When it comes to top-flight speakers designed for peak performance at price levels a imed at the Everyman, no one does it better than Paradigm. Their newest assault on cost-no -object speakers, the Signature S8 v.2s reviewed here, are the latest absolute statement from the Canadian manufacturer. With retail prices starting at just under $6,000, the S8 v.2s cost about half as much as the competition they're up against and in many ways embarra ss. Armed with a one-inch Beryllium dome tweeter, a seven-inch Co-Pal cobalt-infused aluminum midrange driver and four seven-inch polypropylene bass cones, the S8 v.2 is nothing if not full range. The S8 v.2 is a relatively efficient design, with 92 dB sensitivity into a benign eight-ohm load, meaning the speaker is remarkably easy to drive to concert levels with both solid and tube-based amplifiers. The six-driver array is housed in a beautifully finished cabinet that comes in either a piano black lacquer or bird's eye maple. The finish is topnotch and gives the large S8 v.2 a sleek, elegant appearance, which goes a long way toward masking its overall stature and girth. The S8 v.2 has four outrigging feet to improve stability and tighten bass response and is bi-wireable via dual pairs of recessed WBT-style binding posts. The S8 v.2 has a ported design, which helps with overall bass response, but this also means placement in your room can require a bit more space.
• The S8 v.2 is utterly musically involving and possesses a sort of sonic oneness that is on par with speakers costing five times as much.
• The updated Beryllium tweeter is smooth, refined and one of the best high-frequency transducers on the market today.
• The S8 v.2's bass response is deep, richly textured and agile, negating the need for a subwoofer in all but the largest of listening rooms.
• The S8 v.2's fit and finish is first-rate. This is one of the most solidly-built loudspeakers I've encountered in a long time.
• The S8 v.2 is easy to mate with a variety of different components and system needs.
• The removable grille is essential to the speaker's overall sound and should be left on for optimal performance, but be careful when removing it, for it is pretty fragile.
• The recessed binding posts make thicker-gauge speaker cable connections a ch ore. If you're one for bi-wiring, you're going to be frustrated unless you use banana terminations.
• The high-gloss finish is prone to showing dust and fingerprints, so frequent dusting and/or polishing is essential to keep the S8 v.2 looking its best.
• The S8 v.2 needs a fair amount of space to breathe and sound its best. If your room is too small, I suggest looking at the Paradigm Signature S2, which uses the same tweeter and midrange as the S8 v.2, but in a smaller package.
At just under six grand a pair, the Paradigm Signature S8 v.2 is an absolute steal. Its performance rivals that of costlier speakers and even bests a few. Rest assured that nothing, and I mean nothing, can touch it at or around its cost. You'll have to spend considerably more to warrant the performance differences if you're looking for more than what the S8 v.2 can give. The finish is first-rate and, while large, it is among the least visually imposing floor-standing speakers I've come across, for it is just gorgeous. While I get to spend time with just about every and any loudspeaker on the market today, I chose the Paradigm Signature S8 v.2 as my reference floor-standing speaker for the time being. The question is, will you do the same?
Competition and Comparison
If you are interested in comparing the Paradigm Signature S8s against their competition, read our reviews for the Revel Performa F52 loudspeaker and the MartinLogan Vista Hybrid loudspeaker. You can also find more information by visiting our Floorstanding Speaker Section and our Paradigm brand page. Discuss floorstanding speakers at hometheaterequipment.com. Find your nearest Paradigm dealer.