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Paradigm’s new $299 SE 1 Speaker Beats $1,000+ Model in Blind Listening Tests

At CEDIA Expo, Paradigm will showcase an affordable line of speakers that rivals some of the hottest brands in the business.


Paradigm SE 1 ($299 each) will debut at CEDIA Expo 2009

Paradigm's new $299 (each) SE 1 bookshelf speakers sound better than $1,000+ speakers from a marquis brand.

That's the verdict from 50 CE pros (49 dealers + me) who participated in Paradigm's blind listening test during a three-day training session at the company's Toronto, Ont., headquarters last month.

During the test, 40 dealers selected the speaker that turned out to be the Paradigm SE. Six were split; three picked the expensive speaker and one picked the cheap one.

And our group was an outlier. Paradigm has conducted this particular listening test hundreds of times. In all, 492 picked the SE 1, six picked the expensive brand, and two picked the cheapies, according to marketing manager Mark Aling.

The test is all part of Paradigm's effort to prep its new SE line for shipment, some time after CEDIA 2009 (Booth 3325), where it will demonstrate the product for the first time.

Paradigm performs these tests on all of its speakers from the most affordable Monitor series to the top-of-the-line Signature Series.

"We spend just as much energy on our entry-level products," says acoustic manager Paul McLain.

Is the Listening Test Rigged?

Well, of course Paradigm's speakers won the listening test. Paradigm conducted the tests!

Aling responds to this natural skepticism: "These are scientific tests. We use the same process with our own engineers. All of the speakers are level matched. They're all coming out of the same source with the same amplification."

Paradigm moves the three speakers around in its testing to eliminate potential biases in the position of the speakers.

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Article Topics

News · Product News · CEDIA · Speakers · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

11 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by CCD  on  09/07  at  01:48 PM

I did the listening tests. It was Paradigm vs Klipsch and B&W;. The only people who picked the other brands were sitting on axis with the speaker. The Paradigms smoked all of them from any seating position IMHO.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  09/07  at  02:05 PM

I confess, I was one of the few who did not pick Paradigm, and I was right on axis with the speaker I picked.

Posted by CCD  on  09/07  at  08:31 PM

You picked the b&w;..... grin
If you picked the Klipsch….I am gonna worry about your qualifications. It sounded awful.

Posted by DSM  on  09/08  at  08:45 AM

Paradigm’s been doing this for decades.  They remain the value/performance leader, defeating speakers many times the price.  It’s news if they lose in a blind test like this.

Posted by Dave Stevens  on  09/08  at  09:32 AM

Hey Julie,
I too will assume you picked a B&W;over a Klipsch. I’m with CCD on this one… If you did pick any Klipsch speaker model, (against any speaker brand that I can think of including Bose),in a blind listening test, you’d be better off taking the blame for mistaken identity in the AP article.

As someone who sells both brands, (Paradigm & B&W;), Paradigm without a doubt WILL always well outperform anything else out there in its price class and twice over.

BTW: Which B&W;model was it that you chose over the Paradigm?
Lastly, I’d like to make a suggestion for your next article/dealer poll… Instead of listing the top CE dealers, why not have a poll of brands that dealers hate for any reason. EX: Worst customer/dealer support, most overpriced/over rated, worst build quality, and worst performance quality. In my opinion, this string of posts would be longer than, “Who Owns The Code.”

I’ll start off with Klipsch, McIntosh, Sunfire, Bose, and Vizio for now.

Posted by JWK  on  09/08  at  12:45 PM

Enough with the VIZIO hate.  Their TV’s are very nice for the price.

I will admit their new blu-ray player is totally UGGLLLYYYY!!!!!

Posted by Flip Palsy  on  09/08  at  02:05 PM

Both are junk.  Most peoples ears are made out of garbage.  I wouldn’t trust most people in any kind of blind testing.

Posted by RonWhite  on  09/09  at  04:16 PM

What B&W;model was used for this blind listening test?????

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  09/10  at  12:49 AM

I was sworn to secrecy. Someone else will have to chime in.

Posted by Dave Stevens  on  09/10  at  07:58 AM

C’mon Julie… Give it up and I’ll buy you a new Roomba or whatever the hell it’s called.

Posted by Skumar  on  09/10  at  08:39 AM

Do these B&W;speakers cost $1000+ EACH or BOTH?

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