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Paradigm Studio 20s vs Mini Monitors; my impressions, curious in yours

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by JonathanOh, Feb 19, 2004.

  1. JonathanOh

    JonathanOh Agent

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    hi,

    I just did an A/B comparison between my 20s and newly acquired Minis (will be place in surround position). All are v3s.

    I had Atoms in surround before and, while I guess for the price the Atoms are good, I felt there was a huge difference between them and the Studios. I love the 20s and felt the Atoms just could not hold up. Of course, in surround mode, the difference is not that important. When I A/Bed vs each other, the difference was huge.

    My space constraints for the surrounds ease up so I could go bigger and got the Minis.

    I expected more from the Minis, which are about 80% more expensive than the Atoms but less than half the cost of the 20s. I was very surprised at how good the Minis are right out of the box. I am very pleased. I like their sound much more than that of the Atoms. I am sure they will blend very well together in my HT setup.

    As expected, the difference between the Minis and 20s is not the huge gulf that existed between the Atoms and 20s. I would say the Minis are twice as good, IMO and to my ears, as the Atoms and thus worth every penny in their price premium. The same does not apply to the Minis vs 20s. Overall, I liked the 20s more but their value is not as high vs the Minis.


    Differences:
    20s seem to have a larger sound stage; definitely have more base and tighter bass. Switching from Minis to 20s added a sense of depth and width to the sound.

    The one thing I was thinking while doing the comparison was that the 20s sounded brighter. For instance, the snare drum strikes stand out with the 20s but seem, even out of the box, more laid back with the Minis. I am not saying either effect is unpleasant, just that I really noticed the brightness of the 20s. Of course, I think it may be the CD. Another CD that I tried has smoother highs. Still, the 20s are brighter.

    Here is where I get a bit lost. I am not sure if the 20s are more detailed in the high end and the Minis thus muffled in comparison or the 20s are just bright. I preferred the softer high end of the Minis but the overall musicality of the 20s. I could really tell that the Minis cannot go as deep as the 20s nor were they as detailed in the mid range.

    That said, I believe I paid 360 for the Minis and 720 for the 20s. I prefer the 20s but not by much.

    Any comments??
     
  2. JonathanOh

    JonathanOh Agent

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    btw, I should have mentioned that I powered the speakers using my Pioneer 45tx receiver.
     
  3. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I always liked the Minis for the price, a fine speaker. I have to completely agree with your assessment of the 20s being brighter than the Minis. The highs on the 20s, with their Aluminum tweeter, are definitely approaching harsh to me with brighter material, and the upper midrange is more "in your face" - more detailed, but not entirely pleasing to me. I like the softer nature of the tweeter on the Monitors, but they do sound a tad muffled in the lower midrange (v2s, the v3s have improved a bit with the new drivers), especially when you compare them to studios in the same setup. I am a fan of soft dome tweeters [​IMG] and 'Digm doesn't do those anymore.

    Given the choice between the two for mains, I would pick the 20s without question. For surrounds, Minis. Many people say the same thing about Minis vs Titans, that the difference is too small, but I had both for a long time, and I can tell you the difference is very noticable, and I'd say you will find the same is true over time with the Minis vs 20s. [​IMG]
     
  4. Keith Hyde

    Keith Hyde Stunt Coordinator

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    One thing I've always heard in Monitor v Studio discussions is that some people definitely like the aluminum tweeter of the Studios over the softer ones of the Monitors. I am one of those people. My only comparisons were between a Monitor CC370 and a Studio CC470, and hands down I prefer the brighter, broader, wider stage and range of the Studio. A good sample track for me was Sheryl Crow's Globe Sessions over the 370 or the 470? - man, no brainer! Sing to me Sheryl!

    I also agree that this is something of the law of diminishing returns. The 370 is a good speaker, and for twice the price the 470 ought to be darn good. But at a pure "value" comparison, I see the numbers aren't too convincing. But I do love what I hear. I'm thinking in a couple years I'll pick up a 570 and move this 470 to the rear center, but that's a long ways off yet. I'm still in 5.1 land.
     
  5. Ben Stern

    Ben Stern Stunt Coordinator

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    One thing I've always heard in Monitor v Studio discussions is that some people definitely like the aluminum tweeter of the Studios over the softer ones of the Monitors. I am one of those people.

    Actually, the Monitor line has a titanium tweeter, which is metal like the aluminum tweeter of the Reference line.
     
  6. JonathanOh

    JonathanOh Agent

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    I really like both. Studios are definitely better. Still surprised how much I like the Minis for half the price though.

    I sure would like to hear the Signatures.

    I certianly do not mind the brightness. Perhaps I will look for an amp that is "warm."
     
  7. BrianWoerndle

    BrianWoerndle Supporting Actor

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    I had the Minis (v.2) as mains for awhile with Titan rears. Now I have 20s (v.2) up front and moved the Minis to the rear. To me, the 20s are a better speaker all around. They have a much cleaner midrange, and the bass is much tighter. Although I feel that my Minis are brighter than the 20s. I have not done a lot of listening to the Studio v.3s, but when I was in the store I put them on just for the heck of it and the v.3s are brighter than the v.2s. The v.2s have a more natural laid back sound. The thing I love about the Minis is that they have a punch. While not truly correct, the Minis push the highs and lows a little bit giving them a bigger impact. The Studios are more transparent and let the real music come through.

    Please note that Paradigm speakers need a good amount of break in. 50-100 hours at a minimum. And they keep getting better long after that.
     
  8. TimMc

    TimMc Stunt Coordinator

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    The Minis have always seemed like one of the small wonders of the world (like the Axiom 3ti's, etc.) in that they deliver way more than you'd expect for their size and price. As said above, there's just more punch or soundstage - heck, there just seems to be more overall great sound - coming out of those little boxes than should be possible.

    And the value part does seem like the same old diminishing returns conundrum that all manufacturers and consumers face. It does seem to cost a whole lot more (yeah, even for the manufacturers) to deliver that next small increment of improvement. I've only heard Signatures briefly and it was a fine moment - but the value side (read: cheap scum-sucking bottom dweller part) of me probably gets more of a kick out of how close the less costly 'Digms can come for lots less $$$. And that seems to be relatively constant across the industry. You can pay more and get more, but it never seems proportional.
     
  9. Kevin. W

    Kevin. W Screenwriter

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    Just went from the Mini Monitors/CC370 to Studio 40/20(v3) and in my honest opinion the sound is night and day. Soundstage is larger, detail is better and bass is more and tighter. This is not to take away from everything the Monitor serious has to offer. It is a damn fine speaker for the price, but the Studio's are that much better.

    Kevin
     
  10. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    One thing I noticed between my 5s and the 40s, as well as when comparing 20s to the Minis is, I can hear the cabinets of the Monitor line, while the much more substantial cabinets of the Studios have less resonance, adding to their cleaner mids and lows. They both have a characteristic x-over that seems to accentuate the top and bottom of their ranges. The 20s and 40s are still some of my favorite speakers, though I was very impressed with the Signature S2s.


    I think he just mean softer sounding, not soft material. I said softer as well, but I think it is just that the tweeter in the Studios is more agressive than the ones in the Monitors. The Monitors use plastic waveguides, while the Studios use cast aluminum, which adds to rigidity and heat dispersion.
     
  11. Keith Hyde

    Keith Hyde Stunt Coordinator

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    I may have mispoke the specifics, but whatever the Studio tweeter is, many people prefer it to the Monitor tweeter. My main beef was the Monitor tweeter was too "dim", whereas the Studio tweeter.. well, sounds "right" so far as I can tell. Stronger, but not overdone nor harsh in any way. A lot of this I was told was the material of the tweeter, but I don't really care one way or the other. I used to be a "treble +10, bass +6" guy, but now I'm a trebel and bass 0/0 with the Studio.
     
  12. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Material plays a big role, but it is the x-over that really will determine what you ultimately hear. I run Mordaunt Short 902s in my bedroom, with aluminum tweeters and mids, and they are not nearly as bright as the pair of v2 20s were when I tried them in my setup. My mains in my HT all use soft dome tweeters. Everyone is listening for something different. [​IMG]
     

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