Review!!!!!!!!!!!! [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


View Full Version : Review!!!!!!!!!!!!

09-04-2005, 06:58 PM
Ok people I have decided to do a review of my new AR.coms that I purchased from Ed Frias himself. He designed, tested, balanced, and assembled the pair. Now before I get down to my findings I would first like to mention a few things. My goal has been to find and own a set of speakers that is as good if not better than the Paradigm Studio 20's .v.3's. This is because I consider the Studio 20's to be a top notch performer. However, I just could not afford the $800 for a set of the Studio 20's. It is a must that I mention that I do not care for tower speakers. IMHO, the Studio 20's outperform the rest of the Studio line. Now I know many of you will disagree but this is my opinion nothing more nothing less. I have auditioned many standmounted speakers and really like the Studio 20's as well as the B&W 602s3's, Paradigm Monitor 3's v.3, and the Polk Rti6's to name a few. I even listened to the Tyler Acoustics Freedom F2's which cost about the same as the Studio 20's but are somewhat better especially the cabinets. In fact, the best sounding speakers I have heard to date are the Linbrook Signature Monitors that have a MTM design and are just awesome. But, the Linbrooks cost $2800 a pair...........LOL yeah right. Definately out of my price range but IMHO are worth every penny of it!!! Please keep in mind that I am by no means an expert and the comparisons between the Studio 20's and my AR.coms are based solely on memory. However, I have done extensive listening to just about everything Paradigm makes with the exception of the Signature series. Therefore, I believe my conclusions are at least somewhat valid. This review is being done solely to help those who have found themselves in a similiar situation as I or for those close to making a descision and are ambivalent. Ok time for the review. I am gonna skip the usual stuff that I already have mentioned when announcing that my AR.coms arrived a few days ago. You know stuff like how they were packaged and etc. Lets just say Ed Frias knows what he is doing. Time for the gravy!!!!!!!! Ok first thing I noticed about the AR's is that they are solid, heavy, and look rather attractive with the real wood veneer finish really brings a smile to my face everytime I look at them. Now anybody that knows the Paradigm Studio 20's know that they image like nobodys business. The studios have excellent low frequency extension and are quite articulate just like I prefer speakers to sound. The tweeter is very open and extended and does not sound rolled off. At times, the sound can he a little on the bright side but for the most part very well controlled. The Studios also have a rather large soundstage that is very impressive for its size. Now I have to admit my Titans v.3's are actually beginning to open up as well. It is about time because I bought them about 6 months ago. Right out of the box the AR.coms slammed the Titans. No comparison at all. I also am very familiar with the Paradigm Minis and the Monitor 3's as well. Once again, no comparison. The Minis sound blanketed and rolled off on the upper registers and have a bloated bassy sound to them. The Monitor 3's have a very large soundstage but are not near as articulate as my AR.coms. The Minis and the Monitor 3's have a boxy sound to them. IMHO, my Titans sound almost as good as the Minis. My AR.coms are not as efficient as the Studio 20's. But, the AR.coms do more by adding a life-like presence to them. The sound disappears and if I did not know better would believe the artist was performing right here in my living room. I have read all about how speakers disappear but never until now had the priviledge to experience it first hand. The AR.coms sound so clear and natural w/o any brighness or harshness. As mentioned, the Studio 20's can at times sound a little bit on the bright side of things. The Ar.coms image as well if not better than the Studio 20's. It seems that the AR.coms place instruments better and as a result sound more "real". The Ar.coms soundstage is also impressive for its size but it is too close a call for me to say they have a larger soundstage than the Studio 20's. I also think the Studio 20's have a bit better low frequency extension and are a little more articulate in the midbass region. This could be because the Studio 20's are more efficient and as such do not require as much power as the AR.coms do. Or, the AR.coms may need a little more time to open up more. Only time will tell. The midrange is where the AR.coms shine. The AR's sound so lively but never out of balance whereas the Studio 20's can sound a little bit forward in the midrange region. Over all, I am very happy with my purchase of the AR.coms and do prefer them to the Studio 20's by a rather significant margain especially since the AR.coms can be had for $600 if you get them from Ed Frias himself. You will be hard pressed to buy a new pair of Studio 20's for $600. So my hat goes off to Ed Frias because he is a true gentleman and is very talented in that he knows how to design a speaker that offers great bang for the buck. In time, I plan to get a set of his T20's which are of the MTM design and move the AR.coms to rear duties. I also will have the need to move up to better amplification. My yammie is nice but not enough juice for my new speakers. I also would like to mention that the AR.coms blend very well with my Paradigm PS1000 v.4 10" powered sub. Well, thank you Kex for helping me to learn more about the AR.coms and to Ed Frias for answering each and every question/concern I had before buying my AR.coms. Ed earned my business and I plan to buy from him again. Have a great evening.

09-05-2005, 05:35 AM
Interesting evaluation. First, I'm glad that you are happy, I know you've been shopping for months.

I did a lot of head to head comparisons between my Studio 20 v.2's and the DIY speakers. The was a good step up in overall presentation. The Studio 20 v.3's made several improvments however, and I think would be a much closer comparison. Off the top of my head I think the 20's might image a bit better, but don't have quite the soundstage depth or width.

I like the high end prominence in the Studio line, but I know they're often described as bright sounding. I think the's are just a bit less so (although that's adjustable). The bass isn't as deep but might be just as well controlled and defined. The biggest difference is the midrange. Voices and strings are where the's strenghts are over the Studios IMO.

I'm sure a lot of people would find the Studio's match their personal preferences a bit better than the's do. I doubt 100% of people would lean one way or the other. These 2 speakers do have different flavors to them. I think the great thing about the's is the price point though. I built a complete new 7.1 system off the proceeds of my 4 used Studio 20's and the Studio CC, and still had money left. They are available at different price points too, raw kit, no cabinets, kit with cabinets, and finished kit. Just another good option for people out there.

09-05-2005, 01:16 PM
Well said there kex and I could not agree more. But, I have had some more time to listen to my AR.coms so have decided to post some additional comments. First of all, a somewhat local radio station has been playing the Top 300 songs from the 1980's over and over again all weekend long. The 80's bring back to my mind many good memories. Hence, I have been listening to my new AR.coms quite extensively for long time periods and have yet to suffer from listening fatigue. The tweeters are so open, spacious, and airy that just amazes me. The Paradigm Studio 20'sv.3 have similiar qualities but can become a little fatigueing because at times they can sound a little bit bright. I still can not draw any conclusions with respect to soundstage size but can say both the AR.coms and the Studio 20's have a very impressive soundstage. However, the AR.coms place instruments in that soundstage a little better resulting in a live natural sound. The Studio 20's are no doubt more efficient but can also be a litte bit forward as a result as compared to the AR.coms. I also think the AR.coms are a bit more laid-back than the Studio 20's but not near as laid back as the B&W602S3's are. The Studio 20's do have greater low frequency extension and is more profound in the midbass region than the AR.coms resulting in a more articulate punchier bass. Some of this has a lot to do with the Studio 20's being more efficient and some of it may have to do with the need for the AR.coms to break in some more. I must say that I have NOT really cranked them up especially not for extended time periods. Don't get me wrong I have turned them up some but just for a few minutes at a time. As Kex mentioned it is in the midrange registers where the AR.coms shine. It is like adding a whole other dimension to speaker design. Ed Frias has designed the AR.coms that adds depth or realism if you will to voices and instrumentation but goes further with precise placement that the Studio 20's don't quite capture. Therefore, the AR.coms balance has an ability to totally disappear in a way that the Studio 20's cant quite capture. Thus, in many ways the AR.coms out perform the Studio 20's by a significant margain but the Studio 20's do a few things better and I hope I have done a good job explaining them. Over all I still have to tip my hat to the AR.coms but I also recognize that both the AR.coms and the Paradigm Studio 20's are very close and must say I would have been happy with either or. But considering $600 for the AR.coms and say at least $725-$745 for the Studio 20's AND that over all I prefer the AR.coms feel as though I made the right choice. Once again I want to personally think Kex for bringing the AR.coms to my attention and to ED Frias himself for his honesty and utmost professionalism.

09-05-2005, 02:38 PM
Hi Phil...The added bass the Studio's have can be attributed to the 45% larger cabinet volume. I get a low frequency extension down to 43 Hz in my room before it drops off below -2 dB. Not bad really.
The Studio 20's are 4 or 5 Hz lower I think.
I actually have a pair of cabinets cut out for one pair of my's to modify them into dual-chamber reflex towers. It'll increase the internal volume to about 16 L and demand lower excursion from the woofer. It adds 6 Hz just from increasing the volume. Best part is, the top chamber the woofer sees is identical in dimensions to the original to minimize any variation from the original design. I got sidetracked and built a subwoofer, then 2 home theaters for family members, as well as some work on other projects, so I've never got around to finishing them off. I should get back at them.
The Studio 20's aren't more efficient though. I've measured mine at 88.1 dB in anechoic conditions (well, quasi anechoic, but it works for sensitivity), a bit higher in my room. This is right on par and actually a bit better than the Studio 20s. Either way, the differences in sensivities between these 2 (and even my Studio 40's which are just a 1/2 dB higher) isn't anything significant.

A neat trick while you're still familiarizing yourself with these - stick a sock gently into the port hole, just enough to block it (not in too deep) - tell me if you notice a more sharper, punchier bass (but not as low)...great for blending them in with your sub at higher frequencies around 80 or 90 Hz with the settings on your receiver for the's as "small" and bass out to "sub" only.