One thing that has bugged me recently was the Class B rating for the Paradigm Reference Studio 100v3. I personally don't care if it is rated A, B, or C, but the Legacy Focus 20/20 is also rated B, and there is no comparison between the two - AT ALL! They are in different galaxies of sound quality.
I spent 90 minutes with the Studio 100s last week at my dealer based on the incredible reviews I have seen everywhere. I was impressed with the sound, it was good. But it did not compare with the clarity, power and emotional impact I felt when auditioning the Focus at the same dealer a week before. Immediately after I finished with the Studios I listed to Focus again, just to make sure I was being fair in judging the Focus superior. There was no contest. It took me less than a minute to be convinced that the Focus is far superior to the Studio.
Maybe the S8 will be so much better than Studio 100 to warrant class B status, but if the Focus is accurately rated, then the Studio has no business being in the same class.
Specifically, highs on the Studio were much more harsh and distorted than the Focus. Mids were not bad but one mid driver versus 3 on the Focus makes a world of difference in dynamics and presence. Bass on the Studios was a joke. They were boomy and muddled. Pizzicato articulations of the cello on Pacific Quartet recording of Dvorak Eb string quartet were very difficult to hear clearly, even when I put my ear close to the speaker, the sound just was not there. From 10 feet back the focus produced this sound perfectly, as do my deftech ProCinema 60 micro sat/sub. Studios were fed by Integra AVR and CDplayer. Recording is modern 24/96 digital. It was the speakers that were weak. Likewise the tweeters of the Studio100 would screech every once in a while like there was digital over peak on the recording. It was clearly a slight fumble of the 1st violin captured clearly by the digital recording. Studio made it sound like a short circuit, very grating, while Focus made it sound like the player was stretching to keep up, not bowing as accurately as could be. It was just more real in every sense, and overwhelmingly so.
Some may say that there is a large price difference and the speakers are targeted for different buyers. I respond to that with the original premise - the Stereophile rating of Class B full range loudspeaker. Why are they rated the same when they sound so drastically different in quality? The reviews of the Studio100 are certainly not bent towards home theatre use only, as with deftech et al. They are reviewed as hifi music speakers. I question the rating system when I see disparities like this.
Should Focus be rated Class A, or should Studio 100 be rated class C? That is another question which I cannot answer until I have heard more class A speakers.
Thank you for you responses, especially Focus owners!!