Revel M22, Paradigm S2 or B&W 805S

I'm new. Been lurking a while. I want to upgrade my pair of CDM1NT's as 2 channel mains. I'll be using a Denon AVR-3805 for the time being with the possibility of adding a 2 ch. amp. down the road. I've heard the Revel M22's, the new 805S, but not the Paradigm S2. I have heard Paradigm S4's and was quite impressed. They handled my Telarc Also Sprach Zarathustra like no other small speaker I ever heard. But the S4's are a rather large for what I'm looking for. Are the S2's close? The Revel M22's were also quite impressive. Aesthetically I prefer the B&W's... I also have other B&W stuff (center, small sub and rears), but sonically I have reservations about how they do baritone male vocals and handle dynamics. The dealer's new demo pair may not be broken in. Any thoughts?
I have not heard the Revel's but I have heard the B&W's numerous times, and the Paradigm's. I love the Paradigms, I think they are one of the best values in all of audio. A great little speaker.
Merlin TSM-MM or MX perhaps ??

Ex B&W,Ex Revel M20 and current Merlin VSM-MM owner...
So,yes I am comletely biased !

Research the suggestion a bit
Good Luck
I've done further listening and will answer my own question. The original dealer DID have a pair of Paradigm S2's to a/b with the Revel M22's. Both are excellent. I listened through Rotel gear, including the fancy pre/pro with the lcd on front, and a multi-channel amp with 100/pc or so x 7. Two-channel direct, no sub. Stand mounted, about 12 feet apart with me centered on a couch 15 feet back.

Both have surprising bass extension for their size. I've never heard lesser Paradigm monitors or Revel M20, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised, but I was. I'm guessing they are both fairly strong down into the 50-60 hz range. The M22's sounded slightly deeper, but the S2 offset this with what sounded like a little tighter slam at 60 hz or so. The S2's are front-ported and the M22's are rear-ported. I'm thinking the S2's may have the best of both worlds if they're placed close enough to a wall... they may pick up a little more extension there while keeping the slam. But the M22's do have slam and the difference between the two is not large. And both actually picked up the 32hz organ note in 2001 Space Odyssey. My CDM1NT's have no slam because they drop off dramatically before 60 hz where the bass-line slam seems to be in my material ("Give Me One Reason," perf'd by Junior Wells). Either speaker would be a major upgrade for me based on this improvement alone. (Music used: Telarc recording of Beethoven's Ninth; Telarc recording of Also Sprach Zarathustra(2001 Space Odyssey); Monster Blues, "Give Me One Reason," performed by Junior Wells.)

Midrange. The M22 is very neutral. I detected no coloration at all. The S2 seems to have an ever so slight hint of coloration affecting alto-level female voices down thru Johnny Cash's baritone. However, I really mean "ever so slight." I give a slight edge to M22's midrange. (Music Used: Cyndi Lauper's "At Last"; Norah Jones "Come Away," Elvis Costello duet with Lucinda Williams "Scarlet Tide.")

Treble: M22 has detailed but not bright highs. Off-axis still pretty good. No complaints. S2's sounded just a little brighter, but they are not overly bright, either. M22 has a tweeter adjustment on the back where you can boost or cut highs. I didn't play with this because I detected no problem with the default position.

The M22's seemed the most technically perfect, soundwise. Very neutral and very balanced. I like them better than the larger Revel Performas, which ALL sounded way too bright to my ear. And I could sonically locate the tweeters of the larger Performas from a distance, but not the M22s. Supposedly they all use the same tweeter so the difference must be in the crossover. But a difference there is. This is a very good speaker.

Nevertheless, the Paradigm S2's seemed to image better and seemed to have a little tighter bass within a slightly less-extended range. And they have a more curvy style to them where the M22's are rather boxy. The demo M22's were finished in black ash and the S2's were finished in an attractive, laquer-cherry. I'm a sucker for cherrywood, but this is paradigm's least-expensive finish in this range and it's shallow and dings easily as evinced by dings on both the S2's and S4 (which I also evaluated.)

I had to go to another dealer while my sonic memory was still fresh to listen to a pair of B&W 805S's on similar Rotel gear. There seemed to be a distinct midrange coloration when I listen to Johnny Cash's renditions of "I'm a Drifter," and "The Beast in Me." I'd call this coloration a slight boxiness, not particularly chesty or boomy, but boxy. I found the tweeter to sound detailed but not bright. This speaker has the least bass extension of the three models I tested. It could not reproduce the 32 hz organ note and had no slam, even when assisted by a B&W ASW700 sub. The reason is there seems to be an aggressive downward slope down at around 60-65 hz. There was no way even with variable-crossover sub to fill in the bass-line slam on the Junior Wells song. HOWEVER, these speakers far and away had the best imaging of the three models.

Final assessment:

Revel Performa M22: Most neutral and extended frequency response. But they had the least imaging, although at the end of my session I discovered that if the tweeters are 6-8" ABOVE my ear plane they sounded better. In retrospect, these needed taller stands so my judgment regarding imaging and soundstage is suspect. Least appealing aesthetically. The demo pair was in boring black ash. There is cherrywood available, amongst other options, but Revel's website has some broken links for viewing the cherrywood photos. $2,200 USD.

Paradigm S2: Most dynamic, 2nd best imaging, best slam although not quite as bass-extended as M22. Very balanced but slightly less neutral than M22. Excellent styling imo, but fragile finish. $1,900 USD. Different, heartier finishes +$300.

B&W 805S. Detailed but smooth highs. Some midrange coloration. Least extended bass of the three and little or no mid-bass slam. Very best imaging and soundstage. My favorite, aesthetically, in light cherry, followed by the S2. A very strange animal. If I buy this, I do it for imaging and looks. It's tough to justify the $2,600 for these two advantages alone. Morever, these cannot rock, ever. 90% of the time, that's fine, but come Saturday morning I like to play some Zeppelin, some Rush, etc., and these just aren't right for that, or for big symphonic recordings with deep percussion or organ.

I'm leaning very heavily toward the Paradigms because of their tight bass, they seemed to image better than the M22's (although I found out too late that the M22's needed to be higher--I may need one more listen), their looks, and where the M22's had any advantage it was slight. I may even go for the S4's which add bass-extension and sound better than many full-blown floor-standers. Purists may prefer the M22. It's difficult to find ANY weaknesses in that speaker. But B&W 805S now sounds to my ear like a special purpose speaker, for female vocals and imaging mainly.
The Chair

I repeat what I've suggested....check out the Merlin TSM-MM or MX speakers.You can do a search here on Audiogon or on AudioAsylum.
Revel M22,very insensitive(85 or 86dB)need a very good 100w amp....Is the M22 a serious 2 way design like the M20 ? Any reviews on the M22 as a stereo pair ?

805 Signatures:Why not have a look at the new 805s,same spaeker without the fancy finish and $1000 less than the Signatures

Check out the Merlins...



It appears he was listening to the 805S, not the S805, TheChair can verify this.

Second, the 805S is not the same speaker as the S805 w/o the nicer finish.

S805 and 805S...confusing model names.

The new 805s is the same as the Signature 805,except for the fancy finish and $1000 less.If my statement is not true,how does the two models differ then(except for the fancy finish) ??

Hi Chris,

I agree, it can be confusing.

I will not claim this is all the changes, but the 805S has a first order crossover and the S805 has a 3rd order. Dimensionally they are very close but they are slightly different nonetheless, they do not weigh the same either, with the 805S 5 lbs heavier. What all changed cabinet wise I don't know, but they are different. As for the bass/midrange driver, I don't know if that is the same or not. The binding posts look the same, but the Signatures are silver, they are gold on B&W's previous and current line, I have no idea the difference, if any, between these.

Excellent,first time anybody has pointed out the difference between the crossovers...many who does not know that.Now I believe there can be a different sonic signature between the speakers( I suppose the finish can also have a small effect)

Now, staying with the question and with my suggestion,..have you ever auditioned Merlin speakers ??

Now,a bit of topic but relevant to the whole discussion you feel that the Signature 805 speakers are perhaps better suited to powerful ss pre/powers like your Classe gear,compared to the Hybrid DK amp ? Can this perhaps explain the results of your DK review ? Lets turn the question around....If you perhaps had the Merlins as speakers(which are known to work well with tube /hybrid amps) do you think the results obtained with the DK amp could have been more positive? I think this may explain some results obtained.

Hi Chris,

FWIW, the entire new 800 series now uses a 1st order cross over.

I have never heard Merlin speakers.

I have no idea if the S805's are suited to one design over the other, BUT the DK amp is not a low powered amp, it is 160 (?) watts and does not lack in power. The rest of your question can only be speculation and one could only know by trying each set up.

I will say this, the S805's for me (w/the Classe) have been the best speakers I have ever owned.
Revel all the way but you'll never tell with the Denon. The B&W's probably sound best with Denon but not the best sounding of all.
Given a better pre speaker lineup the revels have it hands down.
I just purchased a pair of the Revel M22's and I love them.
I also own a pair of Revel Salon 1's and you can tell the M22 speakers are from the same family the mid is very smooth and the hi's have no brightness or hardness. The bass is incerdible. I have listened to the B & W 805's and could not stand them having NO BASS. and I heard the Paridigms and did not like the Hi's I thought they were a little bright. Im running the M22's with an Pass Labs Aleph 5 amp and a McCormack RLD-1 Preamp with a Cary 308 CD player, Von Gaylord Legend 2 Speaker Cable & Von Gaylord Chincilla Interconnects with all power cables are Shunyata Research Diamond Back.

That's my 2 cents