For more than 30 years, the Canadian audio company Paradigm has been producing cost-friendly, high-quality loudspeaker products that have earned it seemingly universal praise from consumers and dealers.
The company sent me its latest offering, the Prestige series, which it says “builds on its history by combining new technologies with smart engineering that provides astonishing performance at an incredible value — all completely crafted in our Canadian facility.” The line offers three models: seven floorstanding, two center channels, a surround and a bookshelf speaker. I evaluated the smallest of its floorstanding models, the Prestige 75F.
According to Paradigm, the 75F is an 8-ohm, four driver, 2.5-way speaker that is 92dB sensitive and capable of producing a frequency response of 44Hz to 20kHz. Paradigm adds the speaker is capable of extending down to lows of 34Hz, and it features a single 1-inch X-PAL tweeter that resides in its PPA (Perforated Phase Aligning) lens, along with a 5.5-inch X-PAL ART midrange driver and two 5.5-inch X-PAL ART woofers. The rear-ported enclosure houses a second-order crossover design with the midrange crossing over to the tweeter at 2kHz and the bass drivers crossing over to the midrange driver at 500Hz.
I positioned the speakers about 100 inches from my “money seat” and ran StraightWire speaker cables from a Bryston 9B-ST amplifier in a bi-amp configuration. After tweaking the toe-in positioning of the speakers, I adjusted the outrigger feet with a slight upward tilt to angle the tweeters at my listening spot. After some break-in time, I listened to a variety of artists via an Apple TV running through a Meridian DAC.
I was completely impressed. The first thing I noticed was the speakers’ ability to produce a big, airy soundstage. I also found the 75Fs to produce fast dynamics. Listening to Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun,” I thought that despite its heavy compression, the 75Fs captured the great groove the band throws down. The guitar has nice bite; the drums deliver enough weight; and Haley Williams’ voice is smooth and soulful. A slightly better release is Avenged Sevenfold’s Hail to the King and songs like “This Means War,” during which the kick drum thumps firmly in the center of the image. I thought the speakers also nailed the aggressiveness of the Metallica-inspired guitar attack. On more dynamic songs such as “Sail” from AWOLNation and “Fireflies” from Owl City the speakers really shined. “Sail” sounded huge, and the image produced by the big kick drum and mid-bass synthesizer filled my room.
On the other end of the tonal spectrum, the crystal-clear highs of “Fireflies” sparkled. Micro dynamics were just as good on songs like “Bye Bye Love” from The Cars. Elliot Easton’s guitar solo pans to the center of the image and you can really hear the production’s rise in volume to help provide some lift. Listening to vinyl LPs such as Linda Ronstadt’s Heart Like a Wheel and Foreigner’s Double Vision through the 75Fs left no doubt as to why analog enthusiasts prefer vinyl over digital: the instrumental warmth, lifelike transparency, natural vocals and dynamics came through in a big way.
I believe these loudspeakers can give more expensive offerings a run for their money. The 75Fs are smooth with very good top- and bottom-end extension. They throw a big soundstage and offer lots of detail. While maybe a touch forward sounding, the midrange is transparent and delivers a lot of clean resolution. I’ve heard a lot of Paradigm speakers over the years and if the 75Fs are a good representation of the series, I’m comfortable calling the Prestiges the best speakers the company has ever engineered
CE Pro Verdict
PROS: Room-friendly industrial design, small footprint; room-filling, crisp, articulate; tight and deep bottom end; cost competitive.
CONS: Hint of high-frequency energy that places slight emphasis on upper midrange, among minor tonal nitpicks.
Watch the video review here:
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