Sorry, I get long winded when writing stories...
Alright, I did a little "critical" listening today with the wife. I should have well over 15 hours on both the Axioms and Aperions by now. I put my wife in the sweet spot, and let her pick the music that she was familiar with. I have speakers on either side of a 65" tv stand. I have the CSW Tower II's as the innermost speakers, 6T's in the middle, and the M80's on the outside.
Please note that I am pretty much an average joe, so excuse me if I use any common terms incorrectly, I'll just be trying to descibe what we heard...
I kept the testing blind for my wife so she couldn't play favorites with my old speakers. Since all the speakers were within inches of each other, it was diffcult to tell which was playing at a given time. For reference the 6T's were speaker 1, CSW were 2, and M80's were 3. Again the receiver used was an HK AVR-235, and kept SPL around the 80-82db range.
We started out with female singers, 10,000 Maniacs and a Dutch metal/goth band- Within Temptation (my music, she likes them both, but doesn't know what to make of liking something considered goth, heh...)
We started out with speaker 1 (6T), then went to speaker 2 (CSW), and back and forth a bit. Speaker 2 seemed a little more "fuller", just has more bass extension (dual 8" woofers), but there was a pretty big difference on the high end- the 6T's were much more clear and detailed, and the female voices sounded much more natural. Then we went back and forth a bit on speakers 1 and 3. Again the M80's had a little more bass emphasis, and more clarity and detail on the high end than the CSW, however it didn't seem quite as separated as the 6T's. We both agreed that speaker 1 was the preferred speaker for those songs.
Then we moved onto Blue Man Group Live, Tour 2.1. We started out with song 1, Above, that I mentioned earlier that threw out a huge soundstage. I explained soundstage and imaging to my wife the best I could, and played this song to demonstrate on the 6T's. She pointed out a couple of instruments as they came in, and she was pointing outside of the Axiom's. Then I switched to the CSW, and she pointed them just to inside of the CSW speakers. I switched over to the M80's, and she pointed them out just outside the M80's, but not as far as it was for the 6T's. I didn't get the sweet spot for this comparison, so I left it to her and she choose speaker 1 again, followed by 3, then speaker 2.
We then moved on to more Blue Man Group, Above the Roof, one of her favorites. Female singer, but lots of instruments and percussion. On just a straight comparison for preference, she choose speaker 2, which surprised me since she didn't like it for the other female voices. With both the M80's and CSW we could easily feel the bass through the couch, it was there with the 6T's too, just not as much. I asked her later why she choose speaker 2- was it because of the bass, and she said yes, probably was. I should have gone back and forth more on the M80's and CSW, I'm really surprised she didn't choose the M80's in that situation.
We then did a little casual listening to Phil Collins, But Seriously. We didn't get to deep into this one as we were wrapping it up before dinner, but the 6T's held their own on the low end, again not as pronounced as the other speakers, and I could see where they might get a bit boomy (well, I know the CSW can). I preferred the 6T's here too, they just sounded more natural and detailed.
So that wrapped it up more or less. My wife overall preferred speaker 1, but didn't want to know what they were yet. Well, I fired up Peter Gabriel while I sat down to write this (I sit on my couch in the sweet spot and surf the internet while on the big screen and listening to flac from the pc through my stereo), and turned up the song Growing Up, while having the 6T's connected. Holy cow, I never realized all what PG has going on in some of these songs. There were sounds going all over the place and literally sounded like they were going around me.
So I got my wife and sat her down to give a listen, and after a bit she looked at me and goes "cool" in the voice that really means, "why can't you just drop it already and leave me alone". I let it play a few more minutes and then stop it, and she just looks at me and says "speaker 2". So I swapped it to the other speakers for a listen, and her verdict on this demo was again speaker 1. She finally asked which one was which, so I told her 1 was the 6T's, 2 was the CSW and 3 was the M80's. She was kind of surprised, she thought 1 was the M80's, 2 was the 6T's, and 3 the old speakers (since she rarely choose them over the others). Looks wise she likes the 6T's best.
Overall so far, I would have to say there is no losing in choosing between Aperion and Axiom, it is a matter of personal preference, but neither speaker will leave you disappointed.
The Axioms dig a bit deeper still (I'm still planning on giving the 6T's a bit more time to break in), and they do well all around imaging wise and with detail. They have a good size soundstage, and they do like power, but are an easy 4 ohm load. I had them up to 100db yesterday for a few minutes, and they didn't seem stressed at all and sounded great, though I will no longer listen at such levels any more anyway so it doesn't matter much to me. The Aperion's kind of got overbearing for me at 100db, and I wasn't sure I would dare go any higher with them. The Axioms seemed to beg for more. I might try this again later to see if anything has changed after more of a break in.
What the Aperions have going for them- wider soundstage, more clarity and detail in the high end, a little better imaging, and looks- the finish is nice. The Axioms have a rough edge or two. The only thing I found with the 6T's is a hole about the size of a pin head in one of the grills, I didn't notice it until I had it off, but if I keep them I'm thinking I might try to get a replacement because the grill seems pretty thin, so I could see that hole growing easily. In fact grills on both the Aperions and Axioms are much thinner than on the CSW, which is neither good or bad, just is. Also, the 6T's take a little more to drive I believe and might be less efficient (haven't double checked), or maybe it's it because the M80's are 4 ohm, but I have to turn the receiver up 4-6db to get the 6T's level with the M80's.
In summary, I find myself currently favoring the 6T's. Now, if someone had asked me two weeks ago which speaker would I prefer, one that goes a little deeper and loves to be played loud and is more efficient, or one that performed a little better with soundstage and imaging and excelled at the high end, I would have said give me the efficient ones that have more bass!
Now that I've been able to actually compare them, I find that what I actually prefer is not what I thought it would be.
A very good example of why you have to listen for yourself.
So anyone looking for direction, take my comparison with a grain of salt (I haven't done enough of these to know if I have a clue what I'm saying makes any sense or is truly accurate), and take a listen for yourself. Your results may vary due to equipment, room, etc...
I plan on keeping both of these speakers at least another week and half, so I'll post back again on final results, if anything appears to change after more breaking in and experimenting, etc...I wish I could have gotten the RC-70's for comparison too, but I guess I still have 3 weeks if they go on sale again soon.
Thanks for reading if anyone made it this far...