PSB or Paradigm or Sonus Faber or GoldenEar?

To Doug Schneider,

I am following your honest, open-hearted advice and comments with joy. In a world of nearly limitless possibilities, it is priceless to be able to read these solid comments about equipment. I enjoy your writing -- thanks for all.

I have a Hegel H300 that is used as either the DAC and standalone amplifier for stereo listening, or the power amplifier for my home-theater fronts. At the moment my speakers are Paradigm Monitor 11 v.7 mains, Monitor Center 3 center-channel, and Monitor Surround 3 surrounds. My plan is to upgrade the front two speakers. My current options more or less at the same price level are:

  • PSB Synchrony One
  • Paradigm Reference Studio 100
  • Sonus Faber Venere 3.0
  • GoldenEar Technology Triton One

My questions are:

  • Do you think my speaker options will be real upgrades, or a change in sound characteristics only?
  • Which of the above options would be the best match with the Hegel H300?
  • Since the Synchrony One and Studio 100 are older models, should I wait for newer versions? Did you hear any rumors about these models?
  • I do not want to change my other speakers. If I choose PSB, Sonus Faber, or GoldenEar, is the change of brand for these models really a big change in sound characteristic?

Thanks in advance.

Altug Tezel

Lots of questions in here and I hope to answer them all. First, Paradigm’s Monitor-series speakers are excellent for their respective prices, but the four potential speakers you’ve chosen are, in my opinion, a clear step up in terms of build, styling, and sound quality. I’ll also add that I think you’ve chosen four great contenders and should seriously consider them all. Second, all of them should work well with the Hegel H300, since it’s a pretty powerful integrated amplifier -- I don’t foresee any troubles there. Third, the Synchrony One and Studio 100 are the oldest speakers in this bunch (the Triton One isn’t even officially on the market yet), and while I don’t doubt that the companies will replace those models at some  time, I haven’t heard anything about when. For now, consider them current. Fourth and finally, I know that all the companies you’ve selected design their speakers to be relatively neutral, but they still won’t sound the same. That’s just the way it is with speakers -- no two I’ve heard sound exactly alike. As a result, you’ll really have to try them with your center-channel and surrounds to determine if you’ve got a good match sonically. It’s possible that the Studio 100 will be the closest match, since Paradigm does have a house sound, but there’s no guarantee with that -- I’ve heard the Monitor 11 and Studio 100 and although they sound similar, there are significant differences such that no one would say they sound the same. I hope this helps. . . . Doug Schneider