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Friday
Feb262016

Podcast #728: Axiim Q Wireless Home Theater System

This podcast is going on eleven years and one thing that we have heard from the beginning is that there are too many wires required to setup a 5.1 or 7.1 home theater system. Wireless has always been the dream but it's never been good enough. That is until today!

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Axiim Q Wireless Home Theater System

This podcast is going on eleven years and one thing that we have heard from the beginning is that there are too many wires required to setup a 5.1 or 7.1 home theater system. Wireless has always been the dream but it's never been good enough. That is until today!

 The Axiim Q is a multi-channel wireless HD audio/video system that is WiSA compliant and supports up to 7.1 uncompressed 24bit/96kHz surround sound that is simple to setup and use. And right now you can buy a 5.1 system for $1,500 (7.1 for $2,000). This price will go up after the beta period.

 

Features:

 

  • HD Wireless Audio - Up to 7.1 surround sound with WiSA compliant wireless 24bit/96kHz audio. Bluetooth connection for audio streaming.
  • Audio Format Support -  Up to Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio.
  • Audio Control - 10 band graphics equalizer, volume, and distance calibration per speaker.
  • HD Video - Up to 1080p 60fps and 3D modes.
  • Inputs - Six HDMI inputs with CEC. Four USB 2.0 and eSATA for connected peripherals.
  • Outputs - HDMI output to TV.
  • Remote - Bluetooth remote and IR port for users with universal remote control (i.e. Harmony).
  • Network - Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac WiFi.
  • Network Features - Firmware update.
  • Connected Drive Features - Music discovery from USB and eSATA connected hard drives.
  • Apps - iOS and Android remote control apps.

 

 

Setup

It took fifty minutes to get up and running and that included opening the shipping boxes and removing the packaging. The speakers themselves are beautifully built and have some heft to them. The only cable coming out of the back is a power cable. Once you have the speakers placed you connect the AVR to power and a TV and then begin the setup.

First you connect to wifi and then the system sends a tone to a speaker. You identify which speaker it is and bam! Your system is configured. Then you calibrate your speakers. This is the only place where the system is not ideal. You use your phone's microphone to and point it towards the individual speakers as instructed on screen. It is used to determine distance and levels, no EQ. However, nothing will prevent you from using a third party app to determine EQ and then manually set it. There are even EQ presets and to be honest they sounded pretty good. We really don’t think this is a deal breaker at all.

Performance

First let’s talk about wireless before we get into the speakers. We could not see any lag in audio and video. If you didn’t know it you would think you were watching/listening to a wired system. During our testing we turned on the microwave and had a home full of wifi transmissions and did not experience one audio dropout. We didn’t hear one hiss, pop, or click! Dead silent when it was supposed to. We had a true 5.1 audio system in a room that was not setup for any home entertainment! The dream was realized.

Axiim is using the WiSA standard:

WiSA defines a set of attributes for Wireless Speaker and Audio technology that combine to deliver unmatched performance and ease of use for the home theater consumer. WiSA technology transmits 24-bit audio at sample rates up to 96k/second, with robust error recovery for uninterrupted listening enjoyment. With extremely low latency and negligible speaker-to-speaker delay, it offers flawless wired-quality performance and reliability.

WiSA technology operates in the relatively unused 5.2 to 5.8 GHz UNII radio frequency spectrum, reliably transmitting uncompressed HD audio from 2-channel stereo to 7.1 surround, along with system configuration and calibration data. Older wireless technologies, by contrast, operate in the same crowded frequency band used by cordless phones, baby monitors, security monitors, wireless Internet hubs, and microwaves—resulting in interference and poor quality audio.

The WiSA Association was created to provide an interoperability compliance program for speaker brands and manufacturers of CE devices. Consumers purchasing products bearing the WiSA logo can be confident that these products will work together flawlessly in the home theater environment. This level of compliance is especially critical for new and emerging technologies such as wireless audio.

What that means is you can buy an AVR from one company, speakers from another, and a subwoofer from yet another. Right now Klipsch, Definitive Technology, and Martin Logan are selling WiSA compliant speakers in addition to Axiim.

From an audio point of view the speakers performed quite well.  Ara’s first Home Theater in a box was a Yamaha that cost $1,000 and had terrible speakers that sounded like they were tin cans. This system costs a little more but it is night and day better quality. The center channel measures just 5.8 x 14.1 x 5.7 in (147 x 358 x 145 mm) but produces audio with depth and clarity, and texture of larger speakers. The system comes with a ten inch sealed subwoofer with a frequency response of 20 - 100 hertz. Our test material for the subwoofer was the final boxing match in Real Steel. When the champion is announced and he jumps into the ring we were able to feel the thump as he lands. The Surrounds provided all kinds of ambiance that made you feel like you were part of the crowd. When the announcer did the intro the echo sounded realistic and added to the experience.

 

We also tested with Lone Survivor because there are a lot of effects that involve bullets flying overhead. The Q System had no issues with this or any other surround material we threw at it. We soon forgot that there were no wires and concentrated on how great a 5.1 system sounded in our living room. A room that only an hour before had no A/V system in it and had no wiring for speakers! We also listened to some music and we felt that it did a good job here too. A little on the bright side at first and then we adjusted the EQ and it sounded richer and fuller.


Odds and Ends

 

  • IR Remote -  We pretty much ignored it and went with the iOS app to control the system after we got it on our network
  • Updates! - The people at Axiim are constantly tweaking the software which is why it's still technically a beta product. But we see this as a good thing.
  • No Dolby Atmos - The system supports 8 channels so at best it will be able to support a 5.1.2 configuration.
  • Multiple Zones - Right now there is no concept of this but after speaking with the company they are working on it.
  • Expandable - You can start out with a 5.1 system and then add an additional two speakers to upgrade to a 7.1 system.

 

 

Conclusion

Many of our listeners have asked us to recommend wireless solutions for their home theater over the years. We have tested and rejected all but a few and the acceptable solutions still required some speaker wire from an external amp. Not exactly wireless! The Axiim Q Wireless Home Theater System is the first one that delivers on the the promise of a truly wireless system that is simple to install, looks fantastic and sounds great! We hate having to send it back! It would be so easy to bring 5.1 to your master bedroom that we are seriously thinking about buying one!

 

Download Episode #728

Reader Comments (5)

In retrospect, Axiim might want to scarf up a couple of more domain names. My Duckduckgo search had about ten listings for an Axiom Speaker company (axiomaudio.com), even though I entered "Axiim speakers" and the casual web surfer might not scroll down far enough to reach axiim.com, which is not really descriptive of anything. But the idea sounds fantastic and, with the HTGuys high level of praise, I have a definite interest in these guys. My giant Paradigm speakers seem a bit much as I try to squeeze my theater into a smaller space.

Stephanie did a terrific job! But I must disagree a little; Castle has really rejuvenated itself this season. improved humor (without going crazy, like Limitless does) and better stories. I would care if it got cancelled. NCIS has really picked up the pace this season, too. CSI: Cyber is just a place for Arquette to pose and deliver ridiculously dramatic lines. Much the same way David Caruso did on CSI: Miami.

February 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRick K.

Regarding Show #273 and the voice message from Gerry (or Jerry) and his inquiry into upgrading his Dish gear to Dish 3…

We recently upgraded our Shaw (Canada) PVR system to their current Gateway HDPVR system. Like Gerry, we had a fair amount of content on a standalone PVR (two, in our case) that we weren't thrilled about losing, but knew it couldn't be transferred. Not really such a big deal, because we could have opted to keep the old PVRs in the loop until we drained them of anything of note.

But even that wasn't necessary. Shaw has a fairly deep availability of shows on their VOD access that made it really easy to catch up with our favorites on the new system. As long as it's part of one's cable package, you can get most of it free via VOD. The quality is very nearly as good, in most cases, as recorded-to-drive content.

With the recent addition of apps for Android and iOS, the whole process of switching over to a new (and better) PVR setup was pretty painless. No one in my family wanted my head for stuff lost. And I'm thankful for that.

What I'm seeing is that it won't be long before we do away with PVR capability in cable set-top boxes. Really, even now, we could opt to not record anything and just use the VOD functionality, and our household would be fine. Yes, there are a couple of short ad breaks, but you always need another beer… Also, using Shaw VOD doesn't count against our Internet bandwidth.

As for 4K content… geez, right now things look mighty fine on our TVs and dedicated home theatre front projection setup (which includes Blu-ray, Apple TV, and Chromecast). I'm sure we'll upgrade the gear eventually, but I'm happy to wait a couple of years or more for better pricing, product quality, and content availability.

Love what you do, guys! Always entertaining.


Ron
Sidney BC
Canada

February 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRon G.

Oops. My note above should have been made in reference to Podcast #728, not #273...

February 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRon G.

Ditto regarding 'Second Chance'. I am no fan of police procedurals, but this is a fun, really well-written show. I guess we'll have to go 'full sheriff' on someone...

February 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRon G.

Excellent and very accurate review of the Axiim system. Since you were wondering, they pronounce it as though it has only one "i", like Axim.

Full Disclosure: I work for the company that provides the wireless technology -- implemented brilliantly by Axiim. I'd go on about how much we love the system too (we have a 7.1 in our demo room), but then, that would just be self serving. And unnecessary given your podcast said it all!

March 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJeff N

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