Gorgeous design and build quality, Modular connectors and crossover, Bass impact and attack, Unique articulate yet non-fatiguing tuning
The additional price of cable makes value questionable, Resolution a step down from many competitors
The Axiom is a serious, thought out product with a questionable pricing model. Its unique tuning and accomplished design mean it remains a competitive option if you already have a collection of cables on hand.
Best known for their custom cables, Effect Audio is recognised as one of the core names in the sector and have also played a large role in the popularisation of cables in general. The company has demonstrated interest in other ventures too, having designed an IEM in collaborated with Empire Ears in the past. Contrarily, the Axiom represents the company’s first in-house designed model. This is a high-end triple driver hybrid IEM that makes a statement on two fronts. The IEM itself immediately strikes with its aesthetic design and unique features such as the company’s MU system that enables it to work with both 2-pin and MMCX cables and offer alternate crossovers and tunings. In addition, the IEM was designed with sustainability in mind being bundled with minimal packaging and accessories and perhaps most controversially, does not include a cable in the box. This represents an interesting direction for Effect Audio but an honest and serious take all the same. It sits just below the flagship Axiom XP that has yet to go on sale at the time of review.
The Axiom (non-XP) retails for $1499 USD. You can read all about it and treat yourself to a unit on Effect Audio.
I would like to thank Nic and Effect Audio for reaching out to organise a review of the new Axiom and lending me a selection of cables for the purpose of comparison. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
- Page 1: Intro, Unboxing, Design
- Page 2: Sound and Source Pairings
- Page 3: Cables, Comparisons & Verdict
- Driver System: 2-way BA-DD Hybrid, Proprietary RC structure
- Drivers: 12mm Magnesium DD with LCP suspension, 2x Knowles FK-series BA (high)
- Frequency response: 20 Hz – 16.8 kHz
- Crossover frequency: 4.8 kHz
- Sensitivity: 112 dB
- Impedance: 32 Ohms
Behind the Design –
The Axiom was designed with sustainability in mind, coming with minimal packaging and accessories. It comes with no stock cable, but bundles are available with Effect Audio’s own designs should the buyer desire this.
Versatility & Comfort
The Axiom was designed to suit a variety of use cases and sustain comfort over long listening sessions. The shells were designed with ergonomics in mind and the sound tuning was intended to be non-fatiguing yet with a reference-class voicing.
The Axiom uses a large 12mm Magnesium diaphragm dynamic driver with LCP suspension. It offers long-stroke and a stiff diaphragm to minimise modal breakup. Contrary to many triple driver hybrids, the dynamic driver covers both bass and midrange with a crossover point at 4.8kHz. This permits the BA drivers to reproduce their desired frequency range within the treble.
As aforementioned, the unboxing experience is minimalist yet charming in execution. The Axiom comes within a very compact box with coloured exterior. Tearing off the outer sleeve using an integrated pull tab reveals a small hard box inside. Sliding off the outer lid reveals the papers which use QR codes to attach a digital manual rather than including this in the box. Beneath are the earphones within a card inlet and surrounding are the accessories. The Axiom comes with 3 pairs of ePRO silicone ear tips with a unique horn structure, a Torx screwdriver to swap MU modules and two pairs of said modules with MMCX and 2-pin connectors. No cable is included which has been a very contentious decision for the company. At the very least, bundling cables at checkout provides a small discount over RRP on Effect Audio’s own cables. However, as a result, it is best to think of this as a $2000 IEM rather than a $1500 one unless you already own a custom cable that synergises well with the Axiom.
The first IEM from any company needs to make a statement and Effect Audio does just that with the Axiom. This is a striking earphone to behold, sporting immensely solid all-metal shells and understated Nephrite stone faceplates. I enjoy the contrast between the satin black shells and chrome trim, the nozzles also heighten visual intrigue with their wave-like pattern and satin silver design. The tolerances are also superb with tight seams across every component and smoothly machined edges. The crescent shape is appealing and elegantly formed. You can definitely tell the company has invested greatly into the shell design and construction as the quality is up there with class leaders like Campfire Audio.
Mu Modules –
However, the headline feature of this IEM is surely Effect Audio’s MU modules that are secured with a Torx screw just above the faceplates. They are initially very snug, so some technique is required. I had best results by sliding the faceplates backwards and leveraging from the bottom. Do not try to lever the back up as there is a locking tab located under the faceplate that won’t allow this. There are 2 pairs of modules in the box offering compatibility with both MMCX and 0.78mm 2-pin cables. In addition, aftermarket modules can adjust the sound tuning slightly though only one option is available at present. Though not the easiest to remove, I found the MU modules to function reliably with no connectivity issues. They are machined well and achieve a uniform fit with the housings.
Fit & Isolation –
What first strikes about the design of the Axiom is its smoothly rounded features; this is a very shapely earphone with no hard angles and this composition rewards when it comes to wearing comfort. Though not a small earphone, and not suitable for those with especially small ears, as a result, I did personally find the Axiom to be a very comfortable earphone. This has been achieved both with its shape whose rounded edges avoids hotspot formation in addition to a shallow, low-pressure fit.
The nozzles are short, and the housings are vented. In turn, no driver flex is apparent and wearing pressure is minimal which helps to minimise fatigue over time. The downside to this is that isolation isn’t the best if still a fine performer for daily use. They do block more noise than your typical vented dynamic driver earphone making these a sound choice for commute but frequent travellers may want to explore a sealed IEM. Despite the weight of the shells and shallower fit, I did find them to fit very stably in my ears. They achieve good articular fit with the outer ear and don’t protrude exceedingly either.