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What’s the deal with Paradigm speakers?

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#1
I recently attempted to setup a listening appointment for F206s at a dealer I found through the Revel website but discovered they had dropped Revel in favor of Paradigm. Although I didn't place much stock in the dealer's positive comments about Paradigm, especially because he denigrated Revel while playing Paradigm up, I was curious to learn if their products were worth auditioning.

I found that when it comes to “good” speaker design, their products are all over the place, especially for a company that professes a "scientific" approach to product development. I understand they work with the NRC in some capacity, and you would think that a company with access to such facilities wouldn’t produce speakers with such idiosyncratic frequency responses.

John Atkinson noted a similar feeling after measuring the Paradigm Prestige 95F:
“When I visited Paradigm's facility in Toronto in summer 2014, I was very impressed by the depth of the company's engineering and manufacturing expertise. They have a large anechoic chamber for acoustical analysis and state-of-the-art measuring equipment, including the Klippel system for analyzing the behavior of drive-units. I'm puzzled, therefore, by the departure of both samples from what I regard as an optimal target response”.

So, I guess I'm curious to know if anyone has an idea about what is going here. Are they pursuing some other ideals when designing their speakers? Do they have a "signature" sound that helps set them apart?


Some Examples:

Paradigm Prestige 95F (On-Axis) - S.png


Paradigm Persona B (Listening Window) - S.png

These bookshelf speakers are $7K a pair!!!

Paradigm Premier 100B (Listening Window) - S.png
 
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amirm

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#2
The #1 thing in successful speaker business is marketing and Paradigm knows that. So despite their beginnings at NRC, they deviate quite a bit to capture the eye of the buyer.
 

GrimSurfer

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#4
Loudspeaker companies face several challenges. The first is that their design is as much art as science (more on this later). The second is that, as the most prominent piece of audio gear, they must cater to a broad aesthetic. The third is that the costs associated with their construction, warehousing and shipping is relatively high.

WRT art vs science, many are quick to jump on the Harman curve as a sign of excellence. This certainly has some merit but, even considering what Dr. Tools spoke of wrt anechoic performance being a very good indicator of in room performance, it is very difficult for loudspeaker manufacturers to account for the listening space in their designs. Active loudspeaker manufacturers come closer than most but they inherit other challenges.

I don't think an audiophile will encounter a stiffer WAF than in the selection of speakers. If you're single, it's easy to make the decision on towers, flat panels, horns, or open baffle designs. Try doing the same thing with the missus. If you've found a way to close the deal, please share and collect a lifetime achievement award from the AES.

Designing speakers is hard and some companies do spend the R&D money to do it right (anechoic chambers, capable engineers, controlled listening tests). But that's only part of it. Assembly, storage and shipping scales to size and weight.

Labour costs are higher than materials cost... especially for what is arguably the most important sub component: the cabinet. So you take this offshore and eat the shipping/damage costs. Or you go cheap on materials (as so many do) to balance the equation provided by the accounting department. All of this weighs heavily on margins to the point where business cases become thin.

So if doing speakers correctly is technically hard, stylistically challenging, and financially vexed, is there any wonder why products get shoved out the door and aggressively marketed,?

Not talking about Paradigm per se, but the entire segment of the industry. It's an exceedingly tough business. Or so it seems to me, as an outsider looking in.

PS. IIRC, Paradigm has, like many other speaker manufacturers, been sold and bought a few times in their corporate history. Even during benign trades, the impact on available funding from corporate and commitment by the workforce is significant. Just another thing to consider as we look at storied names such as KLH, Paradigm, KEF et al.
 
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audimus

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#5
Remains to be seen how the integration of Anthem, Paradigm, and Martin Logan into complete ownership by the early founders and exit of the private equity firm this year will affect the product line going forward.

Neverthless, Paradigm had become a lifestyle audio company where look and feel and market acceptance becomes primary to product design unlike a “build the best bridge and they will come” engineering-led approach. Both approaches are bad in extremes but not inherently bad. Getting the right mix is not easy.
 

watchnerd

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#6
Try doing the same thing with the missus. If you've found a way to close the deal, please share and collect a lifetime achievement award from the AES.
Trading 1:5 ratio of speaker cost /looks to my taste vs bathroom/kitchen remodel costs/looks to her taste seems to work in our house.
 

watchnerd

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#7
Remains to be seen how the integration of Anthem, Paradigm, and Martin Logan into complete ownership by the early founders and exit of the private equity firm this year will affect the product line going forward.

Neverthless, Paradigm had become a lifestyle audio company where look and feel and market acceptance becomes primary to product design unlike a “build the best bridge and they will come” engineering-led approach. Both approaches are bad in extremes but not inherently bad. Getting the right mix is not easy.
I'm hard pressed to think of a loudspeaker company with "good, but ugly" or even "good, but boring looking" speakers that is still alive and kicking.

Maybe Vandersteen? Are they still around?
 

audimus

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#8
I'm hard pressed to think of a loudspeaker company with "good, but ugly" or even "good, but boring looking" speakers that is still alive and kicking.

Maybe Vandersteen? Are they still around?
Magnepan that I love comes to mind. Opinions on its fit and style are polarized. SAF zero.

Vandersteen exists but has priced itself out of the market in my opinion like all the other boutique shops.
 

audimus

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#9
Trading 1:5 ratio of speaker cost /looks to my taste vs bathroom/kitchen remodel costs/looks to her taste seems to work in our house.
It is only as effective as ransom paid once.

You know, eventually it will come back and bite you. How she chooses things both of you like and can use while you always choose things that only you like and use. But hey, if it works in the short term, you are doing better than most.
 

Kal Rubinson

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#10
I'm hard pressed to think of a loudspeaker company with "good, but ugly" or even "good, but boring looking" speakers that is still alive and kicking.
Ugly, no, but I am a proponent of handsome but boring/plain speakers because they are less obtrusive in other than dedicated audio rooms.
 
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#14
The strange thing about Paradigm is that they used to make more accurate speakers, even at modest prices:

https://www.soundstagenetwork.com/measurements/paradigm_atom/
https://www.soundstagenetwork.com/measurements/paradigm_monitor5/

Source: https://www.soundstagenetwork.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16&Itemid=18

I've thought about starting a thread on this topic: what happened to reasonably priced very accurate speakers? 10-20 years ago there used to be a number of companies that made very accurate speakers at low to moderate prices, but that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Paradigm has declined as we see here. Energy used to make extremely accurate speakers as low as $500 a pair:

https://www.soundstagenetwork.com/measurements/energy_connoisseur_c3/
https://www.soundstagenetwork.com/measurements/energy_rc_10/
https://www.soundstagenetwork.com/measurements/energy_connoisseur_c9/
https://www.stereophile.com/content/energy-connoisseur-c-2-loudspeaker-measurements

but they've been bought out twice and measurements I've seen of newer models are not nearly as good:

https://www.stereophile.com/content/energy-connoisseur-cb-10-loudspeaker-measurements
https://www.soundandvision.com/content/energy-veritas-v-51-speaker-system-ht-labs-measures

PSB's higher lines seem to still be good, but the new Alpha series bookshelf is less accurate and 4db less sensitive than the old one:

https://www.soundstagenetwork.com/measurements/speakers/psb_alpha_b1/
https://www.soundstagenetwork.com/i...&catid=77:loudspeaker-measurements&Itemid=153

What's left? I've seen NHT's C3 going on sale for around $550 a pair recently. That seems to be the best deal now.

The JBL powered monitors seem to be popular here, but I'm not a big fan of powered speakers. I worry about longevity. If I have passive speakers and my stereo receiver dies, I can buy another receiver on Craigslist for $50. But if the amp built into a studio monitor dies, the repair cost would probably exceed the cost of a pair of inexpensive monitors. I also don't like the aesthetics of studio monitors.
 

Vintage57

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#16
I'm hard pressed to think of a loudspeaker company with "good, but ugly" or even "good, but boring looking" speakers that is still alive and kicking.

Maybe Vandersteen? Are they still around?
Look at the pro audio sector. Good performance but typically no grills and an acquired taste in appearance. However they can be top shelf for performance by comparison to the consumer market.
 

watchnerd

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#17
Look at the pro audio sector. Good performance but typically no grills and an acquired taste in appearance. However they can be top shelf for performance by comparison to the consumer market.
Well, sure....I have several pro powered monitors. My current studio monitors are a pair of Dynaudio LYDs.

But that's a totally different market segment that never really tried to make things pretty.
 

Sal1950

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#18

watchnerd

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#19
He also bought 2 Performa3 F206's for the rear surrounds.
He's an "in the round" guy, remember? :)

See, I keep pretty close tabs on you Kal. :facepalm:
Oh, right, I forget about that world.

I can't reconcile surround with my predilection for late 50s / early 60s Blue Note recordings.
 
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