Paradigm Premier 700F Speaker System Review Page 2

My home theater space is a large, open-concept area—probably over 10,000 cubic feet when all spaces that the main area opens to are included. I therefore requested that Paradigm send two X12 subs. While a single X12 worked remarkably well, a pair of them produced audibly tighter and cleaner (but not deeper) bass. The observations made in my review are all with the two subs operating (the quoted system price here is for one with a single sub). But a single sub should perform similarly in an average-size home theater.

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I've long used a couple of compilation CDs loaded with carefully selected bass-torture tracks to test a system's low-end performance. Without a sub, the Paradigm 700Fs made a good case for themselves. While the deepest bass was never genuinely powerful, I didn't expect it to be in my space from a speaker containing a pair of 5.5-inch woofers. The 700F's soundstage wasn't huge, and its overall presentation was a little lean, but the bottom end that it managed was tight and free of boom or bloat—exactly what you want from a full-range speaker destined to be paired with a subwoofer or two.

My comments from this point on include the two Defiance X12 subwoofers, which were high- and low-pass filtered at 80Hz via the Marantz AV8805. Both subs were in separate locations, with only a brief attempt made to optimize their response via positioning prior to individually ARC-ing them. After setting the subwoofer level with both engaged, the system was then evaluated without additional EQ of any kind, room or otherwise.

It won't be hard to describe just how much the subwoofers added to the 700F's sound quality. I can do it with one word: phenomenal. On the title cut from Bela Fleck's Flight of the Cosmic Hippo, the kick drum was solid and room-filling, with the deepest growls remaining tight, powerful, and distinct. The percussion on this track can be a little bright, but the Paradigms kept the attacks hard and crisp without sawing my ears off.

Another track I listened to, Bass Unlimited's “Heavy Metal Bass,” has a synth solo that runs up and down the bass scale. While the X12s couldn't quite grab the lowest notes on the downward slide, it didn't distort them either.

The opening passages of Respighi's Pines of Rome (ripped from a Telarc CD) is supported by a deep, powerful organ undertone. While the Paradigms didn't shake my very large room, they did energize it with a subtle but unmistakable power. Ditto the depth and impact of Nils Lofgren's guitar from his Acoustic Live concert. (The Nils Lofgren track “Keith Don't Go” is played far too often at audio shows, but for good reason.)

From Danish jazz singer Sinne Eeg's vocals on “My Treasure" from her album Waiting for Dawn and Elvis Presley's classic cover of “Fever,” to explosive, bass-heavy tracks, the Paradigm system handled everything with grace and also eye-watering dynamics when called for. And it did so far more convincingly than the relatively small towers might suggest—at least with the subs engaged.

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Movies
For 5.1-chanel movie playback I made two changes to the setup. First, I angled the left and right speakers toward the center so that their axes crossed in front of the main listening position. Next, I moved the listening seat back a foot or two. These changes slightly tempered the 700F's tendency toward brightness when aimed directly at the listening seat. This seldom bothered me with music, but it was more obvious with raucous action soundtracks. The changes also produced a more cohesive front soundstage for movies, with decreased tendency for one of the front speakers to dominate.

Those changes made, movie playback was now entirely compelling. Avengers: Infinity War is perhaps the first true epic of the superhero genre, with more mayhem per parsec than any other entry in the Marvel canon. Its superbly produced soundtrack makes it difficult to choose the best examples. The scenes that impressed me the most include the forging of Thor's new hammer, the ambience of an alien environment, and the dynamic punch when Thor risks his life to reignite a star. Infinity War's music also deserves mention, from the pop tunes that accompany the early scenes with the Guardians to the dramatic underscoring throughout the rest of the film. All of it was well served by the Paradigm system.

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The soundtrack from The Greatest Showman was a treat on the Paradigms from beginning to end. The songs, which range from driving and catchy to soft and introspective, are the main attraction here (yes, this is definitely a great musical). Dynamics are also over the top, particularly in the circus scenes. When the Jenny Lind character appeared in concert, I closed my eyes and just listened to what could easily pass for a first-rate music recording, rather than a song dropped into a movie soundtrack. All songs here, in fact, were reproduced astonishingly well by the Paradigms, and their wildly anachronistic quality was not in the least distracting apart from Jenny Lind's concert number (the “Swedish Nightingale,” was a mid-1800s opera singer, not a belting, 2018 pop star—but this film was never intended to be historically accurate!).

One issue I found with the system was that the balance of the Premier 500C center channel sounded notably different on setup test tones than the other speakers—it was clearly warmer and less crisp. But this was not evident at all while watching movies, except on the rare occasions where steered dialogue was used.

I did take a few in-room measurements of the 700Fs using the Omnimic measurement system from Parts Express. My measurements were taken on-axis from the main listening seat, subwoofers engaged. There were no surprises. The bass had a little emphasis at around 30Hz (not at all unpleasant!) and a small elevation at 200Hz (a known anomaly in my room). While the top end didn't appear to be emphasized, a rise of no more than 2dB centered at 2kHz might account for the occasional brightness I heard on some source material. Without the subs, response at 50Hz in my room was down by about 5dB.

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Conclusion
If I have one criticism of Paradigm's Premier 700F system, it's that the sound edges toward brightness more often than warmth, particularly if the recording, or your front-end electronics, lean that way. That said, I prefer a little added sparkle to dullness, and I like how these Paradigms grab your attention and won't let go. If you favor low-key, dialogue-driven movies or elevator music, this is probably not your system. But if excitement is what you crave, the Premier 700F system will deliver, and with a much smaller dent to your budget than you might expect.

COMPANY INFO
Paradigm Electronics Inc.
(905) 564-1994
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Eric180db's picture

Test data or it didn't happen....

SuicideSquid's picture

The reviewer writes that a feature "is said" to do X or Y multiple times in this review.

Is said by whom? I assume Paradigm, but if that's the case, say so. "Paradigm claims X" or "Paradigm says Y" is much more specific.

And the abandonment of objective testing by S&V is really depressing. Most modern speakers sound good. I'd like some hard data to go with "they sound good... a bit bright".

drny's picture

I started reading Stereo Review in 1978. Julian Hirsch reviews were the gospel truth for us readers/subscribers. Those reviews included detailed measurements and some graphs.
I don't find fault with S&V current approach to reviews. The market is vastly different in 2019. Frankly S&V is trying to remain relevant and simultaneously somewhat profitable in an age were print media is dead or dying for the most part.
To those who immediately criticize the lack of measurement data I say, check out higher end equipment review sites such as the one mentioned by Tom (Stereophile.com).
You will find their reviews full of graphs and measurement data, along with significant esoteric ramblings.
Julian Hirsch always advised us to evaluate speakers in your home environment, and be sure to have a 30 days exchange or return option on your purchased.
We don't purchase data measurements, we purchase gear for our enjoyment.
Specifically, for our own home environment, where acoustics are a major factor of said enjoyment.
Exactly for this reason Pre-amps, and receivers now include, or at least easily work with, room sound correction software (Dirac, Audyssey,etc).
In short for us readers the buying process is as follows:
read the review, auditioned (listen) if at all possible in a local retail distributor, purchase the speaker with 30 day exchange/ return option, set up speakers using sound correction software and good old fashion listening, listen to your music and movies for a couple of weeks, if pleased keep your speakers and rejoice, otherwise return and repeat the process.
Lastly, Tom used $10,000 worth of electronics to listen to a 5.1 Speaker system priced under $5,000. That fact alone makes measurement data for most of those who will purchase the Paradigm Premier 700F almost irrelevant. Dedicated A/V distributors/retailers will tell you that most buyers who spend $5,000 or less on a 5.1 speaker system will spend less than $2,000 in electronics to be used with said speakers.
In fact Tom Norton use of two subs (while only pricing one in the review), and his use of quality higher end Pre-Amp, amp, source player placed the speakers in the best situation possible for his review of these speakers.
Kudos to Tom, shame on those who demand measurements.
My current pair of dream speakers are Paradigm Persona 5F Towers.
At $17,000 a per you better believe I have checked out every review, including those with detail graphing and measurements. I have also auditioned these glorious sounding and gorgeous looking speakers in the highly controlled sound environment of my preferred local retailer.
Even if I had the money, I would only pull the trigger on the purchased on the written stipulation of a 30 day at home trial.
For 5.1 system under $5,000 expecting measurements is almost ludicrous.

SuicideSquid's picture

You must be getting tired after carrying all that water.

Decibel's picture

But I still want my measurements.
Otherwise nice review. Always liked Paradigm's value and sound. Slight treble boost and all.

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