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Paradigm vs. B&W vs. Polk


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20 replies to this topic

#1 of 21 OFFLINE   John Werner

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Posted April 16 2003 - 07:23 AM

I am currently looking to get a
Paradigm Monitor 9 or 11 based system
or a B&W 600 series setup (prob 603/604s)...
possibly some polk LSi9 as well, but I haven't
auditioned yet.

Anyone have any recommendations, drawbacks, points for making my choice?

Thanks all,
John

#2 of 21 OFFLINE   Scott Falkler

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Posted April 16 2003 - 08:00 AM

My local dealer made the points while I was looking at the Monitor 9's and 11's that I might as well go up to the Reference line (Studio 60's or 80's).
Instead of the 9's or 11's, I got the 60's.

#3 of 21 OFFLINE   Ron_L

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Posted April 16 2003 - 10:42 AM

In canada the price difference between the 60's and the 11's were like $100-$150.

#4 of 21 OFFLINE   Nathan J

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Posted April 16 2003 - 06:14 PM

Well, I like the B&W's better than the Paradigms. I think that Paradigms are a great speaker and they sound fantastic, but I just liked the sound of the B&W's a little better. The Paradigms or more neutral than the B&W's, and the tweeter is a little more laid back. The B&W's have an incredible midrange and tweeter. The mid and tweet blend so well together....they sound slightly "thick" or "fat" but the treble is very well defined. I thought that Diana Krall sounded amazing on the 603's...There is just something about the presence of the B&W's....

I would still go out and listen to them yourself though....no matter what people here tell ya, you might think differently once you hear them. If it was me though, I would get the B&W's.

I am currently in the process of trying to decide what speakers to buy...so far, B&W is my favorite, but I am going to go audition some Onix Rockets here in a week or two. Although, from what people have told me, the rockets are very laid back compared to the B&W's.

Another thing that I heard was that the Vifa tweeter used in the Rockets has terrible off-axis response....like -10db when listening off axis. If this is the case, they might not be the speakers for me. I love distinct, detailed treble, and I am not always sitting directly in the "sweet spot."

A side note to John...the Polk LSi uses the same Vifa "ring radiator" tweeter that the Rockets use. (Vifa XT-25)
SoLoItHz

#5 of 21 OFFLINE   JauCheeze

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Posted April 16 2003 - 08:38 PM

I was choosing btwn the B&W 602s3 and LSi 9's a few weeks ago. I listened to the B&W's w/ a denon 3803, and it had a really "in your lap" type of sound. The midrange out of these speakers is just amazing. But in the end i went w/ the Polks only because of the price(~$450 total); which was almost a $200 difference when compared B&W's. I like the sound from the LSi's, but its a totally different type of sound w/ compared to the B&W's. If price didn't matter to me, I probably would have went w/ the B&W's.

Just audition the three, and see which ones your ears like best Posted Image

#6 of 21 OFFLINE   shanlei

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Posted April 17 2003 - 03:59 AM

Want some other choices ?

http://www.gotapex.c....threadid=59058
Lei

#7 of 21 OFFLINE   DerrickW

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Posted April 17 2003 - 10:21 AM

I auditioned both the B&W and the Polk LSi quite a bit in the last few months. I do like the 600 B&W since they are so easy to listen to, but I don't think they hold a candle to the LSi as far as "audiophile" goes. The 600 just aren't very detailed in the high-frequencies. The B&W CDM and 800's are much better with high frequencies, but that isn't the comparison here.

I must admit, the LSi9 wasn't my favorite. I like the LSi15 much better, but if you are using a good subwoofer the point is rather mute. The LSi speakers have good detail, yet are not fatiguing at all. I would consider the B&W 800's to have a much more revealing top end, but at a cost on some sources (ie some of my music sounds horrible with it, and there is constant static). The 600 really lose out here; even my musically-challenged fiancee said "whoa, the Polk voices sound so much more real than the B&W."

For off-axis listening, the 600 is very forgiving, but the LSi isn't bad. The 800 and CDM were much harder to position.

Overall, I think that you owe it to yourself to listen to both the B&W and the LSi in a well-setup audition. It isn't too helpful to read "well, I heard that this...". Go listen yourself.

#8 of 21 OFFLINE   Jamey F

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Posted April 17 2003 - 12:48 PM

If you go Paradigm, definately look into the Studio 60. I agree with Scott there (and his dealer). I don't think the monitor line is nearly the speaker that the studio line is.

I liked B&W also, but I found them opposite from Nathan. I'm sure he heard what he heard, but I thought the midrange and highs were cleaner in the Paradigm, while the B&W was smoother. Both were more forward sounding than many speakers. IMO, the B&W 600 series is better sounding than the Paradigm monitor series (except the bookshelf size...601 vs. mini-monitor), and I think the studio line is considerable better sounding than the B&W. With that said, if I would have gotten in on a deal from Amazon ~3 years back on B&W 604's, I wouldn't be upgrading to Paradigm studios now.

I haven't listened to the Polk LSi.

#9 of 21 OFFLINE   Greg_R

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Posted April 17 2003 - 01:20 PM

Quote:
My local dealer made the points while I was looking at the Monitor 9's and 11's that I might as well go up to the Reference line (Studio 60's or 80's).
I agree... the Studios are significantly better for little cost increase (over the 11s). I ended up preferring the 40s and 20s over the floorstanding models, YMMV.

#10 of 21 OFFLINE   Geoff H

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Posted April 17 2003 - 03:05 PM

John, What will you be driving the speakers with?

#11 of 21 OFFLINE   Nathan J

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Posted April 17 2003 - 05:15 PM

So, I am wondering....what do most of you think about the Studios compared to the B&W 600 series? Like say, the 20's to the 602's?
Or the 60's compared to the 603's?


I have not yet had a chance to hear the Studio series.....what differs from the monitor line to the studio line? Whats the difference in the sound?


Thanks
SoLoItHz

#12 of 21 OFFLINE   DerrickW

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Posted April 17 2003 - 05:34 PM

John, What will you be driving the speakers with?


Oh, forgot about that. The LSi are tougher to drive than the others I believe. The LSi are a 4ohm load and rather inefficient. I drove them with an HK525 during one audition, and they were still good. But they might benefit more from a separate amp.

#13 of 21 OFFLINE   Walt Park

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Posted April 18 2003 - 02:48 AM

I have listened to all of the ones listed in the original question, and personally liked the LSi9's, which is what I have in my HT, which is being driven by the not so powerful onkyo 600 (maybe 35 w honest)and gets loud enough for me. (12X12X9 room)

As for efficiency:
LSi9's 4 ohm/88 dB
603 8 ohm/90 dB
monitor 9's 8ohm/91(94) dB

If you're amp/reciever can do a 4 ohm load, it's almost a wash, since you get more power when you hook up to the lower load. That's a significant if, but if you're looking at that kinda pricetag, we'll assume you have comparable electronics behind it that can do a 4 ohm load.

Anyway, you should concentrate on the quality of the sound coming out, not the quantity, unless you are using like.. low power tube amps. If you're going solid state, it's probably not an issue.

I dont find the off axis of the vifa on the lsi's to be problematic.

Really, in the end, I think you'd enjoy any of these, so just pick what sounds best to you.

#14 of 21 OFFLINE   Brent-T

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Posted April 18 2003 - 03:12 AM

I owned the paradigm studio 20's for about 2 years, and really enjoyed them, but recently sold them because of the upgrade bug. After auditioning a ton of speakers, floorstanders included, I kept coming back to the polk lsi9's. Our final two choices were the b&w 602s3 and the 9's, and after a two hour listening session where we threw everything at them (jazz, classical, rock, hip-hop, acoustical), the 9's came out the winner to our ears. Male voices and mid-range sounded fantastic on the b&w's, but the Vifa tweeter on the polks is what ended up carrying the day for us. As far as amplification, the polks were being pushed by an integra 7.2, and the b&w by krell sep's, so I think the polks would have sounded even better with some juice behind them. Having owned the paradigms, I think both the b&w's and lsi's will definitely be superior to the monitors you were looking at. Good luck deciding.

#15 of 21 OFFLINE   John Dunlap

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Posted April 18 2003 - 04:46 AM

John,

As others have said, you would do well to consider going up to the Paradigm Studio line rather than the Monitor line for your comparisons against B&W and Polk.

I will share with you what I was told by a large local dealer that sells Paradigm Reference, B&W and other high quality mid-fi brands. He told me that he typically recommends the Studio 60 over the comparably priced B&W's (600 series). But when you go up another price level, he typically recommends the B&W CDM line over the Studio 100's.

I cannot speak to the Polk LSi line as I have not heard it. But based on all the comments I have read on this forum, I wish that I had considered Polk when I was in the process of upgrading!

#16 of 21 OFFLINE   chung_sotheby

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Posted April 18 2003 - 06:57 AM

i think what is really key with the Polk line is the ring radiator tweeter, which is made by Vifa. This tweeter is supposedly amazing, with a silky smooth sound and the ability to be crossed over really low. I have heard the 602's and the LSI9's, and I really preferred the Polks (not as "cold/neutral" sounding as the B&W's). I think that if you were looking for detail and crisp highs, go for the Paradigm Studios. If you are looking for neutrality, go for the B&W's. IF you are looking for a warm and lush sound, go with the Polks. You might also consider looking at Rockets and/or Norhs? They are also within this price point (around $600-800, I am guessing).

#17 of 21 OFFLINE   Nathan J

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Posted April 18 2003 - 08:12 AM

Hah..its amazing that one person thinks of the B&w's as warm and thick, with a very detailed tweeter, while another thinks of them as "cold and neutral".

It just goes to show you how everyones tastes differ so much,....you really DO have to listen to speakers to make a decision. There is no way that you could make up your mind on a set of speakers, just by reading other people's reviews. Posted Image (I still like reading reviews though)
SoLoItHz

#18 of 21 OFFLINE   paulBAW

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Posted April 18 2003 - 08:38 AM

I'm having the same problem. I can get both the Polk Audio LSi 9's at about 60% off, and The Paradigm Studios for about 40%-60% off. It's taken me about 2months of searching for the right contacts but its paid off.

My problem is that when I listened to the Polk AudioLSi9's it was through a very mid level system. The AV receiver was an ES sony AV/receiver. The performance would probably be worse then my current NAD intergrated. The cd player was actually a very weak Sony SACD/DVD player. Again not as good as my dedicated Sony SACD player. The interconnects were very very poor.

When I listened to the Paradigms they were at a higher end store hooked up to a Bryston (the amp I eventually want to get) in a room that was dampened, carpeted and setup right. The cds were playing through an Elite45 or 47 DVD player. SACD was present with bass management. My Uncle heard the Studio 40's in Calgary with an all Creek setup. He was very very impressed. He couldn't believe the 40's didn't stand out as the weakest link. He's usually owned and Auditioned speakers 3 times their price. Totem's and Mirage M3's. At any rate, my question is, where the heck can I hear these Polk Audios in Canada on a decent setup?

#19 of 21 OFFLINE   DerrickW

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Posted April 18 2003 - 09:01 AM

Quote:
my question is, where the heck can I hear these Polk Audios in Canada on a decent setup?


In your home? At these prices you aren't risking too much, and hopefully you can send them back or sell them if you prefer the digms in your home instead (which I'm guessing you can borrow from local stores).

The digm setup your heard sounds very nice, probably nicer than your home setup? That is probably as unhelpful to you as the bad LSi audition. My auditions were very similar to yours, with the B&W store having very high quality gear and setup, and the LSi store being nearly as bad as Best Buy.

Good luck.

#20 of 21 OFFLINE   John Dunlap

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Posted April 18 2003 - 11:41 AM

Part of the reason I didn't audition the Polks was that their dealer network is so sparse (at least where I live)that I really had very few places where I could go to hear them. I know that they want their LSi line to be somewhat exclusive but sheesh! I'm starting to wonder if they really exist!





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