Still pondering Paradigms

The selection of speakers to audition is limited in my area. However, with a budget of $1,600.00, I can't afford the majority of the really good higher-end speakers out there. There is a Paradigm dealer here, and I must say, that I was impressed with the Studio 40's. At least I think I was!!

My dilemma is that I need to replace my ML Sequel II's (wife says there too big) and I've been very happy with their sound. I don't want to give up too much of what the ML's offer - clear, transparent upper and mid-range frequency. At the same time, I would like to find something with some good tight lower end. All this must be accomplished with $1,600.00 and fit into a very small room (12 x 14).

I thought I actually heard some darn good low end coming from the Paradigm Studio 40's (surprising for a bookshelf). And, they were very quick and didn't appear to sound harsh in the uppers. Can this be?

Would this speaker actually be a reasonable replacement for the Sequel II's?? Keep in mind; I wouldn't be getting rid of the Sequels if my wife weren’t making me shrink my sound room (for a kids room).

Okay, here's the bottom line: Is Paradigm the real deal? Are the 40's as good as what I've been reading? Can I find something better for the money? Are there any happy and satisfied Paradigm Studio 40 owners out there? Any persons out there familiar with the ML Sequel II’s and the performance of the Paradigms??

Note: My buddy, who's a B&W dealer, (I can't afford the 704's) says the Paradigms pretty much suck in comparison to the ML Sequel II's (I bought the ML's from him). But, that's not what my ears are telling me.
For $1600, it's going to be tough to find any speaker that will compete with the ML Sequel II, and this will be particularly true if you are going to replace them with a "bookshelf" sized speaker. In your price range, I would normally recommend the Vandersteen 2Ce Signature, but your listening room is a tad small, particularly since the Vandy 2Ce needs some room between itself and the rear wall to "breath". However, if you can borrow a pair, I think you should audition them before buying something else.

In your general price range, the other choice would be the Magneplanar 1.6's, but they will have the same drawback in a small room as the ML Sequel's.
ML Aerius i's, with a small sub should work in that budget and room.

Studio 40s are nice (I had some 20s for a while) but totally
different speaker.

Generally yes, the ML's are better sounding, indeed.
I owned the Studio 40s for a year, nice speakers, I bought them used for $750. I moved to a pair of B&W N805, which I felt were superior to the 40s in every way (double the cost). I then moved on to a pair of Totem Forest, nice, but not necessarily much better. My last move has been with a pair of GMA Europas, by far the best speaker in my progression. Imaging, bass, soundstage, neutrality all better. Used with nice stands, you are around $8-$900. They work for me, please audition them (I did in my living room vs. the Forests), they may work for you. I have no experience with the MLs. Good luck.
I appreciate the responses. I'd like to audition the GMA Europas. But, I live in Des Moines, IA. Where the heck am I going to get to see a pair!? Do they actually have good bass response? are you using a sub with your GMA's?

When I went searching for a mid-priced HT setup, I heard the 40s and thought they sounded pretty good for what they were. The more competition I listened to, the worse in comparison the Paradigms fared.
Most important to know: what amp are you using,and are you planning to keep it?
Other things I think would give you the refinement you're seeking, w/o too much floor space:
Merlin TSM-M(used $1400-1600)
Totem Hawks (used around $1600)
Meadowlark Kestrel 2 (msrp $2k new)
Assuming you've got an appropriate amp, IMHO, these would all beat the 40s and in some parameters the MLs, too.
Cheers, Spencer
Ummmm, as I told the last 'Goner who wondered about how a certain speaker sounds: get a pair from the dealer and take 'em home and see what they sound like in your listening environment. Anything else is mere supposition and speculation...

2chnlben: You're right, I just checked their dealer list, they don't have a dealer in IA. You're in a tough spot. I would have never have bought them if I didn't hear them in my living room. Are there better speakers for comperable cost, sure, many Gonners have suggestons, I'm just trying to help you with my opinion based on experience with both Paradigms and Europas. You could always p/u a used pair and re-sell if you are unhappy. Regarding their bass, it's all relative, if I told you the bass was good what would that mean? For full range sound you'll need a sub. I'm content at this point to enjoy sweet vocals w/o a sub. Let us know what you decide.
Sometimes supposition and speculation is all that you can get...Even in the fairly mid-sized city I live in, there is only one real audio dealer...I have to count on reviews and word of mouth, which I do when I buy anything from audiogoners...
How about takening a look at the Eminent Tech LFT-VIIIA. I've owned several Paradigm models and spent hours with different models.They are good speakers.But it will not give you the speed,clarity,and neutrality that you have become accustom too from the E-stat. The Eminents are only 13 inches wide. They will work in that room and you won't be going backwards in sound.Your dealer/friend is right on point!
If you decide to buy the Paradigms after the MLs. I doubt you will own them more than a month before they show up on Agon.

I've also owned the Europas. A terrific monitor but it's like comparing apples to oranges against the Eminents.
The Eminents are just alot more speaker.

Good Luck!

Or, you could be like me, buy a used pair sight unseen/unheard on Audiogon and if you don't like 'em, sell 'em and try something else.

A lot of us on A'GoN take that approach because if you buy used you stand to lose very little and you get to "live" with them for as long as you'd like.

It's sometimes difficult to get a good feel for a component without spending more than a weekend or a week with it.

Do the research and listen to what your audio brethren have to offer.

Have fun!
2chnlben. I have to concurr with Gunbei's advice. Replacing a highly resolving stat like your ML's will be a trying experience. Yeah, the paradigm's are a very good speaker for the money,do a lot of things very well, however...they are not at the level of the Martin Logan. Most of the recommendations are very good indeed. The good thing here is that your your room is small and should work well with a top quality stand mounted monitor or many floorstanders with a small footprint. On the used market, The proac reponse 2 or 2's are a cut above everything recommended. [I have never heard the Europas] The bass region is truly remarkable with great pitch and resolution, flat down to the low 40 cycles per second. They completely disappear in your room and have a very silky [stat like] treble region.Their most endearing quality is their beautiful midband.They posses another estat like trait in that they can float the sound of an instrument or voice on what seems like it's own cushion of air. They will also work well with just about any decent amplifier due to a rather benign 8ohm imdedence and will reward you even more with a high quality amplifier[they love tubes] They do need a good stand though.Best of luck!
The Proac 2 is a good suggestion for a small room. I have a pair and like them. The 2 is front ported, while the 2s is rear ported. Something to bear in mind if you need to locate them near a rear wall.

Good luck in your search.
My experience has been with studio 20/v-2 and boy do I like these speakers. Previously owned B&W DM-1200 and CM-1's ( I don't change speakers very often.) Very revealing - excellent bass linearity (40's should be even better) - I would be very carefull about using the 40's in a bookshelf however. I believe the 40's are like the 20's and have their bass port on the back of the cabnet. Ran my 20's for about 4 months in my fineline equipment cabnets - probably the best improvement I've made in a system was taking the oportunity ( while the love of my life was 7 states away) - to build some gravel damped and spiked stands and get the the speakers out into the room - not suffering from near field reflections and cabnet resonaces caused by placing them inside another cabnet. I spent 25 years in the audio bizz and can honestly say that what really drove me nuts - was selling people good speakers and then having domestic constraints ;aka wife - require some sort of bizarre placement option.
Man - you're going from ML to something a lot smaller- this should have a very good WAF ( Wife Acceptance Factor) - negotiate now for proper placement and stands - hell she put up with ML - bookshelves on stands should be a easy sell.
Eminent tech - I'll have to see if those are available around here. I do have access to the Proac's - seems like a lot of $ to spend (new) - I may have to check out used.
Thanks to all who responded.
IF it were my house I would just tell my wife thats tough! And since IM getting ANOTHER pair of speakers I think I would get the Soundlab U1 and her and the kid could just ....... wait, yes dear, Ill be right there.


try some small horn speakers that you listen to first
Ahh, yes, the direct approach. I have been through one divorce and don't wish to go there again!! To put it in perspective, I lost a dedicated sound room, a really good one, (along with the house) in that divorce. Now, I just need to replace a pair of eleven-year-old speakers. Those old ML's really do sound good though. I can't believe that, with all the advances in speaker technology the past decade, I can't find some smaller speakers in the $1,600 range that will perform as well. Any more input out there?
How about trying the Totem Rainmaker? They are only $900 (additional money for good standsor premium veneers). That is well within your budget. The amount of bass these speakers puts out is absolutely amazing. Especially for their size. My dealer sells primarily Maggies and Totems. I was told the totems have a high WAF due to their size and good looks.

I have currently have Paradigm Studio 60v2s in a 11 x12 room (french door on one side, door on other) and I will probably eventually change them. I was originally thinking of the Totem Hawks, but the Rainmakers may suit may needs and are actually less.
thanks for the input. I'm glad you responded since you currently have the 60's. I was thinking about getting them, but something keeps telling me to keep looking. I've never heard the Totem's, but would like to. What's their web address? So, you think the Totem's sound better than your 60's?
The totems on the whole are a more refined speaker than the paradigms. They are more expensive though. The cabinets and the internal wiring are higher quality. The Paradigm Studio version 2 series no longer have an option of wood veneer cabinets if that matters to you and your wife.

Don't get me wrong, I can live with the sound of the Paradigms, they are musical and they certainly are less fussy about amplification than mostspeakers. To me the Studio line is "the low end of the high end." Since you are driving ML speakers you must have pretty good amplification.

Totem only uses wood veneer on their speakers and uses better crossovers. Their website is To my ears, they have an extra level of refinement to them. The website should be able to direct you to a dealer. If you don't have one nearby, I have heard that Galen Carol in TX will ship demos out to mail order clients if there is no dealer in your area.
The Totems also sound very different from each other. In my experience the Arro sounded okay, but the Hawk blew it away for not too much more $$$.
I agree w/Upstateaudio; the paradigms are good for what they are, but IMHO they won't satisfy most w/high end aspirations in the long run. They are more of a HT, short listening session "sizzle" kind of speaker.
If you want to buy them, I dare you to try listening at the store for 90 minutes straight, uninterrupted with your favorite music. No sales-dude-chit-chat at every track's end. Bet you can't sit there for 90 minutes. That says it all. This is a good test for any gear. Fatigue kills! Cheers, Spencer
It's certainly your call on speaker choice, but as an owner of Paradigm Studio 40, Totem Forest and GMA Europa, my system & my ears identified the Europa as the better choice. Why not try them out for yourself? I know from posts above that you are in "Audio wasteland" and that auditions are tough, however, there are a pair of Mahagony Forests for sale here for a killer price, there are also a pair of Studio 40s on auction here for a killer price. Buy them both, check them out in your home and sell the pair that you like the least. There are even a pair of Europas here for a fair price that you could run against either of the aforementioned as well. Try them out (or any of the other recommended speaker from 'Gonners)and choose for yourself, it's the only real way to be confident you made the right choice. Sure you might be out the shipping costs, but your conciounce will be clear. Good luck with your decision.
The Totem web was limited - where are the dealers? How much are the Hawks? I don't think I'm going to be happy with any bookshelf. I'm accustom to more range. The Hawks are the right size. I bet they're pricey??
Email them or call them at Also you may want to contact them for a recommendation for your room size and musical tastes. The Hawks are above your budget at~$2400. The Staff is also an option but IMHO does not sound as good as the Hawks.

I have been amazed at how much bass can emanate from their small boxes.
I don't see how anyone can comment without any knowledge of the electronics your running. Paradigms are very good speakers, especially the 40 and 60 v3 in your price range. Trust your ears.
I've seen used Hawks here for around $1500, that's why I suggested them. They go quickly when offered.

Tonyp54, I thought a Chevy I drove had a pretty good ride, once upon a time. Then I got to drive a Honda, Toyota, B&W, etc. Chevy no more for me. Doesn't matter what kind of tires they put on that Chevy. It still couldn't beat many better alternatives.
Ben is in a tough spot; his love of his MLs proves that he is a somewhat discriminating listener. Hate to see him compromise because of "what's local". If he prefers the 40 or 60, that's another story. Cheers, Spencer
Great input/advice from all - a big thanks. I did think the studio 40's sounded good, but I think I need to look at floor standing speakers. My system is old, but I think it sounds good. I've mixed solid state with tubes and get a pretty decent sound out of the ML's. Here's what I have if it helps. Audio Research D-240 solid state amp; Musical Design SP-1 tube preamp; Audio Research DAC-2 D-A converter; Enlightened Audio T-7000 transport; Audioquest Lapis interconnects and Kimber Cable #8 biwired. I am a throwback from the 70's. My musical taste was very progressive for a while. I appreciate the way the Logans make vocals and acoustic instruments shine and they do a great job in the upper ranges. But, I still want to rock. At 43 I must be going through a mid-life or something. Because lately, I've been cranking what I listened to in high school! And, believe it or not, the ML's really do rock. Not a rock speaker, but they do a great job at high listening levels!
With that info on hand, what is my next step? Used floor standing....what? About 36 - 40 inches in height max (wife).
Oh, remember my room is small - 12 x 17. I'd like to hear the Totem Hawks - any warnings about Totem? I hear they no longer get their drivers from Dynaudio??
PS - I know, let my ears decide. Okay, but This is fun and informative getting input from all you sick audiophiles!

From what I understand, Totems can be placed close to rear and side walls. I've never owned them, but when I had the opportunity to hear them I was impressed.

It's funny, because I've been using ProAc 1SCs and Tablette 50 Signatures in a room smaller than yours and with a ton of junk scattered in it, but I've gotten great results. I just bought a pair of Response 2.5s last week which are 42" tall floorstanders, so they're 2" taller than your wife will allow. Even in my small room I think they're fantastic. As big as they are, they disappear better than the 1SCs!

I'm a couple years older than you, so maybe I'm going through a similar MLC, heheh.
Perhaps you should consider a box speaker which is also a planar speaker: the Oskar heil "Air-Motion Transformer" loudspeakers, which come in a small stand-mounted box and sound incredibly musical. Read the review at I heard them being driven by 3.5-watt single-ended amps, and they sounded fabulous. Not too far off your budget either.
Hard rockin' might not be the Totem's strong suit. Bass is tight, but doesn't go too low, give the small size of the drivers & cabinets. Gunbei is correct, they can be closer to walls than most others, and this helps the base. The other thing worth mentioning is that the somewhat goofy metal "beaks" make a huge difference.
Perhaps Thiel 2.2 or 2.3 would be good from the standpoint of small footprint, not too tall, and can rock. They do need some room though.
Tradeoffs everywhere, Ben.
Cheers, Spencer
Thank you again for all the great input. What I really need to do now is locate some dealers that distribute some of these "hard-to-find" speakers. I am in driving distance to Kansas City, Minneapolis, Omaha and Quad Cities (Iowa). Before I start searching the net, do any of you know of dealers in those areas that carry Totem, Thiel or anything other than B&W, ProAc & Paradigm (I can hear those here)?? What are your thoughts on PSB - another Canadian? Or, American made RBH? Wall placement is very important - I do need a speaker that will perform well closer to the rear wall (around 18 inches).
Also, I'm considering buying used from Agon - any feedback for me from satisfied or dissatisfied buyers???
P.S. I'm not a headbanger! When I say I like to rock, I mean I like my music loud. I want it to be clean, tight and cear though. I don't necessarily like real heavy bass -just realistic bass. I want to be able to turn up the volume and not worry about damaging the speakers (within reason).

Here are the web sites for the dealers in MN and around

Audio perfection - carries
Stereoland - carries
Hi-Fi Sound -
Sound video index -


Audio-video logic -


I found a dealer here in Iowa who distibutes Totem. he said he doesn't stock the Hawk, because the Staff is so close in sound and costs less. I read a bad review of the Staff. Any comments?
The staff is softer in approach and is meant to be used with less expensive amplification such as receivers or entry level separates.
You are a wizard Mr. Upstateaudio! Thanks again. The dealer said he doesn't stock the Hawk. You know, I'm not going to agree to buying something I haven't heard. But I wonder if he'd bring a pair in so I could audition them?? I guess I'll find out! The Staff is the same price as the Paradigm Studio 40's (with stands). In your opinion, how do the two compare?
Thanks again.
2chnnlben, I'm sorry I can't help you with your latest comparison. I have not heard the 2 head to head. Bear in mind though that Totems take a while to break in. IMHO, Paradigms don't sound too bad right out of the box.

What I suggest you do is to take your amp to the dealer and audition the Staff with it (if the dealer will allow it), if you are happy with the sound why not take it? It would certainly be money in your pocket.

Good luck and let us know your final decision.
please stop pondering or this thread will never end ;)
Robm321 please don't bother reading my threads unless you can contribute. With that said, I will end this thread. Thanks to all, even you Robm321!!
How do I know if I can contribute or not UNLESS I read the thread ;) Hopefully you aren't taking too seiously.

But now I am being serious. I did own the paradigm studio 100 (version 1) - A very very good speaker for the price. But I now have the Von Schweikert, and I'd have to say I've never heard anyone (that isn't a little funny it the head) who was dissapointed with them. From the bookshelves to the $100,000+ VS speaker that I am too poor to even mention (probably one of the few best speakers ever made he is a genious in speaker design.
I've heard the Staff & Hawk, side by side. The Hawk was shockingly better to me, for only a few bucks more. From the similar appearances, I didn't expect it. Never heard two "next in a line" speakers sound different. Cheers,
Thanks to both. No, Robm321, I'm not serious. We're all friends here! I appreciate your input. I'd love to audition the Von Schweikerts, but there are no dealers, that I'm aware of, in my area. I think they're probably too expensive. I'll have to check out their website. Now, I do feel guilty. I really have let this thread run on too long. I still haven't decided on a speaker, but I don't think I'll be buying the Paradigms.

Again, a very big thanks to all.
Ihave paradigm 40s- refernce v3s///

Good but i think over priced!!!---If you can save a little more get the ATC SCM 35s an excellent seaker for $2000.00. Also for less money do the Axiom 80Ts---also made in Canada as are the Paradigms Check out their web site---I think the Axioms are 1000/pair
the studio 40 is a good speaker...the GMA Europas is simply in a different league...much more like an electrostatic speaker in this regard...