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Paradigm Studio 100 vs. B&W vs. KEF XQ40

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
Hello all, this is my first time joining a forum and posting so please forgive any mistakes.

I recently purchased a Yamaha RX-V3800, 140 w.p.c. into 8 ohms at 0.04% thd. I know that the rating is most likely not with all channels driven. It's too late now but if I had known better I would have went with either an Anthem, NAD, Cambridge Audio Azur or something more "audiophile" but I'm still learning and it's a bit too late to return the thing so...

I've narrowed my speaker choices down to either
1) Paradigm Studio 100s (leaning toward these due to mostly great reviews)
2) Comparable B&W floorstanders (have not auditioned any yet)
3) KEF XQ40s (new models)

I've listened to both the KEFs and the Paradigms so far and although the KEFs seemed to have great sound dispersion, great overall soundstage presentation and clear sound at pretty high volume I couldn't find a single review online for them. I couldn't get any trustworthy subjective feed back on the KEFs other than the sales guy telling me that he owns the previous model XQ5s and that he loves them and recommends them. The KEFs are $1,000 more than the Paradigms. It's of course possible that he's trying to "up sell" me. I don't know as I'm completely unfamiliar with KEF.
The Paradigms sounded almost as good though didn't present as good a soundstage however I really don't think the Paradigms were set up properly to show their best strengths. The Kefs were equal distance apart and toed in toward the listening position and the Paradigms were pointed straight ahead and a little further apart than I think would be optimal. I definitely like the finish of the KEFs better as they are real wood veneers (beautiful piano black) as opposed to the more plain vinyl (not as attractive) on the Paradigms. If there is no true difference in sound quality between the two I don't think the nicer finish is necessarily worth the extra grand for the KEFs. Also I think the matching Paradigm center channel (CC690 I think) might be better at keeping boxy colorations at bay due to it's greater dimensions opposed to KEFs matching center which smaller.

If anyone has any input/insight into my speaker choices please reply with your opinions.
If anyone knows of a fairly direct competing B&W floorstander I should listen to please let me know.
My price range is in the neighborhood of $3,000 or slightly higher for two fronts and a center.

Thank you to anyone who took the time to read this and more so to anyone who replies.
post #2 of 44
I think the studio 60 represents a far better deal than the 100s.

I've not heard much KEF stuff...but I have heard some B&W speakers.

The 703 and the 704 strike me as very musical and they sounded very very good. They were smoother than the Paradigm Studio's at higher volumes. However, one thing I do like about Paradigm is while I find the Monitor line to be bright and the studio's a bit bright but to a lesser extent, they sound excellent at low volumes. Some of the smoother speakers sound slightly veiled at low volumes. The paradigms do not. However, after long listening periods they do become fatiguing. This wasn't the case with the 45 minutes or so I spent on a couple pairs of B&Ws.

Comparable B&W's will be the 703 and 704s.
post #3 of 44
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...&highlight=kef
http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volum...06-part-1.html
http://www.audioholics.com/search?SearchableText=kef
just 3 KEF related things that I found even before I have had my coffee!!LOL
If you are willing to spend that kind of cash, may I suggest you look into some ID brands There is alot of bang for the buck to be had...AV123, Ascend and SVS to name a few. They pride themselves on great products and service. I have had multiple sets of Paradigms, good stuff but for the money I think you can do better. YMMV
post #4 of 44
Speakers are one of those things you may want to spend a while auditioning. It is a personal experience and should require a few weekend trips to the audio shop an hour down the road. Don't get too absorbed in what others think, and Yes, they are trying to sell you. I auditioned all three of the brands you mentioned several times over several months and many others.

After a while I was comparing everything to the paradigm studio v4. again for Price, quality, and sound was what sold me. I love my 60's.

KEF was out of my price range but the reference series is amazing. I really liked the 703 and 704 too.. I liked Pro Ac but decided I would bot be powering sufficiently.

Good luck and have fun shopping.

DN
post #5 of 44
Speakers are one of those things you may want to spend a while auditioning. It is a personal experience and should require a few weekend trips to the audio shop an hour down the road. Don't get too absorbed in what others think, and Yes, they are trying to sell you. I auditioned all three of the brands you mentioned several times over several months and many others.

After a while I was comparing everything to the paradigm studio v4. Price, quality, and sound was what sold me. I love my 60's.

KEF was out of my price range but the reference series is amazing. I really liked the 703 and 704 too.. I liked Pro Ac but decided I would bot be powering sufficiently.

Good luck and have fun shopping.

DN
post #6 of 44
Speakers are one of those things you may want to spend a while auditioning. It is a personal experience and should require a few weekend trips to the audio shop an hour down the road. Don't get too absorbed in what others think, and Yes, they are trying to sell you. I auditioned all three of the brands you mentioned several times over several months and many others.

After a while I was comparing everything to the paradigm studio v4. Price, quality, and sound was what sold me. I love my 60's.

KEF was out of my price range but the reference series is amazing. I really liked the 703 and 704 too.. I liked Pro Ac but decided I could not afford to power them sufficiently.

Good luck and have fun shopping.

DN
post #7 of 44
HEHEHEH dpnaugle, do you think you got your point across...?

I hate those glitches with double posts...
post #8 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Warpdrv View Post

HEHEHEH dpnaugle, do you think you got your point across...?

I hate those glitches with double posts...

I was hoping he would tell us one more time
post #9 of 44
Thread Starter 
Good advice dpnaugle, I've been to the store twice already and spent about 3 hours there the first time and about an hour and a half the second. I'm off all week and think I just may pick up the Studio 100s and try them out for the week. Off from work for the week and that would give me ample time to listen to them after some break in run time. As with most people who are going to spend this kind of money (who are not independently wealthy) I just want to get the most performance for my hard earned money. I wouldn't mind paying extra for the KEFs if they are really $1,000 better when it comes to sound quality. Thanks again.
post #10 of 44
Those Kefs will be very nice if you can afford them...
post #11 of 44
Thread Starter 
Thanks again everyone. I Listened to Definitive Technologies Mythos STs and they sounded very good indeed. I also Listened to B&W 802s ($7,000 ea. GULP!) since they had no 703s for me to put my ear to. The B&Ws sounded good of course but the sales guy didn't turn them up that much so I didn't get the chance to be really impressed by them.

I then went back and listened to The Paradigm signature S8s and the Studio 100s again and this time I fiddled around with their placement and was much happier with the results. The signatures took everything in stride regardless of how loud the sales guy was asking them to play. Very nice! Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon SACD was played over the S8s. The salesman allowed me to listen for as long as I wanted and told me I could come back anytime and listen again to whatever I want for as long as I want. I thought to myself now that is how it should be but we know it isn't always that easy.

After the S8s impressed me I thought I might be let down by the 100s but no way! The Pink Floyd SACD wouldn't work in the room the 100s were in for some reason so thankfully I had my Led Zeppelin "How The West Was Won" DVD-A with me. The 100s completely rocked out LOUD. The salesman was not shy with the volume. Very large soundstage and the instruments sounded right and powerful. I listened to the entire 19:20 min "Moby Dick" track off of the second disc and the extended drum performance kicked some serious butt! Each boom, snap, pop, bang and crash was reproduced at high volume without any detectable distortion or nonsense. It just sounded incredible. I could detect that the S8s maybe had a smidgen more clarity at very high levels but other than that I don't know if I heard a real significant difference between the two. I mean if I had the extra dough to throw at the S8s I would do it more so because I could and for the nicer finish. I don't think it would just be the difference in sound that would sway me towards the S8s. Again, my philosophy is buy the best you can afford of what you like so simply because 1) I really liked them, 2) appearance wise they look fantastic to the 100s merely good and 3) because they're the top of the line I would buy them if I had the "extra" cash. The difference in sound quality alone isn't enough for me to make the leap to the much more expensive S8s.

I don't have the extra cash so it looks like its going to be the 100s for me as well as the CC690 center channel and the best part is I don't feel like I'm shortchanging myself at all. I'm getting all 3 at a 20% discount to boot. I can't say that the Studio 100s are the absolute best sounding speaker I've listened to in the last two weeks but I can say that even the $1,000 more expensive KEF XQ40s didn't impress me enough that I would choose them over the 100s. For me so far the 100s have it all. The best all rounder as some reviewers say when reviewing cars. I can say that they are very close to the best I've heard so far (for a good chunk less money) and they have the look I like best and also what I think is the best center channel to match them.

The Signature S8s were powered by a 200 wpc Anthem power amp
The Studio 100s by a 140 wpc Denon 4806 or 4803, I forget witch.
post #12 of 44
Answered in "KEF Owner's Thread"
post #13 of 44
I am not in the market for anything but, I am curious about Phase Tech speakers. I have some 10+ year old Phase Tech speakers (Bookshelf and Center). They still sound fine but, compared to the pair of M1 B&W's recently purchased for the rear they do seeem tired. Times change
post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvision7m2 View Post

I've listened to both the KEFs and the Paradigms so far and although the KEFs seemed to have great sound dispersion, great overall soundstage presentation and clear sound at pretty high volume I couldn't find a single review online for them.

Why do you care about reviews if you've personally heard them and compared them with other speakers? Reviews are for narrowing down the list to a small enough number that you can listen to within your time constraints, not for making the final decision after you've heard them yourself.
post #15 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvision7m2 View Post

Thanks again everyone. I Listened to Definitive Technologies Mythos STs and they sounded very good indeed. I also Listened to B&W 802s ($7,000 ea. GULP!) since they had no 703s for me to put my ear to. The B&Ws sounded good of course but the sales guy didn't turn them up that much so I didn't get the chance to be really impressed by them.

I then went back and listened to The Paradigm signature S8s and the Studio 100s again and this time I fiddled around with their placement and was much happier with the results. The signatures took everything in stride regardless of how loud the sales guy was asking them to play. Very nice! Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon SACD was played over the S8s. The salesman allowed me to listen for as long as I wanted and told me I could come back anytime and listen again to whatever I want for as long as I want. I thought to myself now that is how it should be but we know it isn't always that easy.

After the S8s impressed me I thought I might be let down by the 100s but no way! The Pink Floyd SACD wouldn't work in the room the 100s were in for some reason so thankfully I had my Led Zeppelin "How The West Was Won" DVD-A with me. The 100s completely rocked out LOUD. The salesman was not shy with the volume. Very large soundstage and the instruments sounded right and powerful. I listened to the entire 19:20 min "Moby Dick" track off of the second disc and the extended drum performance kicked some serious butt! Each boom, snap, pop, bang and crash was reproduced at high volume without any detectable distortion or nonsense. It just sounded incredible. I could detect that the S8s maybe had a smidgen more clarity at very high levels but other than that I don't know if I heard a real significant difference between the two. I mean if I had the extra dough to throw at the S8s I would do it more so because I could and for the nicer finish. I don't think it would just be the difference in sound that would sway me towards the S8s. Again, my philosophy is buy the best you can afford of what you like so simply because 1) I really liked them, 2) appearance wise they look fantastic to the 100s merely good and 3) because they're the top of the line I would buy them if I had the "extra" cash. The difference in sound quality alone isn't enough for me to make the leap to the much more expensive S8s.

I don't have the extra cash so it looks like its going to be the 100s for me as well as the CC690 center channel and the best part is I don't feel like I'm shortchanging myself at all. I'm getting all 3 at a 20% discount to boot. I can't say that the Studio 100s are the absolute best sounding speaker I've listened to in the last two weeks but I can say that even the $1,000 more expensive KEF XQ40s didn't impress me enough that I would choose them over the 100s. For me so far the 100s have it all. The best all rounder as some reviewers say when reviewing cars. I can say that they are very close to the best I've heard so far (for a good chunk less money) and they have the look I like best and also what I think is the best center channel to match them.

The Signature S8s were powered by a 200 wpc Anthem power amp
The Studio 100s by a 140 wpc Denon 4806 or 4803, I forget witch.

So your saying that the Studio's sounded nearly as impressive as the S8's all while being run by a receiver. That is good news. I am interested in buying these speakers sometime down the road, and I'm not sure if I want to fool around with separates. I kind of just wanted to buy a high end receiver, perhaps a Yamaha, Denon, or maybe Onkyo. I could always add a 2 channel amp way down the road. Any more opinions on a receiver driving speakers like these in a home theater setup?
post #16 of 44
Thread Starter 
I am only using the reviews as a guide as you said to narrow down the field. KEF is unfamiliar to me so I wanted to get a baseline of their performance by reading reviews of their speakers. I liked the sound of the KEFs but not so much so that I would spend $1,000 more for them especially considering the smallish matching center channel.

Do the KEFs look a little nicer? Yes. Do they sound $1,000 dollars better than the Studios? Not to these ears. I'm not 100% sure they sound much better at all than the Studio 100s. A little maybe. Again, that's to my ears. They are certainly nice though.

I think I stated above that I liked the Yamaha RX-V3800. To me it sounded warmer and cleaner (slightly) than the Denon 3808ci. As with the speakers there is no definitive answer, it comes down to what sounds best to your ears.

Best of luck.
post #17 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvision7m2 View Post

I am only using the reviews as a guide as you said to narrow down the field. KEF is unfamiliar to me so I wanted to get a baseline of their performance by reading reviews of their speakers. I liked the sound of the KEFs but not so much so that I would spend $1,000 more for them especially considering the smallish matching center channel.

Do the KEFs look a little nicer? Yes. Do they sound $1,000 dollars better than the Studios? Not to these ears. I'm not 100% sure they sound much better at all than the Studio 100s. A little maybe. Again, that's to my ears. They are certainly nice though.

I think I stated above that I liked the Yamaha RX-V3800. To me it sounded warmer and cleaner (slightly) than the Denon 3808ci. As with the speakers there is no definitive answer, it comes down to what sounds best to your ears.

Best of luck.

I've been seriously eyeballing that particular Yamaha. How do you have the speaker wire connected, bare wire, banana plugs? I usually run bare, and have read that it's a pain in the you know what with the Yamaha due to the closeness of the terminals.
post #18 of 44
Thread Starter 
I didn't listen to any Onkyos in spite of the fact that they got excellent reviews because of their tendency to run VERY hot (always bad in the long run I think) and the fact that I just don't like how they look. That's my personal take however and you shouldn't exclude Onkyo from your list until you've heard a few of their models for yourself.
post #19 of 44
when auditioning speakers sometimes you find that marginal improvements come
at a substantial price increase as with all ht gear at a certain point.
post #20 of 44
Thread Starter 
On the back of the Yamaha is bare wire and yes it is tight back there but that certainly wouldn't dissuade me from buying any piece of equipment if the quality is otherwise there. To my front main speakers are banana plugs and the center and surrounds is bare wire.

Just like when you're looking at speakers, the differences between the best brands is usually minimal (speaking in terms of true performance). There's usually just a difference in sound (i.e. forward, laid back, bright, boomy) but not necessarily in quality. In my opinion Yamaha, Onkyo, Denon, Nad, Marantz models that are in a similar price bracket offer very similar specs and quality. That means that once again it comes down to what you like overall. I think that regardless of which of these brands you may choose you'll be getting a high quality component so you really have to decide which of their respective "sounds" appeals to you most.

If possible make sure you listen to each receiver over the same speakers so that the speakers don't impart their own sound into the mix and confuse you further.
post #21 of 44
Thread Starter 
Diminishing returns I thinks it's called right? You start looking at higher priced components in the belief that more expensive means better but that just isn't always the case.

The Signature S8s are an example of that I think. The S8s are better than the studio 100s but to me not by a significant enough margin to make me feel compelled to spend the extra money. They sure as hell look a lot better than the Studios not that the Studios are ugly by any means.
post #22 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvision7m2 View Post

KEF is unfamiliar to me.....................

They are an old and well-respected British speaker company, although those XQs are most likely made in China. The majority of the company has been owned by a Hong Kong-based conglomerate for many years, now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mvision7m2 View Post

especially considering the smallish matching center channel.

True, the XQ50c only has 3 - 5.25" drivers as opposed to the 3 - 6.5" drivers of the XQ40s. But it is no smaller than the matching center often offered by speaker manufacturers. Paradigm, of course, has some monstrous matching centers.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mvision7m2 View Post

Do the KEFs look a little nicer? Yes. Do they sound $1,000 dollars better than the Studios? Not to these ears. I'm not 100% sure they sound much better at all than the Studio 100s. A little maybe. Again, that's to my ears. They are certainly nice though.

That sort of comparative thinking is what is called "shopping for speakers", so you are on the right track.


I like KEFs. As I told you in the "KEF Owners Thread", they're usually for people who know as soon as they hear them that that is what they must have. Yes, they are expensive. My initial exposure to KEF was their lower-priced "Q series" speakers and I purchased my XQs at a very significant discount; very significant. I probably would not have paid full-price for them.
post #23 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvision7m2 View Post

Diminishing returns I thinks it's called right? You start looking at higher priced components in the belief that more expensive means better but that just isn't always the case.

The Signature S8s are an example of that I think. The S8s are better than the studio 100s but to me not by a significant enough margin to make me feel compelled to spend the extra money. They sure as hell look a lot better than the Studios not that the Studios are ugly by any means.

Its hard for me to swallow those statements, lets get this straight... I am only wishing to hear that the Sig's are that much more of a performance increase, as i would really love to put a set in my bedroom, as they are just down right sexy as hell... I find them to be one of the most sleek looking speakers out there. I really want a set, but the price difference for looks alone is just a plain bummer... Some S6's CC3 and some ADP's in Cherry would be freaking awesome looking in my bedroom, but that would be seriously spendy just for that..
post #24 of 44
Thread Starter 
You'd have to judge for yourself of course as its only my humble opinion that the extra performance offered up by the S8s was not apparent enough for me to spend the extra dough. If price was not as much of an object for me then I would get the S8s because they are a lot nicer to look at and I'd rather have the top of the line if it was within my financial reach. I know the S8s are indeed better performing but I didn't notice enough of a difference during my relatively short time with them to justify paying the extra money.
post #25 of 44
Thread Starter 
For anyone interested I picked up the Studio 100s on tuesday. I let them break in for the last couple of days and have to say that even during the break in period I have enjoyed the sound of them with my Yamaha receiver. Movies and music sound very impressive although I haven't done any real critical listening yet. I'll get to that today. They look awesome flanking my T.V. also, very commanding. So far so good. It seems to me that the more I listen the more balanced they are becoming. So far all voices, instruments and sound effects sound natural and "right".
post #26 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvision7m2 View Post

For anyone interested I picked up the Studio 100s on tuesday.

ENJOY!
post #27 of 44
mvision:

Congrats on your 100's. I don't think I will be too far behind you with my next purchase.
post #28 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Warpdrv View Post

Its hard for me to swallow those statements, lets get this straight... I am only wishing to hear that the Sig's are that much more of a performance increase, as i would really love to put a set in my bedroom, as they are just down right sexy as hell... .

Wow! How can a speaker be considered sexy? And of all things sexy in the bedroom.

Sure hope you find a pair with tight ports.
post #29 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdmi4ever View Post

Why do you care about reviews if you've personally heard them and compared them with other speakers? Reviews are for narrowing down the list to a small enough number that you can listen to within your time constraints, not for making the final decision after you've heard them yourself.

I agree completely. Always go with what you like. Nothing else matters.
post #30 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvision7m2 View Post

For anyone interested I picked up the Studio 100s on tuesday. I let them break in for the last couple of days and have to say that even during the break in period I have enjoyed the sound of them with my Yamaha receiver. Movies and music sound very impressive although I haven't done any real critical listening yet. I'll get to that today. They look awesome flanking my T.V. also, very commanding. So far so good. It seems to me that the more I listen the more balanced they are becoming. So far all voices, instruments and sound effects sound natural and "right".

The studio 100's are a rockin' speaker, especially for the price. IMHO you'll be hard pressed to find a better speaker for the price (there's a few, but not many).

Enjoy the heck out of those things!

P.S. Speakers can certainly be sexy. You'll learn HTMAN. You'll learn.
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