Something wrong with the Studio 100 v.2?

Through many listening secessions over the last 5 months, I've tried very hard to love the Paradigm Reference Studio 100 v.2. But the sound I heard did not align with much of the articulate and glowing praise found here on Audiogon. Nonetheless, I was determined to buy a used pair here on Audiogon, but couldn't find a realistic deal (shipping is usually a killer). You may be wondering why would I buy 100’s if the sound were unsatisfactory? Simply, I'm unwilling to spend the money required to buy a full-range speaker like the Natilus 804 or Proac 2.5, both of which I've listened to extensively and like very much. Also, I have a 6-month-old daughter and don't want to be paranoid about her banging into $3500-$4500 speakers when she begins to walk about.

So I went back to the dealer yesterday determined to buy a new pair of 100 v.2. But after listening to a variety of material for about an hour, I was again disappointed. What I heard was booming, bloated, poorly controlled bass and a compressed sound stage (front-to-back). And after about 45 minutes, serious listener fatigue crept in as well!

Here's my question: Is something wrong with my dealer's setup? If not, am I being totally unrealistic in my expectations of the 100's? What am I missing here? Are my ears broken? Help!

Here's the dealer's current setup: Denon DVD-3800 (also used Sony 9000ES), Anthem AVM 20 v2.08, Anthem MCA 50, Audioquest Coral or Anaconda (couldn't quite see), unknown speaker cables.
Wussup wit'ya man?
If you don't like it do not try to compell yourself to like it... Is that what's happenin?

If you like Proac 2.5 or Nautilus 804, don't get paranoid and freaked out about your small kid since they understand parents' efforts to teach them if such will be applied with love and patience.

Grill covers on the speakers will much less attract babies' attention when babies left in the listening room without your or someone's attention.
The 100s take a lot of power to sound good, and in your dealer's set up the amp should have enough juice for them. I also think the pre amp is a fine one, and wire is satisfatory. Therefore I only have 3 conclusions: 1) the room set up is poor 2) the pre/pro is not configured for the room/speakers 3) you do not like the sound of the 100s. Only suggestions I can offer are ask the dealer to calibrate the pre/pro or take a pair home and try them in your own surroundings which is really the only way to tell if gear will work for you.

Good luck.
I guess speakers are largely a matter of taste. I listened to the 100's and felt the same way as you. I didn't buy them. Instead I bought a pair of Alon Capris which I love more every day.
I recommend you take a listen to the psb Stratus Goldi loudspeakers. IMHO they were more balanced and musical sounding than the 100 v2s. You may like these.

Good luck.

Thanks so much for all the thoughtful feedback so far.

Good suggestion to take a pair home, as it’s really the only way to have an "accurate" test. Would have to also borrow an appropriate amp since my current one certainly would not do justice to the 100's.

Thanks for the confirmation on your listening tests. Maybe my ears aren't broken after all?

Hmmm.. I think you may be right. I'm trying to force myself into a speaker that doesn't match my tastes (good, bad or otherwise!) but seemed to offer a lot of sound for the money. Good points on training my Daughter that Daddy's speakers are not jungle gyms. Just don't want to have a home where the kiddo's are paranoid-don't sit there, don't touch that! That’s no fun for anyone! =:o

Not familiar with he PSB speakers and I don't know of a dealer in the Portland, OR area. I'll look around to see if any are available for demo. Thanks for the tip!


Horn should also demo Monitor Audio speakers. I have heard very good things about them. Pretty wide price range as well.
No bloated bass with mine driven by Bryston 7B STs. In fact, if one thing struck me when I got these speakers it was how low and quick the bass is. They did sound unremarkable with my previous amps, especially when I got a tube line stage. Once I teamed the AR line stage with the Bryston 7B STs the sound became quite good to my ears, with the bass being about as good as I ever heard, this side of systems with powered woofers like Vandy Fives or Infinity Prelude MTS. One thing I do find is that the 100v2s require a good volume to come alive, unlike some of the small monitors. The one thing that 100v2s may lack, somewhat, is a degree of airiness found in some other box speakers, that, normally, lack any deep bass. To get both the airiness and deep bass a substantial amount of money (read way way more than the what the Paradigms cost) is required. I know that Vandy fives up here have a suggested retail price of $18,000 CDN, while the Studio 100 V2s are in the neighbourhood of $3,5000 CDN, with a street price, including sales taxes of 15%, leaving you some change from $3000.

Insofar as imaging, set-up and the room itself (proper size and proper acoustics are of paramount importance. BTW speakers in this price range (and well up from it, I might add) are always a compromise.

As another excellent speaker, Canadian made also, with a great price/performance ratio, I would suggest the Energy Veritas which, for what it's worth was well received by TAS. For openness and bass that is nowhere near bloated you should audition the Magneplanar 3.6R, which does requires a powerful amp though.
For the money....the $1500 Quad 21L simply embarrases the majority of floorstanders I have heard...and in the great Quad tradition...very transparent, open, and unreal 3-d imaging...with tight, musical bass...a must audition...
Give a listen to the Sonus Faber Grand Piano Home and Revel
F-30's. Those are in a higher price bracket than the Paradigm 100's, but if you take advantage of some of the
deals I've seen here on Audiogon, you can get a set of
Sonus Fabers or F-30's for a similar price to what you'd
pay for new Paradigm 100's retail. The Sonus Fabers are
a really enjoyable speaker, non-fatiguing -- I recommend that you find a pair and give a listen.

The Paradigm 100's with the Anthem gear is also a nice set-
up, I'm going to guess that it is a room problem, or the
dealer hasn't run his gear long enough to "burn" them in,
or else it is just a taste issue -- we all have different
ideas about how bass should sound, one person's detailed
high end is another person's sonic nightmare, etc.

But, there are alternatives to the Paradigms that have
also received great reviews, are considered great bangs
for the buck, don't feel compelled to force a square
Paradigm into your round ear-hole.
I can't say that i listened to these speakers under ideal conditions, but i found them to sound somewhat "jumbled" and less than articulate. By "jumbled", it was as if all of the notes being played were dumped into the speaker box, mixed up and then spit out in clumps. There was no real separation of notes or instruments, imaging was lacking and i recall a lack of "crispness" and "air" to the overall presentation. I listened to the Paradigm's at the same time i heard several different JM Labs products. While the JM Labs were far more articulate sounding, all three models that i listened to had a very "woody" or "resonant box" quality that made female vocals sound completely wrong.

Other than that, my impressions of the Studio 100v.2 were that it would work best for rock music at high levels. In order to hit those high levels and do it reasonably well, i think that you would have to have a very sizable amount of power. If this does not sound like something that will interest you, then you should probably move on. From what you've already told us, i think that you already know this deep down inside but just don't know where else to turn. Here's one hint though: trust your ears and your gut instinct. Both are trying to tell you something that you don't want to ignore. Sean

PS What kind of music do you like, what gear are you using, etc ????
You might want to listen to Vandersteen 1 series or 2 series in your price range. Very natural sound with good imaging, no sizzle. Great company, too.
These speakers require more amplifier than than they are usually demo'd with. I started out w/ an Anthem MCA 20 and experienced pretty much what you described. When I switched to a Classe CA 200 everything fell into place.
i felt the same way about the 100's. i ended up buying the reference 80's and couldn't be happier with them. I prefer their bass to the 100's. Plus they're cheaper than the 100's. check them out, your dealer should have them.
Funny...I like the 9s better than the 11s 7 years ago when I first bought Paradigm. Prefer the better mids now a days with the 100s and a hybrid amp and tube pre.
Great feedback and suggestions. Thank you very much. Went back to the B&W dealer to listen to the CDM9NT's and ended up listening the the Nautilus 804's again as well. All I could do was tap my foot and keep smiling as I listened to the 804's for nearly an hour. No fatigue and it just sounded like music. Dealer had a demo pair on sale and I took them home. Guess I just had to step up to the plate and get the speakers that sounded "right" to me. Now it's time for the amplfier.


Glad you found something that you liked but didn't you end up spending more than planned ? Sean
Good luck educating your baby daughter!:-)

Sure did end up spending more than planned, but that was the price of admission to satisfy my ears. Just had to reconcile that fact with my wallet ;-)


I think it's a matter of taste. When I auditioned 100s, I thought it was too harsh for my taste. Don't believe the hype!You have your own taste! Buy the one that satisfies you only.
Many of you seem to forget about synergy. Not any speaker goes with any amp/pre. You have to search for a balance which takes effort sometimes. Personally I find my Paradigm 100.2s to sound best with McIntosh - one of the smoothest sounds I have heard in any system. However, they were harsh with my previous Krells so be careful when you make generalizations based on a single audition.
THE BETTER THE ELECTRONICS, THE BETTER THR PARADIGM 100 V.2'S SOUND.If you aren't using top-notch front-ends, preamps, amps, and cables with these speakers you are cheating yourself.You will never realize their full potential.
I'll add my 2¢ and agree with my fellow posters who mention the better upstream electronics. I also had a problem with bass boominess that was cured with positioning. Stage depth is actually very good with mine, no disappointment there. I currently have an MCA 20 and will upgrade it down the road as did Bld63. Because of the power requirements of these speakers you will need a top notch amp and pre. Cabling very important as well. I think the MCA line of amps from Anthem are a little boomy to begin with because they are designed for home theater and everyone does seem to like their explosions and such. Still, not too bad an amp especially with the right speakers. I did audition the 100's against the CDM9NT's and preferred the 100's overall but the 9NT's had better treble owing to their superior tweeter.