Paradigm speakers have a huge following, and I mean a HUGE following. It's not hard to see why, as they deliver an extremely high bang for the buck value quotient. They have an excellent dealer network, a very loyal customer base and very good customer service. But, most importantly, their product provides good performance and excellent value.
When Paradigm decided to flesh out its offerings by bringing out a new high end line, that was good news for the audiophile, and perhaps not so good news for other speaker manufacturers. The Signature line has been in gestation for some time, and now it's finally here, and in some ways marks a significant departure for Paradigm.
I elected to test the S8 tower speaker for the fronts; the C5, the larger of the two center channels; the S4, the larger of the two monitor speakers; and the Signature Servo subwoofer.
The first thing I must comment on is the finish on these speakers -- it is phenomenal. The veneers are gorgeous, the lacquer application is top-notch, and the overall fit and finish has many mega-expensive speakers beat hands down. In fact, I was a little surprised to find out the S8 only (!) retailed for $6000/pair. The driver array consists of a one-inch tweeter, a seven-inch midrange, and four 7-inch woofers. The speakers are very, very well built, and everything on them feels substantial, including the grilles. With the pale yellow midrange driver and the bullet-shaped center cap, they have borrowed a page from B&W design, one that I especially like. With the sheer number of drivers facing you with the center channel and the S8s, it is much more interesting to leave the grilles off the speakers. It's not a subtle look, but it does suggest that you will be blown out of your chair when the system is turned on.
The C5 center channel has a slightly different driver array than the S8, using a four-inch midrange driver and two 7-inch mid-bass drivers. Interesting. I was a bit curious as to why the same midrange drivers as in the main speakers were not used. The S4s are available with excellent stands and continue to use the same four-inch midrange driver as the center channel and an eight-inch woofer. Paradigm is one of the few speaker companies that manufacture all their own speaker drivers, so they obviously can design whatever drivers they feel will work best for a particular application.
The Servo subwoofer continues the tapered cabinet look, with a large 15-inch driver in the face of the unit. Few subwoofers look this good. The unit has a 1200-watt amplifier, but more importantly is a sealed enclosure unit for better bass accuracy. It is interesting to note that both Krell and Paradigm have chosen this route for their new subwoofers.
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
The Signature speakers were tried with a few different pieces of equipment, including the new Anthem Statement D1 and P5 amplifiers. They were set up in my office theatre, which consisted of the Simaudio Aurora amp, the Parasound C2 processor and a Simaudio Orbiter universal player. Cables used were AudioQuest Gibraltar and Python interconnects. The bi-wirable speakers have excellent binding posts. They were easy to set up, except for their heaviness. The best configuration for the S8s was slightly toed in toward the listener, and for the S4s to be placed behind the listener as rears