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Paradigm vs B&W

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31 replies to this topic

#1 of 32 OFFLINE   Yohan Pamudji

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Posted November 20 2002 - 03:35 AM

I'm thinking about ditching my Paradigm Studio 80s and trying some B&Ws. I haven't had the chance to extensively audition any B&Ws although I've listened to some briefly, so I'm trying to get a feel from fellow HTFers about this. "Sound preference is subjective", "listen for yourself"... yes, I know these things Posted Image Just trying to see what y'all have to say for now; that's all.

If I offload my Paradigm Studio 80s I'd be in the market for some new floorstanding speakers from B&W. The ones in my price range are DM604 S3, CM 4, CDM 7NT, and one that would stretch my wallet to the limit is the CDM 9NT. What are your opinions on this? Would it be more of a lateral move than an upgrade going to the DM604 S3/CM 4 since the MSRP of these and the Studio 80s are roughly the same, or would it even be a downgrade? How about moving "up" to a CDM 7NT or CDM 9NT? It the tonal quality really that much different, and if it is different is it better?
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#2 of 32 OFFLINE   Eric Lipp

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Posted November 20 2002 - 04:03 AM

There is a HT store near my house that sells a lot of B&W products, so they have quite a few speakers set up to audition.
Personally, I hate B&W's. I can't really tell you why, I just do. I think maybe they sound too harsh for my liking? (This, of course, falls under your "subjective" statement earlier.)
Even the $16,000/pair B&W's just didn't do it for me. (They did have nice, tight bass, though)
For reference, I am running Paradigm Monitor 11 v.3 for my mains. Granted, they're only $1000/pair, but they sound very nice to me.
I will add, however, that the store sells quite a bit of B&W speakers, so people out there obviously like them. (Of course, Bose sells quite well, also Posted Image )


#3 of 32 OFFLINE   MWestyn


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Posted November 20 2002 - 04:27 AM

Wow, I've never heard someone say they "hate" B&W... Anyway, I love their sound. I have auditioned many other brands but never auditioned paradigm so I can't draw any comparisons. I will say go and listen to B&W some more, it's worth it. (I've got DM603 S3's as mains...but I'm looking to step up to the 604's)

#4 of 32 OFFLINE   Paul Chalk

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Posted November 20 2002 - 06:02 AM

Only your ears can make that decision. Personally I think you're better off with the B&W's. I've auditioned both using the same equipment. When I compared the Studio 20's and 40's with the 602's, I found the B&W's to be a bit better. Later I compare the 603's and the 60's. Again I found the B&W's to be superior. I haven't heard the 80's or 100's so I can't comment on them. But I have heard the CM2, CDM 1NT and the CDM 7NT and they were all significantly better than the 600 series. I find Paradigms to be rather 2D when it comes to soundstage. Their midrange seems a little muddy and I think their top end is too bright. But this is just my opinion.

#5 of 32 OFFLINE   henning hoffmann

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Posted November 20 2002 - 06:09 AM

I own both B&W and Paradigm speakers.

My wife liked the Paradigms better (Atoms) and I liked the B&W speakers better (305s). They're both good, but I found the B&W to be clearer sounding. But, of course, these are all low-end speakers.

My front 3 speakers are Linns. I like those the best. Posted Image (They replaced, coincidentally, Paradigm Studio/80s and an LCR450.) If you look long enough, you can find some good used speakers at a decent price. I couldn't afford what Linn 5140s and 5120s usually sold for (even used), so I had to be patient. But I finally got them!


#6 of 32 OFFLINE   BrianKR


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Posted November 20 2002 - 06:29 AM

I also have both Paradigm (Studio 100's, 40's, CC and Servo 15's) and B&W (Nautilus 803's,(had 804's but recently upgraded) 805's and HTM1).

Paul Chalk (IMHO) hit it dead on when he said:
"I find Paradigms to be rather 2D when it comes to soundstage. Their midrange seems a little muddy and I think their top end is too bright."

I enjoy my Paradigm Studios, especially for HT, and I am not looking to replace them anytime soon but IMHO B&W speakers and more accurate/detailed over Paradigm.

I personally find Paradigm to be a tad harsh on my ears and they have muddy midrange. I can listen to my Nautilus day and night with zero listening fatigue.

I originally was going to buy the CDM (9's 1's and Center) Line which I also liked more than the Studio's but I talked my wife into letting me go to the next level.
Posted Image

Of course the final decision is yours to make, but to me it's an absolute "no brainer" to go with B&W over Paradigm

#7 of 32 OFFLINE   Eric Lipp

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Posted November 20 2002 - 06:40 AM

See? Henning proved my point, since Women have better hearing than men (it's just too bad that they don't care as much about home theater). Actually, it's interesting what Paul said.
The midrange is what sold me on my Paradigm's (note: I bought the Monitor series, not the Studio series, although the Studio is their "high end" line) I also thought the high end was nice and crisp. During my comparison, I espedcially noticed how Orchestra music sounded like it was actually being played by an Orchestra, and not a 4 piece junior high school band. Also note: I did not compare the music a whole lot between the Paradigm and B&W's, this is really just my, "I'm really happy with my new Paradigm's" sermon. Another thing to consider is the matchup between your speakers and receiver/amp. Pretty much everyone (that I've talked to) agrees that certain makes of receivers/amps have their own distinctive sound. i.e, Yamaha tends to be a bit more forward, Denon might be a bit more laid back with a smoother midrange....Just making up examples, here, but you get the point. So, one more factor to add in to the mix. Good luck on whatever you get, ~Eric

#8 of 32 OFFLINE   Evan S

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Posted November 20 2002 - 06:52 AM

[quote] I also have both Paradigm (Studio 100's, 40's, CC and Servo 15's) and B&W (Nautilus 803's,(had 804's but recently upgraded) 805's and HTM1). [quote]

Brian, nice comparison, but not really appropriate. The original poster is comparing the Studio's to either the CDM's or the 600 series. Comparing them to the Nautilus line which is far more expensive and in another class entirely isn't warranted here.

searching for that elusive, "perfect" sound.

#9 of 32 OFFLINE   Yohan Pamudji

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Posted November 20 2002 - 07:36 AM

Yeah, the Nautilus series is way over my budget. That's why I'm inquiring about comparisons between Studio 80s and similarly priced B&Ws, CDM 9NT being the most I would spend. If it's gonna be a lateral move in sound quality as well as price, then it's just not worth it for me to lose money on selling the 80s. These are some good comments, keep them coming! FYI, I'm driving the Studio 80s with a Sherbourn 5/1500A 5-channel 200Wpc amp. This amp is very smooth yet dynamic and does a good job of reducing what I think is the 80s' brightness. It might also help in making suggestions to know that I consider the Studio 80s to be a bit bright, although I like the detail that they can produce. How are the B&Ws I mentioned in my original post as far as brightness goes? Also, I'm using a Marantz SR-7000 as a stop-gap pre-pro until they fix the problems with either the Outlaw 950 or the Rotel 1066.
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#10 of 32 OFFLINE   MWestyn


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Posted November 20 2002 - 07:42 AM

Marantz + B&W = Posted Image

#11 of 32 OFFLINE   BradJudy


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Posted November 20 2002 - 08:23 AM

I haven't heard the Paradigm Studio and B&W 600s side by side, but I wanted to throw in that I didn't like the 603/604 as much as the 602. I think it was that bass driver that made them sound a bit muddy. I did really like the 602 though. I haven't heard the CDM 7NT, but I would pick the CM 4 over the 604 from hearing the two of them.

#12 of 32 OFFLINE   JohnKings


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Posted November 20 2002 - 08:36 AM

Funny this topic should arise as I just recently auditioned the CDM9NTs. Background: First, I have Studio 60s and 20s and I love them! They are dynamic yet articulate speakers that do everything well (notice I am not saying perfectly). Second, I have now listened extensively to the CDM9NTs in the confines of a dealership. Third, the speakers were being driven by electronics far superior to my own. My Analysis: I think that I am predisposed towards more lively sounding speakers, because on all fronts I found the B&W's to be too polite. When people say they are laid back speakers, they are not kidding. Much of the music I listen to varies widely in dynamic range and I did not find the B&Ws having the necessary impact. Simply put - they were flat. I will say that they were slightly more detailed than the Paradigm's, but that at the cost of what I would refer to as anemic bass. The CDM9NTs are very limited at the lower end of the frequency range and they shouldn't be for the price you are paying!! Also, the suggestion that the Paradigm's are 2-D by comparison is inaccurate. I have noticed a greater holographic presentation from the 'digms. Finally, though I did not hear them in this capacity, I would suspect that the B&W's when configured in a Home Theater format would suffer greatly by comparison. To say that I have been unimpressed with the B&W speakers, would be an understatement. I paid $680 US for my speakers (yes, I made the trip up north to get them) and though they are not perfect (they can get pretty clowdy in the mid range and the bass can be somewhat uncontrolled at the lower end), I do believe, whithout reservation, that they are the better speakers for my listening habits. JK

#13 of 32 OFFLINE   JohnThompson


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Posted November 20 2002 - 09:29 AM

Brian, I was in your boat about six months ago. It is a matter of preference. They are both excellent speakers. I personally think if you are going the B&W route, I would shell out for the 9NT. The midrange and soundstage are (to me)much sweeter on the 9NT compared to the 7NT. I was looking for the Paradigm 60's or 80's compared to the 7NT and wound up getting the 1NT's (which are bookshelves) and getting a SVS sub - I couldn't afford the 9NT, and I thought that with a matching sub, sounded more like the 9NT than the 7NT did (although it does sound a bit box-ier). If you are comparing the Paradigm 80's to the B&W 604's, I would go with the Paradigms. No question.

#14 of 32 OFFLINE   GarySI


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Posted November 20 2002 - 10:34 AM

I have to agree that only your ears can make the decision. I have B&W's all around, but I started with a 2-ch system using the 602's. The one thing about B&W is they are unforgiving, they will reveal all the good and bad in the recording and the electronics. My suggestion is to take a favorite record, one you know well, and audition using that(or more recordings). Even in 2-channel you will be able to make your decision. Remember that music recoding put a far greater demand on a speaker.
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#15 of 32 OFFLINE   Bob-N


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Posted November 20 2002 - 10:51 AM

Threads like this always come up. I think Paradigm Studios and B&W CDM/Nautilus are the most popular speakers based on frequency of discussion. Personally, I ended up auditioning 602's over the 40's and felt that the 40's were a bit muddy at the low end compared with the 602's. I ended up with the 602's for a while then moved up to the CDM1NTs about a year later. I found the CDM line much better than than the 602's. I liked the clarity of B&W 600/CDM vs. the Studios in general. I rely on my sub to get me down low and clean. I wouldn't necessarily go with the CM line as they don't have the depth of either the 600's nor the CDM lines. As always, let your ears be your guide and try to get your dealer to do an in home audition. Bob

#16 of 32 OFFLINE   rob-socal



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Posted November 20 2002 - 12:33 PM

I have these: 604S3 602S2 LCR600S2 I think the S3 is much smoother in the upper frequencies. The 602 is a an amazing speaker for it's size and the LCR600 is an great center but wouldn't use it elsewhere due to lack of low-end and very tricky to position. Personaly I preferred the 600 series sound to the CDM, but I think I'm the only one. -RJ.

#17 of 32 OFFLINE   Carson E

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Posted November 20 2002 - 06:08 PM

I was sold quickly after hearing the "604 Series 3" and CDM 9NT. The Series 3 have some improvements over the Series 2. Would the CDM sound better? Theoretically they should but I decided on (4)604 S3's and the LCR600 center. Why? The CDM's are twice the price. So if any minute differences were heard... were they worth twice the money? I decided not. Of course, price is alwasy a factor for me. And with 20% off the 604's and center I had to choose them. The $1400.00 per pair price fell to $1120.00 and center from 500 to 400. Was really shocked to get 20% off but the dealer was a nice guy and knew my story. Good luck, Yohan.

#18 of 32 OFFLINE   MWestyn


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Posted November 21 2002 - 01:22 AM

20% off??? Send me his wayPosted Image

As I stated before I'm a fan of B&W, but it's all a matter of personal choice. Listen to both extensively and pick whichever suits your requirements/budget best. Good luck in your decision.

#19 of 32 OFFLINE   EdwinL


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Posted November 21 2002 - 04:43 AM

I was in sorta the same boat... Paradigm or B&W...

Personally, they sound very much alike. I compared numerous B&Ws to the Paradigm Monitor series. I didn't have the pleasure of hearing the Studio Series, but I would assume it's "nicer". It comes down to appereance as well, and given my budget and my taste, I went for the B&Ws. You can't go wrong, regardless of what you choose. Pick that which is more pleasing to your ears as well as your eyes. Afterall, half the fun of buying equipment is showing (literally showing) it off! Posted Image

#20 of 32 OFFLINE   Larry B

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Posted November 21 2002 - 05:53 AM


[quote] Wow, I've never heard someone say they "hate" B&W... [quote]
Well, now you've heard it from two people! Like Eric, I adamantly dislike the B&W sound, including (again, like Eric) the 800s. In fact, if I won a pair of 800s in a contest I would keep them in their cartons and see what I could get for them on Audiogon.

IMO, they are amongst the least musical speakers I've heard.

B&W was one of the first high-end speakers I heard and at the time, I was overwhelmed by them. But over time, as my experience grew, I came to the realization that they did nothing for me. At first, I was somewhat dismayed by this and thought I must be crazy. After all, how could I not like one of the most highly respected, universally-praised speakers in the world? But as I began to make contacts in the high-end community, I soon learned that I was not alone in my feelings and that in fact, a surprising number of people dislike them as much as I do.

Of course, the beauty of this country is that we have many options, and that we are free to choose between them.

Bottom line: All that really matters is that you're happy with them.


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