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Transfiguration Axia

January 2008

The word Axia translates from Greek αξια to mean "value, capable, merit, worth and worthiness".

Is it capable as claimed by Transfiguration?

Is it worth it?

*** Part 1 ***

Mounting the Axia on the Graham is a breeze as its body is threaded like Clearaudio and that is a plus.

The manual says it needs 30 hours of break in, so I will defer my full review until I got that much hours on it.

By my first impression was, a revelation. I mounted it around Saturday, 10pm after I arrived from Singapore. Hooked it up to the Black Cube which I borrowed from a friend, and the initial sound was disappointing to be honest. It sounds constricted, and no bass to speak of.

It was so frustrating, that I have let it pass, thought my ears are just tired from the travel.

Yesterday, I gave it a go once more. I had my Zyx R50 mounted onto my JVC as my reference and comparison. To add to the frustration, the Axia has scattered imaging, or lack thereof, and still lean sounding.

As I was listening to Joan Baez's Diamonds and Rust, the sound kept on changing as if it's looking for focus. I thought of blaming the synergy with the Graham, at first. I just played records after records, comparing it with the Zyx, and the Axia just can't seem to match the Zyx.

Then I ran the Hi Fi News Test record lateral and vertical resonance tests. It was horrible- the lateral was 15Hz and the vertical was 16Hz. This made me think of several issues with the setup.

At this point, an overhaul of the setup is in order. It seems the Transfiguration Axia is very picky and anal about the setup.

I have to change the Azimuth, and VTA from the previous setup. With these adjustments, the Axia started to sound good. I noticed that small adjustments of the Azimuth cause it to lose its imaging and bass. The VTA is now made ruler flat.

Finally, after hours of tweaking and adjustments, I was able to get good sound. It has a different character than the Zyx. The Axia midrange is towards transparent to warm, while the highs are extended, they are never hot. It's got plenty of details, but doesn't sound rough or edgy.

I hope the full bass potential will come out within 30 hours because I like the balance and tone of the Axia. More to come later, when I try it on the Tangent arm, and find out if there will be better synergy vis-a-vis the Graham.

*** Part 2 ***

I continued listening and comparing the Axia against the Zyx R50, and while there were improvements due to the adjustments I made last night, I'm still not satisfied. Imaging just can't snap in place, and I can't believe how little bass it can put out. It does have a great tone and open mids, which I believe can still be improved. I just can't entertain the thought that I'm waiting for bass to magically appear after 20 more hours or so.  It's just against my prejudice.

So, I decided to un-mount the Axia from the Graham, and un-mounted the Graham from the Champion. In goes the Clearaudio Tangent, which was still optimized for the Clearaudio Talismann it used to have. I was pleasantly surprised that the Talismann mounting screws fit the Axia perfectly.

After aligning the Tangent and setting the VTF to 2g (reads 2.008 on my scale), I checked the VTA and was ruler flat in relation to the record. I played the first track (Voices Carry), and... WHAM! It was a big, big, synergy problem!

With the Tangent, the imaging snaps into place, there's tons of well articulated, tight and deep bass. The tone improved more, and an open dynamic sound greeted me.

This is an exercise in matching. While the Graham with the Zyx, Talismann, and Aurum Alpha, sounded great, the same can't be said with the Axia. In fact, I believe the Graham extracted the last drop of performance out of the Aurum Alpha, and brought it to a higher level.

I checked the lateral and vertical resonance, and now reads 13Hz (from 15Hz on the Graham) and 16Hz (no change), respectively.

I'm no longer waiting from break-in to happen. I'm playing my favorite records- Paradise Cafe, Getz/Gilberto, Warrant, Def Leppard and so on.

The Zyx R50 still sounds a bit fatter in the lower registers, but I like the articulation and tightness of the Axia bass, which is subjective. In the area of mids, the Axia is more open, wider and more detailed.