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.