Upgrading from Paradigm Studio to a Paradigm Signature Atmos System User Review
I have been a long time Paradigm fan and have, through a local retailer upgrade program owned the following: Atom, Monitor 7, Monitor 11, Studio 20, Studio 40, Studio 60, Active 20, Active 40 and most recently Studio 100 (v4) Speakers from Paradigm.
Following a lightning strike and fire that destroyed our home theater, I did some recent critical listening to decide whether to replace my now discontinued Studio 100 speakers with the assumed successor to the Studio series, the Prestige 95F. For listening tests I took reference material that I am most familiar with (Steely Dan Gaucho in SACD and Peter Gabriel Shaking the Tree in CD) to the local retailer.
I loved the Studio 100 v4 speaker’s sound (driven by a Yamaha receiver and Emotiva XPA-5). When listening to the new Prestige 95F speakers, the majority of the sound was the same neutral, clinical, precise sound that I have come to know and love over the last many years but with a major difference in the high frequencies. The Studio 100’s had been clinical, neutral, even and powerful top to bottom. The high frequencies in the Prestige 95F’s sounded ‘crunchy’ and harsh to my ears. The Gold-Anodized Pure-Aluminum dome tweeters (G-PAL) of the Studio 100s sounded far superior to the new X-PAL Aluminum dome tweeters of the Prestige series. I did listen to both the largest 95F and the bookshelf 15B and had the same experience with the high frequencies. Both my wife and I had the same reaction so it wasn’t just my aging ears.
Although it was a larger bite out of the insurance money from the fire, the next alternative was Paradigm Signature S6 v3s. Having heard them before, I ordered them sight unseen. I also upgraded my Active Studio CC and ADP surround speakers with matching Sig S2 and C3 speakers. For the Atmos ceiling speakers I installed four Paradigm CI Pro P65-R speakers according to the Dolby Atmos placement guide. This is the first time that I have ever had a matched set of speakers, with a nice 5.1.4 setup.
My new system is driven by a Yamaha 3050, Emotiva XPA-5 and an SVS Ultra 13 sub to fill in the LFE channel. As usual, the Yamaha YPAO setup was simple with the added step of angle measurements for the ceiling speakers. YPAO set all speakers to ‘Large’ and I changed them all to small with a Dolby recommended 80Hz crossover. I did try the Sig 6’s set to large, but for some reason the system sounds better with an 80Hz crossover. My room is also acoustically treated with panels from Acoustimac.
I had previously thought that surround and presence speakers could be an afterthought. How wrong I was. Having a matched set of absolutely wonderful Signature series speakers is a revelation. Putting the Yamaha in 9 channel stereo mode fills the room with balanced, clean sound. The instruments from Steely Dan’s Gaucho sound clean, crisp and perfect. The bass impact half way through Peter Gabriel’s Shaking the Tree (that used to make my Active 20’s amps clip) hit hard with perfect balance. While I enjoy 2 channel listening as well, I keep coming back to the 9 channel stereo mode.
For movies, my wife and I can’t stop smiling. We have tried out several Atmos Bluray movies and the immersive sound field is very impressive. It did take me a while to figure out the proper settings for the Sony BDP-S6500 Bluray player to successfully pass Atmos signals to the Yamaha. The settings are not obvious, and I found the working combination on another online forum.
Overall I can’t recommend the Paradigm Signature series more highly. They are about perfect to my ears and I don’t see changing these speakers out for a very long time. My surprise was how much I (and my wife) disliked the tweeter in the Prestige series. I was also surprised at the difference a matched surround set made. Later, I will upgrade to an Oppo player, add rear speakers and a 2nd sub to fix a low frequency room mode problem. For now I’m a very lucky and happy Paradigm owner. Hopefully my experience and thoughts can benefit others who are exploring an upgrade path from their Studio series speakers.
Last edited by knappster007; 12-21-2015 at 03:34 PM.