Axiom M80 VS Vienna Acoustic Beethoven on CJ 11A


I currently have a pair of Axiom M80 driven by a Conrad Johnson 11A power amp. I listen mostly to classical, percussion, and vocal. Very few jazz and no rock at all. Stereo only and no surround.

I'm looking for speakers upgrade and I listened to some Vienna Acoustic speakers (used to have a pair of Bach and auditioned Beethoven) and I got very good impression on them. In particular, I love their smoothness. The model I'm looking for is Beethoven, not the newest Beethoven grand however.

Unfortunately in home audition is not available so I'm looking for some opinions here.

Did anyone ever compare Axiom to VA? How do they compare?

Also, did anyone try CJ and VA combination and how do they match? I think both of them are warm but I'm not looking for some "too warm" sound.

Thanks for any thoughts and input. Any idea is appreciated.

Sorry, I'm not familiar with Axiom loudspeakers, but I think you'd find the Vienna Beethovens to be extremely satisfying. I also own the Gallo Ref3 which is a phenomenal loudspeaker, but I prefer the Viennas for their image density and their seductive way with vocals. Pairing it with the CJ will probably result in a warm, very lush sound, and you may find the bass somewhat soggy or tubby. I just don't think tube power amps can control the woofers optimally, but this might not matter much to you and also depends on your musical tastes. The Beethovens are very placement sensitive, as well as very sensitive to their front end components. Hopefully you have a relatively large room to place them in, so they can perform their disappearing act. With my associated electronics (classe power, minimax tube pre, cairn fog cdp, Paul Speltz Anti-cables) the Beethovens sound relatively neutral, but always musical and fatigue free.
I have not heard the Axioms either, but I own a pair of VA Beethovens. I think they are wonderful speakers...the type you can listen to for days. I have experimented with a few different power sources and have had more success with SS amps over tubes, though admittedly most of the SS amps I tried were more powerful than the tube amps. As the speakers are somewhat "soft," the tube amps tend to make them sound too soft, to my ears,anyway. I am currently using a RAM-modified PS Audio HCA-2 amp and PCA-2 preamp and I am very happy with the sound.
Thanks Boyhowdy and Mezzrow.

I'm not looking for lush sound in particular. That is why I kind of hesitate to make my purchase decision. My room size is about 20(W) x 15(D) x 12(H) and I place the speakers along the longer wall.

I used to have a pair of VA Bach and I love the smooth vocal. However I found the dynamic is not even close to my Axiom (understandable due to their sizes) and soundstage is somewhat smaller. Is Beethoven much better than Bach or are they completely different animals?

PS. It is a good sign to see that many Beethoven owners are very happy.

Here is another happy Beethoven owner. I am driving them with a Cary V12 tube amp and I have plenty of bass. Some people think I have a sub going. Mine are the newer version of Beethovens.
Hi Jdodmead,

It's good to hear that beethoven driven by a tube amp can also produce a good result!

Did you compare the newer Beethoven grand and the old one? Would you mind telling me roughly how much you paid for it? You may drop me a private message if you do not want to publicize it. =)

Andy, if the Bachs sound relatively undynamic with your CJ amp, then there's a good possibility that the Beethovens will be a similar situation. If you're stuck on the CJ, then I'd do everything I could to audition the Beethovens with this amplifier. Your room size is very similar to mine, and I also have my speakers firing along the long wall, so there should be no problem there. FWIW, I haven't found anything near their price range thats been as musically satisfying to me, but like any high-end component, they will not match well with everything. Hopefully a CJ/Vienna owner out there will chime in.

Hi Matt,

I think the Bach's lack of dynamic was because of the small cabinets and there is only one 7 inches woofer. Technically Bach is 6ohm 91db and it should not demand more power than my Axiom 4ohm 91db...

I'm not stucked with CJ but I sort of dislike high power amplifiers. My CJ outputs 75w per channel which should be more than sufficient for any reasonably high efficiency speakers (>90db maybe.)

Another concern is that VA does not seem to be a very popular brand (correct me if i'm wrong =). Reselling it (if it does not match well with my other stuffs) can be a headache.

I saw a pair of demo from local dealer but I'm tempted by the rosewood one in the classified listing. I don't think it's likely that I can get in home audition.

Andy, I get the impression the rosewood Viennas sell reasonably fast. They are among the most beautifully made loudspeakers IMO. If the Beethovens don't work out you might want to investigate Spendors or Proacs. I've heard some some models of these with tube amps and they gave very good sound.

Good luck,

Man thats a big jump in price! The Rosewood Beethovens list for $5000 and Axioms top of the line M80 goes for $1240.

I have limited experience with the Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. Heard them all during one audition session. For what its worth I thought the Beethoven sounded much better then the Mozart or Bach. Didn't care for the bass integration with the latter 2 models. Dynamics on all 3 models was fine but nothing to write home about.

Seems like there should be alot of other manufacturers to investigate that fall between the price of the Axioms and Beethovens.

I would agree with Matt if the Bachs to your ear were not dynamic enough its doubtful the Beethovens would be.

BW Maxx
I went to a local dealer and audition both new Beethoven Grand and the older model yesterday.

I actually prefer to older Beethoven because it is more laid back and they play classical music better to my ears. I found that they sound equally smooth and refined, but Beethoven grand sounds more forward and there is more immediacy.

On top of that, my local dealer is clearing out an pair of older Beethoven demo at almost half the price of Beethoven Grand. And it's the awesome rosewood finish.

After listening for about an hour with different CDs, I was completely convinced and decided to buy. I had auditioned JMLab (Mini Utopia), ProAc, B&W (80x amd 70x), Dynaudio (Contour and C4), and Sonus Faber (Cremona & Grand Piano) before. They do not belong to the same price range but almost all of them are more expensive than Beethoven (old model). Yet I found Beethoven outperforms (sonically) most of them to my personal taste.

I will post update later how they mate with my CJ power amp.

PS: Maxxc, I did not jump on a $5000 pair of speaker. =) It's actually less than half of it.
I just replaced VA Bachs with Beethoven (not the Grands). I've found the more power they get, the better they sound (no big surprise I guess). I tried a few amps with the Bachs and it did make a difference in terms of dynamics. I've only tried my Sunfire Cinema Grand with the Beethovens so far, but I had a chance to hear them in another system with Krell monoblocks (don't know which ones) and the sound was like nothing I've ever heard on any system. I think they are a fantastic speaker and if you find the CJ doesn't drive them properly, I'd keep the speakers and get a new amp.
Thats cool. For under $2500 you got a real good deal. Like I said earlier, I think they are a big step up over the Mozart and Bach.

I've read the same thing Ultraviolet posted from several VA speaker owners. That they really need a fair amount of power to sound their best. Hybrid amps like the Unison Unico seem to be popular with VA's.

BW Maxx
I have a pair of Beethovens that I drive with a VTL ST 150 with very satisfying results. I tried some lower powered tube amps and felt that the bass was not controlled enough for my taste. I tried VTL ST 85, CJ MV 60, and Rogue 88 before getting to try the ST 150.
I suggest that if you get the Beethovens you should at least consider changing your amp as well. I think the Beethovens are good enough to justify the additional expense of a new amp.

It seems like many people here got a lot of affection to VA Beethoven. =)

My Beeothvens finally arrived my doorway yesterday! The Rosewood finish really looks fantastic! There is a small scratch in the bottom of one speaker but considering the money I paid, I cannot complain. =}

VA Beethovens in fact sound very good on my CJ 11a. Compared to Axiom, they got so much more details, more transparent treble and midrange, not as bright and less annoying sibilant sound. Soundstage is substantially wider and deeper.

I do not find any dynamic problem with VA Beethoven at all. I think their dynamic is way better than VA Bach and I'm very satisfied with them.

Bass is good in general but the lower bass is not as punchy and low as Axiom. I think it's less controlled as well. This is probably due to limitation of my 75w amp, but I'm going to do more experiment on different placement and cables.
What Axioms did you replace?

BW Maxx
Hi Maxx,

I replaced Axiom M80... Similar size and spec in fact, quite different sound however.
Congratulations Andy. I'd like to recommend Paul Spelz Anti-cables for your Beethovens if you have any cash to spare. They are quite cheap ($10 per foot pair) and handily bested the Kimber 8tc in my system. The Anti-cables had more clarity and gave me better extension in the bass and treble. They aren't very "pretty", however.
I'm currently running a pair of zu wax to my beethovens. I also have a pair of transparent cable music wave super lying around that I would like to try some time soon.

Hmm.. I have heard some good things about anticable. For $10/ft pair it's quite tempting. I will probably order a pair. If they beat both zu and transparent, I may in fact make some money by selling them off. =D

Thanks Boyhowdy.
the Vienna acoustics have a wonderful sound with my jolida jd502 amp. got both from brian higdon petery-hedden co. look him up on the web. in the Louisville area and he ships for free. he handles both. also I love the finish on the va speakers. I have nice furniture and they fit in, and sound better than they look. never been so happy with my sound system as I am now. thanks for letting me put in my two cents. bob

12-12-13: Boband212
the Vienna acoustics have a wonderful sound with my jolida jd502 amp. got both from brian higdon petery-hedden co. look him up on the web. in the Louisville area and he ships for free. he handles both. also I love the finish on the va speakers. I have nice furniture and they fit in, and sound better than they look. never been so happy with my sound system as I am now. thanks for letting me put in my two cents. bob
Where/how did you dig this ancient thread up?

In the ensuing 8-1/2 years, speaker designer Andrew Welker left Mirage (when Klipsch gutted it) and went to Axiom. Since then Bryston relied heavily on Axiom Audio to come out with their new speaker line, not that that has anything to do with what the OP needed in June 2005.