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Paradigm Monitor 9 V.6 Loudspeaker Review Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 August 2010
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Paradigm Monitor 9 V.6 Loudspeaker Review
ImageParadigm has been making highly regarded loudspeakers in their state of the art factory in Ontario, Canada for the past 25 years. Their longevity is likely due to making quality products across multiple markets at reasonable prices. They make excellent speakers for budget audiophiles, home theater fiends, and for uncompromising two channel high end aficionados like myself.

I have heard various Paradigm set-ups in friend’s houses and have always been impressed. Personally, I’ve used the amazing little Paradigm Atom mini monitor in various small spaces in my own house. After buying a 55 inch High Definition Vizio television, I knew it was time to upgrade the sound system as well. In my household, we typically watch about one or two movies a week, either on digital cable or DVD.  We also watch tons of musical performances, which are often mixed in multi channel sound, so a 5.1 channel system is almost mandatory for listening.

For me, home theater is a secondary priority after my two channel, music only system.  I have not invested an extreme amount of money, but I have a nice, respectable setup. A Cambridge Audio 540R home theater receiver is the center piece along with an Oppo DVD player, a Panasonic DVD recorder and player, and the aforementioned Vizio HD TV. Speakers include a PSB sub, a pair of Paradigm Atom monitors for the rear channel, a Paradigm Monitor series center channel speaker, and now, the very attractive Monitor 9 floor standers, V.6, finished in a Rosewood veneer, to match my floors. As the name indicates, the V.6 is the sixth incarnation of the speaker, with various improvements made along the way.  I also have some high quality cables from Kimber, QED, NuForce, Audioquest, and a few generic ones thrown in as well.

Cherry FinishThe Monitor series is the middle of the extensive line, situated under the Studio series, with the Reference series being the flagship line. I have heard the Studio series floor standers and, in my opinion, they offer a superb value. The Studio 60 in particular, at around $2000, is one of the greatest bargains around. The Monitor 9 is the second largest floor stander in the Monitor series, out flanked only by the Monitor 11, which is slightly larger and offers more bass extension. The Monitor 9 is a four driver, two and a half way, ported design. The workmanship is wonderful and the overall finish is much better than the $999 price tag would make you believe.

Paradigm has made some significant improvements over previous generations of the Monitor Series. These include a modified phase coherent crossover, a new rear port, additional finishes, and a new magnetic grille, redesigned for minimum diffraction and for better fitting to front baffle via magnets.  To its credit, Paradigm made some of these changes in response to dealer and customer feedback. The Monitor series has been very successful for Paradigm, hence five previous incarnations. I can honestly say I often wonder how Paradigm keeps the prices in check while devoting significant resources to research and development, and not setting up shop in Asia, as a multitude of others have. My enthusiasm wanes for companies that buy off the shelf drivers, throw them in a cabinet with a few tweaks, and then charge as much as a compact car. Paradigm is the antithesis of this approach.

Paradigm's drivers are all proprietary, which is a rarity these days. In fact, they boast, “many speaker companies do not have the resources to design and manufacture their own drive units, Paradigm purpose designs robust drivers for specific speakers.” On their website, there is a factory tour which allows you to see all the processes involved in design and manufacturing. Quite impressively, they claim “we design and build drive units, crossover networks, electronics, amplifiers, plastics and enclosures ‘ and even our own tooling, production and testing equipment to ensure greater precision and superior quality control."  Investing in the process has allowed Paradigm to continue to offer speakers at reasonable prices that really don’t compromise on performance.  I should also mention they spend quite a bit of time on crossover design, claiming they hand select components.

Setup /  Listening:

Setup for the Monitor 9's was very straight forward.  We generally sit around 12 to 15 feet away from the TV screen, so one speaker was placed about a foot in front of the TV, on either side, roughly 10 feet apart. With a few days of tweaking, they ended staying in the same position with a slight amount of toe in. The Magnetic grilles were left in place for two reasons. First, Paradigm recommends this as the grilles are designed for even dispersion. Secondly, the speakers were more attractive this way and blended in to the décor.

Spending a month watching movies, regular TV, DVD's, and listening to multi channel SACD and DVD-A's, along with the all music Palladia HD channel convinced me that the Monitor 9's were absolutely perfect for my set up. Dialogue was crystal clear and all other ambient sounds from movie soundtracks filled up the room effortlessly, with loads of detail, and solid imaging. One reason for this room filling big sound was the very high efficiency rating for the Monitor 9's. Unless you have a pricey, mega watt home theater receiver, you will be unsatisfied with speakers with average efficiency ratings. You will be straining to hear dialogue, and you will risk speaker damage as you continually slide the volume knob up. The Monitor 9's are rated at 94 db, which is at the higher end of the scale.



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