I chose the Anthem Integrated 225 integrated amplifier/preamplifier and a pair of Paradigm Signature S2 speakers, based on a scenario where a potential audio buyer wants top-notch sound and features, but has limited space. An integrated amp saves shelf space versus separate preamp and amp, and compact speakers allow easier placement in dimensionally challenged rooms.
The Paradigm S2s are amazingly accurate on the top-end. The beryllium tweeter presents an extended and fast response, yet it is as smooth as a soft dome. Treble detail on 24-bit and DSD recordings was spot on with reverb decay, cymbal brush strokes and upper-register piano note all sounding very natural and dynamic.
By the way, the balanced input jacks make this a good choice for professionals and home studio recordists who want a budget, full-featured combo amp/preamp for their passive speaker monitor setup. You can feed it a stereo signal from a mixer, professional recorder output or any other component that contains a set of XLR outputs.
For my Rotel RP-955/AT150ML phono cartridge set up, the phono preamp delivered a very analog vinyl quality with tight bass, good imaging, and upper end detail. The AT150ML is a little on the tight side without over-enhancing the bass or midrange, and that is how the Anthem delivered the record audio. The audiophile reissue LP of West Montgomery’s “Full House,” in particular, sounded clear and articulate through the system.
The Paradigm S2s are amazingly accurate on the top-end. The beryllium tweeter presents an extended and fast response, yet it is as smooth as a soft dome. Treble detail on 24-bit and DSD recordings was spot on with reverb decay, cymbal brush strokes and upper-register piano note all sounding very natural and dynamic. I am impressed. Can’t wait to listen to the bigger version of this speaker series.
Bass response was very good for a small speaker with useable extension to 55 Hz in my room (measured with a RTA and test mic). The ported speaker did exhibit some mid bass boost when placing the speakers close to side walls or the back wall (1 foot or so), but extending the boundary distance tamed the effect — as does plugging the ports with my rubber, home made port plugs. The latter tightens up the bass at the expense of losing some low-frequency extension.
If you have a bookshelf system or an old stereo system as your main listening system, but want to move up to the big league of audiophile listening — without spending a fortune, I heartily recommend the Paradigm Signature S2 speakers and Anthem Integrated 225 tandem. The combination of price, features and performance, should please most discriminating listeners. Though $3,000 is not pocket change, I think the duo is a good deal. You could spend a lot more and not get that much more in performance. The pair is a definite Stellar Sound award winner. For more information, visit www.paradigm.com and www.anthemav.com