Today I stopped in at Stereo Planet and listened to a bunch of various speakers.
First stop was the budget bookshelf array, aka my budget. I listened to the B&W DM303 first and liked their sound. They were "fuller" sounding than I thought they would be. Definitly not small sounding. Then the sales guy switched the reciever over to the Paradigm Focus (the last pair they have! oh no!) and oh wow! These things are crazy. I couldn't believe all this rich, deep sound that was coming out was JUST the bookshelves and there was no sub. The music enveloped me and just sounded right.
Next he switched to the lower set, which were a pair of B&W DM601's and Paradigm Titan Monitors. The DM601's impressed me, but they didn't sound as well rounded as the Focus'. When he switched to the Titan Monitors I was like
, but not in a good way. The sound of these things were big, loud and in your face. It was almost like the music was coming out and assaulting my ears.
When the song ended, he asked me what I thought. I said the Titan Monitors were way more "in your face" than I liked, but the Focus' astounded me. He agreed, telling me that he didn't know what Paradigm was thinking with their new line. He told me that their pair of Focus' were the last they had and because of a small chip on the corner of one of the speakers, which he pointed out, that they would be $275. The little nick wasn't too bad so I was definitely interested. I then asked if I could listen to some stuff that was "way out of my budget." He said, "Oh, definitely. Let's go have some fun."
We walked into their main listening room that had a pair of B&W 800D's, a HTM1D center channel and two big Velodyne woofers. The first thing I thought was, "Dear God that center is gargantuan." It was. He played a different track off the CD I listened to before... and HOLY CRAP! I felt like I was at a concert. The sound was larger than life! And the BASS! I thought those woofers must be on, but he told me that the only speakers currently playing were the 800D's. This was bass like I'd never heard before (save for a movie theater), it was HUUUGE. I couldn't believe it was just the towers. I don't think I've actually been almost scared listening to music before. That was an experience. I asked what cost more, the 800Ds (at around $12,000 apparently) or all the really nice looking AV equipment on the wall (a processor, two amps, a CD player and some various other stuff). He said it was about the same. BTW, the processor and the amps were these huge, very tall, things with brushed metal fronts (which were curved back at the sides). The proc had a blue lcd screen on it and the amps had blue LEDs on the front. He said the proc was around $6000. Anyone know what they are?
Anyway, we walked around the place some more, looking at other various speakers. He said, "Those 800s are pretty nice, but let me show you my
favorite speakers." We came to a setup of some rather unassuming maple boxes. They were the B&W CM7's. I listened and... he was right. These things just sounded so RIGHT. So transparent and yet so rich. The midrange was liquid and totally believable. They also had some truely impressive bass and again I couldn't believe there was no sub involved. Yes, I actually liked them more than the 800's tyrannosaurus-sized sound. "These are speakers I could live with the rest of my life" I thought. He switched over to the CM1 bookshelves and I immediately noticed a big difference. It was like someone had just taken out all those sweet sweet mids that the CM7 had. If I had $1800 on me, I would have bought those CM7s on the spot.
Lastly, I listened to a setup of Martin Logan Vistas, Stage center channel and B&W DM602s as surrounds with a 5.1 album. I think it was John Mayer. This was almost TOO good. It was so natural, so perfect in every way that I couldn't even think about the speakers anymore. The music just WAS. If only I liked John Mayer.
I asked if I could hook up my mp3 player (iAUDIO X5) to the Focus' and listen to some of my own stuff. After coming from those Martin Logans, the sound was noticeably smaller and less full and transparent but who cares. It's $275 vs. ... however much those MLs cost. A LOT more. Anyway, I listened to The Arcade Fire's "Intervention" of their new album, Neon Bible first. The big church organ in that song came through impressively and the kick drum hit with real authority, while everything remained clear and seperated. Next, to REALLY see what these things could do, I listened to "The Birth And Death Of The Day" by Explosions In The Sky. If you've heard this song... it was amazing. I then tried out some electronica with Mind.In.A.Box's "Change." Again I was impressed with the bass these things pumped out, while still being tight and clear.
So there you have it. I am pretty darn sold on the Paradigm Focus' now.