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  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
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  • SoundStage! InSight -- KEF and the Uni-Q (October 2015)
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To Roger Kanno,

I am writing to ask for your professional advice as I am in the market for a new 5.2-channel speaker system. Below are my options and I need you to select the best one based on your experience:

Option 1: Definitive Technology Mythos ST-L (four towers plus CS-8080HD)
Option 2: KEF R900 (four towers plus R600c)
Option 3: Paradigm Reference Prestige 95F (four towers plus 55C)

Any of the selections will be combined with SVS PB13-Ultra, SB13-Ultra, or GoldenEar SuperSub XXL subwoofers. (I will also need your advice on that.)

As for my home setup, it will be mainly for home theater (80%) and less for music listening (20%).

Kind regards,
Hany Kabeel
Kuwait

In my opinion, each one of the systems you mentioned would be excellent for both movies and music. Of course, a lot of that will depend on the electronics that you use, but I’ll assume that you are using at least a very high-end receiver or good separates. That being said, there is no “best one,” as they are all excellent, but there will be differences between them.

The Definitive Technology system has the advantage of having built-in subwoofers, which will make that system more forgiving of lower-powered receivers and amplifiers. They are also very slim towers that should be easier to place and, in my opinion, look the best of the ones you mentioned (even better than the Paradigm Prestige in its gorgeous Midnight Cherry finish). One of the disadvantages is that the CS-8080HD won’t be a perfect match as a center-channel since it uses midrange drivers more similar to those in their BP series of speakers.

On the other hand, the KEF system has a very nicely matched center-channel speaker and a very smooth sound overall, but the R900 lacks some of the bass of the Mythos ST-L, especially if you do not have a powerful amp (an advantage of the Mythos ST-L self-powered bass section). The R900 is not super power hungry, but does require an amp that can ably control the bass.

I have not had the Paradigm Prestige system in for review, but have really liked what I have heard from them at shows. I suspect that the 95F is not that hard to drive either, but again would require good amplification to deliver the best peformance.

As for subwoofers, the ones that you have mentioned are excellent and have impressed me at shows and demos, but I have not spent any time with them in my own system, so it would be difficult for me to comment more directly on any model. I would also add JL Audio subs to that mix since they now have their reasonably priced E-Sub and Dominion models available. Also, a system based on the Revel Performa3 F208s, with the excellent matching C208 center-channel speaker, would be at the same high level of performance as the other systems you mention, for around the same price.

Sorry I could not give you a more definitive recommendation, but these are all great systems and you will have to be the one who ultimately decides. . . . Roger Kanno