Paradigm Prestige 75F Review
In the 1960s, a serious audio battle was going on between the East and West Coasts of the United States. Like in jazz, there was a typical East and West Coast sound. A bit punch and presence versus neutral. The Canadians also want to get involved in the fight and opt for the scientific approach. We test a speaker that seamlessly fits this working method, the Paradigm Prestige 75F.
Typical west coast audio brands include JBL, Bozak, Cerwin Vega, and Altec Lansing. A feature for this approach is, for example, the bass reflex ports. However, people preferred a more neutral sound on the East Coast (New England), and brands such as AR (Acoustic Research), Cambridge Audio, Rogers, and KLH formed the face. The cabinets are often closed or use other means of bass control, such as acoustic suspension (AR).
- Plays big
- The nice open sound image
- Looks good
- A little chilly sometimes
The Canadians picked up the neutral gauntlet in 1982 and sought guidance from science. In collaboration with the Canadian National Research Council, Paradigm investigates “What Sounds Good?”. That may explain the name of the brand because Paradigm has the ambition to set a new standard for audio reproduction. Paradigm still exclusively makes loudspeakers. And in a very extensive range from soundbars to built-in. And from active speakers to ‘seismic subwoofers.’ And from monitors to floor standers.
We receive the Paradigm Prestige 75F for assessment from importer Look and Listen. This series belongs to the Reference line, which includes monitors and surrounding speakers; the 75F is the smallest floorstander. You can get these two sizes bigger. Above the Reference, the line is the Signature Series, Paradigm’s flagships. In the Signature line, beryllium is used in the drivers; Paradigm has incorporated a newly developed aluminum type in the (high) units in thePrestiges.
Bow & Tight
The aluminum woofers look sleek with the cabinet in black piano lacquer. The floorstander looks slim and elegant. Two 14cm drivers for the bass, one 14cm for mid/low, and a 25mm tweeter. It is made of metal; the units give the Prestige a sleek look.
The test sample finished in black piano lacquer further enhances this impression. The column stands on a metal base that must ensure the necessary decoupling. At 21 kg and headroom of 94 cm, it is a fairly manageable loudspeaker that will not dominate in a medium-sized listening room. The WAF factor is above average for a floorstander, we estimate.
According to Paradigm, many innovations have been applied in the Prestige series. They developed the tweeters themselves. The range is well above 20 kHz. And the midrange and bass units are also made in-house. Partly due to aluminum – and the ‘inverted surround’ – the teams also have stiffness and speed. The specified low range is substantial; the 75F should go down to 34 Hz. We do measure some waste. Let’s say that everything works from about 40 to 45 Hz. And that’s just neat for a speaker of this size.
Paradigm Prestige 75F The test setup
Of course, we measured the Prestige. Everything is fine! We put the Prestige in both the large and the small studio. In the end, we mostly played in the smaller room on the Alpha-Audio Dion set. This set consists of a Dion Audio T92 tube preamplifier, two SD60 (class D) power amplifiers, and a Bluesound Vault 1 streamer. Energy via a Van Medevoort PFM2 filter. The cabling is from Audioquest (including the Rocket 88 speaker cable). And we’ve also connected the floorstanders to the well-reviewed AVM Evolution CS 5.2 streamer/amplifier in a bi-wire setup.
On both sets, the 75Fs perform extremely well. At 92 dB, it is an easy-to-drive loudspeaker where an amplifier that can offer speed and control can make the Prestige come to great performance.
On the AVM Evolution CS 5.2, the Paradigm Prestige has already shown that it can play quite big. The ‘curves’ in the bass and the openness are also striking on that set. The sound is neutral with a touch of warmth at the same time. The bass comes through nicely, but never too much. We keep listening, also with well-known tracks. And unnoticed, another hour goes by and another hour.
And that endless listening to music is what it’s all about, right? It’s being surprised by better intelligibility of the text, a three-dimensional image of the sound that allows us to hear height, width, and depth while listening to a stereo set.
Nice tweeter! It provides an outstanding largest presentation. And also, on the Dion set, the Prestige is doing fine. We listen to some tracks from Roger Waters’ remastered Amused To Death. Due to the applied Q-sound, a quadraphonic effect can be heard in a stereo setup. This only works well if the speakers are capable of doing so. We are, as it were, surrounded by ‘soundscapes’ that are visible in the listening room at the front left, at the right side. The timing of the speakers is excellent, and in combination with the great bass, a complete sound is created.
We also play a live set by Amsterdam DJ Prunk/ StrafWerk in Soundcloud in MP3 (lossy) format. What does that sound like? We can only say, fat! Lovely pumping basses, nice layering cool!
Little bit fresh
The measurements confirm our intuition. It’s a pretty neutral speaker with a little ‘boost’ towards the mid/high. The low area is quickly gaining steam from 45 Hz; everything is there. Distortion is quite low for a speaker in this class, especially for a floorstander. The majority is below 1%, here and there a small peak, but that is not audible in our opinion.
The quality of the Paradigms comes to the fore when we then connect the Raidho X1 monitors in the small studio. The Raidho’s offer an even more holographic soundstage, but the Paradigms come pretty close. In addition, the low area of the Paradigm is, of course, much more complete. However, the Raidho takes a big step further in speed and ‘beauty’ in the middle and high. The Raidho X1 costs twice as much. Again, it’s a somewhat rough and empty comparison, but it’s also good to report that the Prestige 75F holds up very well next to this Raidho X1, which costs twice as much.
Overall, the Prestige 75F, this high-end loudspeaker shows everything an amplifier can offer in terms of speed and power and projects a lively sound image in both the low and high frequencies. The speaker is easy to control because of its high efficiency. The timing and speed are excellent, making this floorstander capable of transmitting transient sound information. This has an important effect on the music’s spatiality, placement, and identity. Texts are more intelligible. And the placement feels wonderfully spacious.
It is to the credit that the Paradigms do not sound boring. Neutral speakers are usually suitable for vocal work, acoustic music, or jazz. So are the Paradigms, and you can go all out if you want to hear and feel some nice pounding bass. The Paradigm Prestige 75F has built a bridge between the East and West Coast Sound. Neutral and punch, spaciousness and liveliness. That sounds good!