they practically disappear into the room once installed. Considering the small driver and enclosure, usable bass extension is limited to around 150Hz. Thus if the best acoustical blend is desired, I highly recommend pairing these speakers with two subwoofers symmetrically placed in front of the room and crossed over at 150Hz or so. If your processor has stereo subwoofer outs, this is definitely a time to consider taking advantage of that feature.

For more information, visit: Multi Subwoofer Connection Guide

bracket    Mini

Mini bracket (left)              Mini satellite speaker (right)


Axiom came up with a slick way of installing these speakers too. The bracket actually directly connects to the speaker wire as shown in the above left picture. Once you mount the bracket on the wall you simply place the speaker over it to make the physical connection to your amplifier while also securing it to the wall (right pic). If you can’t hide the wire behind drywall, that’s not a problem. Axiom has a new paintable flatwire speaker cable that is 14AWG and the conductors are placed side by side to keep the capacitance and inductance low, essentially making it as transparent as possible. Pair this little system with a small but potent sub like an EP400 and you’ve got the receipt for what the Genie in Aladdin would consider to be “a whole lot of sound in an Itty-bitty living space!” Pricing and availability haven’t been set in stone yet but seeing how this speaker system is closely related to their computer Audiobytes, and I was looking at near production samples, I’d guess it won’t be too far off.


Closing Thoughts

TreesOnce again, my visit to Axiom has been a memorable one. The 70 degree cool lake water reminded my body of how much it appreciates Florida, while the beautiful scenery and secluded wilderness made me savor the simplicity of life which can easily be dismissed when constantly surrounded by all this home theater techy stuff. The duration of my three day sabbatical in Dwight Ontario, consisted of mass quantity consumption of Canadian beef, fresh veggies, and wine. Apparently the senior folks at Axiom have jumped into a strict low carb regimen which I didn’t at all mind as long as they were offering fresh cuts of semi mooing slabs of meat. The diversity of veggies kept my brain focused as we had some of the most thoughtful and pleasant conversations on all topics ranging from government, science, religion and politics and the slim distinction between the two which seems to continually get slimmer each election cycle.


We discussed our predictions of future trends in the A/V world wondering what the next big format or technological breakthrough would be. Some pondered more surround channels, others higher definition video (ie 2160p). I on the other hand, wished someone like Bill Gates would come in and standardize an operational protocol to make all HDMI components talk to each other and auto configure the associated hardware so I’d stop getting phone calls in the middle of the night from my parents who could never figure out how to get their Denon receiver on the DVD input when they play a DVD.


Tom Snoozing on HammockIt’s been over a year now that I’ve been waiting on a review sample of the A1400-8 power amplifier and I asked Ian what the deal was on this. Apparently Tom just hasn’t gotten around to getting my review unit built up and tested yet. When they are spending all their time and manpower filling orders, I guess I can understand. As I polished off a few glasses of wine and beer while baking in the Canadian sun, I was ready to run down to the lab and help him build mine… or better yet, just pull beside him on the hammock and take a little snooze.


Spend a few days with the folks at Axiom and not only will you want to integrate their products into your home theater systems, but you’ll want to take a piece of their pride of workmanship and comradeship home with you.  Great products and services from a cool company that although maybe isolated up in the hills in Dwight, Ontario, aren’t out of touch with their customer base or market trends. No matter how cold it gets in Canada, I suspect the folks at Axiom always find a way to keep warm.




Axiom Audio Head Office
Highway 60
Dwight, Ontario Canada P0A 1H0
Toll Free (North America): 866-244-8796
Worldwide: 705-635-3090




About the author:
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Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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