|Paradigm Signature S8 Series Home Theater System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Christopher Zell, Ph.D.|
|Wednesday, 01 June 2005|
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I hope it is obvious that I was extremely impressed with the Signature Home Theater loudspeaker system, and it is because of this that I am holding them up to a very high standard. With this in mind, there are a few things that I feel the buyer should be aware of when considering them for a high-end home theater.
The ultra-wide C5 center channel is designed with ultimate performance as a primary concern, but it is difficult to place on top of or below many video monitors. Paradigm does offer the smaller C3 at some reduction in performance and price to accommodate such situations.
Despite the fact that the S8s are very large, multi-driver loudspeakers with substantial bass driver displacement, I believe they ultimately need a subwoofer for reproducing ultra-low frequencies appropriate for a system of this level. Though there is quality bass, the bar has been raised in home theater performance in recent years for full-range floor-standing loudspeakers. This ultimately was not a problem for me, since I always advocate a subwoofer in a home theater system.
For those who are using 5.1 music sources that theoretically require direct radiators (monopoles), the ADP surrounds are not configured as monopoles. Despite this, they perform quite well as direct sources, possibly because of the forward-facing woofer crossed over at 250 Hertz, and the excellent horizontal dispersion characteristics of the Paradigm drivers.
The Servo subwoofer does not have a defeat switch, which is unfortunately and curiously very common. In these days of home theater processors and receivers, most end users utilize the processor’s bass management and low-pass crossovers, not those in the subwoofer. At this price point and performance level, in my opinion it is inexcusable to not include a bypass switch. Additionally, there is no built-in equalization for room tailoring, which is becoming more and more commonplace in subwoofers.
With the release of the Signature line, there has been a paradigm shift at Paradigm Electronics. Known as a manufacturer of loudspeakers of outstanding value for the money, competing successfully with units many times their price points, now they have entered the dominion of the highest end. I would not describe the Signature Home theater system as merely a good performer for the money, or a great value with respect to the rest of the marketplace. They may be all of those things, but they are first and foremost a great loudspeaker system period, worthy of serious consideration by those seeking a true reference quality sound system. I absolutely believe the S8s are a clear upgrade, and worth the extra investment over the Reference 100s. They cross that tough to describe bridge in performance, where things sound accurate and natural, while making you relax and smile, sometimes enticing you to stay up far too late. As with all loudspeakers, especially those of this quality, to get the very best they must be set up properly (i.e. utilizing measurement tools, experimenting with multiple placements and positions, optimizing bass management, etc.). The Signature S8, C5, ADP and Servo Subwoofer are marvelous loudspeakers, and adding in the jaw-dropping automotive quality finish and graceful lines, you unquestionably have products that are positioned squarely in the high-end realm.