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What makes my Paradigm Signature S4 V2s "special" (in other words worth 4 grand)? (1 Viewer)

KyleT

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Nov 8, 2002
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A couple weeks ago I got a pair second hand from a guy who had them about 6 months for a bit better than half off MSRP!

First let me say I've already got them hooked up to my Rotel RB-1090 amp and PS3 and have been listening to some SACDs and Blu-ray movies in 2 channel (I have the Signature C3 V2 center and Studio ADP-590 surrounds too but no amp or processor for them yet :frowning:).... and they sound AMAZING to me when backed up with my SVS PC Plus 20-39 sub. They're also gorgeous to look at and feel very solid.

So it sounds like I already see/hear that they're nice speakers. Sure, I guess. But what kind of confuses me is that in all of the articles I've read on them the drivers themselves don't sound like they're anything too radical or great.

This article for example:
http://paradigm.com/en/pdf/reviews/f...review_251.pdf

Raves about the speaker. But when it gets to the drivers it says

"One driver in the S4, a rather standard 7-inch polypropylene cone, handles the bass below 250 Hz. The other 7-inch driver in this 2-1/2-way design is an unusual gold-toned, mica-embedded polypropylene cone with a gold-anodized phase plug (read: point dustcap). Since the crossover forgoes a high-pass filter, this second driver must be able to reproduce the midrange while withstanding, if not fully reproducing whatever bass exists in the music or soundtrack. To further reinforce the S4's low frequencies, a front-firing die-cast aluminum port extends and evens the speaker's bass performance. Both the S4 and C3 center use a gold-anodized 1-inch dome tweeter with a neodymium magnet."

Maybe I'm just too much of an audio newb to understand what's so great about all of the above but the article makes it sound like very generic hardware with some fancy names and odd material here and there that might be for looks just as much or more than it is for sound.

So what did Paradigm do here? Take fairly ordinary drivers that could be found in a speaker selling for 1/4 the price but just engineer and assemble the entire ensemble in such a way that it become worth 4 times the price? Or are these drivers really some pretty nice stuff that couldn't be put in speakers selling for too much less without other corners being cut?

I'm guessing Paradigm uses all their own drivers? Because it seems like, for example, when I've read about the SVS MTS line (a speaker line I was considering before I came across this deal on these Signatures) or when I read articles about the Polk LSi 15s that I already own, that I read about some special make/model of tweeter that they've used costing several hundred dollars and usually found in speakers far more expensive.

But I can't find any reference to the make/model of the tweeter in the Signatures. Is this because it's really nothing exceptional or because it just doesn't have a name because Paradigm only uses it internally for their own speakers?

Just curious of the economics behind the speakers I now have sitting in my media room vs the economics behind the speakers I was also considering (MTS), speakers I already own (LSi), and any other speakers.

I'd guess by default any high end / flagship line like the Signatures don't have quite the value packed into them as other speakers, especially the direct to consumer manufacturers... but considering I got a the whole set (S4 V2, C3 V2, ADP-590, and J-23 stands) for $4000 including tax and shipping (none) when retail would have been around $8400 plus tax and/or shipping... I'm hoping I got a decent deal. I'm one of those guys that doesn't sleep at night unless he knows he got good bang for the buck. My ears say that I did. But then again I don't really have a lot of experience with speakers in this price range, so that's why I've turned to reading reviews and have left without much of an explanation economically or design wise as to why these cost so much.
 

Phaelon

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Jan 29, 2004
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I think your ears already answered your question. When you get past all the marketing hoo-hah you have the quality of the component pieces used to buidl the speakers and then the desing and construction quality, attention to detail etc.

You can't make crappy drivers sound sublime and amazing regardless of other factors but bad design/build quality/QC CAN make quality drivers sound much less impressive than a really good design/build/QC etc.
 

Robert_J

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Like Phaelon said, most of those descriptions are just marketing. Your ears are telling you that they are quality speakers. Now, you can remove a driver and look at the construction of the cabinet. MDF instead of particle board. Adequate internal bracing. A 2nd or 3rd order crossover that uses quality parts like air core inductors or poly caps. Those are decent descriptions of the drivers but you can't just a driver by looks alone. Do they use flat, progressive spiders? Did they use copper shorting rings to keep inductance down? Did Dan Wiggins have a hand in designing them and use his patented XBL^2 technology in the motor? Do they use some other linear BL technology? Did they hire Joseph D'Appolito or some other consultant to design them?

All of those factors go into the final price of a speaker. Not to mention marketing costs, labor, overhead, dealer mark up and profit margin.

-Robert
 

KyleT

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Nov 8, 2002
Messages
59
Thanks for the info guys.

I ended up finding a few more articles that went into more depth about what made the drivers (particularly the tweeter) something special and your descriptions make sense.


I read somewhere that in order to minimize the size of the speakers while keeping up internal volume they used some sort of aluminum interior with real wood veneer exterior. Maybe I misunderstood that though... they sure do feel extremely solid when you knock on them, and heavy too... hard to imagine they're aluminum inside.

BTW I live in Collierville... noticed your location is South Haven. I go down there from time to time to do IT work.
 

Robert_J

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I would be very surprised if the cabinets were made from aluminum. MDF has less resonance which is what you want in a cabinet. Here's a link to the factory tour - link. Only particle board and MDF were mentioned.

The only aluminum enclousres that I know of are in the Krell Master Reference sub and some Def Tech towers.

A truely high quality enclosure uses multiple materials with different resonant frequencies. Eggleston uses a rubber dampening mat sandwiched between sheets of MDF and then covered with granite. That's a quality cabinet.

I also sent you a PM.

-Robert
 

KyleT

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Nov 8, 2002
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However, this article is referring to the S1, not the S4, and is also referring to the original version of the signature line, not V2. So it's definitely possible that this doesn't apply to my S4s.. especially since I can't find it anywhere else. I have definitely read all over the place that they use some sort of aluminum ports but not aluminum cabinets.

Since the S1 is a pretty small speaker that's carrying a pretty high price maybe that was a design decision they made only for the S1 to keep size down and performance up?
 

Robert_J

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Very interesting links. I can see why Paradigm prices those speakers like that. They put a lot of thought and engineering in the cabinets alone. When that happens, there is no use in cutting corners in other places. The cut-away drawing answered a few questions that were running around my head concerning bracing. But the cast enclsosure did have integrated bracing. Sounds like you got a great deal.

-Robert
 

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