Axiom Epic 50 Review

The Epic 50 home theater system is an extremely well priced system that delivers the performance of much more expensive systems.
The Epic 50 home theater system is an extremely well priced system that delivers the performance of much more expensive systems.
The Epic 50 home theater system is an extremely well priced system that delivers the performance of much more expensive systems.

Highs

  • Extremely competitive price and excellent sound reproduction

Lows

  • Manual contain minimal information on speaker setup and location

Summary

The Epic 50 home theater system is an extremely well priced system that delivers the performance of much more expensive systems. Good engineering teamed with good drivers deliver outstanding sound quality. The cabinets are attractive, but if exotic woods or a unique appearance are desired, look elsewhere. The Epic 50 system puts your investment into the sound not the furniture. The result is right on target for those on a budget who desire an attractive system with the sound quality of systems costing many times more than the Epic 50.


Introduction

The Axiom Epic 50 Home Theater System consists of two Millennia M50ti towers, two Quadrant Surround QS-4 rear channel speakers, a Vocal Point VP100 center channel speaker and the Epicenter EP175 Subwoofer. Axiom recommends this package for medium to large rooms.

The $1567 Epic 50 package is available through Axiom’s web site for US buyers. Axiom has a 30-day satisfaction guarantee on their speakers in addition to a standard 5-year warrantee – one year on subwoofers.

The speakers are available in black, light ash, or Boston cherry.

Construction

The Epic 50 system is available in three finishes: Black Oak, Maple, and Boston Cherry. The black oak finish has a smooth texture with no visible seems. The wood finish is exceptional – for a reason. The speakers are covered in vinyl. This was not immediately obvious. A little research uncovered this surprise.

M50ti Tower

The M50ti towers are 35.5 inches tall, 9.25 inches wide, and 13 inches deep. The width is actually greatest in the front and tapers toward the back for a slight wedge shape. The towers are supplied with four spikes and four rubber feet for use with carpeted or wood floors. Each tower felt very solid, but weighed only about 36 lbs.

The black speaker grill snaps firmly to the front and extends from the top of the tower down to about ¾ of the length. There are two 6.5-inch aluminum woofers and a single 1-inch titanium tweeter.

The front and rear ports, what Axiom calls vortex porting, are black and sort of gnarly in appearance. Presumably this shape is what creates the vortex.

The binding posts on the rear of all the speakers are gold plated. There are no crossover adjustments on the passive speakers.

VP100 Center

The VP100 center speaker is 17 inches wide, 7.5 inches deep, and 7.5 inches tall in front. The enclosure’s height tapers down toward the back. There are two aluminum woofers and one titanium tweeter in the VP100s. The black oak blended in with the black television monitor that it was perched on for a very unobtrusive look.

QS4 Surrounds

The QS4 surround speakers are 6.5 inches tall, 9.5 inches wide, and 6 inches deep. There are two 4.5-inch aluminum woofers and two neodymium-titanium tweeters. The drivers are angled to the left and right for dispersion. There are two small speaker grills – one on each side. The grills are so small that their thickness is exaggerated in appearance. A wrap-around grill would have provided a more esthetic appearance.

EP175 Subwoofer

The EP175 subwoofer is 17.5 inches tall, 13.5 inches wide, and 14.25 inches deep. There is a single 10-inch aluminum woofer. There are two vortex ports in front and below the 10-inch woofer. The EP175 weighs about 35 lbs.

The rear panel of the EP175 contains multiple binding posts and RCA jacks for high level in, line in, high level out, and line out. The line input is used for receivers or Amps that provide a separate line out for subwoofers. The high level inputs are provided for receivers/Amps that have no separate line out for subwoofers. When the high level inputs are connected to the receiver’s front left and right speaker outputs, the front left and right speakers can be connected to the EP175’s high level outputs.

A power switch, fuse, power indicator lamp, variable low pass filter control, phase switch, and level control make up the remaining rear panel functions. When the power switch is left on, the EP175 automatically detects the presence of a signal on the line input and powers up from standby.

The level control adjusts the subwoofer output relative to the other speaker channels. The low pass filter control allows user adjustment of the range of low frequencies that are directed to the subwoofer. A phase switch selects 0 or 180 degrees phase shift of the subwoofer output relative to the other speakers.

Listening

The towers were placed about 18 inches from the rear wall. The QS4s were placed on stands at the rear of the room about 10 feet from the towers. The EP175 subwoofer was placed to the side of the right tower.

A Yamaha R-V1105 surround sound receiver drove all of the speakers. A Yamaha CDC-905 compact disk changer and Sony DVP-NS700P DVD player were used for the audio sources. The optical outputs were used so that the receiver’s D/A converters were used to reproduce the sound for both movies and compact discs.

It took several minutes and several different audio sources to get a satisfactory set up for the subwoofer phase, level, and low pass frequency. Even after this initial setup it was not uncommon to make fine level adjustments between different movies and audio CDs. Ideally, a sound level meter and test disk could be used to set up the sub’s controls; however, personal listening preferences would probably overrule those settings anyway.

The Epic 50 system sound was very impressive!

Listening Continued…

The first listening tests were done with various compact discs, from rock to classical. It is always interesting to compare a speaker’s ability to accurately reproduce simple single instrument pieces, then vocals, and finally complex combinations of instruments and vocals. The M50ti towers reproduced each with a very natural sound. There was no blurring of the instruments with one another or with the vocals. The low frequency response of the towers was such that for some selections the subwoofer added negligible bass response. The M50ti bass sounded tight, with no obvious peaking due to port tuning. The M50ti ‘s would be quite satisfying without the subwoofer for someone who wanted to make their system purchase in stages.

The high frequency response was bright, but balanced quite nicely with the midrange. There was little or no evidence of raspy or sharp edged sound that some tweeters exhibit. The transition from the midrange to the tweeters sounded seamless.

There is no way to compare the sound of a recording in the home with the original sound in a recording studio. However, some speakers render music in such a way that one imagines that it didn’t sound quite the same in the studio. Other speakers have a sound that immediately imparts to the listener the impression that he is hearing exactly what the mix in the studio sounded like – what the artist and recording engineer intended. This quality is often referred to as the “image”, “soundstage”, or other terms that strain to explain this perceived accuracy in words.

The M50ti towers immediately sounded just “right”.

The next listening tests were done with several DVD movies. Here the EP175 subwoofer was definitely appreciated. Some low frequency sound effects in movies simply were not intended to be reproduced with standard speakers. The EP175s could be adjusted to rattle the walls at the appropriate times and simply blend in with the towers when not being called upon to perform their low frequency antics. As mentioned previously, it was common to re-adjust the subwoofer for different movies in order to get the right balance. This re-adjustment was required much less frequently between different music CDs.

The VP100 center did an excellent job of reproducing the dialog in movies. An inadequate center speaker can easily stand out as the weakest link in an otherwise well balanced home theater system. The VP100, however, is well matched to the rest of the speakers in this system. There was never any indication that the VP100 was straining to be clearly heard over the M50ti’s when speech was overlaid on loud music or sound effects.

The QS4 surround speakers could easily be overlooked in this evaluation. This is not a criticism of the QS4’s. In spite of their impressive combination of drivers and obvious attention to design detail, they simply did their job unobtrusively. Performance was relatively independent of seating position between the two rear channels.

Pros
– Excellent sound
– Extremely competitive price
– Workmanship makes the cabinets look more expensive
– Excellent engineering trade-offs to achieve performance for the price
– 30-day satisfaction guarantee: audition the EPIC50 in your own home

Cons
– The manuals contain minimal information on speaker setup and location
– Vinyl – Black may be the best choice for hiding nicks and scratches

Conclusions

The Epic 50 home theater system is an extremely well priced system that delivers the performance of much more expensive systems. Good engineering teamed with good drivers deliver outstanding sound quality. The cabinets are attractive, but if exotic woods or a unique appearance are desired, look elsewhere. The Epic 50 system puts your investment into the sound not the furniture. The result is right on target for those on a budget who desire an attractive system with the sound quality of systems costing many times more than the Epic 50.