Paradigm Studio 60 V5 Fingernails on Chalkboard

The highs have an edge that hurts my ears, especially female voices (e.g. old joni mitchell, Emmy Lou Harris, etc. I have a Denon AVR 1709 80 W/Ch home theater amp. Could the amp be the problem? It's not room placement - I've moved them all over the room, and it's not interference - it happens even when I only have one speaker plugged in. If it is the amp, what should I replace it with? I spent all my $ on the speakers, assuming the amp I have would work out. I have the speakers for sale on Audoigon but would like to keep them if I can find an affordable solution. Thanks!
You may not like this answer, but I think you should speak with a decent audio dealer who can help you address these issues. They can help you isolate the cause of your problems with the system. Here, you'll only get well-meaning guesses. If you want mine, I'll wager you're sitting fairly close to the speakers and listening at loud levels. Try turning it down a bit. Also, it's a fact of life that many CD are recorded with harsh, up-front vocals to sound good on car radios, etc. Nothing really you can do about that, other than changing what you listen to. Well, it's only my guess.
Thanks for your suggestion, Chayro. It well might be the case that the best thing is to try them at a dealers with different amps.

The problem seems to be independent of volume. I also know different folks like different speakers and I'm open to the sad possibility I simply purchased the wrong speakers for my ears. But, as you say, the best way to eliminate that possibility is to head to a dealer. I am wondering though, whether others have experienced the same problem and have solved it with a different amp. My old speakers AR91, were much more forgiving with the treble than these Paradigms.
It may not be placement but the acoustics of the room, itself. Also, have you tried using the Audyssey EQ?

Kal, interesting suggestion. I did turn down the treble manually - do you know whether the Audyssey EQ separates out frequencies more finely than the manual controls, which are simple treble and bass?
Kal, Thanks, I did just try the Audyssey and it did at least partially tame the problem - but still not quite enough :(
How many hrs. of use does the spks. have them? Also, everytime you move cables around it takes awhile to settle down and the sound will get less edgy and bass should improve. What cables are you using? My gut feeling is that the Denon is no where near refined of an amp for the spks. Your spks. are revealing the shortcomings of your other pieces of equipment. I own some Paradigm floorstanders, the "Phantom" IV's. Driven by vintage Sansui int. amp and the system sounds superb. Don't give up the Paradigm's. Try a different amp.
I haven't heard the current Studio 60s, but I've heard them enough in the past and know that they aren't the easiest load to drive. Add to that that Denons don't typically like lower impedence speakers, and that may be part of the cause. Everything mentioned previously should definitely be addressed.
I've got 60V2's and thought I had made a terrible mistake but the speakers do take many hours to settle down and become listenable. My power source at the time was a NAD7100 receiver and it did an OK job but was still a bit harsh. I moved up to 200 watt per side mono blocks and a good tube pre-amp and now they are very very easy to listen to. Female voices like Holly cole, KD Lang, Diana Karl, Eva Cassidy etc are simply wonderful, Jesse Cooks guitar is breath taking. These speakers need clean power and high current to really shine. As good as Denon is you will need to invest in a solid source, amp and pre-amp or high qualitiy integated Like a Moon I5 or Cary etc. Fix these areas and you can play the Paradigms loud, very very loud without any glare what so ever.
Good Luck!
Hey Bobagov, not the Paradigm Studio 60 V5, but the pricier S8. What I posted a few years back FWIW...

"Listened (briefly) at a dealer, comparing them side-by-side with JM Lab equivalent model (size and price-wise....don't remember the model #).

Audition was brief because I (old ears) and wife (young ears) found S8s excessively bright and piercing in the highs. All it took was a minute to decide these things were death to music listening pleasure. Maybe if they were listened to WAAAAY off axis they would be tolerable, but otherwise, no cigar.

JM Labs...a fine, smooth wine that you savor on your palate as long as possible.

S8...grimacing the whole time its on your palate (and to add insult to burns on the way down)."
What lead you to purchase these speakers? I would hope you heard them at least once before making a purchase and liked them better than other speakers that you had listened to. It sounds like a trip to Best Buy with $200 might yield more enjoyment for you.
There are so many factors involved that could produce what you're hearing but my best guess are the metal dome tweeters.

That's not to say you can't make them work but I think you'll have to do some room treatments at the minimum and a complete gear change at the other extreme.

At the very least I would run them in at a fairly high volume (don't clip!) by facing them very close to each other & throwing a blanket over them. Run one spkr. out of phase so the volume seems muted. After 100 hrs. of this if they still hurt your ears I would look for something else, 'cause at this point your battle is uphill.
If the speakers are brand new that could be the problem. A few years ago I purchased a new pair of the Studio 60.V2 and experienced the exact same issue. I still remember listening to a new Jackson Browne album and hearing his voice scraping through the speakers. I was going to return them. After a few weeks of playing/break in this harshness went away. This was verified with the Jackson Browne album. His vocal was smooth and clear.
Been a believer in speaker break in ever since.
Thank you all for your responses. I think the best thing to do will be to visit a dealer, with speakers in hand, and see if I can't find appropriate amplification for them that sounds good to me and is semi-affordabel. If not, then I'll sell them to somebody who has ears matched to these speakers.

I know that a lot of people like these speakers and so I bought them over the net without listening to them - probably a typical newbie mistake which I fully confess!

Meanwhile, I totally appreciate your generous tips and will be trying them out - keep them coming!


Bob A.
I found a local dealer who was kind enough to let me take a Studio 60 V5 demo pair home. I had to pay for them first with the option to return. The were beautiful speakers and I really wanted to keep them (especially at half-price for a demo pair that was like new). I listened to them side-by-side with my Monitor Audio RS6, and in my system and room the Paradigm seemed more revealing and detailed than the Monitor Audio, but unfortunately it came at the expense of being more harsh and bright. I ended up taking them back because it seemed more like a lateral move than an improvement. Again this is all just my opinion, but it seems to be the same issue you are finding.
Good idea, Bob. I think what many of us find out is that we have to spend more than we thought to get sound that we really like, but it's worth the money. Good luck.
I have heard the 60' s many times , they did not sound bright , I thought they sounded great for the coin . I would evaluate your other equipment before selling these great little speakers . Sometimes just one cord or cable change can make a big difference . Try some friends stuff in your system , It" s fun , free and you will learn much .
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Ive had so many Paradigms over the years. To get to the point, there all a bit harsh in the tweeters. The only ones I cant speak of is the Signature V2 and on that use the new tweeters

I stopped trying the Paradigms because I bought a used pair of Magnepan 1.6's. They made them sound cheap. The sad truth is, I preffered the Magnepan MMG over a pair of Paradigm 100 V3 I had.

IMO, Paradigms arent worth the money if you are sensitive to shrillness or harsh highs. The V5's sure are beautiful, it's really too bad.
I've been where you are. I am particularly sensitive to high frequencies, and if you are like me, then you'll need a wholesale replacement of your system. But you may not be like me ...

I had a pair of the Paradigm Studio 20 speakers and the metal dome tweeter drove me crazy. I'm sure room acoustics played a role, and while my room is very much treated today, it wasn't back then. I would not keep the Paradigm speakers, but that's just me.

Amplifier choice may in fact drive fatigue, as does choice of source component (DAC, CD player, etc). My experience with AVRs is generally not good, to my ears, many of them sound brittle and harsh. I do not think the Denon AVR is not doing you any favors here.

There are many choices of course, many things you can try. You said you were interested in low cost components, so in your shoes, I'd consider giving the PeachTree Audio Decco 2 a try. There are a number of resellers with different return policies so you can try it at home and see how it works with your room and your speakers, and would let you see if the Paradigms are in fact the issue here.

There's no free lunch in this world, and my experience so far tells me that it's possible to get "detailed", "transparent" and "smooth and relaxed" all at the same time, but you pay more dearly for that.

I now kind of get your comment that 'it's possible to get "detailed", "transparent" and "smooth and relaxed" all at the same time, but you pay more dearly for that.'

So this new hobby just might flatten my wallet pretty good - I'm so glad I started with inexpensive speakers! :)


I have the Studio 40v4. I listened to them at a dealer and loved them. I got them home, ran them for a while with my Carver TFM 25 and it was painful. Went back to the dealer and saw they were driving them with Marantz and B&K. Ended up getting a B&K 200.2 amp and have been happy ever since.
The title of this thread is eye-catching.

Does your Denon AVR amp have tone controls? If it does, you can tilt the treble down and increase the bass to compensate for excessive brightness. I know, not an ideal way to fix things but if it sounds good why not.
Thanks Ryder - I'll check out better amplification as an option. As it may not be affordable for me, I'll also explore a bit more trying to sell these so I can find a combo affordable to me.

Meanwhile, I understand now that the room, the amplifier, and the wiring can all play critically into how a speaker sounds. I had read that the speaker is pretty much 90% of the sound and considered anything beyond that as prissiness, but am seeing with my own ears that things are a lot more complicated than that!

I came to the right forum and appreciate everyone's advice!
The speaker is indeed 90% of the sound, it gives you the fundamental character of your system, but the remaining 10% can mean a lot.

I think cables are snake oil. Buy good quality csbles at Blue Jeans cable and be done with it. If you hear any difference, it can likely be attributed to the power of suggestion.

You should decide what your budget will be and let a dealer or the people here suggest synergistic components that meet your budget.
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Like I said I'm not a huge Paradigm fan these days, but the best Ive ever heard Paradigms seams to be with B&K gear.
Thank you for all of your generous responses. After learning so much from all of you, and doing a lot of research on the net, I've decided to head back to the drawing board and try and find an old pair of AR91 in good condition, which I mentioned above that I owned in another lifetime and liked so much. As I've learned on the web, and most of you probably know, a good silk dome, while it loses some detail and accuracy, is much more forgiving of poor electronics and poor source material than the much more precise metal domes found in the Studio 60. So, with luck, I should be able to find in these lovable antiques an affordable solution which will be quite okay with my present equipment and source material, and will move the Studio 60's to the auction section here at audiogon and let the financial cards fall where they may.

I also couldn't help but look at conflicting views on woofer designs on the web a little bit. I probably shouldn't touch on such a religious subject as to whether vented bass designs are better than acoustic suspension designs. But I did notice that most of the internet discussions on this topic compare speakers of the exact same size in acoustic vs vented cabinets to conclude that acoustic suspension designs are inherently less efficient. The AR91 had a 12 inch woofer in an acoustic suspension, not necessarily less efficient than the Studio 60 two 5 1/2 inch woofers in a vented design, just more expensive to manufacture! You can see where I'm headed. But, even then, I do have to admit the bass sounds pretty good in the Studio 60, even with my low grade amp.

Once again, thanks again to you all for the advice and info, you helped me set me on an affordable audio path.


I had the same problem with my Studio 60v.5. I was driving them with the Onkyo A-9555 integrated amp (85W @ 8 Ohm) which is a class D amp. The sound was very detailed, lean, and the highs were absolutely painful at times. I don't have any room treatment, but my living room has plenty of soft surfaces to at least partially tame the highs. I decided to try out the Exposure 2010S2 integrated amp, and what an amazing difference it made. All the harshness disappeared, the sound was fuller, instruments and voices had more body and the highs were detailed but not harsh at all. The main culprit was the Onkyo amp, which didn't agree with the speakers at all, although I'm sure that my untreated room contributed to make the highs harsh as well. The Exposure amp and the Studio 60 v5, seem to have a nice synergy and this works very well in my room. I'm absolutely enjoying my system now.
Don't give up on the Paradigms just yet. I suggest you try out the Paradigms with a different amp, and they might just surprise you.
Hi Knik,

Thank you for your one last appeal - it has changed my plan a little bit:

By trying the speakers in different rooms, I've convinced myself that the problem truly does not depend on room and is therefore probably due to some other factor. And, from your comments, as well as those of Kotta, Kbarkamian, Wizard454, Wilsnet, Sprink, and Sthomas12321 the amp is the most likely culprit.

So, having already located some inexpensive AR91s on the net and ordered them, I'll first try those old geezers to see if they'll work for me. If they don't, I'll beg or borrow enough $$ to try in my home, and then purchase, either the Exposure2010S that you recommended, a vintage Sansui that Kotta recommended, the Peachtree Decco 2 that Wilsnet recommended, or the B&K that Sprink and Sthomas12321 recommended as appropriate for the Studio 60s. I feel confident that this approach will work.

Meanwhile, instead of immediately selling off the Studio 60s, I'll pull them off the classifieds for the time being, so I'll have them to try if the AR91s don't work out. And, if the AR91s do turn out to work for me, I can just sell the Studio 60s later at a loss.

I do love experiments and, so far, I'm actually enjoying this audio adventure and learning from all of you. What a great forum! I'll report back here later to let you know how this all plays out.

My experience is with the V2 Active series. For that era of Paradigm's, it was often recommended not to orient the tweeters directly at listener ear position but up to maybe 30 degrees outside from listener position--small speaker adjustments at a time worked for me. For me it was also best to leave the grill screens on. The Actives have adjustments for High and Low Frequency Contour. In general, I have these zero'd on the High Frequency with slight bump for Low. They are still with me and now in use as surrounds. I may put them back in use as mains and surrounds in a bedroom system--very good speaks. Patience and good luck.

The Studio 60s need a lot of current, plain and simple. No other way around it. If you're looking for a warmer and smoother presentation, an NAD 375/372/370 integrated can drive them pretty well without breaking the bank. NAD seperates may work a bit better, albeit at a higher cost.

I really like Rotel's seperates with them, but that'll give a bit leaner and brighter sound than I think you're looking for.

The Plinius gear as mentioned should sound fantastic too.

Again, I don't think it's the speakers themselves that ate causing the issue, and it seems like you've played with placement too. I'm very confident it's due to the Denon running out of gas. When amps ate pushed too hard (low impedance in this case), the sound gets pretty shrill among other things.
To elaborate on the replies regarding room acoustics I would like to share a piece of info I got directly from Paradigm years ago when I was having the same problem with a pair of Studio 40's.According to thier techs,Paradigm speakers are designed to have the flatest response in an Anochoic Chamber,thus when placed in real world rooms they tend to take on the sonic characteristics of said room.ANY tendancy toward brightness will most certainly be magnified by your speakers.Follow the advice of the members regarding your room acoustics & you may find you like what you hear.Good luck.
The AR91 arrived yesterday and I thought you all would be amused by what I found. I expected, of course that the silk dome tweeters would provide gentler though somewhat less detailed highs than the Studio 60. To my astonishment, the highs seem almost EXACTLY the same in both speakers - in fact the AR91 sound more like the Studio 60 than some other Paradigm models I listened to when visiting a dealer a couple of days ago! It's uncanny that these speakers, separated by 35 years of technology, sound so similar.

The Studio 60 seem to have mellowed a tad in the past couple of weeks - or maybe my ears have broken in, but they, and the AR91, still sound more bright than I would personally like. So I still have a lot of suggestions to follow up on!

I wasn't sure which speakers to sell - I certainly can't keep both. Being an old acoustic suspension system, the AR91 have the advantage of backing right up to the wall without a large effect on sound, an advantage in my small living room, but the Studio 60 would undoubtedly be more reliable being newer and with metal rather than cardboard and foam speaker drivers. The 60's also seem to carry a lot more detail in the sound.

In the end, though, I'll probably keep the AR91, not only because the tattered grills and the burns on the walnut veneer nicely match my bachelor decor, but also because I can get probably get enough $$ by selling the Studio 60 to actually try out some of your great suggestions. I do look forward to playing some more with 'real' audio and am grateful to all of you. The funniest suggestion was that I should just head to Best Buy - but think of the adventure I would have missed!


Sounds like your amplifier is the responsible party.

This seems like a reasonably priced tube integrated:

Here is a solid state amplifier which was not fatiguing to me and is a bargain of a price:

The Virtue guys have a good return policy, so if it doesn't solve the problem, return it!
I've had the 60v5's for over a year now,they need a 100 hours breakin.I run a bryston b100 and have none of above problems,the highs radiate up in the air beautifully,the speakers disappear,no fatigue at all.I believe it's the amp as my yamamha dspa1 is unlistenable compared to the bryston.I wouldn't give up on the 60v5's untill you heard them on another amp,I love them.
Bob,I would chuck the home theater amp,like I said my yamaha is unlistenable compared to my bryston on your speakers.For a real cheap fix My brother brought over his new $200. berringer power amp and I ran it through my bryston preamp,unbelievably good on cd sound,not up to the bryston on LP's,but for $ awesome bargain.I had the same harsh painful problems with my yamaha on my 60v5's.You want to hear what your 60's sound like with a matching amp and preamp.
Although a HT receiver....denon is known for a very smooth, glare-free somewhat mellow sound...about as smooth as one gets in mainstream gear(much more that Yamaha,etc)...and this goes against the grain of others...but the amp is going to have the least amount of influence here...and not an old school Conrad Johnson...but the Denon i feel is not the culprit...the Paradigms are a very good speaker...and the added resolution they bring can be startling at first...going back to the dealer would be like giving them your checkbook...not sure of your source...but a denon 1650 ar dedicated cdp and some mellow, romatic cables from audioquest,etc would be my suggestion...i have been here before as well...and like you...kind of backed off and went back to a speaker i was familiar with...but be patient...a solution will come...
Hi, Bobaguv: An old school solution, place soft tissue between the tweets and grill. Easy fix and it works. Another thought, have you tried tipping them forward or back?
I drive my 60v5 with VTL and Classe electronics and have absolutely no issues with their highs. They are very punchy and detailed but need a quality front end. I tried them with some NAD integrated and, as expected, they sounded rough and chalky. I think the version 5 Studio 60s outperform and are more revealing than all previous Studio 60s as well as most speakers in its class. I bought mine to replace a pair of Vandersteen 2CE Signatures and have not looked back.