I've owned the S2's for almost 5 months, and I think they're wonderful. Better than my ACI Sapphire IIILE's or B&W 804's by a significant margin. I listened only briefly to the others in the series, but thought that S2's were at least as good except of course in the bass. They integrate well with my subs.
S2, S4 good.
I stumbled onto a listen last year - had gone to my favorite audioholics emporium looking for something else. They said "come on downstairs and give a listen", and I wound up grinning ear to ear. I'd kinda thought the Sig series was a bit of higher-$$$ hype, but I first heard the S2's that day in the same room w/ all the B&W biggies and they more than held their own. Well, to my ears, that is. You really, really have to audition for your own ears and preferences (unless, of course, you'd prefer to just buy them and send 'em to me! ;~).
I can't comment on really extensive A/B compares w/ other monitor-style speakers - I just haven't had the chance for long term comparisons. I thought the Sigs did fine w/ Mac (and later Anthem) driving them, so I'd guess you'll be just fine w/ your electronics. The little S2's surprised me so much that I probably expected way, way too much more out of the S4s when I later heard those. Both are quite good, I thought the S4s maybe had a bit more bottom, etc. (but that was maybe/probably part expectations & part poor memory - couldn't A/B the 2 & 4) but in the dealer's listening room (not a huge barn) the S2s more than held their own w/o a sub (mostly jazz, not slamming rock for that audition). W/ your DD-15 either should be killers. Good luck!
I currently use Paradigm Studio 40 v.3. I listened to the S4's with a McIntosh MA-6900 integrated last winter. They sounded considerably better than the Studios. The only thing that kept me from buying them was this stingy little thing called my 2004 IRA contribution. If I was twenty years younger I would be listening to them right now.
I have heard the S-4 and they are excellant. I also heard that S-8 and they were absolutely stunning. Compared to the Studio series, they are such a huge step up that the price difference does not matter. (unless you ain't got the coin!) Seriously, when Stereophile tests them, they'll be Class "A", considering the current Studio 100 V3 is a "B" rating. Where can you get a full range Class "A" speaker in the mid 5K range? (The cabinet woodwork is incredible too)
Back to the S-4. Like the other guys say, go listen, but only if you can afford them, because you'll want 'em.
I spent a lot of time listening to the 2's, 4's and 8's in the same room. There was a very audible difference betwen the 2 and 4 series, and careful blending with the sub is required to get a seamless transition, but the 4's are some of the best satellites I've heard. The S8's were, on their own, stunning. The only other demo I liked better that day were Maggie 20's, and the Paradigms humbled Vandersteen 3's. Had it been in my budget, I'd have gone home with the 8's. They really have a sonic winner here.
I posted here some time ago on my impressions of the two speakers. Since then I have had a third listen to the S-4's, again in comparison to the Revel M22's. The session was about an hour, again, and I went through different kinds of material. As stunned as I was when I first heard the S-4's, this time I concluded that the Revel M22 was actually the better speaker overall. It has the more accurate midrange. The S-4 may have slightly better imaging, but that was inconclusive because of the showroom's limitations. Male vocals were much more accurate on the M22. Surprisingly, the M22 doesn't lag behind the S-4 in bass extension or slam. My impressions: highs: tie; midrange: clear win for M22; lows: tie. Victory for Revel M22. I was in the process of purchasing a pair myself when I was persuaded by testimonial (by those who have heard Revels and Merlins) that Merlin TSM's were better yet, and bought a pair. I'll know for sure when they arrive. Unless you want to do something similar, the S-4 is an excellent choice, but the M22 is less expensive, and in my opinion, the better speaker.
Hello TheChair, others,
I noticed that your last post was in spring '05. It is now late autumn '05, and I'd like to hear what happened with you and the Merlins you purchased, in comparison to the Revel M22s and Paradigm S2s.
I'm getting ready (again...sigh) to try to upgrade my Revel M20s. I groan at the thought of it, because in the past yr to yr-plus, it's been the one still standing after long B&W 805 auditions, and in-home purchases of up to 3+ months at a time, of Dynaudio Special 25 and ProAc 1SC, side by side with the old M20 pair. And, trust me, I know about break-in periods and room positioning, etc... (I still have the ProAcs for sale, by the way).
In the end, what it has always come down to, as one sagacious audio Solomon once said, is the midrange. The midrange is where we live in human hearing, and it's where most of music happens. That's why bass and treble are called "the extremes" :) Once a speaker gets the midrange right, it's sometimes tough not to love, or at least mightily respect it, no matter what else its faults.
And so it is with the Revel M20s, a less-than-absolutely-transparent speaker with perhaps (perhaps...) too fulsome bass for its given size and overall voicing/tonal/frequency balance, and not the most sophisticated treble purity (though nicely laid back in the soundscape). But very, very nicely done midrange. It's been the one I've kept until now.
I've been wondering if the M22s are a true step forward in the areas of transparency and high freq delicacy, or if it's just another case of audiophilia nervosa incrementalism which, in the real world, wouldn't be worth the trade-up. It terms of pure number specs, (which sometimes don't mean a hill of beans), the M22 is actually a few cycles less extended at the bottom than the M20, but with what looks like a nicely voiced roll off curve.
After reading this forum started here in April, I'm now wondering about the Merlins, and the Paradigm Sigs. (Funny how you'd originally talked about the Signature S2 versus the M22, then came back later and gave the M22 the edge over the S4, not the S2. Could you clarify, please?)
Have you been happy with your Merlins (and specifically, which model did you buy?)
I auditioned the 4's and 8's extensively and ultimately bought the S8 suite for a combo system like you. The 8's in my opinion bettered revel f50's and tiel 7.2's if you like a full range sound. The 4's are little bit of a problem because Para sends that one woofer a lot of bass and it can be overcooked easily. If you crossed them over high though, you'd be OK. IMO they should have sent that woofer less like many other companys do. The 8's are awesome.
I've owned the S2 and just sold in favor of trading up to S4's. I love the sound and IMO bettered the Studio 20 by a wide margin. Others get caught up on the $$ increase in the Sigs. To my ears I hear a big difference in sound quality and quantity over the Studios. Their apprearence is obviously better. Another reason for me upgrading to the S4 is I just love their looks on the J-stands. I'm using with a sub, so I'm not worried about over-driving them.
I bought Ttowntony's S2s and they arrived today. I'm using a Cal Audio Labs transport > Benchmark DA, Pathos Classic One MKII biwired to the S2s with Audioquest Cobalt. They sound great, much smoother and more neutral than anything I've heard this size!
I'll be happy to update you on my experience, with these disclaimers. My sonic memory of my original audition experience has faded some, as you can imagine. And I've never listened to the M20's.
I also need to point out that I haven't heard a Revel I liked except for the M22. People tell me it has the same tweeter as the F32, but it sure didn't sound the same. Something is different inside. The F32's tweeter was too shrill for my ear, and the highs didn't blend in with the midrange. And in small to medium rooms, I could detect which drivers were producing which sounds. The same goes for the flagship Revel or the near-flagship... I can't remember which one. (Sort of Revel's answer to B&W 800's or 801's or 802's.)
The Paradigm S4's and S2's excelled in dynamics and bass extension for their size and price. There isn't much difference between the two other than bass extension and loudness. I would call them good speakers, and wouldn't be ashamed to own a pair of either. But as you say, the midrange is paramount and the M22 beats both rather clearly in this regard, and the small B&W's by a mile. The M22's also were quite balanced and coherent over all frequencies down into the low 50's, high 40's range. They played Led Zeppelin quite well... the pounding drums and electric bass sounded more like real instruments than from any other small speaker I have heard. I don't remember imaging as being the Revels' strongest suit, but it was there, and the setup may not have been best to evaluate this characteristic. I would call the Revel M22 at least a very good speaker, perhaps excellent in some respects.
My Merlin TSM-MX's are altogether different. They make no pretense of going for the "bottom octave," as Bobby P. puts it, but are geared to do music in their range more purely than anything else their size and price. To my ear, they do. You have to get right up on them... like, inches away, to detect which driver is producing which notes. There is a seamless handoff between tweeter and the mid/bass driver, and I have yet to hear a more coherent team of drivers and internal electronics. The tweeter is smooth as silk. TSM's are balanced in their intended range. They image like crazy. They make the smaller B&W's midrange sound muddy and boxed in. No comparison. They are excellent.
M22 vs. Merlin TSM-MX? M22's will have the edge in power handling capacity, bass extension and dynamics, and in loud "rocking out." I think the Merlins would win in every other respect. They make me enjoy listening to music. I have no desire ever to hook up my B&W CDM 1NT's again.
I just bought some s2's to see what paradigm signatures sounded like. WOW, I am blown away. Nothing is even close to this speaker for a bookshelf. It intergrates perfectly with a sub, and plays a rock out levels as long as you cross it over at a respectable point. I cannot say how well I am enjoying these, incredible, incredible, these sound NOTHING like the refernce 20v.2's I had years ago.Best bookshelf Ive ever heard. Sounds like a huge speaker with a sub.