Subjective Review of Paradigm Speakers

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Charles M Berry, Jun 22, 2002.

  1. Charles M Berry

    Charles M Berry Stunt Coordinator

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    I recently completed a rather long subjective test of Paradigm speakers from the Performance and Monitor lines. Be warned, this is a VERY LONG post and subjective amateur speaker evaluation.

    The test/demo took place at a local Paradigm dealer using both material that I brought and their in-house demo CD's. At the time I was using Titans for fronts, and I was looking to trade up to something bigger and better. I was mostly interested in the monitor line, with the prime contenders being the Mini Monitors, Monitor 3's, Monitor 7's (both v.2 and v.3), as well as, the Performance Phantoms. (Local shop doesn't stock the 5's, 9's, or 11's, nor does it have any v.3's yet except for the 7's)

    The nice audio guys set to the speakers on a switch box connected to all the speakers, powered by an HK 125. The store was very quite and I had both the room and the equipment to myself, as well as, the salesmen to answer at length my many questions. The store owner also participated in the speaker demo with me in a casual, enthusiast sort of way, offering a second opinion to what my un-trained ears were hearing.

    Basically, I spent 2 hours listening to music, switching back and forth between the speakers and collecting subjective data. I used many different types of music, compared speakers without a sub, set to large, and I had full control over all the remotes and the switch box. Almost forgot, I am an 85%/15% HT/music guy. Upgrading was not really necessary since I have a PDR-10 paired with the Titans (and the Titans ROCK!), but hey, I really wanted to!

    I am young and new to HT, but I think I listened well, and although I may not be able to articulate what I heard as well as some of you, I could perceive major differences and could for the most part decide weather of not I liked a speaker better than another.

    ******** HERE IS WHAT I FOUND ********

    (1) Monitor 7 v.2 VS. Monitor 7 v.3

    The v.2's are not as efficient as the newer (slightly more expensive) v.3's. There is a VERY noticeable increase in volume switching between the two. I don’t know if this is because of beaming, or if they are really slightly more efficient.

    The bass response is greater in the v.3's (there is a separate mid and woofer in the v.3's, the v.2's have 2 mid/woofers). However, the v.2's have TIGHTER bass / the v.3's are BOOMIER. The tweeter in both versions is very crisp, with a slight edge in crispness going to the new v.3. I think that this increased crispness may have the ability to become harsh and tiring with extended listening sessions.

    For me, there was no clear winner between the two Monitor 7's. The price for new pairs in either version are close enough so that I would got with the v.3's because they are BETTER LOOKING, (improved grill, logo, feet), but since the v.2's that I would potentially buy were in-store demo speakers for 3 months, they were reduced from $650.00 to 500.00. This gave a big edge to the v.2's in my case.

    NEXT UP

    (2) Titans VS. Mini Monitor VS. Monitor 3's.

    I don't know how many people realize this, or believe this, but the Titans are absolutely amazing speakers!!!! Several times when I was switching back and forth between the speakers and sitting in the sweet spot to listen, the owner/salesman/demo buddy was amazed to learn we were listening to the Titans! I have had a pair for 1 year and loved them, and now I really respect them and will miss them since the competed extremely well against even the Monitor 7’s.

    I liked the sound much better from the Titans than from the Minis. I was blown away by this observation since so many people on this forum LOVE the Mini’s and rave about them being better than the Monitor 3’s and so on. The upper range in the Titans and the 3’s were tight, crisp, detailed, well-defined, and convincing. The Minis’ had good bass response, but quickly switching between the 3’s and Titans, I observed and agreed with one of the salesman when he said that the high’s in the Minis are pushed far to much into the background. The 3’s brought them back to the level of the Titans, but added additional bass.

    The Mini’s were a surprising disappointment considering I went in thinking they would be the speakers I took home.

    I did not find enough justifiably improvement in the Monitor 3’s over the Titans, and also eliminated them from the running. The step up in price would not be great, but I figured if I was going to upgrade, I might as well upgrade noticeably over my beloved Titans.

    NEXT

    (3) New Phantoms VS. Both versions of Monitor 7’s.

    Phantoms sound good, but a very definite step up to the monitor line. Also getting better components by stepping up and out of the Performance series. Phantoms were strong all around, but high, mid, and low were all increased in detail. With the 7’s I was able to notice a separation of instruments and voices, whereas the Phantoms and on down to the Minis and Titans, seemed to “group” and mash together these details.

    Again, Phantoms are damn good speakers, but the question becomes: for the money and size, why not step into the monitor series (like the 5’s or 7’s), and do they really have a “place”. Which begs the question, has Paradigm diluted and confused speaker shopping with so many speakers, and with speaker lines that overlap in price and performance? For example, did we really need the Focus?

    WRAPPING UP, FINALLY….

    (4) Back to the 7’s.

    I really liked everything I heard, and spent addition time trying different types of music with the v.2/v.3 7’s, and also was able to chit chat/gossip with the owner, which was fun and informative.

    At the end of the night (past closing time), I ended up taking home the Monitor 7 v.2’s because of the PRICE. V.3’s were impressive, but I was concerned with the boomier bass, and loudspeaker (beaming?) effect. The v.2’s were slightly more relaxed, and will probably be more pleasing to listen to over long periods of time.

    After a trade in on the Titans and the speaker stands, and figuring in the reduced open box price, I took the Monitor 7’s home for a grand total of $231.00!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (5) Vanderstein’s (spelling?)

    The owner and I also hauled in some Vanderstein 100’s to compare to the Paradigm Monitor series, using all the same varied music. Very impressive, very, very subdued (probably a more honest reproduction of music than most speakers). It was extremely interesting and informative to see how a totally different speaker line can change in a very dramatic fashion how music sounds! Very tight bass, TOO TIGHT for my taste.

    CONCLUSION

    (6) My only reservations about buying the v.2’s was the fact that they were without the original box, were black when I prefer rosenut, and I feel bad about abandoning my Titans. But I am very happy with my upgrade. I just need to stay happy for another year, and hey, maybe Studio 40’s will be the next stop.

    Parting observation: After getting them home and hooking them up to my HK 110, I calibrated and had to set my front right to +1 (the front left was +0). Is this weird? Also, the 7’s seem to hiss more than the Titans. Is this simply due to the fact that they are more able to reveal the limitations of the source material?

    YOUR THOUGHTS

    Has anyone had similar of different results with subjective sit-downs with Paradigm speakers? Are my observations totally out there? Thank you for reading this, if you have made it all the way to the bottom.
     
  2. Brian Warren

    Brian Warren Stunt Coordinator

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    good review. I compared Paradigm, B&W, M&K, and Mirage and JBL. In the same price range, Paradigms were the best to my ears. I ordered Mini monitors and a CC370 up front, ADP370 sides and Titans to the rear. Titans and ADP's are in white which is a must. Also got 2 Velodyne CHT12's.

    I spent a lot of time comparing the titans to the minis coupled with the ADP170 and 370. The monitor series was to my ears fuller and less harsh. Not a big difference but enough to spend the extra dollars. The timbe matching between the two series was very good. My room is big and this helped influence my desicion.
     
  3. Charles M Berry

    Charles M Berry Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the response Brain. Now that I am looking at my "submitted" post, it is a fairly tedious read.

    I took the time to write that little novel because I have read a ton of individual recommendations for Paradigm speakers from alot of the HTF members, but what I dont see alot of is single-sitting comparisons between 5 or some speakers in multiple lines of a single speaker brand.

    Like I said in the initial post, I was amazed at how good the Titans are. You ended up with the Minis, thats great. From my observations, however, I was shocking disappointed by them. Have you ever switched between your Titans and Minis using just stero music? I wonder if you will also find the dramatic supression of the highs in the Minis that I observed.

    I think that sometimes we assume too much that just because a speaker is in the better line, it will be far superior. Or that bigger and more expensive is better (assuming you can afford it). From what I hear at my local audio shop, the monitor 9's and 11's have boomy bass.

    Again, thanks for the response.
     
  4. EricHaas

    EricHaas Supporting Actor

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    Charles:

    Actually, your post was a nice, thoughtful read.

    My feeling is that the Monitor 7's are my favorite speakers below the Studio series. And the Titans are Paradigm's best bang for the buck. I got a pair to use as surrounds slightly used for $140. They really are unbelievable even at $75 more than that.

    I feel with the current Paradigm lineup that if you are considering towers in the Monitor series you are actually better off looking at the Studio 20's and Studio 40's. You sacrifice a bit of bass response for overall sonic superiority in every other area. I believe that Studio 20's (in laminate) retail at $100 below the Monitor 7's, and the 40's are about $100 more.
     
  5. Robert_Z

    Robert_Z Screenwriter

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    Charles,

    I have owned two pairs of Titans for a couple of years now, with a PDR 12 for HT. You are right, the combo does sound good. When I use the Titans solo with my NAD C340 I am always pleased at how good they sound for a $200 pair of speakers.
     
  6. Brian Warren

    Brian Warren Stunt Coordinator

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    Charles - One important factor IMO was the center channel, CC370. This was a better peice than the 170. important for HT I suppose. Also, the minis seemed to be able to be pushed to higher volumes. My room is 18x22x20ft high. 7 speakers should fill it up nicely with 2 12' velodynes(titans to the rear dont forget). I have not heard any of the v3's but all my speakers are to be v3's, not v2's.
    the titans vs the minis arguement is just like the paradigm vs m&k deal - personel preference. the v3 minis are to get the waveguide technology of the studios, did you hear these v3's. dont think so, so you may have missed the best yet [​IMG]
    Brian
     
  7. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I'll be completely honest with you, the Monitor 3 is crap. Bass is muddy and I was not impressed with them at all. The Monitor 5 is the star of the Monitor line for bookshelf models, and I feel you did yourself a disservice by not giving them a listen also. However, the 7s are also excellent speakers.
    I'm not sure what you were listening to, but I have two pairs of Titans V2 and V3, a pair of V2 Minis, and the Minis hands down are the better speaker when compared to the Titans, especially when set to large. The Titans have very loose midrange, and a hump at their lower limit when set to large. At higher volumes with decent power (in my room anyway) they had a noticeable ring to them, which is why I traded up for the Minis. I brought the Minis home for 2 days and tried them back to back repeatedly. While bass extension is very similar, the Minis are far more supple in the midrange and the highs are only a tiny bit less bright. For music, there is no question, the Minis are better. When set to small viewing movies, there is little difference between them, though the Minis easily achieve higher volumes without trouble.
     
  8. Kwang Suh

    Kwang Suh Supporting Actor

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  9. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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  10. Charles M Berry

    Charles M Berry Stunt Coordinator

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    EricHaas -
     
  11. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I'm not knocking the Titans, I have two pairs [​IMG], it's just that the Minis are better. They are very close, and when I did my back to back, it was hard to tell the difference, so I brought in someone who is not a professed music nut, and he chose the Minis also. Recently, I swapped the Minis out for the pair of Titans in the bedroom, and the difference was much more apparent to me than it originally was, particularly without a sub.
    The Minis do sound a little different from the rest of the Monitor line, I figured it was cabinet size/design. Timbre matched yes, but slightly different I agree. The 5s are an awkward size, but sound great.
    For auditioning, I normally use Jazz, Techno/Trance, and male and female vocals.
     
  12. Dan V.

    Dan V. Auditioning

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    GREAT review!

    I've been doing some testing of my own between the Monitor 7 v.3 and the Monitor 11 v.2, and I found that the 7 v.3 was not boomy in the least, while the 11 v.2 was boomy as hell. Now is this due to the extra woofers and the rear port or is it a v. issue? You got me. One thing for sure, the 7's definitely came out sharper and much more distinct than the 11's, but as far as presence and imaging is concerned, the 11's won hands down.
     
  13. Fong

    Fong Stunt Coordinator

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    thank you charles for that very informative comparison. a friend of mine has a pair of v.3 titans and is pretty happy with them. i was wondering how they faired against paradigm's monitor line.

    how big of an imporvement have you noticed since moving on to the monitor 7's? i am curious because i was thinking about upgrading in the future and would like to know what to shop for. i have compared my axiom m22s to my friend's titans and the difference was night and day. im not saying the titans are bad in any way, its just that when we did a direct comparison the the m22s just sounded less colored, more forward and bright (w/o being fatiguing), and just more refined in general.

    have you heard any axioms before? they really are remarkable. i love my m22s, but i know i'll upgrade one of these days, im just keeping my options open.
     

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