Paradigm Premier 800F Tower Speaker and 500C Center Speaker Review

S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Ratings
4,737 34 17
#1
There is no shortage of floor-standing speakers in the $1k price range, yet Paradigm has decided to jump back in this market segment with a brand new design. Using technology trickled down from their acclaimed Persona series, Paradigm has launched the Premier line so audio enthusiasts can get some of the high-end sound of the Personas but without paying the high-end price tags. In this full review, we take a close look at the Paradigm Premier 800F floor-standing speakers and 500C center speaker.

We quite enjoyed our time with the Paradigm Persona 5F in our review last year, although its high cost rendered it merely a ‘dream speaker’ for most people. However, there was good news for us financial mortals this year when Paradigm announced its Premier line, a far more affordable speaker series which uses a lot of trickle-down technology from the revered Persona series. The Premier series essentially takes over the long-running Monitor S7 line’s price/build class in Paradigm’s hierarchy, starting with $800/pr medium-sized bookshelf speakers and topping out with a $2k/pair tower speaker system. For our review today, we look at the $2k tower speakers, the 800F, and the 500C, a center channel speaker that is priced at $800/ea. This speaker line poses two questions for this reviewer: how close do the Premier speakers get to the Persona speakers for only a fraction of the price? And how do these speakers fare in their own price class? Read on to find out!

READ: Paradigm Premier 800F Tower Speaker and 500C Center Speaker Review
 
GO-NAD!

GO-NAD!

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
2,291 11
#3
Great review!

They may have replaced the Monitor line with the Premier series, but it looks like a step up, as well. That said, I'm still happy with my Monitor 9's and CC290.
 
Matthew J Poes

Matthew J Poes

Full Audioholic
Ratings
302
#4
They do measure impressively well and come in at a reasonable price.

I still think you should have gotten the vertical polars @shadyJ , ya’ bum!

Can you guys believe that James has kept us from the full truth about these speakers. Left us blind to their vertical polar response because he didn’t want to rig up a complex counterweighted rig to allow him to measure a 70lb tower 10 feet above the ground at 5 degree increments about the tweeter axis. Come on, how hard could it possibly be.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Ratings
4,737 34 17
#5
They do measure impressively well and come in at a reasonable price.

I still think you should have gotten the vertical polars @shadyJ , ya’ bum!

Can you guys believe that James has kept us from the full truth about these speakers. Left us blind to their vertical polar response because he didn’t want to rig up a complex counterweighted rig to allow him to measure a 70lb tower 10 feet above the ground at 5 degree increments about the tweeter axis. Come on, how hard could it possibly be.
If I did vertical polars on a tower speaker, I would be the first reviewer in history to do that, as far as I know. It might be worth a try just for bragging rights, even if the data that would provide would hardly be crucial information as to how the speaker would sound. I would probably end up destroying a bunch of towers just to get it to work once.
 
Matthew J Poes

Matthew J Poes

Full Audioholic
Ratings
302
#6
If I did vertical polars on a tower speaker, I would be the first reviewer in history to do that, as far as I know. It might be worth a try just for bragging rights, even if the data that would provide would hardly be crucial information as to how the speaker would sound. I would probably end up destroying a bunch of towers just to get it to work once.
As reviewers it is not our job to be merely status quo. We might rise above the normal to provide answers to the questions our readers seek. They seek verticals!

For what it’s worth, both stereophile and soundstage do verticals on towers. Atkinson only doesn’t give those if the tower is really huge.

Of course SS has access to an anechoic chamber, which we do not, and Atkinson uses a different measurement technique.

I think you know I’m just harassing you.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Ratings
4,737 34 17
#7
As reviewers it is not our job to be merely status quo. We might rise above the normal to provide answers to the questions our readers seek. They seek verticals!

For what it’s worth, both stereophile and soundstage do verticals on towers. Atkinson only doesn’t give those if the tower is really huge.

Of course SS has access to an anechoic chamber, which we do not, and Atkinson uses a different measurement technique.

I think you know I’m just harassing you.
To be sure, I have published vertically-oriented measurements on towers before, like here and here, and I have performed a lot more unpublished vertically oriented measurements on towers, but I have found that the response doesn't change all that much outside of an angle that matters. So if you are listening in a 15 degree angle of the intended listening height, which almost everyone who uses tower speakers would be, there will not be enough deviation to worry about. As you know, it's the horizontal dispersion that will make a far greater difference.
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
5,822 22 38
#8
Not to poop on Paradigm's parade, but I find this confusing that 2k pair of large towers rated at -2db 50hz and a cheaper large bookshelves (BMRs) claim to have -2db 34hz bass response.
Am I missing something here? (besides the obvious difference in sensitivity)
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Warlord
Ratings
5,089 22 9
#9
Not to poop on Paradigm's parade, but I find this confusing that 2k pair of large towers rated at -2db 50hz and a cheaper large bookshelves (BMRs) claim to have -2db 34hz bass response.
Am I missing something here? (besides the obvious difference in sensitivity)
How about Paradigm's higher overhead costs and the requirement to make a profit (not just for the manufacturer (Paradigm),but for the distributors as well)!
Dennis might charge enough to cover his grocery bill!
 
BoredSysAdmin

BoredSysAdmin

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
5,822 22 38
#10
How about Paradigm's higher overhead costs and the requirement to make a profit (not just for the manufacturer (Paradigm),but for the distributors as well)!
Dennis might charge enough to cover his grocery bill!
Ok. Fair enough. BMR was possibly a bit too drastic example. How about a more proper business, like RBH and their R-55E tower? [-3db at 35hz] $850/1000 each depends on finish
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Warlord
Ratings
5,089 22 9
#11
If I did vertical polars on a tower speaker, I would be the first reviewer in history to do that, as far as I know. It might be worth a try just for bragging rights, even if the data that would provide would hardly be crucial information as to how the speaker would sound. I would probably end up destroying a bunch of towers just to get it to work once.
I'm with Matthew on this one!
Quit whining and tell Gene AudioHolics needs to cut you a check so you can put one of these in your yard - easy peasy! If he gives you any flack, just make sure he knows it's tax deductible (and tell him you'll let him smash stuff with it - Hulk style - " @gene Smash!!!:D).
 
Last edited:
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Ratings
4,737 34 17
#12
Not to poop on Paradigm's parade, but I find this confusing that 2k pair of large towers rated at -2db 50hz and a cheaper large bookshelves (BMRs) claim to have -2db 34hz bass response.
Am I missing something here? (besides the obvious difference in sensitivity)
There are a lot of different ways to characterize bass response. The 800Fs have a shallow rolloff down to its port tuning which is just below 40 Hz. Some of these towers have such a rolloff, sort of like the RBH R-55E, which use room loading to shore up deep bass. If the speakers actually had a flat response down to 40 Hz, boundary gain could easily boost the response to have a boomy bass sound, just like subwoofers. The bass on the 800Fs do sound very natural and full. Their rolloff is a good strategy in order to get a flat response after pressure vessel gain and boundary gain. I wouldn't be surprised if the BMR Philharmonitors has a similar response, a gentle slope down to port tuning and then a steeper slope below that. Paradigm is actually being a bit more transparent here with their low end spec than most manufacturers would be.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Ratings
4,737 34 17
#13
How about Paradigm's higher overhead costs and the requirement to make a profit (not just for the manufacturer (Paradigm),but for the distributors as well)!
Dennis might charge enough to cover his grocery bill!
I don't think you are being fair to Paradigm here. Sure there are more middle men to pay, but its not as if their engineering is second rate. While Philharmonic does have certain advantages in their business model, Paradigm has its advantages too. Paradigm manufactures all of their own parts for very specific performance targets, and they can leverage the advantages of larger scale manufacturing. While dealers have their costs incorporated into the MSRP, dealers also have advantages to the consumer as well. The Premier speakers are not cheap but they really are a good value.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Ratings
7,528 17 25
#14
Not to poop on Paradigm's parade, but I find this confusing that 2k pair of large towers rated at -2db 50hz and a cheaper large bookshelves (BMRs) claim to have -2db 34hz bass response.
Am I missing something here? (besides the obvious difference in sensitivity)
Haven't I been hammering away for years that there is an inverse relationship between sensitivity/efficiency and bass extension? Remember that?

These paradigm speakers have a 92 db sensitivity and the BMRs only 85 db. So the Paradigm is 7 db more efficient and that is a lot.

Not only that the paradigm will have a far better power response across the mid band as they have a 6.5" mid driver.

This BMR uses this Tectonic unit that only handles 20 watts, with poor sensitivity. So I know I would run those speakers out of gas and almost certainly be tired of replacing them by now.

Those units are interesting though as they have a remarkable frequency response. Those units were actually developed by no less than Peter Walker. He was working on them as he got to ill to work any more and sold the patents. He never intended that you would use one per side however! His plan was to make units cheap enough so you could make panels of them. He envisaged 100 or more per side, all packed close together.

I have long had a hankering temptation to do just that.

The real power response per frequency band is something seldom measured, but should be. It is something I'm very conscious of in my designs, and is one of many factors that make for truly realistic reproduction considering the very wide dynamic range of many sources.

I can be certain those paradigms have a far better power response then the BMRs.

As far as the Pardigms, with receivers getting still more miserable, I think Paradigm were right to give weighting to high sensitivity. The only thing troublesome is that dip if impedance after tuning frequency associated with a very negative phase angle. I find that odd and I think Paradigm should investigate the cause. It is not something I would expect. Worst case scenario it is associated with some unexpected resonance in the crossover components, but that would be unusual given how far away it is from a crossover point. For the market these speakers are aimed at, it would be ideal if that could be tamed.

Paradigm speakers have not impressed me previously, I have found them brassy with an over tubby bass. These speakers measure very well, and I have feeling these speakers are a major upgrade from previous offerings.

I would say it is well positioned for the requirements of a lot of customers in the current market.

It seems subs are now pretty much universal. So bass extension becomes unimportant. The problem is that most bookshelves do not have the required power response.

I have designed a system for an area of out new home we are embarking on for my wife. It is in wall and highly compact. F3 is 80 Hz for for the front three. It wall have an awesome power response. Sub will be in wall TL. I'm quite excited about it. It models very well. The sub is the only bit not compact. The front three are pretty small.
 
Last edited:
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Ratings
4,737 34 17
#16
This BMR uses this Tectonic unit that only handles 20 watts, with poor sensitivity. So I know I would run those speakers out of gas and almost certainly be tired of replacing them by now.

Those units are interesting though as they have a remarkable frequency response. Those units were actually developed by no less than Peter Walker. He was working on them as he got to ill to work any more and sold the patents. He never intended that you would use one per side however! His plan was to make units cheap enough so you could make panels of them. He envisaged 100 or more per side, all packed close together.

I have long had a hankering temptation to do just that.
I think that a CBT array of BMR drivers would be pretty killer. Such a speaker should be supplemented by a subwoofer at the low end. If you positioned the subs at the centers of the CBT arcs and added a phase delay that accounted for the distance of sub to speakers, you would have really good integration as well.

Interesting that Pete Walker had involvement in the BMRs. If that is so, he is quite an audio polymath. Regarding the BMR power handling, obviously that is not going to be reflective of the entire speaker's power handling. Most tweeters don't handle much power, but that doesn't mean they don't have good dynamic range or will have to eat all of the power that the speaker gets fed. They can just be padded down in the crossover for protection.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Ratings
7,846 22 6
#19
I am so used to seeing 2D FR measurements. The 3D FR graph looks cool, but it is a little more difficult for me to talk about their FR. :D
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Ratings
4,737 34 17
#20
I am so used to seeing 2D FR measurements. The 3D FR graph looks cool, but it is a little more difficult for me to talk about their FR. :D
That's why there is 2D profile views of the 3D graphs. The 2D profile views lets you see what a particular angle is doing better, but the 3D view lets you see differences that can be confusing or hidden by the 2D graph, such as diffraction effects.
 

newsletter
  • RBHsound.com
  • BlueJeansCable.com
  • SVS Sound Subwoofers
  • Experience the Martin Logan Montis