It’s way too early in the game to comment on the Special Editions’ sonic character, but the net effect is that you really do enjoy sound that is more than a little reminiscent of that produced by Paradigm’s larger and more costly Reference Studio-series speakers. What’s downright weird, though, is to hear that sound pouring fourth from the SE’s compact, Monitor-sized enclosures. If first impressions are any indication, it appears that the “Studio-‘innards’-in-a-Monitor-box” approach really works.
One point worth noting is the fact that the speaker calibration system in our reference AVR (a Pioneer SC-27) immediately recognized the tiny SE 1 monitor speakers (which we are using as Left/Right surrounds) as “Large” speakers—status not all small bookshelf monitors could achieve.
Last night, after installing the Special Edition system in The Perfect Vision listening room and giving it an initial calibration, I put on the Blu-ray concert disk Return to Forever Returns—Live at Montreux 2008 so that the system could begin to break in. I then went to the back of the room to work on some other AVguide.com tasks and was listening to the system only casually when something about the sound of the surround speakers seized my attention. On Stanley Clarke’s bass solos (and on Chick Corea’s deeper left-hand keyboard runs) the tiny SE 1 monitors were putting out serious bass without any apparent distress (most surrounds get classified as “Small” speakers and so don’t have to do any serious bass work at all). I was wowed to hear (even on limited surround channel information) how full and rich the SE 1s seemed to be. It’s purely an intuition or instinct on my part, but I can’t help but feel that when surround speakers sound impressive right out of the box, the rest of the system may be likely to follow in the same path. We shall soon see, and it will be fun to see how the Special Edition system’s sound evolves with further break-in.
Stay tuned for a full review in The Perfect Vision.