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Paradigm Prestige 15B Review (bookshelf speaker)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Paradigm Prestige 15B bookshelf speaker. It was kindly purchased by a member and drop shipped to me. The retail cost is US $799 each. Before writing the review I thought that was for a pair. Note that this is sold through dealer channel so actual cost may be lower.

The 15B looks really sharp with fair amount of class:

Paradigm Prestige 15B Review.jpg


Same is reflected even on the back with custom port flange and binding posts:

Paradigm Prestige 15B Review back panel binding posts.jpg


Speaker also feels fairly dense and heavy. I have zero complaints about the look and feel of the 15B.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

I performed over 1000 measurement which resulted in error rate of around 1%.

Temperature was 62 degrees F. Measurement location is at sea level so you compute the pressure.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

Reference axis was the tweeter center.

Paradigm Prestige 15B Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

Paradigm Prestige 15B Measurements Spinorama CEA-2034 frequency response.png


Right away we see that the tweeter level is not the same as the woofer and rises in energy. I am pretty confident this is the classic "showroom tweak" to make the speaker sound more detailed by Paradigm and not some mistake.

We see some peaking around 800 Hz and a number of notches between 2 and 3 kHz, all of which indicate resonances. We can see the evidence of the former in port resonance:

Paradigm Prestige 15B Measurements near-field driver response.png


The woofer resonance at 6 kHz also shows up in frequency response measurement. And we have non-even tweeter response. Wonder if that pretty grill is causing this.

As noted though, directivity is very good seeing how the three curves in our spinorama keep their distances from each other. That results in early window reflections which are pretty similar to on-axis response:

Paradigm Prestige 15B Measurements Spinorama CEA-2034 Early Window frequency response.png


So the speaker should be room friendly and lend itself to effective equalization.

Putting everything together, our simulated frequency response in room shows what we already know: this speaker will be bright sounding:
Paradigm Prestige 15B Measurements Spinorama CEA-2034 Predicted In-room frequency response.png


Distortion is kept under control more than budget speakers:
Paradigm Prestige 15B Measurements Distortion.png


Paradigm Prestige 15B Measurements THD Distortion.png


Our directivity is good as mentioned:

Paradigm Prestige 15B Measurements Horizontal Beamwidth.png

Paradigm Prestige 15B Measurements Horizontal Directivity.png


Paradigm Prestige 15B Measurements Vertical Directivity.png


Paradigm Prestige 15B Listening Tests
I tested the 15B in my 2-channel listening room (very large open space). The showroom trick worked with first impression being, "man this sounds nice." But in a few seconds this became, "well, this is bright." Continuing on the message became, "this is very bright!" :) One thing about it though: it is clean bright. Often times I hear grungy brightness that is distortion induced which can be very annoying. Here is just a tonality issue. You may like it if you have lost a lot of high frequency hearing. I have lost a lot of mine but not enough to put up with this so out came the EQ tool:
Paradigm Prestige 15B EQ Equalization.png


I put the shelving filter on the right starting with -3 dB. But gradually knocked it down to -5 dB to get a balanced sound. I then went after the resonance and peaking around 800 to 1.2 kHz with that broad filter. And then my usual 105 Hz filter for room mode.

Once there, the sound was still a bit too bright for my taste. But there was this nice clarity and play super loud that kept me from disowning the 15B. No sub-bass is played but what it does play doesn't get distorted. You must have a subwoofer to have any physical sensation of bass.

Conclusions
Whenever people ask me about Paradigm as a speaker company, I say that they know the science but on purpose deviate from it to make sure they stay in mass market and sells speakers. That is abundantly clear in the elevated tweeter response for the speaker to stand out in a showroom (and even post purchase). The industrial touches are first class, making for an effective sales cycle.

As I noted in the introduction, I thought for $799 a pair (discounted to less than that), this wasn't a bad combination. But when I realized it sells for $1,500, then I don't think it is a good value at all. There are superb choices here that don't require any EQ and sound delightful out of the box. So I really can't recommend the Prestige 15B. Company is not aiming at us for customers.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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Doodski

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Is that a sort of screen over a tweeter dome. Why would they put a screen over the tweeter like that with very few holes in it? Wouldn't that interfere with the operation?
 

dfuller

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I have certainly seen worse than this. For $1600/pr it's not great, but... I've seen worse. Distortion performance is pretty good and any tonal errors seem to be correctable...
 

Doodski

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Thank you @amirm. I have to agree that built in brightness or showroom sound is a serious defect. Thank you for another great review and set of measurements. They are pretty with all that aluminum.
They certainly are good looking. I hope the review here from @amirm wakes them up and they stop making them so bright out of the box.
 

escape2

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Why would they put a screen over the tweeter like that with very few holes in it?
According to Paradigm, it is "Perforated Phase-Aligning (PPA™) Tweeter Lens that protects the delicate tweeter dome and acts as the Phase Plug, blocking out-of-phase frequencies for smoother, extended high frequencies with incredible detail and higher output. "
 

Doodski

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According to Paradigm, it is "Perforated Phase-Aligning (PPA™) Tweeter Lens that protects the delicate tweeter dome and acts as the Phase Plug, blocking out-of-phase frequencies for smoother, extended high frequencies with incredible detail and higher output. "
Is that plausible? Or is it snake-oil'ish?
 

MZKM

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Is that a sort of screen over a tweeter dome. Why would they put a screen over the tweeter like that with very few holes in it? Wouldn't that interfere with the operation?
“our exclusive Perforated Phase-Aligning (PPA™) Tweeter Lens that protects the delicate tweeter dome and acts as the Phase Plug, blocking out-of-phase frequencies for smoother, extended high frequencies with incredible detail and higher output.”

Patent: https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/a7/ae/38/425018c1b30bc9/US10003869.pdf
They even have a graphic showing that it increases SPL in the upper treble. They claim that dome tweeters cause phase mismatch as the round shape causes slight timing differences from HF sound radiated from it, which in turn causes phase mismatch, and that their lens corrects this.

A first side and a second side;
  • A perforated region comprising a plurality of perforations allowing sound waves radiated from a first portion of the diaphragm to pass through the screen, each perforation having a size and passing through the first side and the second side of the screen;
  • A imperforated region to suppress sound waves radiated from a second portion of the diaphragm; and
  • Wherein sizes of the plurality of the perforations decrease from a periphery of the screen toward the imperforated region
To dumb it down:
• Bunch of holes on the grille.
• Solid for part of the grille (center)
• Holes are smaller the closer they are to the center.

No, blocking the center will causes blockage of ultra high frequencies, and we can see it dropping right as it reaches 20kHz, but that’s not a big deal. I would expect this grille to effect the off-axis, and we can pretty much see that as true.


KEF’s tangerine waveguide thing also is stated to increase SPL by blocking part of the tweeter; still kinda confuses me.
 
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Ron Texas

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They certainly are good looking. I hope the review here from @amirm wakes them up and they stop making them so bright out of the box.

I hope the totality of all this speaker testing wakes up the industry to the stop doing things intentionally wrong.
 
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sweetchaos

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Doodski

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My analysis shows that the #1 speaker brand sold in all Canadian dealers/resellers is...Paradigm!
They are sold at 35% of all known resellers/dealers.

This is what we have to put up with?
All the engineering resources and management expertise to produce speakers for as long as Paradigm has and yes we get high frequency boosted/EQ'd speakers with a snazzy screen over the tweeter.
 

Doodski

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My analysis shows that the #1 speaker brand sold in all Canadian dealers/resellers is...Paradigm!
They are sold at 35% of all known resellers/dealers.

This is what we have to put up with?
I'm still waiting for at least one speaker from a Canadian company that's acceptable.
Energy is still producing speakers. I have not heard the latest line-up but I'm very familiar with the previous product and they where not bright sounding. Would be nice to see a Energy model tested here. :D
 

Shirazir

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My analysis shows that the #1 speaker brand sold in all Canadian dealers/resellers is...Paradigm!
They are sold at 35% of all known resellers/dealers.

This is what we have to put up with?
I'm still waiting for at least one speaker from a Canadian company that's acceptable.

I have to say that despite having never actually seen measurements of them, I've have a soft spot for Totem Acoustic. Their simpler two-way designs have always pleased my untrained ears.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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I have to say that despite having never actually seen measurements of them, I've have a soft spot for Totem Acoustic. Their simpler two-way designs have always pleased my untrained ears.
I think that is mostly because Vince knows how to demo them well. And the pictures of ladies in their posters. :)
 
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