Sweet, tight sound across the board; USB charging port built into the amplifier.
Amp cabinet consumes floor space and must be within reach to use the volume control.
Axiom Audio’s Audiobyte speakers have convinced us it’s time to retire the M-Audio Studiophile LX4 system we’ve long used as a reference point for speaker reviews. They also surprised us in a number of ways: They’re made in Canada, not China; the amplifier comes in its own enclosure, as opposed to being hidden in one of the speaker cabinets; and the subwoofer is passive!
Actually, the subwoofer is optional, but we wouldn’t recommend buying the satellites solo—as sweet as they sound—because they just don’t deliver enough oomph on their own. The amp and satellites sell for $350 and the EPZero sub goes for $180, for an as-reviewed price of $530. If your budget tops out at $350, the Audioengine A5 system is a better value.
The Class D amplifier delivers 55 watts per channel to the satellites (there’s a 1-inch titanium dome tweeter and a 3-inch aluminum cone woofer in each). The subwoofer consists of a front-firing 6.5-inch aluminum-cone woofer inside a vented cabinet. The sub delivers sweet, tight bass, but if you’re looking for something that will beat you over the head, pick up a powered sub—the amp will accommodate that configuration as well.
We’re delighted when a set of speakers reveals an element of a song we’ve never detected even after hundreds of listening sessions (and with very good speakers). While playing Dire Straits’s “Private Investigations” (from the group’s epic CD Love Over Gold ), we picked up the sound of shuffling footsteps at one transition. This isn’t unintentional noise, but it’s so deep in the background we’d never noticed it. We went back and listened to the track on M-Audio’s speakers and, sure enough, it was there—but we really had to listen for it.