Paradigm Signature Reference S1 Monitor Loudspeaker Reviewed

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Paradigm-Signature-S1-review.gifParadigm has become a household name among value conscious audiophiles the world over. A few years back Paradigm took their brand cache up a notch with the introduction of their Signature lineup of loudspeakers. Since their arrival, Paradigm Signature loudspeakers have pretty much been the embodiment of high-end value for money and their newest Signature loudspeaker, the S1 reviewed here, is no different.

Additional Resources
• Learn more about Paradigm and read over 25 other Paradigm speaker reviews.
• Read over 100 of the best bookshelf speaker reviews reviewed by HomeTheaterReview.com on this resource page including the likes of PSB, MartinLogan, GoldenEar, Monitor Audio, Bowers & Wilkins and many others.
 

Retailing for $1,498 a pair without stands the S1s are the smallest of the Signature lineup, a title once held by the magnificent S2 monitor loudspeakers. The S1s are a two-way ultra-compact bookshelf/monitor speaker featuring a one-inch pure Beryllium dome tweeter mated to a six-inch bass/midrange driver. The S1 comes in a variety of finishes, which include cherry, natural maple and piano black. The S1s have a reported frequency response of 65Hz to 45kHz and are fairly easy to drive given their 90dB sensitivity and benign eight Ohm load making them ideal for lower power integrated amplifiers as well as budget separates.

Tonally the S1s sound a lot larger than their meager size and shape, not to mention driver compliment, would have you believe. They possess startling bass performance for their size, though I'd hardly call the S1s full range. Still, the S1's bass performance is very tuneful, rich, agile and detailed, which is more than I can say for much of the competition. The midrange, a Paradigm hallmark, is close to if not as good as the larger S2s, which I called my reference bookshelf for over two years. It is extremely natural, uncolored and airy, though at first blush the S1's midrange does come off a bit thin and anemic, however given proper break-in and warm up you realize it's pretty much dead on the money, making every other speaker sound slow and bloated in comparison. The top end of the S1's performance is truly something special thanks in part to its Beryllium dome tweeter. Beryllium dome tweeters are all the rage these days among most high-end speaker manufacturers, though I'm not sure any of them build one quite the way Paradigm does. I can say the before-mentioned statement because unlike other speaker manufacturers Paradigm designs and builds all of their drivers, including their Beryllium dome tweeters, completely in house. The S1's tweeter is refined, extremely quick and detailed with wonderful air and extension though when driven hard or pushed to its limits it can become a little harsh and even bite back. In terms of soundstage the S1s disappear like any good monitor should only the S1s leave a much larger performance in their wake than most mini monitors. Overall if you're looking for a small, non obtrusive, affordable but still high end bookshelf or mini monitor loudspeaker that sounds even better than it looks, then look no further than the Paradigm Signature S1.

Read more about the S1 on Page 2.

HTR Product Rating for Paradigm Signature Reference S1 Monitor Loudspeaker

Criteria Rating

Performance

5

Value

4.5

Overall

5

Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.


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High Points
The
S1's fit and finish is first rate and on par with loudspeakers costing twice as much. The build quality is superb and for such a small speaker it is surprisingly solid. I've rapped my knuckles on big-ticket floor standing speakers that haven't felt as solidly put together as the S1s. 
• The S1's Beryllium dome tweeter is an absolute delight providing incredibly detailed and airy high frequencies with zero harshness provided you keep the volume on the sane side of stupid. 
• The S1's midrange is open, transparent and about as uncolored as they come this side of electrostatics and or Magnepan's planar magnetic drivers. However, unlike the before mentioned speakers, the S1s can be driven by a handful of watts and don't dominate your living space visually the way larger speakers do. 
• The S1's bass is surprising and extremely tuneful all the way down to its limits. When it does reach its limits it doesn't call attention to its shortcomings, instead it simply rolls away never detracting from the music.

Low Points
• For true full range sound you're going to have to mate the S1s to a capable subwoofer which will add a bit to the cost of ownership though I can think of a few subs in Paradigm's arsenal that would be ideal partners for the S1 and still not break the bank. 
• The S1s sound best when placed on solid stands and positioned out into the room a bit. These are not "tuck away and disguise" loudspeakers though I'm sure their size leads many to think they are. For best performance Paradigm recommends mating the S1s to their GS-30 stands.

Conclusion
For just under $1,500 it's amazing the amount of sheer performance and technology Paradigm has been able to squeeze into the diminutive S1s. For such a small speaker they act and sound much larger, coming close to the S2s which are almost double their size. If space is at a premium in your house or listening room and you're on a budget, you can't do much better than the Paradigm Signature S1s though I should warn you, you can do a lot worse. Highly recommended. Demo a pair today, seriously, go now.


Additional Resources

• Learn more about Paradigm and read over 25 other Paradigm speaker reviews.
• Read over 100 of the best bookshelf speaker reviews reviewed by HomeTheaterReview.com on this resource page including the likes of PSB, MartinLogan, GoldenEar, Monitor Audio, Bowers & Wilkins and many others.
 

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