Your speakers are definitely average in the grand scheme of things, as is your amp. What is it about the Paradigms that you aren't happy with? You can always get better sound if you spend a lot more money, but only you can decide where the balance between price and performance lies.
I'd suggest finding a local dealer where you can audition some different speakers and see what tickles your fancy. Make sure you're gaga over a particular speaker, not just "that sounds pretty good". Your dealer might let you borrow it so you can audition them in your own room. My theory is that the speaker-room interaction is much more important than is generally appreciated. (And so is the positioning of the speakers.)
There are hundreds of brands of speakers, and they all sound a little different. Start listening to some to get a sense of what you like and dislike in a speaker.
Just my 2 cents.
Albireo13 - I ventured from Paradigm Studio/20 v1 to Paradigm Studio/60 v2 to Hyperion HPS-938. My main problem with Paradigms was unforgiving metal dome tweeter. Hyperions are relaxed, laid back and way better in every way (on the other hand they are ugly and dealership is practically non-existent).
You need a 'horn' experience. If you have not noticed, many of the high end speakers are horn's. If you have the room, think about a vintage Klipsch pair, great sound, great value.
your amp and speakers are better than 90% of consumers gear. Achieving sonic bliss will be expensive as you chase that elusive 10%. If you are happy leave it alone if not audition better gear but be prepared to pay.
They seem a bit heavy on the high side. I want it a bit richer in the low end ... smooth bass, etc.
They do sound nice but, seemed to sound better in the shop.
Perhaps it's mostly my room. Can't mod the room too much, it's our formal living room.
Maybe I can add a sub.
Disagree completely with the horn guy. Horns are interesting, but vintage klipsh speakers are far from neutral.
Based on your last comment, I'd try Dynaudio. The have rich bass and a smooth treble.
I apologize for not proofreading my initial post. I meant to say that "Your speakers are definitely ABOVE average in the grand scheme of things, as is your amp." You have a nice system that bests that of most people, and uses high-value components.
I'm not sure what you mean by wanting more "richness" in the bottom end. Do you mean more bass weight? If so, maybe your best option is to add a subwoofer to shore up the low frequencies.
Take your time, and try to audition speakers in your own room, as that will give you a much better sense of how they will perform in the context of your system and room.
Anyway, I was wondering how far I was from a top-level speaker experience.
Are my speakers pretty good or should I think about upgrades?
To answer your question, imo you are a long way from a top level speaker experience. Your speakers are "entry level decent." Now, you could try matching them with an amp that helps them to sound as good as they were in the "shop.". Obviously the Naim is not a satisfying match for them. Or, if you want to go to a "top-level" speaker then you need to get out and hear some top level speakers at high end dealers and pick what you love. Then after you find speakers (I assume monitors) you love, find an amp that is a great match for them. This is what I've learned from Goners with experience. Now, if you plan to buy speakers used here, of course you can't audition. Then you want to by a well known and popular name brand at a good price so if you don't like them you can sell and recoup most or all of your investment. I think the Dynaudio suggestion is very good.
I too overlooked the bass. If the Paradigm monitors don't provide the bass you want that you heard at the dealers you may need to move to floorstanding speakers that go lower. Brands to hear (and try to audition) would be Revel, PSB, Dynaudio and there are many more. What sounds great to you may not sound great to others. Trust your ears.
Vintage enclosed speakers are far from good also.
At least horns can be tailored and tweaked as and when
newer better cones become available, and are easy to install.
Horns have stood the test of time, I mean how many boxed speakers from the 80's and before sound good today when compared to the latest speakers?
When one has bought a mega expensive enclosed boxed in speaker, one is stuck with its sound.
A good horn is most certainly musically comparable to any enclosed or panel loudspeaker, and in some instances are musically superior. IMHO.
To say one hates horns, is a bit like saying one hates Toyota's.
to put things in perspective, if your paradigms were a car, they'd be a honda accord--an excellent, tops-in-its-class all-arounder; more than enough car for many people. to get more perfromance and refinement, you'd need to pay a 50% premium for say, a lexus or acura. the question for you, of course, is whether the upgrade justifies the cost.
that said, if you're looking for more low end energy, i'd check out proac or naims own allae/arriva, which sound great with naim amps.
All I can say is don't get caught up in all the hype and always let your ears be the judge.
I perfectly understand why some people hate horns. But horns done right can be an extremely satisfying long term solution. For me: if I knock on the side of the cabinet and it sounds like a plywood box - I keep looking. This characteristic is often (but not always!) resonated by the driver in the cabinet and even my abused hearing can pick this up (and does get annoying after a time and I feel contributes to some horns bad rep). Tractrix as opposed to exponential shape for mid's can be a plus too. The efficiency with detail sold me.
Good Luck, you have an exciting quest...