Finally found a space for the speakers I’ve been storing... and I don’t love them any more
As a younger person, I was excited to get a full surround setup anchored by Paradigm Reference Studio 20 v2’s. During that time I spotted a used pair of the well-regarded Paradigm Reference Studio 100 v2’s on Craigslist for a good price and I snapped them up. I got more power in order to drive those speakers, but soon realized that they were physically too large for my small space and pushing them up against the rear walls didn’t do them any favors. I sadly put them into storage and dreamed of the day that I would get a bigger place that would accommodate them.
That day finally came and I recently moved into a new home where I have a 16x20x12’ room where I can place the speakers. I was excited to set them up, only to find that I’m disappointed by them.
Here’s what happened: at the same time as I was able to set up the Studio 100’s, I bought a pair of used Revel Performa3 M106’s to put in my small media room and I loved them! The clarity and imaging of the little bookshelf speakers were, to my ears, head and shoulders better than the Studio 100’s I had been saving for so long. And I like the M106’s so much that, when I listen to the Studio 100’s, I find my ears seeking out the details that the M106’s produce. Don’t get me wrong, the Studio 100’s are still nice and they obviously have more effortless and impactful bass, but they don’t produce that sense of transparency and detail that the Revels do, and which I’m finding that I’m really delighted by time after time.
The Studio 100 v2’s are driven by an Adcom GFA 7805 and the M106’s are powered by an Anthem MRX720 receiver. It’s not a fair comparison — the Revel bookshelfs are almost 15 years newer — but I do like them so much more than the Paradigm towers.
I’m sure some of you can relate to finally getting what you’ve always wanted, only to discover that your tastes have evolved. At this point, I’m probably going to part with the Studio 100’s I’ve long wished to enjoy and look for a pair of Revel F208’s (or maybe F228be’s, if I can swing it).
Hi, mhsu. You are saying, "The Studio 100 v2’s are driven by an Adcom GFA 7805 and the M106’s are powered by an Anthem MRX720 receiver. It’s not a fair comparison..."
Correct; if you have not used the Paradigm speakers with both amplifiers, then you do not have a more thorough understanding of how the two speakers compare. This is doubly true if you have different cables and sources in the two systems. Used in different systems, it would be expected that the sound will vary widely.
Before making a final decision, switch the speakers around, pairing them with the other electronics, just to know. My guess is you will get something completely different than you may like even better. It may not be practical to keep the systems set up that way, but It will inform your decision on what to do next. It would be not so happy a moment to buy new speakers to replace the Paradigm set, then discover that the electronics and cables were influencing the speakers! I would want to know before spending the money.
If you don’t wish to be bothered doing that, then just guess, as you were. No one here can tell you the precise outcome and which would be most favored. Now, if you have already done the comparison using the other amps, you are done, and know what you’re after.
Keep the Paradigms in your listening room. Move the other gear in and eliminate that variable. I suspect the fundamental differences you note will persist. Life is too short to stick with a speaker you don't love to listen too.
Revel have definitely mastered the art of offering great on and off axis imaging along with a smooth transparent presentation.
Besides obvious differences in design and performance you are also running into an open secret among a lot of audiophiles: Small 2-way speakers can be glorious, and sound far better in an average listening room than their large counter parts in no small measure do to integrating better in the bass.
The Paradigm in question was their second kick at the can, trying to make a better quality, higher end speaker. That Studio line went up to a version 6 before they retired the line, and got a lot better than the V 2.
I’m not surprised that someone preferred something else to be frank. I had a V3 from the Paradigm line below the reference studio line, for 10 years. I never listened to anything else until about year 9, when I quickly realized how mediocre they were. Paradigm has gotten a lot better than what they were back in the early 2000’s.
Having sold Paradigm (in a previous life), I was not truly impressed with the whole line up. We carried some fine gear, and I was careful of what I played when the customer had a Paradigm budget. But the Studio 40s were an exception, I would play against, or with any gear in the house. I actually preferred them to the B&Ws, and certainly Macs of similar price. Moral of the story, the name ain't the sound!
It didn’t take long for MC to put a plug in for tekton even though he has never heard this model. Nobody takes MC seriously anyway. Revel speakers are far superior to Tekton and the studios you have. Revel’s will need a good quality (the larger speakers need a good amount of power) amplifier to get the best sound out of the speakers.
If you are considering spending $10K on the Revel F228’s you should see if you could audition the Vandersteen Treo CT’s. They sound great for all types of music and your Amp has plenty of power to drive them.
99% likelihood all these issues are do to your acoustics in that little room. You can spend $500 on room treatment and things will sound good or you can spend the next two years chasing the dragon with various amp/speaker/cable combinations and spend much more and not really get there.
Fix your room first and then play with the speakers.... trust me I’ve been there firsthand.
I had a pair of Paradigm Titan Monitor v.6 (the last of the line, built in Canada). I had them paired with 1990's Rotel separates and they were a bit too intense. When I upgraded to an Arcam integrated they smoothed out and sounded like different speakers. I upgraded to a pair of Revel Concerta2 m-16's and the Arcam was no lonegr cutting it. Too low-keyed and a bit under powered. I switched to a Cambridge Audio integrated and the Revels opened up and sounded more spacious. I am convinced that there has to synergy between speakers and the electronics driving them.
spenav, No I have not heard the Persona line myself. My friend was suckered by their dynamics and bought a pair and hated them when he got them home. As others have said, too intense. He turned them back in for a pair of Wharfedale Elysians. I have heard some of the other Paradigms and was less than impressed.
mhsu, it is just as likely that it is the room you do not like and not the speakers. Move them temporarily to another room to listen before you ditch them. If they sound fine in another room you have a lot of work to do.
Thanks for all of the terrific feedback. Taking @douglas_schroeder@roxy54 and others' advice I did try swapping out components to see if it was an amplification preference.
I have done this exercise before, but it has been a while, so I brought the Revel bookshelf speakers into the other listening room to do some testing. (The Paradigms are too big for me to move by myself, so I haven't had a chance to do the converse yet.) The results somewhat surprised me. It turns out Douglas et al were right on a number of counts:
First of all, though I did still prefer the character of the Revels, the differences were not as extreme and pronounced as I had recalled when matched up side-by-side with the same electronics. Second, I also found that the Paradigms did sound much closer to what I wanted when paired with a different amplifier. I tried powering them with a Peachtree Audio Decco 65 and they presented a much more transparent sound with greater separation of instruments and more deliberate positioning in the soundstage. I had not tried this in the past since my receiver (an NAD T758) and the Peachtree integrated amp only deliver 60-65 wpc, whereas the Adcom supplies a hefty 300 wpc. Indeed, I would still want more power than the Peachtree can deliver, but the difference in the character of the sound was unmistakable. [I will also follow up with the Anthem receiver which is normally paired with the Revels, but there is a lot of plugging & unplugging that has to be done for that to happen!]
I think the other differences I heard between the Paradigms and Revels can be chalked up to what everyone else has mentioned -- much newer, well-designed speakers and room treatment. I have already learned a lot and there are many opportunities to tinker and upgrade (and spend money). I think my next step will be to audition a few amplifiers before making a move. In a totally emotional and irrational way, I'd love to make the Paradigms work (and it feels like I can), just because I've wanted them to for so long, but there is clearly a world of options out there.
Hello, All of the speaker suggestions are good. I have had the privilege of demoing the Revel line in my home. The interesting fact is I found they are very forgiving to untreated rooms especially the BE line. I started with the bookshelf speakers M126be and was blown away how good they sound. I do have two REL subs to help with the bass. That being said even the 228be speakers disappeared in my room. My room is 24’ x 14’ and they did create a lot of bass with a good 100w amp. I agree with the remark above to try the 226be or the 6 1/2” driver version to still get a true three way speaker. If $7k is out of the budget go with the M126be at $4k with subs. The Revel stands are $500. Since you have the Revel 106s you might have the correct stands to mount the bookshelf speakers too. You get 90% of the sound of the 226be at $3k less. The store in the Chicagoland area that let me demo them in my house is https://holmaudio.com/ they let you try before I buy. They also take trade ins so you can offset some of the cost.
mhsu, superb outcome shaping up for you! You were wise to reproach mixing up the gear in order to learn that every system is discrete, and that amps, cables - all of it influences outcome, and speakers are not as determinative to the outcome as one might think.
I recommend trying all practical combinations of gear because of the potential for an unexpected outcome. One simply does not know precisely how the system will shape up, and the only way to know is to build it. Assuming to know can cause you to miss a great outcome. Remember, all systems, regardless of the speakers, can be elevated many times. There is no practical limit to performance improvements.
Another recommendation; prior to making a big move with speakers, consider not only which of the two you will keep, but consider whether an entirely different genre of speaker may be more exciting as a next adventure. i.e. Horn, Horn Hybrid, Panel, Panel Hybrid, Dynamic Hybrid, Line Array, Omnidirectional, Full Range, etc. All of these present an entirely different experience that none of the others can copy entirely. If you wish, there are vast differences from the prototypical dynamic speakers.
I am reviewing now a speaker that has characteristics that I have not encountered previously, imo a new genre of speaker. The exploration of a new experience can be perceptually different/better.
I own the Studio 100 v5 and am very happy with their performance with my Jolida tube separates. I can’t comment on the v2’s but the v5’s are what I’d call a very smooth speaker. They don’t go real deep but then again my room is not well treated. The mids are lovely with great presence. They also work well with music from classical to small jazz ensembles.
Clearly you need Tekton speakers and please call Dave at Raven audio. A lot of people will tell you something else, but these are your only options if you're not an idiot.
Oh wait-- I just came back to my body. Please disregard previous advice.
All I can really add to this thread is that I had Adcom gear and while it was decent, the improvement when I switched to Atoll and, in tube stuff, Quicksilver, showed me some limitations with my Adcom. There are a couple Adcom pieces from the old days (that Pass designed) but I don't think you mentioned those models.
I loved the price but I chalked up my three swings at Paradigm speakers as a learning exercise.
At one point I thought my Studio 100's versions 1 and 2 and the S8's subjectively lacked cohesiveness. Then I hooked up my current speakers, that's when the subjectivity became a glaring reality along with a few other parameters. Luckily the S8's were only under an in home audition.
While not as glaring I heard the same traits coming from the Persona 9F's under audio show conditions. Maybe something in the ice?
I’ve had the studio 100v2s for a long time probably about 19 years. I’ve also had Totem Model ones, Dunaudio 1.3, Fritz Groves, Proac Tablette 50, Paradigm Studio 40v2, Paradigm Studio 60v3 and Revel M22. Still have the 100s the M22 and the Groves. I’ve mostly used the 100s with a Simaudio I5 which seemed to work well and I liked it but when I introduced a Hegel Dac and a bluesound streamer I heard something I never thought possible from them. I listen to a lot of acoustic jazz and was really pleased with the sound. Synergy is definitely a factor with them and they definitely respond to better upstream components.
For decades I sold Paradigm and Revel I have clients that love and hate both of them. Your listening room, quality of equipment and cables, system synergy and personal taste are critical when evaluating any high end audio product. Even though we hear it all the time to make a blanket judgment call on a piece of equipment using only one room and one system holds no merit whatsoever. Diligent research is imperative to longterm satisfaction in your audio system.
At the beginning of my audio journey I had some Paradigm 100 v2, I think. I thought they were very good paired with a Parasound amp. They had a huge soundstage, imaging like crazy. I have since moved on through dozens of systems but for me at the time, I really enjoyed them. Try an upgrade in electronics before dumping them.