Never really liked the S8's. Had a pair in storage that I was meaning to sell but had to pull them out after my system was stolen in a home burglary last year.
Decided I needed something simple and relatively inexpensive so I pulled the trigger on an OPPO 105, a pair of Wyred 4 Sound MAMP monoblocks and Spatial Quantum Field speaker cables with the hopes I could get by for a year or so. Boy was I in for a surprise!
I had never heard the S8's sound this good - even driven by some expensive TRL and Audio Horizons source equipment. I have to admit the amps I had used up till that point were average(Bel Canto Ref1000, Rotel 1090, Rawson Gain Clones.
I think the new amps and speaker cables are a killer combination and have the most impact. I've been told other S8 owners have said the same thing who had a listen at RMAF.
I own S8s (v3). Check my various posts on the Forum and you'll read all about my latest neurotic obsession -- amp/speaker electrical compatibility. I drive my S8s with an ARC VS-115 tube amp. For some insane reason that I do not understand, the combo seems to work quite well -- but shouldn't.
The Paradigm Signature line, like most other speakers, has its supporters and detractors. I happen to be a supporter. I believe that the S8s are the best kept secret in audio. FWIW, many reviewers have said that it is relevant to discuss and meaningfully compare the S8's performance against that of the big boys.
I don't have the patience to re-write my neurotic schpiel about amp/speaker electrical compatibility and my sorry-as*ed tale about the S8's crazy impedance and negative phase angle specs, but to be safe, I recommend that you hook the S8s up to a muscular SS amp that can deliver lots of clean power (actually amps). Paradigm Tech told me that the S8s were designed with the thought they would be driven by such amps.
I'm pretty sure Paradigm showcases the S8s with the better Anthem amps, like the P2. Other high quality SS amps to consider are those from Ayre or Pass Labs. Some say the S8s will shine if you hook it up to a very muscular Bryston. As far as bi-amping is concerned, I bi-wire and the performance is stellar. It could only be better with more power. But be sure to use the same model amp above and below.
However, to be fair to the S8s, while to be taken with a grain of salt, the reviews about the S8s (v2 or v3) have been quite outstanding, even stellar. But then again, aren't most reviews saying that Model X is the best thing the reviewer has seen since sliced white bread was invented. There's actually an active thread going about the reliability of equipment reviews.
Feel free to e mail me and I can share more thoughts with you.
I really like the Parasound Halo amps with the S8 and S6, especially the JC1 monoblocks and the A21.
Don't have S8's, but my S6's shine with my Bryston 4B SST Wish I had the 14B. These speakers seem easy to drive.
I have the S6's as well and found a great match with the Parasound A21 after a failed experiment with Emotiva.
One more item that is a must-have for Paradigm speakers. Spatial Computer Velocity Bridge (VB1). Its amazing how these $200 devices have transformed the sound on these speakers. I'm actually thinking about keeping the S8's now. Please try them.
Cdente -- what is the VB1 device?? What does it do?
Look, I'm not saying I'm a SS amp expert, but think whatever amp you use, it should be SS. Don't know what your budget is, but there's some good deals on Ayre amps. Ayre amps have very good rep.
I have s8v3 for my ht and I use p5 and p2 and they sound fabulous. I have also used parasound jc1 and they are good too. Anthem p2 and p5 are much clearer though.
Veerapaneni ... no surprise since the P2 and P5 are top of the line high powered SS amps made by Anthem, a division of Paradigm.
I've owned Anthem and Parasound Halo products, and beg to differ on the idea that Anthem is "much clearer" than Halo amps. I haven't found that to be the case at all, the Parasound amps are quite good, it doesn't hurt that they were designed by audio legend John Curl.
The VB1 is really a special product. Check out their web site for the details at spatialcomputer.com. Essentially they reduce noise (RF and EMI) and flatten the impedance curve between drives and speaker cable. The results in my case have been astounding.
The VB1s have the most impact on high frequencies, eliminating virtually all the tweeter ringing effects plagued by the Paradigm aluminum dome drivers. Improvements are had across the frequency spectrum. Check out this post on AudioCircle:
They are only $200/pr. Beyond highly recommended!
Cdente, .... not sure this matters, but Paradigm switched out aluminum tweeter on the Signature line 7 or 8 years ago. The Signature line now uses beryllium tweeter and cobalt/aluminum mids. Supposedly, the be tweeter extend out to 45K Hz. The neighborhood dogs go crazy. ;>')
You are correct. I have the S8's V1. A speaker I really don't like. Long story as my home was burglarized last year and had to pull them out of retirement. The VB1's transform them into a fairly enjoyable speaker.
yes, Anthem electronics are a sonic match.
Not surprising Jafant. I own the S8 v3 speakers. Amp matching has been a persistent concern for me, especially since I own a tube amp. Some might say that the S8s are not on the same level as my electronic gear. Perhaps so, ... but maybe not so far off.
Speaker alternatives that I have in mind are just as tube unfriendly as the S8s and perhaps even more so, e.g., Revel Studio 2, or the Focal 1038s. For those familiar with these speaker brands might recognize the common denominator with all 3 -- they all use beryllium tweeters.
Notably, in the case of the Studio 2 speakers, many have posted that these speakers require lots of current (amps) to sound their best, which implies a high power solid state amp. The same has been said about the S8s.
My tube amp (ARC Ref 150), only rated at 150 wpc, may be a tad light. OTOH, the Ref 150 has relatively low output impedance and tight output voltage regulation, thus making it perform somewhat like a solid state amp (i.e., constant voltage source). In addition, the amp has a pretty robust power supply -- 1040 joules. That much juice will likely curl your hair if you put your fingers across the output terminals while I play Stravinsky's Rites of Spring at high gain. ;-')
I still think the S8s are one of the best high-end bargains in audio-land. Until I hear something better in a live audition using a tube amp like mine, I'm sticking.
But as to the OP's question, I for one would like to hear the S8s driven by a high-quality/high power solid state amp.
I dislike going against the adage 'if you don't have anything good to say' but if my frustration can be of any help...
Before I had any in home experience with a decent speaker system I joined the Paradigm fan club. Purchasing the Studio 100 v1 with its eventually harsh tweeter followed by the marginally better v2. I began replacing tube and SS electronics including the original (pre Paradigm) and stunningly noisy Anthem One Phono pre amp. A long story short, my dealer ended up assuming responsibility replacing the ONE with another brand.
My undefinable dissatisfaction continued. I was able to audition in home the S8 against the 100v2. The S8 was simply more of the same. Late that afternoon I had an opportunity to buy a pair of locally owned and very reasonably priced used Avalon Acoustics.
With all three in the house I now had an undeniable ear opening perspective of what a proper speaker system can do. The most immediate and glaring difference was that the Avalon's are more of a single point source compared to an almost discrete three way sound. This was the basis of my once undefinable dissatisfaction. Pile on low volume resolution, time and phase accuracy, and on and on. It also showed me how well my older electronics worked.
Another aspect learned was just how much more vivid comparisons are at home.
This financially obvious unfair comparison left me with the impression that electronics and cabling are an almost futile effort and the main reason for sharing my experience. On the other hand there is a world of electronics out there and an acceptable success may be at hand.
Vic ... sorry to read you learned the hard way. Of course, I respect your opinion. I sure wish more dealers would arrange for home auditions. It's really the best way to make informed decisions. OTOH, let's face it, most gear needs a forklift to move around. So even if dealers were more inclined to arrange for home auditions, you may wind up with a hernia.
Let me throw a few comments out there. The version numbers of the Paradigm speakers that you had in your home look like early models. You didn't specify a version number for the S8. It might have been the first version.
The current model, version 3, has come a long way since version 1. For example, version 3, my model, uses a beryllium tweeter, a cobalt/aluminum alloy midrange, and a re-designed high efficiency woofer.
By contrast, the version 1 used the G-Pal tweeter (aluminum/gold anodized), which was known for being "hot." The version 1 also used a mica loaded polymer mid. The woofers were a scaled down version of the current version.
The S8 v3 has garnered top reviews from Marc Mickelson, Steven Stone, Jerry Del Colliano, and many others. If it matters, last summer, I was checking out other speakers because .... I was bored???
Well, a buddy of mine who is a Paradigm dealer had taken in trade an ARC VS-115 tube amp, which was my former amp. We hooked up other speaker models to the VS-115 and A/B'ed them against the Paradigm 30th anniversary tower -- call it the S5. (The S5 uses the beryllium tweeter. The other drivers are a cross between the Signature and Reference lines.)
I won't mentioned an A'gon favorite darling speaker that was in the shootout. But call it speaker X. If speaker X was born with a tail and legs, let's just say it crawled out of the showroom with its tail between its legs.
My point is that Paradigm's Signature line has come a long way since the S8 v1 was first introduced. I'm not saying you wouldn't come away with the same conclusions if you road tested it again. Just that it's worth a listen.
Right now, I'm driving my S8 v3s with an ARC Ref 150 amp, and am listening to a Mozart medley a musician neighbor ripped for me. The CD is surprisingly well recorded. Mozart is not what I would call "single voice or single instruments" -- we're talking about a full symphony orchestra here. The separation of instruments, lack of compression, faithful sound, imaging, ... and so forth and so on, .... just great.