Image Paragon 2 Floorstanding Loudspeakers Overview

December 18, 2011
8 mins read

Our first track was ‘Thru and Thru’ from The Rolling Stones’ Voodoo Lounge CD, which starts off slowly with the guitars before Keith Richard’s voice comes in. The soundstage in the room was both wide and deep, very deep, so the guitars and their reverberance had a huge presence and were hung in space well behind the speakers. The rough vocals prompted the standard hi-fi reviewer’s eyes closed, tilted head listening position as I absorbed more of the track than I’m used to. When the first two loud drum strikes kicked in at just over two minutes, I cracked a grin because they blasted out with power and speed. These strikes keep coming for two more minutes before the song rips into its full glory and at that point, my smile just got wider, while the MacBook Pro got its lid closed so I could concentrate on what I was hearing. My foot had been tapping from the start of the track but now my head started bopping along like a nodding dog on the parcel shelf of a rally car.

Steel’s first track was ‘Birds’ from Emiliana Torrini’s Me and Armini, which starts off as an intimate recording with close miked vocals and a guitar. The Paragons laid bare every aspect of the song, from the slow and exacting way the singer shapes each word to the distinct separation between the sound of fingers on strings, the vibrations of the strings, the actual guitar note and the sound of the guitar body. This song always gets the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end and I don’t think that I need to hand in my man card if I call it beautiful. The more complex second half of the song was carried off with equal aplomb and was just as enjoyable. The low notes that run through the track were present but Steel and I both noted that they didn’t seem as strong as expected. This is the same room that I heard the first version of the Paragons in and I knew that setup here was critical. This is a relatively large pair of big speakers and the placement makes all the difference to the way they interact with the room.

Moving around the room revealed that the Paragons had zero trouble reproducing those low notes, it’s just that the listening position has been chosen according to Mark and Chris’ tastes; sitting a foot or two further back offers a great deal more bass weight and going back further still shows that the Paragons are quite capable of driving a large room like this one, so bank on having both a big room and flexibility in terms of placement if you want to offer these speakers a home.

Morel Supreme 110 tweeter

Rather than trying to eke the last bit of low frequency extension from his speakers, Chris prefers tight, controlled bass, so the Paragons roll off from 40Hz down to an in-room -3db point of 32Hz. It’s preferable to add a capable sub woofer (or two) to fill out the lows if the owner feels it to be absolutely necessary. That said – the low bass sounds spot on given the vagaries of the room; in the right place, there’s more than enough weight without any looseness

We progressed through a number of tracks ranging from the smoothness of Steely Dan’s ‘Hey Nineteen’ to the pulsing electronica of Monolake’s Interstate and the MTV Unplugged version Neil Young’s wistful ‘Look Out for My Love’. At no stage did I feel that any aspect of the sound could be criticised but we hadn’t really turned up the wick on the preamplifier as yet, so on went Blue Man Group’s ‘Drumbone’.

With the volume turned right around to the three o’clock position, the Paragons rocked away, shifting gear from subtle to raucous. The speed and attack were memorable, the bass lines gripping, the levels in the room high and the rhythm infectious. They never for a second hinted at losing control and the high-resolution aspect of the sound was still very much present. The excursions on the bass woofers were remarkably small considering how hard they were working and there was more to come if we wanted it but in that room, any more volume would have been superfluous.

So the Paragons have the ability to punch out big-volume rock as easily as they can place the delicate notes of a female vocalist in the room and make it sound as if she’s right there. This is thanks to their even-handed, neutral and accurate presentation, with seamlessly integrated drivers and not a hint of peaks or suck-outs. Even on tracks with abundant treble energy, there’s no top heaviness, brightness or any sense of long term listening fatigue. That midrange driver offers a great deal of insight into any recording and these musically versatile speakers should partner well with just about any appropriately capable audio components.


This overview is by no means definitive but after even a short session, I’m convinced that the Paragons can match abilities, and looks for that matter, with anything in their price range. A full review would reveal more of their strengths but would be unlikely to highlight any serious weaknesses.

They’re world-class speakers but that should go without saying for any speaker priced at $13,000 dollars. However, like their predecessors and some other excellent pieces of Kiwi made audio gear I’ve heard over the years, these speakers would undoubtedly be priced at a more extravagant level if manufactured and marketed in an overseas market. However, you’d have to drive the price up by a considerable margin before they stopped looking like a good buy.

Could I live with them over the long term? If I had a room big enough to do them justice and electronics that could aspirate them properly, I’d have little hesitation in giving the Image Paragons a very serious audition, even a home for life.

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