Superb build, superb sound from Paradigm on these all-round winners
Canadian speaker manufacturer Paradigm has been a favourite for many Kiwi music lovers over the years, and for good reason. Their products have offered true value for money, while their sonic performance has always been consistently good.
A few years back I sampled the Monitor 9 floor-standers in a favourable group review against five worthy competitors, while the entry level Cinema Phantoms graced my listening room.
So it’s entirely possible the public has a perception of Paradigm as being a producer of speakers for the masses, but a surprise was in store for me when I collected a pair of Reference Signature S6 V.2’s and shuttled them back to my man cave in West Auckland – the cultural Mecca of the city of sails.
At over a metre tall and weighing 32kg per enclosure, the 3-way S6 is one model down from the flagship S8 and has impressive statistics to back up its audiophile credibility; a compliment of two polypropylene bass drivers, a high tech aluminium midrange and exotic beryllium dome tweeter are bolted into a beautifully finished and curved cabinet. The sample pair had a delicious Cherrywood veneer, while little touches such as the metal outrigger feet and cabinet front logo plate provided a step up in terms of luxury over the less expensive Studio series.
In keeping with Paradigm’s philosophy, the S6’s are an easy speaker to drive. Sensitivity is a quoted 91dB and with a nominal 8ohm impedance amplifiers from 15 – 400wpc can be used with confidence.
Playing with hi-fi exotica is one of my favourite pastimes, so in addition to my regular amplification I had the Manley Neo-Classic 300B/Snapper monoblocks in for review – these were hastily employed to put the S6’s through their paces. What a lucky boy I am, I thought as I gently eased the hefty Paradigms out of their substantial cartons: luckily for this review the S6’s had been pretty much run in by a fortunate dealer before I could lay my sweaty mitts on them. This was to prove crucial because Beryllium domes can take ages to break in, let alone the plethora of other speaker drivers attached to each S6.
So it was on to some serious music replay, and once connected the big Paradigms impressed from the first note. I did notice the Beryllium tweeter at the outset, but once a few days had passed the high frequencies integrated beautifully with the rest of the drivers to produce an extremely cohesive and potent sound.
Tracks such as ‘Private Investigations’ from good old Dire Straits sounded quite stunning, a particular highlight being Knopfler’s guitar work – plucked strings had a visceral realism that was really involving; this and the finely detailed mid-band brought the performance into my room.
It was time for some female vocals so into the CD tray went Cassandra Wilson’s cover of U2’s ‘Love Is Blindness’, and once again the S6’s lived up to their audiophile billing with a warm, beautifully voiced portrayal of this wonderful song. Cassandra’s voice took centre stage, while the superb soundstaging qualities of the S6s extended the performance well beyond the speaker enclosures. Bass performance from the lusty Paradigms was quite phenomenal on Stanley Clarke’s ‘Justices Groove’, with extension into subsonic territory while remaining tight and tuneful.
The Paradigms S6 V.2’s are a serious high-fidelity loudspeaker that can be used in a variety of systems, although at $9k they don’t come cheap.
That said, the sheer excellence of build and magnificent sound quality should make them a worthy audition for music lovers that can afford them. GARY PEARCE