Paradigm S8 vs. Sonus Faber Cremona M

I am having hard time deciding between these speakers. I can get each for about 6K used. I have auditioned them both at a dealer, and I like them both. However, I find it very hard to compare them given the lapse of time in between and the difference in gear and rooms. Paradigms have great reviews, but can they compare to the build quality of the SFs?
Have not heard the Paradigms but the Cremonas are incredible speakers that are not only beautiful and well built, but will also hold their value better than the Paradigms I think.
I demo'd the S8's and Cremona's right next to each other in the same store. The rep kept pushing me to the S8's however the Cremona's in my and my wife's opinion clearly sounded
superior. After going back and forth the rep also agreed.

They simply to our ears sounded better.

We went back and compared them on 3 different occasion prior to purchasing the Cremona's
I never thought I would see the day when Paradigm and Sonus Faber were compared. Paradigm must have a higher markup. Maybe it's time to find another store.

I am wondering a few things with some of the comments:

First with all comparisons were these the latest v3 versions?

Two were the systems identical?

Also in the comparison is that these are two different soundings speakers:

Sonus Faber is known for a very silky midrange, with a smooth top end, good dynamics and a slightly rich bottom

Paradigm is known for superb detail in the top, a very clean midrange, and tight, fast bass.

You would need warmer electronics to make the Paradigim's sing, and cleaner electronics for the Sonus Fabers to sound their best.

And by all accounts the Top of the line signature Paradigim speakers are very high end and have been compared to the likes of Revel and Wilson by many reviewers.
Excellent post, Audiofreakgeek. I will add that Paradigm makes outstanding speakers and as you get to the Reference and Signature series you then have speakers that can compete with anything at or beyond their price.
Agree with Audiofreakgeek comments reagrding the S8's. I had pair of S8's v1 and found that they require the right combination of warmth (amps, cables for the most part)to sound best. Could never get the bass out of them I had hoped for, but if your room is not too big they are quite nice. Midrange presence was good but not great. Again these were version 1.
With Paradigm using their aluminum tweeters that give a lot of ultrasonic noise right above 20 kHz in their other models, I would lean toward something else. A lot is said that you can't hear this noise. But, a lot of people cannot tolerate it either. If you get fatigued by this, you most likely won't enjoy any music. I can't handle being in the room with this problem. I would lean toward something else (possibly Sonus) and enjoy the music, in my opinion. Links to this noise in a couple of tests on their other models with their aluminum tweeters and this resonance noise.[][]
hifivn, what do you have against Paradigm?

You quote a review from 2009 on a completely different model!

The Signature uses a state of the art Beryllium tweeter, JM Labs, Usher, TAD, Magico and several other top speaker manufacturers use Beryllium based on the metals combination of extremely low mass and superb stiffness which makes a fantastic tweeter.

01-24-12: Audiofreakgeek
hifivn, what do you have against Paradigm?

You quote a review from 2009 on a completely different model!

Nothing until they came out with that tweeter that left a lot of sad people. When someone does a test that shows if these exhibit that above 20 kHz resonance noise, or not, I can't recommend their products anymore. I don't understand why they sell something like this in the first place. This is just my opinion.
I've heard both, in my opinion the Cremona is the better sounding speaker, particularly at mid and lower volume levels. The SF's are warmer and softer sounding, should make them easier to match with other gear, built quality is also beyond reproach. If it's important to you to rock out the S8 may be the better way to go. Don't think you'd be disappointed with either.
Good luck and have fun Tim
Thanks for all the comments.
Playing at higher volumes is important to me. I was also thinking to match these with Mcintosh Mc601s with their 2300 tube preamp. I just love the way Macs look. Would the mono blocks be to much for the Cremona Ms? Also many mention that SFs have a touch warmer sound, would this be a problem matching them with Mcintosh gear, which many have mentioned has warmer sound as well?
I have nothing against The Paradigm. I have not purchased speakers in 20 years and was open to whatever I thought sounded best. The Cremona and New S8 were both hooked up to Byson amps however they were in different rooms. The Cremano's were my choice. Really it was hard to believe as the Sig 8 is really an imposing speaker.

I have been playing the Cremona's loud and they sound very nice.

Good Luck - You really can't make a bad choice.
I wouldn't match Sonus with Mac, there are much better electronics other than Mac and if you go with the SF you want more neutral electronics.
I am relatively new to this and this will be my first jump to so called high end stuff. So please give me examples of better neutral electronics than Mac for me to check out. I have heard of Krell, Ayre and Bryston, is that what I should be looking for?
A close friend and fellow audio club member enjoys some bigger SF's ( Anniversarios ) there being seduced by an Ayre front end, great synergy, likely the most liquid and involving sound I've experienced to date. His music maker has forced me to re visit my preconceived ideal's about tubes.
Regards Tim
"The Signature uses a state of the art Beryllium tweeter, JM Labs, Usher, TAD, Magico and several other top speaker manufacturers use Beryllium based on the metals combination of extremely low mass and superb stiffness which makes a fantastic tweeter."

So does the Revel Ultima Salon 2, which I eventually bought after also auditioning the Paradigm Signatures among other brands (B&W 802D, Wilson Sasha, Legacy Focus SE). The Paradigm tweeters were way too hot and harsh for me, so it's not just the material that matters, it's also the design and implementation. I frankly don't understand how they became one audio magazine's editor's new reference speaker or his assertions that they are worthy of discussion along with Salon 2s or Wilsons, but I suppose being provocative has its own value.

They did sound like they'd be good for heavy metal, as they certainly had the sizzle, but they weren't for me.

The Revel Ultima Salon is a $22,000.00 speaker and the Paradigm S8 is $8,000.00 is hardly a similar price point.

Again it depends on the setup what might be magic with the Salon's might be too hot for the S8s.

Just because both speakers use Beryillium tweeters doesn't mean that they should sound the same, Usher Audio and B&W both use Diamond Tweeters does that mean that they sound similar? Or KEF and PSB both use Titanium does that also mean they sound the same?

Too many reviewers love the S8 and S6's for them to be anything other than great speakers, however if they have a hot tweeter than the choice of cabling, electronics and source, components must be used to balance them out.

This is an art and sometimes to make a particular product come alive it does require just the right pairing.

In my area there aren't any good dealers showing the speakers the only dealer that had them was a large chain now gone that tried to imagine they were high end, they often had them setup with Anthem gear using shitty Monster Cabling and Power conditioning in a giant room with a speaker selector and 25 other pairs of speakers! I doubt most real audiophiles would be blown away by that setup.

If I was your salesman and I could sell as $22k pair of Revels, over an $8k pair of Pardigms would I necessarily want to work with the S8's to make them shine?

Now I am not saying the Revels' aren't better speakers but that is a lot of coin difference between them.
the revels do not use a berryllium tweeter

01-25-12: Soundcomponents
the revels do not use a berryllium tweeter

Revel Beryllium Tweeter
The Revels and Paradigms were at different stores. And the Paradigms were hooked up to the same nice Classe stuff that was also used with their B&W 802s, so neither were they being shortchanged gear-wise nor was the dealer setting me up to go for the more expensive speaker by using garbage gear on the Paradigms. Maybe they need better front end matching - but they certainly don't need to come any more alive, they need to be calmed down!

And yes, I am of course aware of the price difference, which I think dovetails not only with with my observations about what I heard but also my confusion as to how a reviewer could put them in the same league as the big boys.
"I have heard of Krell, Ayre and Bryston, is that what I should be looking for?"

Those brands offer very different types of sound, especially Ayre compared with the other 2. What kind of sound do you like? The warm, lush, silky, romantic? Or the cooler, clean, dynamic, extra-detailed, slamming, rockin' kind? Not that those are all necessarily opposites, but things tend to group that way.

What are your musical tastes?

If you're willing to put down MC601 kind of coin and am looking to Sonus Faber for speakers, I suggest you aim higher at Elipsas, Amatis, or Guarneris. How big is your room?
Out of the brands mentioned, this is how I'd categorize them in general. The MAC that has output coupling transformers (Autoformers) have highs that can be too mellow or soft sounding, in comparison to a neutral amp. Krell can be at the opposite end, having too much highs, too revealing, or some may refer to them as bright sounding. Bryston would fit in the middle somewhere, and lean towards being neutral, and may be one to consider. Ayre is also in the middle of this group, but sort of a more refined version of a Bryston. Sometimes people will say the Ayre may be a little bright in some systems, but I don't think it is the case all of the time. This is my personal take on these. Again, this is just in general, and going by memory for some. Also my use of neutral is for the highs and lows, being closer to flat, nothing added, or taken away. Every brand may have some products that stray from their more common sound, or house sound.
The paradigms are very linear (look up the freq response) and shouldn't sound harsh or hot by any means. That said take a look back at your room and source material. You may be surprised with how revealing these speakers are.

Paradigm is pretty big and can spend less money to make a better speaker with more buying power and research. The S8s will hang with the best of them.
01-31-12: Docks
The paradigms are very linear (look up the freq response) and shouldn't sound harsh or hot by any means

I haven't seen a good review test of this model done by someone like Stereophile to verify that. Their other models seem to have a history of it, from what I see, and hear.

That's the S8s tested in a true chamber.
Docks, they didn't test the other speakers where they produce that offensives ringing either. I can't stand to be in the room with them, and I've seen other people that have a problem with their speakers also. Again, I would go toward a high-end speaker.

Paradigm has always been a mid-fi speaker.Test results that show their offensive tweeters that's not reflected in the test you provide on this other model. It seems to be their design, and house sound characteristic anymore. If you look right above 20kHz, that's where their tweeters seem to go crazy, and get offensive. A lot of noise over 20 kHz here. Links [][] []
Hifihvn, all the links you have provided are for their studio line, which are lower models and do not contain the higher grade beryllium tweeters, which the S8s have. The reference studio line costs less than halfof what the S-line paradigm speakers featuring the beryllium tweeters. Your assumption that Paradigm S8s are bad speakers because their lower line speakers have bad tweeters does no make sense. Do you value or judge the quality of Sonus Faber based on their Toy collection?
+1 gago1101
Gag1101,No, going by their history. A $99 speaker shouldn't do that. Listen to them. If you like them, go for it.
I have made my decision and even though I like paradigms they are out of the question. My list is down to 3 speakers, all in the same price range in this order
B&W 800D
Sonus Faber Elipsa
Revel Ultima Salon 2

I am leaning towards the B7Ws at this time, but will have to do some intense auditions before deciding which one is for me.
If you haven't already, you might want to also audition the following:

Vandersteen 5A
Wilson Sasha or
Usher Diamonds
Eggleston Andras
Legacy Whispers

And there are many others in your apparent price range ($10-25K) - check out the used speaker listings here and filter the results by price to see what I mean. And while we're on that subject, another thing to consider is that you would get far more bang for your buck if you bought used.

Finally, your room may make a huge difference in what speakers would sound best - as well as your listening preferences - so you should let folks know what those factors are to get suggestions more tailored to what you want instead of hearing what floats our boats.
Do all SF speakers need a more neutral sounding source? cleaner source as in solid state? I am a mid fi guy using the liuto with Primaluna pre and power and im really liking the sound. It still doesnt sound as good as a real LIVE piano when playing side by side , but its more lively for sure. Midrange warmth is for sure , but i really find SF with Tubes Magic.
@audiofreakgeek- you seem familiar with SF stuff, i was looking as well into a second hand cremona M , but many others think the Liuto might be too close for comfort having them in the same house. I guess i like the sound of them and was trying to create it.
Are you familiar with Ayon amps ? and what would be your choice for speakers.
thanks in advance
@gago 1101,
S8v3 also was on my list-below 6 what i was seaching for, but many told me that is too hi fi made for AV crowd so was Focals ilooked into the new 836w great looking.
I might be trying something totally different VR 33 or tekton Pendragons as they do not sound HI fi. But SF are always so dreamy and nice to look at. ANy SF speaker looks like art to me.
I am not sure how one could really compare the two and go with Paradigm. There are so many reasons to get the SF speakers.
Sonus Faber + Bryston = Heaven!

Sonus Faber + Mac = NOT Heaven....
What's your budget now?
Sorry folks. I have to weigh in for the S8s. Their FR is ruler flat. I also agree with the comment above that the S8s sound best with the right equipment. I drive mine with ARC tube equipment and they sound terrific.

The S8s have been reviewed by many respected reviwers, e.g., Mark Mickelson, over the years and the S8s have garnered terrific reviews and high grades. Don't be fooled by price. Paradigm custom designs and builds all their components, except cabinets, in house to their exacting specs.

Paradigm also drops a ton of R&D into the S8s, which gets spread out over a huge product line. I doubt other "specialty" manufacturers can possibly achieve the same economies of scale.

I do NOT find the tweeters hot, maybe because I use ARC tube equipment. I concede that equipment synergy is important, but don't blow the S8s off just because of price. Many a reviewer has stacked the S8s against speakers costing multiples more. Also, Steven Stone did an "unscientific" survey of the top 25 speakers last October. The S8s came in #7, which is damn impressive considering the competition, some of which costs in the 6 figure range.

Finally, I acknowledge that the bass can drop off a bit, but I supplement my S8s with a Paradigm Servo sub woofer. Trust me folks, it has caused me tons of marital problems because pictures fall of the walls and dust shakes out of the ceilings, especially when playing Norah Jones.

It's your choice and I respect that one has to trust their own ears. All I say is that close your eyes and forget the price. Then listen with a little intellectual honesty and don't feel guilty if you wind up spending less. As usual, just my humble opinion.
I have owned SF Concertinos and the build was great until one day pulling my Mit cable out pulled my binding post out! Sumiko would not cover it even though it was under warranty! Good thing my local dealer stepped up to the plate and repaired it for free!
It took trying different cables and several amps to make it sing. A Classe 100 watt Cap100 did it. Finally bass and speed to match the fine vocals. After several years sold it to get a more wife friendly looking system...Kef then guess what Paradigm! When I had the SF it was my 2 CH system and I had a separate 5 ch system. Now I just have 1 system a good looking Paradigm Millenia 200 setup. It took a tube/ss Peachtree inova int amp to tame the tweeter yet maintain the speed of the speakers.
Do I miss the SF? Not really. I also had the Paradigm Millenia Ones great sound too. Had to sell at more than half off retail. The SF sold fast with hardly any depreciation. Bought the Millenia 200 as a floor model for over half off. Point? If you go with Paradigm consider used or a demo model etc. Hope this was helpful since I had both brands and like them both. Though not exactly in the same league as the speakers you're considering.
Thanks for the update Gregg. My last post to this thread was 2 and 1/2 years ago. There's been a lot of water under the bridge since then. I think I upgraded my Paradigms to v3's and upgraded my ARC gear too. Not sure what the snapshot was back then, but I think I switched-out my older ARC gear for the Ref 5 SE, Ref 150 SE and the Ref CD-8.

But I think the biggest game changer was the DEQX PreMATE. Too much to say about the DEQX in this thread ... but for now, the gizmo corrects (tames) time alignment errors caused by the S8's high order x-overs and driver placement on the front baffle. In addition, it does room EQ corrections. I cannot overstate the impact this gizmo has had on my rig.

If you want to learn more, there's a thread titled "Is DEQX a Game Changer," or something to that effect. IMO, the answer is YES.
The S8s sound fat and rubbery in theĀ  bass and treble is OK but rather obvious.
Very hi fi sounding but lacking in precision,dexterity and nuance.Live music does not sound like that.