By Don Lindich
Third week of December, 2011
Q: I’m buying a new home theater system and need wall-mounted bookshelf speakers due to room configuration. I have seen you speak highly of both the Polk Audio LSi9 and Axiom Audio M22 speakers. Are there significant differences?
-Larry Mulmed, Minneapolis. MN
A: Both are great choices, but there are indeed significant differences between the Polk and Axiom models.
The Polk LSi9 speakers are big, heavy and very finely crafted with real wood side panels. They are rated at 4-ohms and as such require a powerful receiver. With proper amplification, the sound is sublime, with a rich tonal palette rendered with lots of fine detail and perfect balance. The LSi9 was recently discontinued and replaced by a new, higher-end model that I have yet to review, the $1,500/pair LsiM.
You can now find the LSi9 on clearance for $699/pair vs. the $999/pair MSRP. This is a truly wonderful deal. But if you are building a whole surround system, the matching LSiFX surrounds and LSiC center channel are $999 and $559 respectively. That puts you around $2,300 before you have purchased a subwoofer and a beefy $1,000-plus receiver to drive the five 4-ohm speakers.
If you are willing to spend the money, I am sure you will be thrilled, but be advised that to get the sound they are capable of will require an expensive receiver and very substantial wall mounts to support the LSi9′s weight of 33 pounds each. Given their weight, I usually recommend stands vs. wall mounts for these speakers ( www.polkaudio.com ).
The $498/pair Axiom Audio M22 is now in its third version, the M22v3. I recently tested its smaller stablemate, the M3v3, and found it a noticeable improvement over its predecessors, which were no slouches to begin with.
Axiom speakers have always been extremely transparent, dynamic and detailed, bringing out sounds you never knew existed in your recordings. This tremendous clarity has led some to comment that Axioms can sound bright at times. The new v3 models preserve Axiom’s best qualities while adding even more detail to smoother sound, along with a touch of warmth that will end comments that Axioms sound bright. At 8-ohms they are easy to drive with even a very modest receiver, and the Axiom QS4 surround speakers are one of the best-designed speakers of its kind.
You can get an entire Axiom M22v3 home theater system with a powered subwoofer for as little as $1,839 delivered. They can be customized in many different simulated and real wood finishes and a variety of grills, which make them easy to match to any décor ( www.axiomaudio.com ).
Armed with this information, visit the Polk Audio and Axiom Audio websites and take a look. You won’t go wrong either way.
Holiday product highlight
Walsh speakers from Ohm Acoustics are another great choice for anyone looking for top-performing speakers. They use unique, patented technology to effortlessly create an extremely realistic 3-D soundfield in your room, no matter where you sit.
I love them because you forget you are listening to speakers at all — they sound like sweet, beautiful music you can reach out and touch.
Handmade in the U.S. for almost 40 years, they range in price from $750 to $6,500 per pair with complete home theaters available ( www.ohmspeakers.com ).
Questions? Email Don