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Paradigm Monitor 9 v.5 Loudspeakers Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 December 2007
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Paradigm Monitor 9 v.5 Loudspeakers
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ImageEarlier this year Paradigm released an update, version five or v.5, of one of their most successful and longest-lasting speaker lines, the Monitor Series. Paradigm is famous for following the simple business proposition of building a good product for less than the other guy. What I’ve always appreciated about Paradigm is that they don’t skimp on the details, no matter how low the retail price. The sound quality is there, but so are the build quality, finish and nice little touches like their new magnetized grilles. Value here doesn’t mean you’re getting something cheap, it means you’re getting something truly valuable, for less than you might expect to pay.

The subject of this review and my new object of affection, the Monitor 9 floor-standing speaker, retails for $949 per pair and is about all the speaker one could hope for, unless of course you want to really terrorize the neighbors, in which case you can step up to the larger Monitor 11. Still, the Monitor 9 isn’t small by any stretch, measuring 40-and-a-quarter inches tall by seven-and-a-half inches wide and 13-and-a-quarter inches deep, tipping the scales at 88 pounds per pair. The Monitor 9 isn’t going to be mistaken for anything but a loudspeaker; however, the three available finishes go a long way in dressing it up a bit. My review samples came finished in a beautiful Cherry Wood finish, with Rosenut and Black Ash also available if Cherry isn’t to your liking. I have to say, I’ve been impressed with Paradigm’s cabinets and finishing techniques in the past, but with this new version, I feel they’ve really raised the bar. These speakers are gorgeous, even more so when you consider their price.

The Monitor 9 is a four-driver, two-and-a-half-way speaker, with a rear-firing bass reflex port. It uses a one-inch H-PTD dome tweeter mated to a condom-like (I’m not kidding) six-and-a-half-inch M-ICP bass/midrange driver, with two six-and-a-half-inch polypropylene bass drivers. The Monitor 9 has a stated sensitivity of 96dB into a fairly benign eight ohm load, which makes it freakishly efficient, in turn making your power requirements and possibly your budget shrink considerably, which is a good thing for those of you just getting your feet wet in home theater. The Monitor 9s are also bi-wireable or bi-ampable via their gold-plated, five-way binding posts. This allows for several configuration options not often found at this price point. The most extreme case is having separate amplifiers for treble and bass, perhaps a rich and warm-sounding tube amplifier on top, and a more powerful, bass-tight, solid state amp for the bottom. Another option, if you have a seven-channel-capable amplifier or receiver but only five channels’ worth of speakers, is to use the extra two channels for bi-amping. Not all processors have this option, but for ones that do, this configuration might allow for an extra boost in sound quality without purchasing new equipment.
Out of the box, there was the small matter of attaching the black outrigger feet to bottom of the speakers with a single screw. The provided spikes plug into these feet for added stability and crisper sound.

Since I’m not equipped for bi-amping, I decided to bi-wire the Monitor 9s for the duration of my review, getting a little tricky with it by using different brands of speaker cable. For the top end, I used Mapleshade’s Golden Helix cables, which are clear, natural-sounding and suitable for small satellite speakers, though they lack the bass to satisfy a full-range speaker. For the low end, I used Monster Cable’s M series, which are full and bassy, but also a little bright for my taste. Combined in this way, I was able to get the most out of my existing components, without having to upgrade.

I played all CDs using my Denon DVD-2910 as a digital transport driving my Modwright Signature Mod Perpetual Technologies P-3A DAC. For amplification, I used Sonic Impact’s excellent class T digital amplifier, the Super T-Amp, which at $160 sets its own records for a value component. The Super T-Amp only puts out 15 watts per channel, but the Monitor 9s are so efficient, and the amp is so clear, this proved more then enough power to put a rock show in the room.

Along with the Monitor 9s, I also had on hand Paradigm’s CC-290 ($429) center channel, also a member of the Monitor Series of speakers. The CC-290 is a four-driver, three-way speaker, built to blend seamlessly with the rest of the Monitor series. Also on hand was Paradigm’s 10-inch UltraCube ($849), a compact, single-cone subwoofer capable of 1500 watts peak power and 650 watts sustained. The UltraCube only comes in black, but it’s handsome and well-finished.


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