Paradigm Reference Studio/20 loudspeaker Robert Deutsch, May 2002
I wondered what the Quicksilver Horn Mono amplifier would sound like driving a speaker with average sensitivity, and, given its low gain, whether the preamp would have sufficient output for this type of setup. As it happened, as an adjunct to a review I was working on for Stereophile Guide to Home Theater, I had on hand a pair of Paradigm Reference Studio/20s, and I thought that using these speakers would provide a good test of the Horn Mono's performance in a more conventional system.
The results were astonishingly good. First of all, the Studio/20 (the ones I had were the v.2 series, updated since the version reviewed by Bob Reina in February 1998, Vol.21 No.2) is a terrific little speaker. It's superior in some ways—more coherent, with better imaging—to the Studio/100 v.2, which I reviewed for Stereophile in June 2000 (Vol.23 No.6).
The Studio/20 has a rated sensitivity of 89dB, about 10dB lower than recommended by Quicksilver Audio, but the Horn Monos were able to drive the speakers to surprisingly high levels. The CAT SL-1 Ultimate preamp had to be turned up a few clicks beyond the usual setting for the Avantgarde Uno horns, but there was no indication of any sort of electronic mismatch, and the preamp was still a few clicks short of full gain when the amplifier-speaker combo reached its maximum comfortable level. The sound was really quite excellent, and hard to credit to a combination of amp and speaker costing less than $2500.—Robert Deutsch