|Paradigm Reference Studio Home Theater System (100v4/CC-690/ADP 570/Servo 15v2)|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Ken Taraszka, MD|
|Tuesday, 01 May 2007|
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In an ideal world, we all would have hundred-thousand-dollar-plus systems in our home theaters, complete with all of the latest goodies. Most of us make do with what we can afford and accept compromises for our given price points, with a few indulgences mixed in when possible. The Paradigm Studio series of loudspeakers is designed to eliminate, if not drastically reduce, any compromise you have to make for a true-reference level home theater system at an affordable price. Paradigm has been a leader in high-performance loudspeakers since 1982, and has recently released the fourth generation of their critically acclaimed Reference Studio loudspeakers. I received for review the Studio 100v4 floor-standing speakers and two completely new additions to the Studio lineup, the CC-690 center channel and Studio ADP-590 bipolar surrounds. Paradigm also sent along a Servo 15v2 subwoofer to complete this 5.1 package. Retail prices for the Studio 100v4s are $2,499 per pair, the CC-690 center costs $1,199, the Studio ADP-590 surrounds are $599 each and the Servo 15v2 subwoofer costs $2,500, bringing the entire system price to $7,396.
While the Paradigm Studio line has been highly regarded and well reviewed, Paradigm has not sat idly by collecting checks from dealers. The newest version of the Studio line now employs the G-PAL gold anodized pure aluminum dome tweeter previously found only in their Signature line, a new S-PAL satin anodized pure aluminum midrange and bass/midrange cones and new bronze anodized cast aluminum driver chassis, top plate, kick plate and feet to enhance the Studio 100v4’s physical appearance. The new Studio center channels are three-way designs to improve off-axis performance and dynamic range. The use of similar drivers in all the Studio speakers allows for precise timber matching, all the drivers in the Studio line are mounted using Paradigm’s IMS/Shock-Mount system that employs a unique butyl rubber system to help decouple the drivers from the cabinets.
The new Studio 100 v4 is a sizeable speaker measuring 44-and-a-half inches tall, eight-and-one-quarter inches wide and 17 inches deep. It has a five-driver, three-way design housing with, from top to bottom, a one-inch G-PAL tweeter with a chassis that extends in a slightly built-up dome onto the top of the speaker, a seven-inch S-PAL midrange driver then three seven-inch mineral-filled polypropylene bass drivers, the front port and an arched kick plate. The driver chasses are all seven-sixteenths of an inch thick and secured to the speaker cabinet with multiple hex bolts; the tweeter and port chasses are textured. All the driver chasses, the kick plate and feet attachments, are in a beautiful new bronze anodized aluminum finish. This process gives a subtle metallic-green hue to the hardware and the color was so utterly cool to look at that I found it hard to keep the grilles on. The multitude of drivers and the cool frames made for a great look alone, but the way it all is put together adds a degree of industrial flair that will surely appeal to any man. The speakers have a monolithic appearance, with only a slightly domed top, with outreaching footer attachments to break the otherwise pillar-like look. The sides and back of the speaker come in cherry, rosenut, or black ash finish. The top is made of an arched charcoal rubber. Two pairs of gold-plated five-way binding posts are set into a plastic cup with accompanying gold-plated jumpers on the bottom rear, allowing for bi-wiring or bi-amping if desired. Four feet extend out from the sides of the base of the Studio 100v4 and can use either included spikes or rubber-tipped feet to help level and isolate the speaker from the floor. The grille runs almost the entire height of the front and is rounded off on the top and bottom covering the tweeter on top and transitioning into the kick plate on the bottom. The grille is solidly secured at multiple points and has a latticework of plastic bars inside to keep its slightly arched shape; this is absent over the tweeter to minimize interference. Paradigm quotes a frequency response of 44 Hz to 22 kHz with low-frequency extension at minus three decibels to 28 Hz and a sensitivity of 91 dB in room. The speakers have an impedance of eight ohms and weigh in at 81 pounds apiece.
The new CC-690 center channel is also pretty large, measuring nine-and-a-half inches tall, 36 inches wide (without the grille or feet attached) and 15-and-a-half inches deep. A six-driver, three-way design, the CC-690 comes magnetically shielded and houses a one-inch G-PAL tweeter above a four-and-a-half-inch S-PAL midrange driver. These drivers are flanked by two seven-inch S-PAL bass/midrange drivers and then two seven-inch polypropylene bass drivers. The same external feet and spikes found on the Studio 100v4 are attachable to the center. Alternatively, it can be stand-mounted. Two sets of gold binding posts and jumpers are present for bi-wiring and bi-amping this speaker as well. The CC-690 has an eight-ohm impedance and frequency response of 53 Hz to 20 kHz, with bass extension to 38 Hz at minus three decibels and a sensitivity of 91 dB in room. Available in cherry, rosenut, or black ash finish the center weighs 69 pounds. The center channel is the most important speaker for movies and multi-channel audio, and the fact that Paradigm has made a center similarly sized to their top-of-the-line fronts shows me they are clearly in touch with the evolving A/V market.
The new Studio ADP-590 rear/surround speakers can be placed on stands or wall-mounted with the included hardware. While nowhere near the size of the other speakers in this system, they house similar drivers in a smaller package. These bipolar speakers have one-inch G-Pal tweeters and a four-inch S-PAL midrange driver facing out of each side and a single seven-inch forward-firing polypropylene bass driver, measuring eight-and-three-quarter-inches tall, 14-and-three-quarter inches at their widest point, six-and-five-eighths inches deep and weighing 17.5 pounds each. Quoted frequency response is 85 Hz to 20 kHz, with bass extension to 60 Hz at minus three decibels and an impedance of eight ohms. They are available in black ebony or white and are single-wire only.
Completing this package is Paradigm’s Servo 15v2 subwoofer, a beast of a speaker, weighing in at 114 pounds and measuring 20 inches high by 18 inches wide and 21-and-a-half inches deep. The Servo 15 is basically a box with the top side edges cut off slightly. This angled edge makes its way to the grille that covers the entire front of the subwoofer and continues the angled edge across its top as well. Housing a single high-excursion 15-inch driver in a sealed enclosure with a built-in 1,200-watt class D amplifier capable of 4,500-watt peaks, it can reproduce bass down to 12 Hz at minus three decibels. The subwoofer offers plenty of flexibility and all controls are located on a large black panel on the lower rear of the speaker. From left to right, you find the power switch and power on options; the subwoofer can be left on at all times or triggered either by the presence of an audio signal or 12-volt triggers. Both balanced and single-ended low-level inputs come next with a switch to select your choice. Next are a variable phase alignment dial from zero to 180 degrees, an adjustable cutoff frequency dial from 35 Hz to 150 Hz to aid integration with your main speakers, an adjustable contour dial of zero to plus six decibels at 60 Hz to aid with integrating the sub into different rooms and, finally, a main level control. The power cord attaches to the lower left of the panel. The subwoofer’s amplifier is thermally protected and has electrical shorting protection as well. The Servo 15v2 is available in sycamore, cherry, rosenut and black ash finishes.