I like my Axiom's. M60's. I have never heard the Ascends. The Bass from my M60's is as low as my JBL sub, and I am happy with my speakers. Hope I answered half of your question. I figured I would give you my input, since my poetry skills are a little crude, and would not be allowed on this forum. good luck finding the right speakers for "You".
No poetry here either, but you probably can't go wrong with either Axioms or Ascend. I own Axiom M22, VP150 and QS8's for my main system (along with a Velodyne VX-10 sub), as well as M3's for my bedroom. The Axioms are amazing speakers for the price, but from what I have read, so are the Ascends. You reference that the Ascend has a larger woofer. Keep in mind that the Axiom M22's have two 5.25" woofers, rather than one 6.5" woofer in the Ascend CBM-170s and Axiom M3's. I'm no expert, but I believe while there is some loss of bass from the smaller woofers in the M22 (which can be easily compensated for by a good sub), the two 5.25" woofers can help the midrange. Pick one brand and run with it, or try both and compare yourself. Good luck.
If you can afford it, and since you are using a sub, I prefer the M22 to the M3. In fact, I even prefer the M2 to the M3 when using a sub. I found the M3 to have a little extra mid-bass emphasis that slightly colored the sound, as compared to the M2 and M22's very neutral presentation. If you like a little more warmth/fullness in the mid-bass, which many do, then go with the M3.
Without a sub and in a small stereo system, I think most would prefer the M3 as the M2 & M22 can sound a bit lean on their own. The M22's advantage over the M2 is with the dual woofers & larger cabinet, they have better dynamics in the lower registers, and go a bit deeper too.
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