Surround Sound Speaker Systems
- Written by Brian Florian
- Published on 12 October 2009
The speaker business has got to be a challenging one.
On the one hand, unlike most other CE devices, speakers don't have any inherent rapid obsolescence to them. In fact, good speakers by definition should be viable, literally, for a lifetime. Sure speaker technology has advanced and I would be a fool to suggest they haven't gotten better over the decades, but generally speaking, on the whole you have tweeters, woofers, sometimes midranges, and crossovers, all in a cabinet of some sort. Even subwoofers which went through their (pardon the pun) paradigm shift this past decade are still generally speaking a driver or two in a box with an amp, albeit the amps are more powerful, the drivers beefed up to handle that power, and the boxes commensurately have shrunk somewhat.
- Studio 10
- Design: 2-way, Ported
- Drivers: One 1" Dome Tweeter, One 5.5" Mid/Bass
- MFR: 62 Hz - 22 kHz ± 2 dB
- Sensitivity: 89 dB
- Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Dimensions: 11.9" H x 7.9" W x 11.9" D
- Weight: 18 Pounds/each
- MSRP: $399/each USA, in Cherry, Rosenut and Black Ash; $449/ea in Piano Black
- Studio CC-490
- Design: 3-way, Ported
- Drivers: One 1" Dome Tweeter, One 3.5" Midrange, Two 5.5" Woofers
- MFR: 65 Hz - 20 kHz ± 2 dB
- Sensitivity: 90 dB
- Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Dimensions: 8.4" H x 19.25" W x 11.4" D
- Weight: 27 Pounds
- MSRP: $799 USA in Cherry, Rosenut and Black Ash; $899 in Piano Black
- SUB 12
- Design: Sealed Enclosure
- Driver: One 12"
- Amplifier: 1,700 Watts RMS
- Low-Pass: 35 Hz - 150 Hz
- Phase: 0° - 180°
- Line-Level Input: RCA (S/E) Left and Right or XLR.
- Dimensions: 17.4" H x 16" W x 21.5" D
- Weight: 88 Pounds
- MSRP: $1,999 USA in Cherry, Rosenut and Black Ash; $2,199 in Piano Black
- PBK-1 (Perfect Bass Kit)
- USB Microphone
- Microphone Stand
- Software CD
- MSRP $299 USA
On the other hand, while there will always been new consumers coming to market, the market is by any definition saturated. There are literally over a hundred brands out there (of which I personally would consider only about a 10th to be worthy of consideration though). How is a manufacturer to stay on top?
I mention these challenges at the onset for a couple of reasons.
One is that Paradigm is one of the few well entrenched speaker companies, I believe because they tackle these and other challenges head on. The story of their origins is actually quite common, that of starting small with a focus on value and growing from there, but while others with the same charming background still struggle, Paradigm has matured today into one of THE names in speakers.
The other reason is that the subject of today's review is in fact product of Paradigm meeting these challenges head on. While their reference series speakers have changed their look somewhat and the performance has gotten marginally better with each iteration, it is Paradigm's ability to diversify the line and reinvent it according to current trends which leads us to request and report on new models. Case in point, the Paradigm Reference Studio 10 and Studio CC-490, main L/R and center speakers respectively which take the establish line into a remarkably small form factor, while the Reference SUB12 is an example of several new subwoofer models from Paradigm which boast a couple features which may actually be significant enough to warrant an upgrade.
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