Thanks for your review. I can imagine how they sound there. I have had the Signature S4 V2 for about a week now and and very happy myself. Wish I could have talked myself into the S8s.
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I am glad you like them. What other speakers did you audition before you bought these?
I have had them in the same room with Focal 1037be. I liked the focals a little better because of there more open midrange. The highs were also a little to laid back(still detailed though) for my tastes on the S8. I like the bass better on the S8 though, more punch, weight, etc.
I am not knocking your choice by any means. They are very good. The focals are 4 grand more and should sound better. I am just trying to get a feel for what you like and other speakers you did not like as well.
Well, I liked the Focal but found the performance vrs. cost to not be there. I might point out that I am a fan of using EQ's and any facet of speaker performance regarding such (forward mids, recindent highs etc) is something easily fixed or tweaked with proper equalization. Given your experience I can get the same performance, with better bass, with my S8 at a substantial cost savings. I am not suggesting more expensive speakers are a con; far from it, but given the performance to cost of the S8; no, the performance, period, I found the S8 the best. Of course, and deficencies I could easily make up for with a proper EQ.
No doubt the Focals are exquisite in the fit and finish department. But given the cost, they should be. I am just saying the S8 is an incredible speaker period, and the fact it costs what it does is even more incredible. I agree some, maybe many, find it hard to believe what the S8 can do given its lineage and cost but the fact is this: Paradigm makes everything in house which reduces cost. You can simply get more with Paradigm given they do not outsourse and are not reliant on others' economies. Fact.
B+W was also tried but were tired, overpriced and the store would not lower the price. With oil at the price it is you are a fool to not think shipping from England is going to affect pricing. It showed when I looked. Frankly, I think B+W is in for hard times. They may be good but in the US and Canada locally made gear does not have to go overseas, and that is a huge cost as speakers are not small.
Energy, Def Tech, and a host of others were considered but despite living in Vancouver, BC Canada you would be suprised how few high end speakers are available. I would of loved to tried Legacy, but the fact you cannot hear before trying is the biggest No-No in audio. I am not going to trust an $8000 purchase on faith.
You must remember I used Paradigms faithfully for 16 years previous, and they had lower end cones, particleboard cabinets and plastic veneers and still sounded great. The S8 v2 are so much a step up from what I had and they sound so good I have no regrets. I am aware that may rock the core of many in the high end thinking it cannot be done cheaply (relative to the competition) but I would not of bought otherwise. I am not rich but I could of afforded the B+W 803D or 802D had I wished it but found I could not see the cost increase giving me anything the S8 could. And the fact I am supporting my local countrymen (like the Bryston amp). The speaker/amp combo is killer.
I guess personal taste also has something to do with it. The signature of the S8 v2 sound is exactly to my personal tastes in sound and music, so it was a natural fit. The subtle nuances you and I find in other brands are the things only you and I can see, and it is something that cannot really be identified. At the price level, it is the smallest detail that makes it but again, there are so many different styles and tastes it explains the variety out there. I even tried Totem another Canadian brand, but they were expensive (I was looking at the top model, the Wind) and they were poorly represented locally so I discounted them. Not to say they were poor at all; Totem are excellent, but I could not hear a Wind, and the store that sold them were no better than Walmart. I am not spending $10K this way.
I did my homework and the decision was based on all available criteria and taste. The S8 was simply the tops for me.
Now, if I win the lottery tonight and had more funds, the decision might be different with a larger room and more gear, but again perhaps not. I did not have the option to look at $50K speakers, but few do.
To me they sound more like a small floorstander. I auditioned the Gallo Ref 3 in my home for a few days but they just didn't quite 'hit the spot' with me. I listened to Vandersteens 2, 3 and 5, Focals and Legacy. The $7500 Legacy were the only ones I thought sounded better. For more than twice the price. A sub would probably be nice but the S4s put out enough bass to make me happy. I have to admit to being prejudiced. I started with Titans years ago and have been living (happily) with Studio 40 Version 3s for a couple years. I love the Paradigm sound. Most 'audiophile' speakers (like the Vandersteens) seem too 'warm' for me. I do use the Paradigm stands on both sets. The Studio 40s are on the TV system now.
I have listened to the Legacy Signatures but they are way too big and its an old model and does not compare to the Legacy Focs.
Did you hear the Legacy Focus? They are very good but very expensive here in Australia.
Do you recall what Focals you heard?
How are you finding the midrange and tweeter and imaging? Is the sound very open? Someone said the Beryllium tweeter sounds a bit shrill? Do you find it harsh at all or bright?
I will try audition them tomorrow.
Thanks for your help
Regarding the tweeter of the S4: The Beryllium tweeter is the same for the entire Signature line. The same high end I get with the S8 is the same you would get (assuming the room is not completely padded etc..). Now regarding the rest....
The mids will be just as nice, but given the mid unit is a mid/bass driver and NOT a dedicated mid driver the mids will be SLIGHTLY different, but I cannot say. As I write this the Signature Line brochure is to my left, and from that I can tell you the S4 is different in the mids. As to how it will sound, well, it is hard to say. A dedicated mid unit will be a bit more refined, but that is hard to say as anything you will notice unless under direct comparison to the S8. Not likely in your sound room. Obviously the bass will be different. I am not saying bad, but different. The S4 will not go as deep or with as much force as the S8 will, but for music it would be satisfying, especially if the room is smaller. In fact, in some of the reviews on Paradigms' web site some allude to the fact a S4/sub combo is a cheaper way to get an S8. The only downside is making sure the sub/sat integration is proper, which is hard to do. But as a speaker alone they are very satisfying IF you are not into bass heavy music OR are NOT into bass rich music sound in any way. Imaging is excellent as is texture and quality, but compared to the S8 it is hard to expect to get the same sound given the obvious differences. Teamed up with a sub, or dual subs and proper tweaking, I cannot see how the S4 could not be as good, or even superior, to the S8.
The only reason I did not go the S4/sub route was the fact my amp was a high end unit that has excellent low end and I felt teamed up with a capable floorstander I could do away with a need for a sub. I do NOT use it for movies in any way. But IF I did need a sub the crossover point would be in the high 30's, so you can see a sub is irrelevant. Crossing over any later would waste the S8 and amp and that is not what I want to do. Not to say I would not do it later if I had a larger room or whatever, but for now running the S8 full range with the amp I have is fully satisfying. My Telarc Digital discs do just fine as is. In fact, running a sub (that I have) adds nothing except to rob power from the wall that the amp could use to its fullest need.
Acdvd, sorry but I did not get any more info on the Legacy when I was told the price. Outside of my budget. I have listened to several of the Focal models as they are carried at the shop I buy almost off of my equipment from. They are very nice speakers but I never fell in love with them.
The S4 imaging is fantastic and the sound is much more open than I am used to. The most striking thing to me is the way the cymbals sound 'decays' after being struck. It just goes on and on....
One caveat....I changed out my Jolida Phonostage for a JLTi wall wart phonostage one week prior to getting the speakers. That had a big difference in the sound also but I did not really get 'used' to it before upgrading the speakers. The sound is not harsh or bright at all, to my ears. But from reading many speaker reviews I suspect they might be to some listeners.
Let us know how your audition goes.
I have the Legacy focus 20/20's and I have also owned the new signeture line. To say the least Ive had 10 speakers in my home(all over $2200 retail) and none have beat my focus 20/20's. They say the new focus HD are better. Anyway, there has been speakers that do this better or that better, but the focus 20/20's in my system with AB comparisons show the focus to just be more musical. They are just much more relaxed, with a perfect balance in response. Not to mention the only speaker that truely doesnt need a sub. So in a 2 channel system spending less on a pair of speakers, could end up costing more when you purchase a decent sub, and in some cases a sms-1 to make that sub flat in your room which is not easy to achieve in most rooms without one.
In all fairness the Paradigm Signature speakers were close to the focus 20/20's. I could easily live with either. I would say if you prefer imaging,detail the most, maybe go with the paradigms(brighter but not harsh as well). And if you like musicality, but yet a speaker that also does everything else well(detail,imaging,etc)go with the paradigms. I would rate both as follows in head to head comparisons, money not a factor.
dynamics range 9.0
full range ability no sub 8.0
disappears in the room 9.5
soft levels enjoyment 7.0
easy to drive 8.0
dynamic range 10
full range capability 10
disapears in the room 9.5
soft levels enjoyment 9.5
easy to drive 10
Really it came down to what you prefer with these speakers. The paradigms have more detail, but the Legacys sound musical and consistant from song to song, album to album,cd to cd, etc.
Well, on good recording, Id give it a 9. On bad recordings, it didnt do so well(7.0?). It brought out the worst in the music with these recordings. As you know, the Legacys are a little forgiven. That is why I say, if you are looking for pure audiophile speaker, go with the S8 v.2. But if you are looking to enjoy the music, the legacys are the choice you would want by a wide margin. I also like the Legacys because there are several configurations you can use in different size rooms. For example, I just moved. My last audio room was very large and I left all three toggles up. However, in my new room, it is on the samell size. A full range speaker like the Legacys can sound a bit bass heavy. By flipping the 3rd toggle down, it dropped a little of the mid bass, and actually sounded perfectly. When I played with the 3rd toggle in my larger room, it took away to much mid bass, and made them sound a little to bright. I find this to be a great feature. It sure saved me in my smaller room(not that I couldnt live with all 3 in the up position, but the sound did improve). The musicality of the Legacys is a easy 10, almost Every recording sounds good. And the best recordings sound even better!
I want to add, the Legacy focus 20/20's are the most easy to drive speaker Ive ever driven. Some claim you need a lot of power with them. Im using a Bryston 9bsst 150 watts per channel rating. These sound completely warm and full sounding. They also will play louder then I can listen with ease. They will play movie playback at Dynamic levels Ive never heard in a home.
On paper, the Paradigms look great. Imaging, check. Detail, check.Transparency, check.Disapears in the room, check. Now did you enjoy the music, well.........
On the other hand, the Legacys are a check on everything, yet extremely enjoyable. It just sounds like music. The Legacys also throw a super huge wall of sound, like a large planar(Ive owned Mag 3.6) or a Logan(and a Ascent i. Yet its easy to place and set up, again easy to drive, and has a full range sound. I dont know about others, but even with a sms-1, Ive never got a speaker to match a sub flawlessly, there has always been some point where I heard the phase or what ever problems with the pair.After years, Im still 100% happy with my Focus 20/20, and no other speaker has been able to stay around(3.6's where nice sounding, but had other issues with them). Thats says alot!
I am finding the S8 to be fabulous in listening for pure enjoyment. I find the resolution and detail they offer make listening much more enjoyable. You hear things (detail) that you did not before and the resolution brings out everything on the recording.
I am finding that some recordings are turning up to sound poorer with the S8 in the fact the S8 is so good there is little a bad recording can do (and definitely NOT hide). But for the most part the sound is awesome. Definitely musical and enjoyable.
I find that the tone controls do get used depending on the recording and artist, but this is a fact of listening. Some recordings are bright, some dull, some flat.....
But no doubt, the S8 is the best I have heard and used. The amp pairing is perfect, I think, in that the amp has the attributes the speakers have as well, and as a result, the imaging, high end, mids and low end are all maximized. Could not be happier. I would of tried Legacy but for $8000 I am not making a purchase on faith and would rather SEE and TOUCH what I am going to be buying beforehand rather than them show up on my doorstep. Frankly, and I am aware Legacy makes awesome speakers, but the way they sell them is inexcusable. What happens if they do not work out for you? Do you pay shipping, and what of any "incidental" shipping damage?
You are correct about Legacy. There is actually more to worry about. They do not make there own drivers, Paradigm does. Soemtimes, you cant even get drivers for the Legacys because they are no longer made by the 3rd party. But all in all they sound amazing. Dont need a leap of faith as far as sound goes, but warranty is another topic.
Sounds like you heard the same things with your Signatures as I did. I experienced the same results, only preffered my focus 20/20 in all out musical enjoyment. The signatures were definately a audiophiles speaker. They will let you hear everything, good or bad. Like I said, I could easily live with either, a rare thing for me and other speakers. Ive been wanting to try out Montana speakers, they look like good value. Ill have to make them next on my list to try.
The S6 for the longest time was going to be my speaker. In DIRECT comparison with the S8, no other speaker, the S6 lacked ONLY in the low end in terms of weight and range. That's it. The same tweeter and same mid is used, so expecting ANY difference is going to be hard to find in any way. I myself noticed nothing in the mids but did notice that the low end was noticebly more robust in the S8. But this DOES make some difference in terms of perceived clarity and focus in the mids: I mean, with the low end more clear and extended I found it to be the mids came into focus more (not literally, but the low end helped refine the mids). I am comparing very fine lines here, within a speaker line that each is awesome.
There is no doubt the S6 is made to be mated to a sub, where the S8 is designed to be stand alone. I find, for me and my room, the need for a sub to be stupid and a total waste. My amp is robust in the low end and the speaker can handle it. I do not think a sub is worth it for the lowest range (20hz) and since I do not listen to pipe organs that much I do not really miss it. Nor do I listen to movies either. For a GOOD home theatre I think a sub is manditory, even if you are using the S8 but for music alone the S8 is just fine.
The S6 is equally fine, but I think the sub is ultimately needed for the S6 for the fullest effect. So now, factor in the cost of a good sub for the S6 and then take that towards the S8, you can see where I am going....
I do believe, in either case, both are best and can be maximized providing the amp is of good robust quality. I could of easily used the Bryston 4B SST and saved some coin, but always wanted a 14B SST type amp and got that. I can assure you the amp is NOT a limiting factor, and that alone is enough for me.
Blackfly mentioned Montana speakers...
I owned 2 pair of Montanas for 12 years...my last pair,
the EPS2s were fantastic speakers. I sold them on Agon
a few months ago. They are heavy (150 lbs each) but so
musical and dynamic....beautiful to look at, easy to drive
and sound full and dynamic at low volumes, too.
They are very well made and have high quality parts but
Peter (the owner) is just starting to roll out speakers
with beryllium tweeters. I sold them 'cause i was looking for
a lighter weight speaker. Regretting it now since i've
bought and sold a pair of Martin Logan Spires, Definitive
Tech Mythos ST's...neither matched up to the Montanas.
I'm considering the Paradigm S8's 'cause of their
lighter weight and more modern materials. I thought
about the Legacy Focus but they're heavier than the
Montanas. If i buy the S8's, i'll be driving them with
a Simaudio i-7 integrated (150w). For a smaller
speaker, i really like the PSB Syncrony One's too.
This review is late, but I'll put it out there for the benefit of others in the speaker market. I own the S8 v2 fronts and Signature Servo sub. I drive the speakers with ARC tube gear: REF CD-7, REF 3 pre, and VS 115 amp (115wpc). The ARC gear drives the S8 speakers plenty loud, to the point my wife says it's either her or the stereo -- uuhhm, I need to think about that???
I strongly suggest that anyone in the market for speakers give a serious listen to the S8 V2 or V3 speakers with the Be tweeters. To the extent that concerns have been raised that the S8 is bright -- that's not my experience. Could be because the ARC tube gear meshes well with the S8.
Oh . . room placement is very important. The speakers should be aimed at your ears. I even lifted the back of the towers a tad, just to get a little better response from the Be tweeters.
I also agree with the comments about the S8 NOT being a forgiving speaker. It isn't!! Frankly, I'm frustrated by the crappy source material out there. I've picked up a bunch of Deutche Grammaphon CDs for classics, but even there, some of the DG CDs are made from old masters. Some leave a lot to be desired. I recently picked up a London Decca CD featuring Jean-Yves Thibaudet (sp?). WOW!! Just ordered some new CDs from Stereophile. I hope they're good.
So . . . IMO, the bottom line is the S8 V2 is one terrific speaker. It works well with my ARC tube gear. At the expense of waxing philosophical, speaker choice is like fine wine -- what one person likes, another person thinks is swill. But I strongly suggest a listen. One caveat -- and this goes for any speaker. Dealers audition what they sell. Check the Paradigm web site for a dealer near where you live. You may have to visit a couple of dealers to make a fair choice, so bring good quality source material with which you are familiar.
Enjoy the music.
Happy New Year!
Kclone: yup, right you are!! It is frustrating, but . . . listening to crappy source material played on crappy speakers still sounds like crap. Crap in, crap out. I'm not a big believer in stats and figures, but the S8 has a impressively flat on-axis FR, +/- 2db 39Hz to 45kHz!!
So the challenge then is to find good source material. There's a bunch of threads on A'gon that talk to the advantages and disadvantages of SACD, DACs, vinyl, etc. I think the problem is that standard CDs are based on 30 year old technology. I think a lot of information is lost in imprinting and retrieval.
Just recently, and after my post above, I started to rediscover my old vinyl. I serviced my old Thorens TT, slapped on a new arm and cartridge, and voila, I'm in business. Had to buy a Phono pre too. Believe it or not, most of my old vinyl (even the beat up stuff) sounds really good, maybe better than CD. As I am rediscovering this source, I'm learning that there are still vendors with decent new and used vinyl out there. Anyway, something to think about.
Enjoy the music.
The S8 is much more revealing than many of the other speakers out there, Its response is also top tier.
I think many of the negative reviews listen to poor source material and are used to listening voiced speakers with mediocre response curves (rolled off treble and increased bass).
I've also noticed that 99% of the reviews here are subjective. Which means that people aren't looking for accuracy just something that sounds good to them.
Salon 2, S8, F52 are some of the most accurate speakers on the market.
Just my humble opinion.
You are right, it's just subjective. I usually prefer accuracy, but the as a musician I can't even explain to you how musical, relaxed, smooth the Focus 20/20's were. Put it this way, I A/B compred the S8's to the Focus 20/20's during Thanksgiving get together in 2008. Not one choose the S8's. It is subjective, but those Focus 20/20's are so enjoyable you can actually forget that last bit of detail in the sig 8's. They have a Magnepan like sound, but warm, powerful, and true full range. It is the only speaker that I have preffered in almost ever way then planar speakers like ML's and Magnepans.
For me, in the end it is about the music
Sthomas12321 using that logic i could apply EQ to an accurate speaker to make it sound like these "smooth, relaxed" speakers you describe by rolling off the higher frequencies.
I then could boost my bass by adding a few db to the lower end so that the basshead audience would be impressed.
It defeats the purpose of buying decent speakers in the first place.
Aren't we trying to reproduce music?
You can EQ the S8's all night long, it will NEVER be as relaxed as the Focus 20/20's. You can bump EQ here and there to get it to your preference, but no matter what it will always be a Paradigm S8.
The Focus 20/20's aren't just rolled off. I wish it were that easy. Have you ever owned planar speakers? Using EQ isn't going to turn a Paradigm S8 into a ML either.
Just because a speaker seams to let every detail be heard, doesn't make it more musical. Just because its flat to 44khz wont make it more enjoyable.
That doesn't mean you can't prefer a speaker different from me. The S8's were good speakers, I gave them a lot of praise above. I liked both Ayre and Bryston gear with them. I personally did not ever feel swept away with them though like I have the Focus, ML's, and even Magnepans I had. The Magnepans were a bit brighter like the S8's but IMO more musical to MY ears.
On Jan. 3, 2011, I posted my comments about the Paradigm S8 v2. After 7 and a half months, I stand by what I said before:
"So . . . IMO, the bottom line is the S8 V2 is one terrific speaker. It works well with my ARC tube gear. At the expense of waxing philosophical, speaker choice is like fine wine -- what one person likes, another person thinks is swill. But I strongly suggest a listen. One caveat -- and this goes for any speaker. Dealers audition what they sell. Check the Paradigm web site for a dealer near where you live. You may have to visit a couple of dealers to make a fair choice, so bring good quality source material with which you are familiar."
Sthomas12321, based on my January quote, I support and appreciate your comments. You provided a very detailed comparison between the S8 and the Focals, yet you still liked the overall presentation of the Focals better. That's your opinion -- AND I respect it.
My problem is that I don't have the patience to visit the top hi-end shops where I live. In addition, I don't like taking up the time of the sales folks unless I'm a serious buyer. Further, dealers push what they sell, so if they don't carry Focals, but only Paradigm S8s, all one can do is "make the rounds." But is that truly a fair way to A/B speakers?? Different electronics, different room ambiences, etc.
I "slipped" into my S8s a couple of years ago based on the recommendation of a dealer who I like. I never shopped for speakers. Didn't have the patience. If I didn't like the S8s, I would have dumped them. I might have taken more time to shop if there were dealers around who carried the top brands that I know about and who could set up a meaningful A/B test for me. But Nada.
As I said in my January post, I drive the S8s with ARC gear. Maybe it's a good synergy. Maybe I don't know what I'm missing. Maybe this or maybe that. Oh well. As the old adage goes, ignornace can be bliss.
But the bottom line is that whatever swill comes out of my S8s is sure engaging, relaxing and musical. I can listen for hours without fatigue. I hear sh*t from my old vinyl that I never heard before, e.g., Solti, Chicago Symph. Orchest, performing Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony. The kettle drums are in my face. Maybe I'd pass out from glee if I was listening to Vandies, Maggies or Focals. I guess I'll never know until I decide to change.
BTW and FWIW, Marc Mickelson reviewed the S8 (v3) speakers back in May, 2010. He loved them.
Hate to end on an overused cliche, but enjoy the music with whatever gear you're using.
can you illuminate me as to the sale your were speaking of?.. also I tried to audition the S8 but the dealer near me only had the S6..it was good but not better i felt then the Dali helicon 800s i had. I almost still popped on the S8 but punted and got the New Von Schwiekart VR35..which is an upgrade from thier VR33...so far I am quite pleased with them especially the soundstage which is whole room like.. They also look great in my room with contenpory dtyling i have them clad in Silver...they go quite low on their own too down to 25hz...anyway it came down to both these fine choices and i went with the US made company vs Canadian only because here in Detroit we are a bit sensitive to supporting USA made..wink enjoy !
Zugisland, is your question directed to me: "can you illuminate me as to the sale your were speaking of?" If so, not quite sure what you're asking me about.
BTW, even though the S8s low end starts to roll-off at 40-45 Hz, it's really not a problem for me because I have the Signature Servo sub, which blends very nicely with the S8s, particularly because the sub is self powered (1500 watts; 4500 watts on transients) and there are separate controls for loudness, frequency cut off and phase. Believe it or not, there really isn't as much source material out there that throws off much information below 50Hz, but when it's there, I want to hear it -- and I do.
Maybe because my wife is a former Canadian, I kinda feel like keeping the Canadians busy is almost as good as keeping US workers busy. FWIW, except for the cabinets, Paradigm manufactures all speaker components at their Ontario facility. They maintain super high QC because they make the stuff and they can afford to spread R&D over a broad range of speaker selections, i.e., mid-fi and hi-fi.
Frankly, I think the main problem with the Signature line is branding. If I were Paradigm, I would try to separately market the Signature line from the rest of their offerings, kinda like what Honda does with Accura, and Nissan does with Infinity. Just an opinion.
But in any case, I sincerely congratulate you on your purchase of the VR 35, a very fine US speaker. I wish you many years of listening enjoyment.
What's more, I got mine on sale (I made my deposit on the last day of the sale I did not even know about) and saved about $1500. Talk about fate. I was totally prepared for the retail price (talked down a bit) but to get them brand new, no blemishes or problems was even better... btw I did o Canada for my amps and got the mon equiv of yorus in the 7bbsst2's...
@smodtactical -- some years back, I upgraded my S8s to the v3. Very similar sound. And yes, … I still own the S8s (v3).
From time to time, I have thought about a change, but I am totally confused by the choices. And speaker prices are over the top.
Further, I am still working and do not have the time to sit for hours in the 2 or 3 brick and mortar stores still around to educate my ears. And I am not even sure how I could meaningfully compare the new offerings to my S8s because my system also includes hundreds of pounds of ARC electronics that would have to go too.
So, yes, I still enjoy my speakers and do not plan to switch them out until I retire and can figure out a way to do meaningful speaker comparisons.