Originally Posted by Ellebob
Not really. Paradigm is smart company and if they came out with a speaker that measures like this there is a reason. Paradigm does a lot of their own research and listening tests as well as having a very large anechoic chamber. They are no dummies in the audio world by any means. Maybe their research showed different preferences. While these aren't ruler flat they are within about +/- 2.5db and are Ok (not great) off axis.
While I personally prefer a more accurate speakers I have a friend that is an enthusiast and was looking to upgrade his Focal Micro Utopia speakers for no other reason than he got the upgrade itch. He compared easily over a dozen speaker models. He asked me for what some of the current models he should consider. One of the models I recommend he try was the Revel Ultima series. He would take speakers home to listen in his room from dealers that allowed this or bring his speakers to dealers to compare. He traveled quite a bit around New England in his search. The Persona wasn't out yet but before the Utopias he had Paradigm Signatures. He did try the Prestige but didn't think they were as good as his current speakers but better than some he listened. Anyway, after all his listening one of his comments to me was. Those Revels were my least favorite of all the speakers he listened. He thought they sounded "flat and lifeless, with no sound stage". He listened to that at a dealer and not in his home. He wondered if it was maybe the electronics they paired it with. It is also the same store he listened to some Sonus Fabers and Focal Sopra.
What did he end up getting? He kept his current speakers. He liked the Focal Diablo better but didn't think it was worth spending the money for a slight improvement. He thought the Sopra would be a lateral move but was also very good. His next favorite other than the Focals he thought one of the Sonus Faber models (?Venere) was also excellent. He loved the finish of the Sonus Faber speakers though. The funny thing is the Revel measures similarly to the Focals. Hmmm. Different strokes for different folks.
One of the differences between Paradigm and Harman is Paradigm does not publish any of its research or testing. I think many other companies keep their results as "company secrets". While other companies might not publish their results does not mean they don't do any. I respect Harman for being open about their research and give them a BIG kudos!
I agree with much of the above, which is why it's a puzzler, IMO. FWIW, I am also a Paradigm dealer (in fact, was their dealer of the year several times during the late 2000s), so believe me, I'm not gunning to bring down Paradigm. Reason I like them is because of their dedication to the science and their investment in R&D, as you point out.
Again, that's what makes their voicing a puzzle. I've shot out Paradigm models against Revel several times here, and the result is always the same - the Paradigms sound "brighter" and a bit "detached" in the upper frequencies. I thought one person I know put it perfectly - they said that the "treble rides on top" of the sound, which was their way of expressing what I meant by "detached."
I don't want to make it sound like the Paradigms are poor speakers in any way - I hold them in high regard. I'm just reporting my subjective opinion. I've heard the Personas as well at shows and thought they sounded really good. But my own opinions there are just as valid as anyone else who heard different speakers in different locations with different source material - as in, not very. The tests I have done have been with the Prestige models against Concerta2 and Performa3 under at least somewhat controlled circumstances.
One of the things the NRC and Harman research has found is that people in their upper 50s or older may prefer a brighter sound, most likely to overcome hearing deficiencies. Could that explain how some might prefer the Paradigm or Focal voicing? Who knows; all just pure conjecture on my part. Some reasons I think this may be so:
I have a customer who has pretty severe high frequency hearing loss. Not only does he prefer his Focals, he also turns up the treble as well. To me and my installers, the system sounds like it is screaming. However, the customer likes it so is quite happy.
A speaker designer can have access to all the best facilities in the world and understand the science, yet still believe they personally have "golden ears" and tune their speaker designs based on their own preferences. This was true of one of the previous speaker designers at Harman (no longer there). Again, access to all the best equipment and research, yet overrode everything based on a "I know best" attitude. It really complicates things when the golden-eared designer has pretty severe hearing loss after decades of listening to loud music and test tones. Conversely, you can see genuine humility in Dr. Toole's posts where he removed himself from listening tests when his own hearing became unreliable (which is why he goes on so much about protecting our hearing).
RE: the PersonaB vs. the M106. Never have tried it under blind conditions here, but it's certainly possible that the B would have greater dynamics than the standard M106. That is literally one of the main advantages of the M126Be, and part of what spurred the re-design - a desire for greater dynamic capability.
Not really sanguine about room correction being employed to "fix" a speaker. I believe Dr. Toole has gone on at length about that elsewhere in the various Harman threads.
All of that said, like you salute Harman for publishing their research, I salute Paradigm for being dedicated to solid science and R&D.