Paradigm Reference Signature SUB 2 Subwoofer


The Design

Paradigm set out to design the most powerful subwoofer that could be possible, within the constraints of what consumers would be able to physically place in their home theaters. In other words, it would be easy to build a dam busting subwoofer the size of a refrigerator, but to build such a product that is about the same size as previous top-of-the line, room-shaking subs, well, that is a different issue entirely.

To put things in perspective, the SUB 1 and SUB 2 have been on the drawing boards at Paradigm for years. The amplifier alone was a 10 year project. The outcome is a switching amplifier (Class D) that will produce 9,000 watts peak when powered by 240 Volts AC. Most consumers will probably opt to just plug it into their existing 120 Volt wall receptacle, and will be content with 3,000 watts RMS. So, although I had a 240 Volt line installed in the lab just to see what this thing can do (and eventually, I believe we will see more 240 Volt A/V products), I tested the SUB 2 using a 120 Volt AC line. Here is a photo of the breaker box and wiring being installed for 240 Volt operation. It cost me $3,600 to do this, and I suspect this is another reason why most consumers will just stick with their 120 Volt lines in their home theaters.


The second thing that Paradigm had to address was the drivers. How many to put in, and where to put them. Keeping in mind that 9,000 watts would make the driver(s) travel quite a distance forward and backward (called the "excursion", and in calculations, called "Xmax"), they knew this meant that the enclosure would produce tremendous vibration unless they could design it in such a way that vibration would be kept to a minimum. Thus, was born the concept of the hexagon. This would let them put six drivers into the enclosure, two each on alternating sides, arranged vertically. In that manner, the forces on the enclosure of the cones moving in and out would be cancelled.

As to the driver itself, each one has a 3" voice coil, wound in 10 layers. The magnet structure is more than 25 pounds. The driver as a unit weighs about 32 pounds, so 6 x 32 = a very heavy subwoofer, with just the drivers sitting there on the table. Add the enclosure and power amplifier, and there you have it: 230 pounds.

The amplifier panel is on one of the three sides that have no drivers (obviously). Its controls are simple: Volume, Phase, and Low-Pass Frequency (which can be bypassed by turning it full clockwise). At the bottom, you can set the sub to turn on automatically when it receives any musical signal, or to be triggered externally (such as the trigger output from your SSP or receiver when you turn it on). Shown below are the control panel, which is near the top of the sub, and the input panel, which is near the bottom.



The SUB 1 and SUB 2 are available in real Cherry, Black Ash, or Black Piano finish. I had the cherry version for review.