I would not even consider the F208's if you can get the studio2 for the same price. I was not impressed with the F208's. The Studio2's are in a different category.
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I already have the F208s. I preface my statement with, there are no perfect speakers and everyone has their own thoughts about what sounds good. I have owned many speakers to include: Wilson Audio Sashas, Mirage M1, Audio Physics, Artemis EOS, Devore Fidelity to name a few. What I will say about the F208s is, when set-up properly they image, have air, and sound just as natural is anything that I've owned. What I've found is that set-up is more critical than I thought. Moving the speakers an inch here or there has a big impact on the sound. What I'm looking for is a little more clarity. In particular some of the images deep in the soundstage aren't as detailed as I would like. It may be my preamp, but I will see when I get a new DAC that can be used as a preamp.
I would wait until you get your M51. There's a very good chance that you'll get what you are asking for with that in place. You're right on the preamp. Its very important to get that right or your system just won't come together and sound like it should.
The Aerial's are very different than what you have. Unless you can demo them, I don't think its worth taking a chance. It sounds like you are almost where you want to be. A speaker change may be overkill. Reading your description of your Revel's, it appears that you are very happy with them. I say don't get rid of them until you know you are replacing them with something you definitely like better.
If it were me I would keep the speakers and get some better electronics. A great preamp is indispensable in a great system and I doubt running the M51 as a pre will be as good as a great preamp. If it were me I would take all the money you are willing to spend on the Studio 2s and get a better amp and preamp especially if you say you are already nearly thrilled with the sound of the 208s.
That is one tough choice. As you're talking about buying new, it makes no sense to purchase without listening to both speakers.
I owned a pair of Revel M20s a few years ago, man those are some wonderful little speakers, and now own a pair of Aerial Model 6s. Both brands are fantastic IMO.
You probably couldn't go wrong with either speaker but a listen first seems mandatory.
The M51 is not on it's way, I had the opportunity to cancel the purchase. I plan on comparing the F208s to Studio 2s within the next several days. I like opinions, no matter how diverse they me be. I'm trying to hear opinions no possible was forward based on my current equipment and the fact that I want to limit how much I pay. With the sell of my current speakers the Studio 2s would cost me an additional $5300. The question is what yields the most cost effective results. It's impossible to hear every available option.
Ricred1 .... I "reluctantly" would like to make a suggestion. I am usually reluctant to make equipment recommendations, especially speakers, because opinions about what is good, bad or so-so are very subjective.
But here goes. If you are close to a dealer who sells Paradigm Signature 6 or 8 speakers, I suggest you stop by for a listen. If you like the S6 or S8 speakers, you should know there's a member selling a pair of piano black S8 (v3) speakers for a song - asking $5K. I've never seen the most recent version of S8s offered for such a low price. Even if you change your mind, the price is so low, you could flip them for little cost, maybe even make a buck or two.
I'm sure I'll regret sticking my neck out, but good luck with whatever you do.
Thanks Rick ... just curious, did the dealer carry both the Revels and the Paradigm S8s? I just checked the Paradigm website for dealers in a few cities in Texas. Seems like there's dealer in pretty much every major city, which is no surprise.
Here's a little exercise. Check a couple of dealers in Texas who carry both the Paradigm S8 and the Revel Studio 2. Be preapred to make some calls. Tell the dealer you are strongly considering both models, which is the truth. Ask the dealer if he has both models set up for audition. If the dealer carries both models, ask for his opinion.
Sorry to be cynical, but I surmise that most dealers will push what they carry, and if they carry both models, then whatever they have on hand. If they have both models on hand, you might get a fair opinion, but even then if the dealer thinks you're choking on the price, he might push you into the less expensibe speaker and then assuage your doubts by telling you that the less expensive speaker is 95% as good as the more expensive speaker.
One of the members suggested that your best bet it to personally audition both speakers if at all possible. I agree with the advice.
Here's my biased (pun) take on the S8 versus Studio 2. Based on what I've read about the Studio 2 and its big brother, the Salon 2, I think the Revels will do a better job hitting the lowest octaves as compared to the S8s. A couple of reviews said the Studios can do bass into the 20+ Hz region. I think the S8s will start to pucker out south of the 30 Hz range. I use a sub, which rounds out the bass just fine, with the cut-off frequency set to 35-40 Hz.
Please report back. I'm really curious how the dealers come back to you. :)
In my limited listening experience this far - about 4 years into a system build - and probably have listened to a dozen brands(and numerous models) of speakers. From Sonus Faber, B&W , to Vandersteen and PSB - my most memorable experience to date was listening to a pair of the Aerial 7Ts. Just incredibly enjoyable sound - I have not heard the Revels, so no direct comparison for you. I currently own a pair of PSB Sync 1s - which are very good - but see myself saving for the Aerial 7ts in the long term. My setup is Ayre integrated and CD, with PS Audio as my computer DAC - a bit of a Boulder CO setup.
Your detail and clarity can be improved by upgrading your source, your NAD is great for the money, but can be improved on dramatically. I will say however that if the budget allows it the Revel studio 2s will give you more clarity, but with less warmth and are less forgiving of bad recordings than your F208s. I work part time at a store that carries your NAD, compared to my Bel Canto dac3.5 mkII with the VBS power supply its no contest, and should not be for the added cost difference between the two. The Bel Canto is FAR more open, with a better sound stage separation and low level resolution.
I would not even consider either of these choices in loudspeakers. If you want musical truth, check out Thiel loudspeakers CS 2.7 or CS 3.7 models. Regarding their price-point nothing else comes close. One caveat, you will need a very high current power amp for Thiel(s) as they thrive on high power- the more, the better your listening experience! Keep me posted.
Funny about speaker opinions, everyone has different ideas of what is best. :o)
I "just" came off a pair of Thiel 2.7's and got a pair of Revel F52's and both are fantastic. When I had the 2.7's I just had to have the 3.7's which did not work out, but now that I have the Revels, I no longer lust after the Thiels. The Revels are just as sweet & detailed as the Thiels but have more weight & authority overall. There is just "something" about the Revel sound.
Both are excellent choices!
Have not heard Aerials in years but remember liking them at the salon.
I personally think that speakers make the biggest difference, but if your happy then go for electronics. To answer your question, I did not compare them in the same room but similar systems. My friend owned the Studio2's and I owned the F208's. To be honest thought I bought magnepan 3.7's after I sold the revels and I love them, in my system they have more bass than the F208's had etc. I was pretty disappointed in the 208's. After hearing the Magnepans in my system my buddy with the Studio2's actually sold them and bought 3.7's. He says that they are better than the studio's were to him. Associated equipment in both systems are pass labs amps, esoteric SACD players, and tube preamps.
the post by Harri009 is proof that what we hear and like is totally personal preference, and emphasizes why you have to listen for yourself, and buy what you like the sound of, instead of taking a review or someone elses opinion over your own ears and room. if it sounds better to you, who cares what anyone else thinks. I listen to maggies all day long at work, while I respect what they do well, I would take revels any day hands down, they seem more like live music to me, so thats what I own. I will say however, look into a better source, it will bring the best out of whatever speaker you like.
I've heard the Magnepans and I prefer dynamic loudspeakers.
I understand completely what you are saying and I often say,"there are no absolutes, just preferences!" That being the case, I still like having the conversation. I always let my ears and wallet determine what I purchased. I started this thread in hopes of getting a sense of the best way forward. Studio 2s or Aerial 7s; stay with the F208s and improve the source/electronics? My goal is more detail/clarity. My priorities have always been soundstaging and imaging. I submit the F208s do both very well.
I agree guys, that's part of why I said if you are happy with them you should go for electronics though. I went through about 5 different pairs of dynamic speakers when I moved away from the 3.6's before ending up back at the 3.7's. If you like the speakers you have you should get them sounding their best and then perhaps in the future move speakers
"I started this thread in hopes of getting a sense of the best way forward. Studio 2s or Aerial 7s; stay with the F208s and improve the source/electronics? My goal is more detail/clarity. My priorities have always been soundstaging and imaging."
If that's your goal, I would suggest that you seriously consider upgrading something else other than your speakers. Both Revel and Aerial get imaging and clarity right. In order to do that, though, the rest of the system has to be up to the task. Electronics are every bit as important as the speakers when it comes to those two qualities. Looking at the rest of your system, I would get either a new preamp or CD player first. There's nothing wrong with either of them, its just that they fall short of your stated goal for upgrading. It doesn't really matter what kind of speakers you have. If the rest of your system can't take advantage of what the speakers can do, you won't hear them at their true potential.