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From Paradigm Studios to PSB Stratus, a lateral move?


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18 replies to this topic

#1 of 19 OFFLINE   John Sun

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Posted July 07 2004 - 07:43 AM

Hi, I've owned a pair of Paradigm Studio 40 v.2s (as well as a Studio CC and mini-monitors) as my mains for the past four years. While I enjoy their HT performance, I've never warmed up to their 2-channel stereo sound. I've played around with plenty of equipment, placement, etc to tame their brightness without much success. I've gone so far as to set up a second 2-channel dedicated setup around a pair of vintage Kef 104.2s (fantastic speakers), but keeping that system is no longer an option in our new home. I'm toying with the idea of using the Kefs as my mains and selling the Paradigms, but then I'd have to deal with mis-matched center and surrounds (even if I were go with contemporary Kefs). I've read good reviews of the PSB Stratus series and they seem to compare favorably with the Paradigms while being perhaps a warmer and more musical. I prefer floorstanders and am thinking about replacing the 40s (and the Kefs) with a pair of PSB Stratus Silveri's with matching center and surrounds. I've found that they can be had for around $1200 which is a fantastic deal. My only concern is if this would be considered a lateral move given PSB/Paradigms similar design philosophy and origins. Would I be better off going with, say, Von Schweikerts? My listening habits are 50/50 HT and Music. Your opinions would be greatly appreciated. TIA.

#2 of 19 OFFLINE   jeff.adams

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Posted July 07 2004 - 12:17 PM

I have a pair of PSB Stratus Silver (not the newer "i" model) in a second system. I personally like the sound of them better than any Paradigm Studio series speaker I've ever heard (although the Studio 100 v3 gives them a run, I still like the Stratus Silver better - compared to the 40, I think the Silver is _definitely_ better). Having said that, I do believe they are fairly equivalent overall. However, if you listen to the Stratus line and like them better than the Studio 40's, then to me that's an upgrade regardless of what anyone else says. Just my $0.02 :-)

#3 of 19 OFFLINE   James W. Johnson

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Posted July 07 2004 - 04:45 PM

A solid upgrade IMO, PSB Stratus line is hard to compete with ..Paradigm might seem like a logical competitor given the pricing and they might well be but IMO they are worlds apart in the sound department.

#4 of 19 OFFLINE   Bill Blank

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Posted July 08 2004 - 12:05 AM

I agree with you John that it's more of a lateral move. I lived with a full Vienna Acoustics setup for nearly 2 years (Mozarts/Maestro/Haydns) and felt that they just didn't get the "message" of my favorite albums (mostly rock) across, a bit too polite (which was welcome at times) and uninvolving. I needed to make a lateral move and looked to the Paradigm Reference Series because they had caught my ear (with their version 2) when I was auditioning speakers previously. I ended up getting 100/CC-470/20 all version 3. Some would call it a downgrade because they're not as pretty and cost a little less. I think the Paradigms compete directly with that Vienna setup, offering more bang-for-the-buck performance and a different "flavor" of sound. I've since swapped my Velodyne CT-120 for an SVS PC+2039 and I am much happier with the Paradigms. I've also decided to attack that often neglected factor of our hobby, the room. I've ordered treatments which I hope will arrive sometime next week. I hope this will take my system to the next level. I see you've experimented with placement and swapping equipment already as all of us do. Have you thought about treating your room? Bill Bill

#5 of 19 OFFLINE   Ray Tsui

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Posted July 08 2004 - 04:46 AM

Yah, definitely check out the PSB Stratus, a mellower sound overall. The PSB's tend to have very good definition in the midrange thus giving them a nice smooth overall sound.

#6 of 19 OFFLINE   John Sun

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Posted July 08 2004 - 04:48 AM

Thanks for the responses. My main problem with the Paradigms is their performance on decent to poor recordings (mainly rock). Seems only the best recordings agree with the tweeter and top end. Shrillness is an adjective that comes to mind when playing lesser material. From what I understand of PSBs in general is that they are more foregiving and versatile speaker that can handle some of these "hot" rock recordings. Would this be a fair assessment? Bill, room treatments are the one thing I have not tried, but having listened to the Paradigms now for an extended period of time in at least 4 separate rooms, I believe my issue is with the speakers themselves and not the room.

#7 of 19 OFFLINE   JeremyR

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Posted July 08 2004 - 06:28 AM

Some of us, myself included, would tend to believe that means the Paradigm's are doing a better job of recreating the sound on the recording. Tis true that generally better equipment is going to do a better job of exposing flaws in the source material.

#8 of 19 OFFLINE   John Sun

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Posted July 08 2004 - 06:58 AM

I thought the same, initially. To test this theory out, I compared them to some reference headphones (yes, unfair), the aforementioned Kefs (which are generally considered one of the all-time great designs), and a friend's Rega Elas. They all beat the Paradigms in terms of resolution and detail yet don't sound harsh on most recordings. Perhaps shrill or bright are the wrong adjectives. Basically, voices and instruments lack body and there's a certain nasality to recordings (with or without a sub). In addition, I've found that as I've gone up the quality ladder of associated equipment, these flaws have not changed/improved. We're talking decent stuff like Bryston, McCormack, Rotel, Jolida/Anthem tubes, etc. Maybe I'm just not a fan of aluminum dome tweeters. I know PSBs use the same, which led me to consider Von Schweikert or maybe even Spendor, Vandersteen, and Sonus Faber.

#9 of 19 OFFLINE   jeff.adams

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Posted July 08 2004 - 07:03 AM

As an owner of the early VR-4, they are a very easy to listen to speaker. I eventually sold them for Dunlavy SC-IV's, which in an A/B comparison, beat the VR-4 handily (mind you some of that is purely preference). However the VR-4 design has evolved a lot over the last 8 years, and I am actually looking at the VR4-Jr at this point (but haven't yet sat down and listened to them). I would still highly recommend an audition of the Stratus silvers though (see my previous post).

#10 of 19 OFFLINE   Bill Blank

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Posted July 08 2004 - 07:20 AM

Could've been all 4 rooms had problems. Not one was treated with audio reproduction as their primary intent. Just be sure you look at all possibilities before going through the hassle of swapping out speakers. Bill

#11 of 19 OFFLINE   John Sun

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Posted July 08 2004 - 08:03 AM

Bill, thanks for the reply. In a perfect world I would have an audio only room or at least a living room with treatments, but I have a wife. 'Nuff said. Posted Image Also, I should say that 3 out of the 4 rooms (and the 4th only because the Kefs are in storage) have seen/heard the Kefs shine.

And as for suffering through bad for the good, I think I've suffered enough. For instance, out of the dozen or so CDs I played over the last couple of days through the Paradigms maybe one shined. The rest were tolerable to downright annoying (not just rock but also jazz and r&b). In the end, I just want to enjoy my collection and not have to worry about having to pick and choose what to listen to based on how it sounds on my system.

Jeff, the Von Schweikerts are very tempting. The VR-4s jr are a bit of a stretch for my budget. VR-2s sound ideal but I might have to "settle" for VR-1s. They are definitely worth a listen along with the PSB Silvers. I also forgot to mention Meadowlark. They've been on my mind for a number of years.

#12 of 19 OFFLINE   Bill Blank

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Posted July 08 2004 - 08:28 AM



I've got one of those too...she recently emailed me that dreadful article by some yenta that claimed if your speakers were on the floor they were too big and to buy a Bose system! Luckily she's very understanding of my hobby and has given me 99% free reign of the room (basement) where my system resides. After all, she had 99% of the say for how the rest of the house was decoratedPosted Image

Anyhow, good luck in whatever you decide! May it bring you many happy hours of music listening!

Cheers!
Bill

#13 of 19 OFFLINE   Cary

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Posted July 08 2004 - 12:48 PM

Echoing several others here, if you find the Paradigms too bright, then you really need to audition the PSB Silvers. My recommendation would be Silvers with the C6 center and then your choice of Stratus Minis or Bronze or more Silver for the surrounds, depending on how much room and how big a room you have (and how important matched speakers for SACD and DVDA are to you). I've found the C6i to be a marked improvement over the C5, and it should give you a fairly seamless soundfield in front with the Silvers. The C6 isn't cheap, but I would scrimp with the rears if you need too rather than in front. You will probably also find that the PSBs don't have quite the imaging of the Paradigm. I believe half of this is real and half is a mistaken impression from the hightened treble. Also, the PSBs are relatively easy to power. In speakers your ears are still the final arbiter. There is literally no one perfect speaker across all listeners, although there are many objective qualities shared by most excellent speakers. You'll know what's right to you when you hear it. Let us know what you decide.

#14 of 19 OFFLINE   BrianWoerndle

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Posted July 08 2004 - 02:04 PM

John, through all of this you never said what other equipment that you are using. I have found the Paradigm's to be more picky with amp selection. I have a pair of 60 v.2s for my music room, and 20's v.2, CC, Minis, and Titans in my theater room. For awhile I drove everything with my Denon 3803. The 60s sounded nice, but lacked depth. When I upgraded to a pair of Marantz monoblock amps the 60s opened up. Ther was an added depth and warmth to the midrange. Also the low end filled in which help offset the bright tweeter and get a better overall blend. But in the end, always choose the speakers that make you happy. Just because I love the sound of my 60s does not mean that you have to like them.
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#15 of 19 OFFLINE   John Sun

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Posted July 08 2004 - 03:24 PM

I'm currently powering them with a Rotel RSX-1055, but as I mentioned over the last four years I've mated them with a Bryston 4B and McCormack DNA-1 to name a few amps I've tried out. If memory serves, the added power didn't seem to alleviate the problem(s).

#16 of 19 OFFLINE   jeff.adams

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Posted July 09 2004 - 04:08 AM

I know this is controversial, but I wouldn't put much stock in that notion that different amps are going to change anything for you (not saying it might not, but generally speaking, no). And, as your personal experience shows, that's the case. Your Rotel is fine. You really need to go listen to the Silvers (if possible). I'm actually considering switching my Silver's back into my main system, I like them that much. Someone who has measured a lot of speakers over a lot of years has measured the Stratus Mini's and they had the best measurement of any speaker he'd ever measured. So by all means, try to check them out.

#17 of 19 OFFLINE   RobWil

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Posted July 09 2004 - 05:06 AM

John, forgive me if you've mentioned this already, but you've mentioned amplification....what source are you using and have you considered this as a potential problem?
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#18 of 19 OFFLINE   John Sun

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Posted July 09 2004 - 07:00 AM

Rob, I have considered my source as a potential problem and have continually upgraded over the years - Cambridge Audio D500SE, Ah! Tjoeb '99, Sony SCD-C555ES, and now a Jolida JD-100. Based on reviews and my own experience, they are all well regarded and shouldn't be the limiting factor in my system. Again, thanks for all the comments and suggestions.

#19 of 19 OFFLINE   jeff.adams

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Posted July 09 2004 - 07:08 AM

Actually, I might be a little worried about the Jolida front end. I'm too lazy to look it up, but if it's got a tube stage, I _suppose_ (not necessarily, but it's possible) there could be some frequency response anomalies that may be an issue for you. If you have another source component you can try, you probably ought to. Of course, if you don't compare them using double blind time synced testing, the odds are your impressions will be completely subjective. Nothing wrong with subjective, but it wouldn't be good to base your decision on (i.e., a decision to change your source). On the other hand, if the Jolida did have a significant enough response anomaly, it wouldn't be necessary to employ the rigour of a DBT (i.e., DBTs are not required for large differences). Just my opinion of course :-)