Sound Advice Column: Acculine vs. Axiom Bookshelf Speakers

Q: I read your recent column recommending the $249 Acculine A1 bookshelf speakers. How do they compare to the $296 Axiom Audio M2 v2 speakers you also recommend? 

-Jim Bukowski, Pittsburgh, PA 

A: I have been asked this question at least a dozen times since my column recommending the Acculine A1 was published. It’s nice to see readers remember my old columns!  Both are excellent speakers, but I would say they perform differently rather than one being better than the other. There are brand differences beyond sound quality, as you will see below. 

What makes the Acculines special is their leaf tweeters, typically found only in very expensive, exotic speakers. These tweeters must be heard to be appreciated, as they render sound so transparently and with so much detail that I liken it to a sonic version of the visual difference between HDTV and analog TV—they are really that good! I imagine a lot of new owners will turn their heads in disbelief as they hear sounds in their recordings they never knew existed. In comparison, the Axiom M2 has a fuller midrange and an ever-so-slightly more balanced sound from top to bottom.  They don’t impress the way the Acculine leaf tweeters do, but the M2s leave you satisfied and never wanting for more.

Axiom has been designing great speakers for a long time, and this refinement and balance is a testament to the skill and experience of Ian Colquhoun, Axiom’s founder and chief designer. Finish is an important consideration for many purchasers. Acculines are available in only one color, basic black. Axiom has 16 different exterior finishes and 6 different grill cloth designs available, allowing you to design your speakers online at their website’s Custom Shop. Things get interesting when you move beyond a pair of bookshelf speakers and into a whole system. To show Acculine’s extreme value equation, we will build two Acculine 5.1 channel systems. The Acculine A1s are $249 per pair with two pairs required, one for mains and one for surrounds. This comes to $498. The A-2 Center Channel is $179 and the Acculine ASub is $289. This gets you a top performing home theater speaker system using exotic technology for only $966. That’s pretty incredible! 

The second Acculine system mimics the one above, but uses Acculine A3 towers as main speakers. The A3s are $499 per pair, a $250 difference which brings the total to $1216. This is equally incredible for a high quality system using tower speakers. 

Moving to Axiom, their M2-based Epic Midi home theater is $1338.55, the Epic 50 system using tower speakers is $1921.85. That’s more than the Acculine systems, but you get Axiom’s incredible QS surround speakers, which radiate in four different directions for spectacular surround effects. As a full line manufacturer, Axiom has a variety of offerings including main speakers, surround speakers, center channels, in-wall and outdoor speakers, and subwoofers. With Axiom you can build a system for any room or situation, while Acculine’s smaller product line limits their capabilities somewhat at this point. This should help you get the picture.

Check out Axiom’s offerings at www.axiomaudio.com and the Acculine speakers at exclusive distributor The Audio Insider at www.theaudioinsider.com. Whichever way you go, you won’t go wrong. Not only are all of the products excellent, both companies have 30-day money satisfaction guarantees.

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