PARADIGM Prestige 85F Review
In this test, we deal only with serious producers competing for customers worldwide, and everyone is trying to gain recognition from as many groups as possible. Everyone shows their approach to the subject, resulting in part from their recognition and interpretation of the current demand and partly from tradition and certain inertia related to the origin and specificity of one’s home market. This is particularly evident in the Paradigma offer and constructions.
You can already see it in the design features, then you can hear it well, you can even read it in the promotional materials of the Prestige series. The producer refers to live music flowing from the stage, to the atmosphere of a large concert hall, in an open space, or even in a small club – but always to exceptional emotions and a large portion of decibels.
This is fully confirmed in our test, PARADIGM Prestige 85F sounds incredibly energetic, but they have its conditions. It must be admitted that the manufacturer’s declarations coincide with his actions and effects, which is not a rule at all. Many companies announce sounds like this or that and deliver blandly. This Paradigm cannot be accused. There is concrete; there is specialization.
- Solid Footing
- Advanced Technology
- Efficient Ultra-Class-D™ Amplifier: More than 90% efficient
- A little expensive
However, let’s start by presenting the entire series because it will make us aware of the scale of the whole undertaking and the chosen course. While in the case of the B&W CM10 S2, Dynaudio Excite 44, and Monitor Audio Gold 300, we were dealing with the largest models of certain series, the Prestige 85F is not yet what is supposed to meet the real “concert” needs.
Even larger is the Prestige 95F, and among the free-standing structures, we can also choose the slightly smaller Prestige 75F. These columns feature the same design scheme that Paradigm had previously used in the Monitor series.
Generally, these are two-and-a-half-way systems, but with one specific modification below the mid-woofer, there is not one but two woofers of the same diameter. This means that all three speakers (except for the tweeter, of course) are working on the bass in any case.
This can be seen as a way to “boost” the bass (compared to a typical two-and-a-half-way system with one woofer and one mid-woofer). Still, it also means increasing the power to 300% of the value of a single speaker and increasing inefficiency. Ultimately, a degree of bass enhancement and characterization will depend, as usual, on tuning.
You can see completely different priorities here than in the Monitor Audio Gold series designs; the British chase the three-way system, even when only two 15’s (Gold 200) are sent to the bass. On the other hand, the Canadians do not stop at even two 20-cm basses, adding bass from the 20-cm mid-woofer (Prestige 95F).
These are no jokes – the total surface of the bass membranes in this model reaches the surface of a 15-inch driver! The PARADIGM Prestige 85F is also not a flaw, the potential estimated in this way is matched by the CM10 S2 (three 18-cm woofers) and the Dynaudio Excite 44 (two 20-cm woofers), and it easily outbids the Dali Rubicon 6 and Monitor Audio Gold 300 (only two 18 -cm woofers).
That’s not all – the visual inspection of the speakers concludes that they are prepared to operate at high amplitudes, which increases the maximum sound pressure in the low-frequency range even more.
The aesthetics of the Prestige series is simple and solid. Although it may seem too glamorous with one of them, it can also be praised for its technical austerity, primarily showing metal.
It shines a lot because the aluminum membranes and wide rings covering the baskets shine, but the cacophony of materials and colors was avoided. Only the obvious elements contrast with the dark background of the casing, unnecessary additions were avoided, and traces of “plasticity” were also avoided.
This design exudes strength, a bit coarse but convincing and awe-inspiring – the appearance of these loudspeakers announces that they can sound sharply, clearly, and with an appropriate foundation.
The role of the plinth is played by two massive skids, remaining in a natural color and gloss of polished steel – they look not very subtle but perfectly match the whole. However, overall the applause for the designer for his courage, consistency, and a suggestive reference to the promised character of the sound.
PARADIGM Prestige 85F- Speakers
Rigid, metal diaphragms in woofers are commonplace today (i.e., perfectly in place). However, a metal diaphragm with the same diameter and the same profile (with a large, concave anti-dust cap) in a mid-range (mid-woofer) driver can raise some concerns.
The designer dealt with this challenge, of course, using a low crossover frequency (2 kHz), although the filter slope is not very high at all; according to the manufacturer’s information – 12 dB / Oct. (slope of the resultant characteristic, acoustic). The same filtering was used in the Prestige 95F, with a 20-cm mid-woofer. It’s already a gang ride.
These features show that chiseling the characteristics and sound in the mid-frequency range is not the most important for the designer (I do not write that he disregards this matter). The larger the column in the Prestige series, the greater it may have a problem with it (at least theoretically). The foreground is power, efficiency, and bass.
All three 18s (two woofers and a woofer) work in one common chamber. However, in two-and-a-half-way systems, dividing the housing into individual chambers of each speaker is not obligatory; with as many as three speakers, one could expect some “advancement,” for example, the separation of the mid-woofer.
In this case, standing wave resonances will inevitably arise in a tall cabinet in the midrange range. However, with one well-tuned chamber, the bass reflex circuitry will function essentially correctly, phase-coherently, translating into the best bass punch.
At the back, there are two holes (it does not change much in the way of operation about one larger hole), each with a diameter of 7 cm, so with a considerable total area, suitable for a large area of membranes affecting the system. In order to keep the resonant frequency sufficiently low (which, given the volume of the housing, the enlargement of the opening surface increases), long tunnels of 20 cm were established.
The tweeter should be audible and visible. Its shiny, concentrically brushed aluminum front is contoured into a shallow tube, in the center of which you can see not the dome, but its perforated cover, which also acts as an acoustic lens. But, of course, the dome is made of metal.
- PARADIGM Prestige 85F
- Amplifier power [W] 200
- Dimensions [cm] 104.5 x 20.5 x 32.5 (width and depth without the plinth)
- Speaker type W
- Efficiency [dB] 89
- Impedance (Ω) 4
There are five finishes available; two are within the price range of this test, three are considered “special.” We can buy a Prestige 85 F covered with walnut veneer, in its natural color or painted black (but not high gloss) – maintaining the wood texture, and this version is shown in the photos.
We can buy high-gloss versions – “piano black,” “midnight cherry,” and the newest (introduced this fall) white, also shiny versions. The manufacturer emphasizes that the cases for the Prestige models are made in Canada.
The Prestige series was the “second from the top” Paradigma hierarchy. The famous Signature line is still higher, but from next year the Persona constructions will be the best Paradigmas (prices, techniques, and designs previously unheard of by Paradigma).
Interestingly, and a bit deceptive, the Prestige series belongs to the Reference family; the higher Signature – simply to the Signature family; the lower Monitor – to the Classic family; and the highest Persona series. Unfortunately, it is not yet available on the manufacturer’s website, but it has already appeared in the information from the distributor.