Paradigm Personas: A First Listen


I thought starting a new thread would be more appropriate since it would allow for a more focused discussion.

I have Paradigm S8v2s and have owned them, since new, for 8 years.  I have lived with them happily and when I bought them I knew they were going to be a long term purchase.  Cables, sources etc may come and go but big speakers are harder to find, harder to move and sell (I think).  I found a local dealer (the only one in BC so far) that has the entire Persona line; except the 7F.  They had the 9H, 5F, 3F and Monitor.  I got to hear all of them.  The 9H was in a dedicated room set up for home theatre.  The others were in a 2 channel only system.  Preamp/source was a Cambridge Audio preamp with a media player built in, Wadia Class D amps.  System was nice, sounded good and not the "highest end" you would expect, but more real world.  I took along a CD of Parijat: Prayer to Love (excellent CD BTW.  Highly recommended and wonderfully recorded).  I am very familiar with the CD.  My system has its own room, Luxman Class A amps, Luxman preamp, Bryston DAC, Nordost and Wirewizard Cables.  I think my system has an edge on electronics, but I will leave that out as I think that is splitting hairs.

First speaker I heard was the 5F.  The first thing that is immediate is the midrange and treble purity, clarity, integration, smoothness and extension.  I definitely say there is no discontinuity between the mid/tweeter.  Having a Beryllium tweeter myself I know what to expect, and the 5F did not disappoint.  The sound was relaxed, clear, focused with excellent detail.  No harshness, grain, etch or sibilance at all.  Imaging was also excellent; focused, wide and deep with good height.  Note that the 5F, 3F were right beside each other and the Monitors on stands right beside the 3's.  They were in an open room not a dedicated room, so I could only suspect the speakers would sound better as the environment would get better.  In short, the tweeter/mid was superb.  The best I have heard.  I would give the edge to the Persona's over my S8's in this regard, but given the mid and tweeter are both Beryllium they are going to have identical resonances on the fact the material is the same; it will be homogenous.  The S8 is no slouch, so the differences are small, but I give the Persona the edge here.  And I like my S8's.  I have not felt wanting.

The description for the mid/tweeter is identical for each model; there was no difference, perhaps a slight difference for the Monitor but its limited lower end might of SEEMED things to be more clear/detailed.  Hard to say.  Bottom end on the 9H was robust, to be polite, but to be expected too.....4 8 inch cones internally powered...I think a subwoofer here would be redundant in all but the largest rooms to be sure.  But the snap, punch and detail were excellent.  Moving to the 5 and 3, the bottom end was not as prodigious but still extended and tuneful.  Detail was excellent but to be expected the 5 was more pronounced than the 3.  I think both (and the Monitor for sure) would benefit from a sub, but I leave that to the reader's personal taste.  There was no evidence of port noise or discontinuity of any type.  Unfortunately, I have yet to find out (if you would like to bi amp) WHERE the biamp crossover is.  I found out the hard way on my S8 it is between the tweeter/mid, not the mid/bass as you would expect.  This would allow for a Class A or tube amp on the all important mid/tweeter and a robust amp for the bottom end.  I would like Paradigm to be clear on this point as finding out the hard way for me was costly.  I let a good Bryston amp go for no reason other than the fact it was not able to work in my system as planned.  

I suppose the real question is this:  are they worth it?  Well, I thought about my own system on the drive home, and since my system's weak point is NOT the speakers, I would, for me, not buy or let my S8 go unless someone gave me a good offer.  The logistics of selling speakers that are 4 feet tall, almost 2 feet deep and 100lbs is not a small feat, and shipping (unless local pickup) will be expensive.  I bought the S8 knowing it was going to be with me for a long time, and in fact I would rather keep them since they are so good (to me).   But I would buy the Personas for sure.  The high end purity and midrange clarity, coherence and detail are so good I was floored by how good it was.  Bottom end weight and volume is a personal preference, and adding subs obviates the comparison there, as either the 5 or 3 would be a killer system with subs.  I had extended time with the 5 and 3 and the jump in price between the two makes sense if the sub is out of the equation.  I think the added bottom end on the 5 could easily be made up with the 3 and a good sub, think JL Audio f112, e110 or e112.  An outboard crossover as part of the deal would be stating the obvious (in fact the JL Audio CR 1 crossover is what I am eyeing next.  With this, should some time down the road come I decide to jump up to the Personas finances permitting, it would greatly affect what Persona I get).  But by then I might have a different room so whom knows, but so long as the flexibility is there you have options.  I was hoping to see the 7F but the 9H is almost identical in  size.  Considering the competition they are up against I think they hold very well.  Making a matching Beryllium tweeter and mid is no small feat, and costly to boot.  Moreover, Paradigm's size and economy of scale is such that you get more than you pay for, this has been a Paradigm hallmark.  A smaller company could bring out a matched Beryllium set, perhaps, but at what cost?  I can see why the Persona line costs more, but after seeing them and listening to them, I don't feel at all that they are overpriced or outrageous.  Obviously the sound is what counts, but there is more to it than that.  I honestly think you get what you pay for; the real trick is finding the goods out there that go a step further and really offer the "diamond in the rough".  For me personally, the cost and logistics of selling my current speakers is not something I can do right now.  But if I could, I would have no issue owning a Performa.  The 7F is what I have sought my sights on, but the 5F is no slouch.  As a smaller speaker, there is little to fault the 3F and add in a sub (or two)....watch out.  Even without subs, the 5 and the 3 are more than pleasant, and in a enclosed room where there is room reinforcement......it would be interesting to know.

Pictures do not do the speakers justice.  They are gorgeous.  Fit and finish is superb, certainly better than my S8. The lenses are really trick.  I don't think there should be any trouble with the WAF but their styling is a bit modern, some might not like it.  The room presence is not nearly as strong as you would think; the S8 being so deep and narrow hides in the room well.  The Personas do as well, but are so gorgeous you don't want to hide them.  You would think the 9H to be imposing, but that is not the case, especially if you are use to bigger speakers anyway.

I am very impressed and happy that the "step up" Paradigm has made has been done well, with thought, focus and obvious results.  As to relative to what is out there, especially to what I have heard, they compete favourable with much more expensive speakers, and I have heard Focals (which is another brand I like because, surprise, they have a Beryllium tweeter).  I just think the matching tweeter/mid, especially at the price, is hard to beat.  And I am sure that the better the gear upstream would only help the sound.  The 5Fs or 3Fs in my system with the gear I have would be very interesting.

Who knows what the year brings.  I give the Personas the highest recommendation, and this is from someone whom has owned a good pair for years without complaint.  If anyone is thinking of trying out a pair I urge you to do so if possible before making any decisions.  Paradigm, with the Personas, has truly evolved into a high end brand, and deserves consideration as such.  

 
blackfly
Thanks blackfly for the excellent review.  I checked the Paradigm website. The Persona series is considerably more expensive than the old Signature line.  I own the S8s (v3).  It would be interesting to take a listen.  I note that the Personas are pretty sensitive, so driving them should not be an issue. It comes down to sound.

Thanks for the heads up.  I wonder how the Personas will stack up against the "big boys"???
I think in all honesty, with time and reviews, that the "big boys" will be worried.  Magico, Wilson, Rockport might be able to source a Beryllium tweeter, but the matched mid/tweeter that Paradigm has done is superb, sonically and especially the cost.  You will most likely hear the defence of the big boys being cabinet construction, material and cost, and that is true, but there was no cabinet resonance or vibration (that I could ascertain) in any model.  And cost.  Even the 7F compared to Magico is a significant cost saving that could be put elsewhere; subs, electronics, cables...you name it.  And I am sure at this level the room is a given; my own sound room is near ideal for a smaller room, albeit a bit damped perhaps, but so be it.  But think of how important the room is to begin with on ANY speaker.  The 5, 3 and Monitor were in an open room with no room gain to help them.  I could only imagine in a room with some reinforcement.

Any speaker or electronics manufacturer can make the best gear by throwing money at the design, cost no object makes that easy.  Making a price point or "keeping it real" shows REAL engineering, and yes, Wilson's latest offering is $685K US.  If it could of been done at $100K, say, now that would of been something.  And here I give Magico a bit of a nod in that the "trickle down effect" is realized....although expensive still their line has aluminium cabinets, good drivers.......but to me, Paradigm has done something only a few have done in the pure Beryllium mid/tweeter combo and after hearing it, there is no going back.  We could argue about cabinet resonances and material but trust me, Paradigm is aware of this and taken it into consideration.  I heard nothing and my S8s have no cabinet buzz, noise or port noise that I have heard.  You know things only get better.

I am very eager to see the general consensus on the web in the reviews. It will be coming, slowly, but my lowly 2 hour listening session was enough to convince me that they are the real deal and the "big boys" should be concerned.  And the scale of manufacture (and the fact Paradigm makes all of its drivers) means Paradigm can do things other companies cannot.  

Bravo Paradigm.  A real step up.  I suspect the official reviews will be glowing, as they should be.
Thanks for starting this thread and raising awareness on how good the new Paradigm Personas really are.

I work with a gentleman, Dave store owner with 27 years experience, here at Audio Doctor in Jersey City NJ, and I do part time sales and turntable setup at the store. I am a bit of a technical nut with engineering background so when Dave told me about the incoming Paradigm’s I was very intrigued by the advanced technology in the new line,

We just sold off our demo pair of Signature V3 about two weeks ago, and we did a comparison of the old line vs the new under the same circumstances, when listened to side by side the new Persona’s are way better than the older Signatures.

We have two sound rooms with the new Persona speakers: we have the Persona 9H with T+A electronics from Germany in a full blown reference setup that costs around $150k with all the cables, power conditioners, electronics and digital and we have the Bookself Persona B and Persona 3F in our all purpose room with $13k of Naim gear, as well as many other components in a more down to earth setup.

I think the reason why you came away from the dealers demo as being impressed by the Persona but questioning how much better they are over the older Signatures is the difference between your setup, which uses much superior electronics, cabling, dac etc and this dealer who had a much more modest pairing of electronics.

We have found the Persona sound great on the new Micromega M100 $4k, better on the Naim 272/250DR setup, $13k, and we have and the speakers sound totally amazing  on the T+A HV electronics.

 So the moral of the story is these speakers deserve the best in partnering gear and when setup with matching components,  they can easily stand beside speakers that cost 2-3 times their price! 

I have heard $100k Rockports, $120k Kharmas and $70k plus Wilsons, $70k Vandersteens,  the Person 9H can match any of them and in many areas out perform all of these major players, I would also include $70k Magico in this mix. In terms of image holography and sheer transparency I would rate the Personas higher. 

The problem comes down to perception too many people think that because a company like Magico uses a heavier cabinet made out of metal it must be a better speaker, or because Wilson use composites it must have lower coloration etc, the fact is none of these other speakers use the exact same material for the midrange and tweeter so none of these players are as coherent, and none of these players use pure Beryilium which is one of the best materials in the world for making loudspeaker drivers add in state of the art bass drivers and active room correction to the 9H.

Paradigm has spent millions of dollars in producing the Persona line and it shows, they are clearly in the uber speaker class yet cost a fraction of their costs.

The 3F at $10k can go toe to toe with most $20k speakers they are that good.


I heard the T&A system with Personas presented by Audio Doctor at the NY audio show this fall. I must say it was an impressive speaker for the $. The T&A gear was also very impressive. It was one of my favorite rooms at the show--but it was not a cost no object favorite. The hyperbole of one who works there even part time has no place at Audiogon. I have heard the speakers with which the Personas are compared above (100k Rockports, $70k plus Wilsons, 70k Magicos and Vandersteens (I assume the 7s) and there is simply no comparison). However, the Personas will now be in the mix with competitively priced speakers from those brands, all of whom are among the best speaker manufacturers in the world. The Personas are worth a listen in their price range, but the next step up in each of the brands mentioned above (let alone 2 steps up) are clearly superior to the Paradigms IMHO.
To gpgr4blu, you are honestly judging your entire experience with the Personas on one show demo in a way too small hotel room, with crappy acoustics, and in that one room only one or two seats were you able to get the best sound from that system. 

In our shop we have the 9H setup much bigger room and they are spectacular, they are one of the most holographic speakers you will ever hear. 

In terms of comparison’s to the other players, where do you come off as an expert, we had a $120k pair of Kharmas in the shop and they were impressive but not better than the $35k Personas. My friend has 27 years of experience, and I have 40 and I was a mechanical engineer, as well as a loudspeaker builder, and I have been going to shows and listening for decades.

Now I don’t know what planet you come from but Kharama has a reputation for building some of the most respected loudspeakers on the market, we did  a direct comparison same room, same system, same setup. 

As per Vandersteen or Magico they are not better speakers, do you honestly think that the Vandersteen 7 is a more technologically advanced speaker than the Paradigms? Paradigm can outspend Vandersteen on development without raising a sweat, Paradigm is one of the largest speaker manufacturers in North America, so they can devote $4 million dollars on this project, which is a far greater development budget than what a boutique speaker company can spend on development. 

There are currently no other speaker systems on the market which use pure Beryillium for both the midrange and tweeter drivers, why this is important is due to the fact that Pure Beryillium and Pure Diamond drivers are the most resolute drivers, on the planet and offer the least amount of coloration.

Tale of the tape: Focal Beryillium tweeter and composite fiberglass midrange.

Wilson Silk domes tweeter paper composite midrange.

Magico Diamond coating on Beryillium composite tweeter, Graphene carbon fiber based midrange.

Only Vandersteen on this list uses the same materials for both the midrange and tweeter, and although very fine composite of balsa wood and carbon fiber, still drivers with more mass than pure Beryillium and they cost $70k!

Other than the Polymer MKX-s which are $70k Diamond tweeter and midrange,and the Tidal loudspeakers, Diamond tweeter and midrange,and a $180k pair of Lumin Whites, which use the Acuton pure diamond drivers, there is not another company producing drivers with this level of performance, and especially at these prices!

Throw in that the Paradigms start with a $7k pair of monitors and a $10k floor-stander they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.

As per which of the many sacred cow Audiophile brands are better it is always up to a listener to decide, but as I mentioned earlier we test and we listen, and I have gone to many shows and dealer events, when I said what I said earlier this is based on years of experience as well as hearing the Rockport speakers, hearing Wilsons, hearing Magico, hearing YG, these are all fantastic speakers, what I said is that the Paradigms can compete with any of them and in some ways can match or outperform them that is not hyperbole.

With enough money and dedication any large company can pull together a product that can stand up to or outperform what a small boutique company can produce easily, Paradigm is a huge company with vast resources, the Persona line is proof positive that Paradigm can build a technologically advanced, superior sounding product, and price it realistically.

I would invite you to our shop to hear the Personas setup in a real room rather than a tiny hotel room with crappy acoustics and judge for yourself




Audiotroy:
You don’t get the gist of my criticism. I have been an audiophile for 37 years. I know your boss from back when he worked at Sound By Singer and I use to purchase a bit from Andy. Andy was and still is a salesman but he has not been to this site to promote his products even without excess hyperbole. Nor have I seen such conduct here from the fellas at Lyric HiFi, Innovative Audio, Stereo Exchange, Audio Arts, Park Avenue Audio, In Living Stereo, Rhapsody Music, Audio Nexus, Audio Connection and other dealers in the NY Metro area whom I have visited and/or purchased numerous sytems from over the years--and those are just off the top of my head. I can say that I have heard numerous speaker models from most of the major audio brands over the years and thousands of speakers in total including, I’m sure, the 100k plus Kharmas that you now add to the list of outstanding speakers that you claim are smoked by the mighty Paradigms. In fact, I’m overly obsessed with going to audio dealers wherever I travel if they carry brands I have never heard at dealers in the NY-Metro area. I also attend audio shows throughout the country.
None of the above means that I claim to know more than you about loudspeaker performance and pricing (BTW, please note that many believe beryllium is far from the most resolute material on the planet and further that a large budget does not a great manufacturer make otherwise we’d all buy Focal, B&W, Bose, Dynaudio and countless other large manufacturers many of whom manufacture their own drivers), but it does answer your question as to what planet I come from.
Now to the point---it is just unseemly for you to come to this site and tell us that the new Paradigm speakers are superior to all of the other fine speakers which you mentioned. It is a patently ridiculous claim and I don’t have to visit Audio Doctor to make that determination. ( I may visit Electronic Concepts in Rochelle Park to determine if the speakers are competitive with the best in their price range ). Indeed the rep from Paradigm at the show said that he believed the Personas competed with speakers up to even twice the price. I guess you guys know more than he or that he was being too modest.
You should know that years ago, your boss used the same type of hyperbole at a show to try to sell me Usher speakers (the best at I don’t remember how many multiples of the price) and the infamous future- proof- perfect sounding Memory Player. His over the top presentation was a complete turnoff to me and, as a result, Dave lost his credibility. I did not follow up by visiting him at the store. Here, turbo-hyperbole by one who works for a dealer is a waste of space and my time.
I am sure others feel the same way.
By the way--to Blackfly and Bifwynne-- on first listen the Personas were very impressive.  I also believe that they will be well reviewed in the audio press and deservedly so. Nevertheless I don't think owners of 70k+ Wilsons, Magicos and Vandersteens will be trading theirs in for the Personas any time soon. 

I don't have a dog in this at this stage having sold off my S8 v3....that said, I've always wondered why Paradigm gets such low marks by many in the audiophile community.

I always admired their workmanship, how they sound in my 2-channel set-up when I had them properly set-up in a decent room and yes, the price-to-performance.

So I've been following the Persona discussion and while they certainly look the part (high-end), am very surprised how poorly Paradigm has handled the release. Almost 6 months into their formal introduction, not a single formal review that I'm aware of, no obvious campaign to promote the product except a goofy Crafted-in-Canada pitch, all while focusing the message on their use of advanced technology (vs how they sound....).



It's very simple guys.  If Magico started off by offering speakers in the Paradigm Monitor price range and moved up to what they have now, people would have the same negative attitude towards them.  It's all snobbery and expectation bias, with little merit.

Listen for yourself.  They do NOT sound as good as $100k speakers but the 3F for instance competes with stuff above their price range for sure.   There are however aspects about them that do compete or better speakers at way higher costs, but not all aspects of course.  It's up to the listener to decide if those aspects fit into what they are after to determine how much of a "value" they are.  

I think they they are an absolute knockout.  If people can get past their "high end" snobbery and bias towards paradigm (which is honestly impossible due to the way the human brain works), they will see how special these speakers are.

Oh and for what it's worth, I thought the Signature series was not good at all.  These Personas are an absolute quantum leap forward in performance.
I just demo'ed the persona B monitor at a local shop. The speaker was impressive. Sounded fast, live, with great pace and incredible imaging. However, i though the highs were a little dull. Not what i expected from a beryllium tweeter. Anyone else notice this? Or maybe it was the electronics. The CD player was a marantz SA-14S1, parasound JC2 preamp and anthem A2 amplifier. They were connected to audioquest columbia(dbs) speaker cable? Do you think it was the speaker or upstream components. I loved the sound, but scratching my head as to the highs. Thanks for any input.
I noticed that about the B tweeters too.

I had a pair of Paradigm Signature S2 v3’s a few years ago and A and B’d them up against my Infinity Renaissance 90’s that were made in 95, the Rens have emit planar tweeters.

The B tweeters were noticeable rolled off and dull sounding compared to the Ren 90’s tweeter.

The Ren 90’s tweeter’s had way more detail and a way bigger 3d sound stage than the B tweeter’s, I could hear stuff in some recordings that to me sounded like people moving stuff around making noises in the background that I could not even hear with the B tweeters, one could say... who would want to hear that kind of stuff in a recording but guess what... if those sounds are in a recording I want to hear it, you have to think to yourself... what else are the B’s missing.

After my experience with B tweeters, I’m not a fan of them, I guess they’re just not my cup of tea, that said I sold the S2 v3’s.


wow. that is weird. wouldn't expect that from a "high end" beryllium tweeter! Any others with same experience?
okeeteekid,

what electronics did you hear the persona's on. what dealer?

thanks!
Someone has to say the speaker probably wasn't broken in.  I believe but am not sure that the tweeter takes the longest.
bangdown,

I have not heard the persona’s yet, my comparison was in home with the B tweeter in the S2 v3’s compared To the infinity Renaissance 90’s High energy emit planar tweeter, the S2 v3’s had several hundred hours on them.

I’d like audition the persona’s to see how they stack up to my Infinity epsilons.


AudioTroy - guess I'll have to stop by and have a listen.  What days are you there?

Happy Listening!
Well, I will say that you could keep your nose "up" and EXPECT something to cost more to sound better.  This part of human engineering is fact and well shown by the marketing department of almost all major goods we have.  

Magico, Kharma, Wilson, Rockport et al  CANNOT compete with the likes of Paradigm on R+D dollars or manufacture of scale.  Most forget that the bread and butter of Paradigm is the entry level/mid level which they excel at.  This affords profit that they can use to further technology, R+D and execution.  Higher end companies cannot afford stinkers.  Paradigm has the time, resources and facilities to make what they want, and making Beryllium is not only costly but toxic; something any smaller company CANNOT undertake.  

I suspect that if a smaller company were to release the Persona line it would be factors higher in cost.  I get it that Paradigm is going to make a profit on what it does; whom doesn't?  But are you going to fault Paradigm if the Persona's are a profit?  Maybe they have good management.  Maybe they have a better fiscal budget.  Maybe they have a better understanding of the P+L and know where to risk it and where to stay safe.  I don't really care how a company goes about its business; only that it does and produces a product at a price that is competitive and realistic.  Sadly, in the high end, simply going higher is the result rather than adding something real or a benefit.  It is upgraded, therefore must cost more.  Really?  Talk about the easy way out.

Yes, for Pardigm, the Personas are costly, but they know the game they are in and know of the cost of gear in front of them.  The biggest thing against Paradigm is stigma.  And clearly, with Persona, they are trying hard, and in my mind (and ears) succeeding.  But there is a huge cult in the high and highest end that cost is the only real currency, not performance.  So be it.  Look at resale.  Audio is no posterboy on this.

I bet if it was behind a blind screen with know knowledge of brand and type most would be blown away.  I was and had preconceived bias.   And I think for the previous statements that the Signature line was (or is) not as good as it is are unfounded.  My system is well driven and IF the Siggys I have were that bad I would dump them fast for Personas.  But logistically, as I have said, that is not so easy, the Siggys are really good, and the cost outlay (for me) is not something I can do realistically.  Does that mean that I would not buy them in a heartbeat?  No.  I would.  There is no getting past the hi/midrange liquidity, integration, harmony and smoothness.  I have not heard such since.  Despite cost.  Get past he biases.  This is the real deal.
The Paradigms will not be ignored by the audio press. This is not a company with an image like Bose. They are a well respected loudspeaker manufacturer with technological prowess. Many of us wanted to hear what they could do upmarket. Give it a few months and the reviews will come in. And they will be very strong.
Thanks Blackfly you summed up my feelings perfectly.

All I can tell you guys is that both myself, long time engineer and hobbyist, and my friend  Dave we go about things a bit differently.

I have known Dave since meeting him at one of the early New York shows and I was impressed by how good his systems sound and the man's integrity at finding class leading and emerging products that offer usually superior performance for the money and that did and does include brands such as Usher, Nuforce, Nuprime. Aqua Hifi, Light Harmonic, T+A etc.

Dave is about creating magic in sound and we test everything in the shop. We recently compared the current hottest on the market power conditioner. to our Audio Magic Oracle, and we sent the other power conditioner back, sure that power conditioner got rave reviews it just didn't sound as good as the one we had under the same conditions. 

We found T+A after reading an Absolute Sound review where Alan Taffel compared a $19,500.00 T+A integrated to $120k worth of CH Precision and found in direct comparison that the T+A sounded nearly identical.  Upon sampling the T+A stuff we agreed that their products are amazing and a great value and again compared with all our other lines the T+A stuff was better sounding. 

As per the Persona's I said that they rival much more expensive speakers and in some ways out perform them. How do we know that? When we have a $120k pair of Kharmas, and like the Personas more, I think that gives us credibility of opinion and we also have quite a number of other outstanding loudspeakers to compare with including: Dali, Polymer, Vivid, PSB, KEF, Legacy, and a few others some of these other speakers cost up to $68k a pair that gives us perspective as well as choice. 

I wouldn't trade in a pair of $70K speakers for the Personas, I would however put them on my list if I was looking to purchase a pair of Wilsons, or Magicos or B&W or YG  or Focals or any major brand of high performance loudspeakers up to $70k or more. 

Other than a much larger, ie taller speaker which can sound even physically larger, the Persona really does to offer a very impressive set of performance criteria, they are incredibly holographic, very coherent, smooth with extraordinary transparency, great dynamics and bass. What they are not rolled off, slow, or inaccurate, therefore they will show you the good and bad of what you use with them and really should be used with exceptional pairings of products. 

 I am willing to bet that many people if they came to our shop and heard our setups with the Personas would come away as Blackfly does that the Personas are a true reference grade loudspeaker and  with Persona, Paradigm is offering  a line of incredible speakers that start with an affordable book self and floor stander. I have never seen  such remarkably advanced drivers at these affordable price points!










Aside from all the praise of the Persona line, I find it refreshing to see how efficient/sensitive they are as compared to some of their competition. Possibly a good match for tube components. Curious to see the impedance behavior across the frequency spectrum. I personally would love to hear/read a direct comparison between the 7F and my favorite and comparably priced box speakers, the Revel Salon2 and Monitor Audio PL300 ii.
Just to correct Audiotroy, TAD was the first and also currently to offer a beryllium midrange (to accompany a beryllium tweeter). Theirs is vapor deposited over copper then the copper is dissolved leaving a new crystalline structure of beryllium. I’m not sure how paradigm is doing it, pehaps like most, stamping a sheet of beryllium into a cone.

TAD also spent millions of dollars over the years developing thier reference series. 

I was excited to hear the new paradigms at the recent NY audio show, and should try to hear them again to give them a fair evaluation.
Thanks for the excellent review. One of my systems has Paradigm S1v3 (with dual Seismic 110 subs), and I haven't heard a tweeter match it's clarity or smoothness (i.e., closeness to reality) on instruments like violins. I'm really curious to hear what a beryllium midrange would sound like. But I'm also cheap, so I'll wait for others to take the hit on depreciation ;) ... although the Paradigms don't seem to take as big a hit as some other brands.
smittyjs:  it will be a while to find a pair to get the depreciation.  I get it in audio there is always someone whom likes to rotate gear as often as handbags or shoes, but seeing how the Personas are new it will be a bit.  And as for someone selling $70K speakers for Personas.....why not?  You are getting an as good, maybe a better speaker and still have money left over (although it is obvious on the buy/sell link here depreciation is about 50%, despite condition....).  But I would like to think that this is the start of a trend where the more "realistically priced" companies start offering high end offerings at more attainable prices and show up the "war of cost escalation" that seems to go unabated in audio.  Cost no object is easy; trying to hit a cost that has a larger market is not.  That is where engineering, planning and research really show.  Hell, any company could make a speaker if it cost $250K.  Doing the same at $25K is another matter entirely.

For me, there is no "snobbery".  If it sounds good, it sounds good.  Yes, some expensive products do sound good.  I recently heard the Focal Stella Utopias in a dedicated room properly driven (I forget the gear but think $100k).   Melody Gardot "My One And Only Thrill".  Sounded wonderful (although I was actually auditioning my current subs, the JL Audio F113s).  Looking back, the Personas are better in every way.  Highs and mids are more uniform, cohesive, unified and coherent, to say nothing of resolved, refined and airy.  And the size difference...and cost.....I am not going to argue the bottom end, since the difference is easily made up with a sub or two properly integrated (which is becoming all more common).  Bottom line:  don't think cost is the only requisite for high end sound.  I am extremely impressed by Paradigm and what it has done, and it deserves all the accolades  it will get and deserves them and then some.  

And whom wouldn't want to save a few dollars to spend elsewhere in the system...........
I'm sure there's another speaker out there with beryllium mids and tweeters.
Actually no. Beryllium has almost never been used for a midrange driver. 

Usher has one but it is an alloy. 

TAD made  a Beryllium midrange in their original series. 

Beryllium is a highly toxic and very difficult material to work with so very few companies want to spend the money to create drivers out of this material.
The other thing to note is that many people use Seas or Scan Speak Beryllium tweeters but neither of these companies is making a pure Beryllium midrange driver.

Why is Beryllium so superb it is extremely light, it is stiffer than Titanium, it is also self damping is is one of the most perfect materials to form a driver cone out of. 


Audiotroy,
Beryllium is light but the voice coil that it is attached to is still pretty heavy as compared to a much much lighter in weight true ribbon tweeter like a Raal,
I wouldn’t be surprised if the total weight of a Raal tweeter was less than 1/4th the weight of the voice coil alone on a Beryllium tweeter.
The moving mass of a Raal tweeter is only 0.0075 grams, The Beryllium tweeter moving mass is probably closer to .30 grams, much heavier.
The moving mass of a driver is important, you are missing one of the other major advantages of the material, ie Beryllium is self damping, aluminium is not. 

The purity of tone is what makes Beryllium so extraordinary.

Also Ribbon tweeters have other issues ie linear drive when being pushed hard and other than a very few examples where you haver magnets on  both sides you can have issues with tweeter being progressively out of the magnets optimum field leading to compression and greater amounts of distortion. 

Also you are missing the other advantage of this speaker you also have exactly the  same material for the midrange driver.

If you use a Raal tweeter you will have to use another material      for the midrange driver now you have one material for the tweeter and another for the midrange frequencies goodbye coherence. 
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The paradigms only use the same materials down to the mid range driver, the woofer is a different material so according to you goodbye coherence? if this was a cost no object speaker the woofer would be Beryllium too.

I don’t believe in all drivers have to be of the same material for a speaker to sound good as I have heard many speakers with the drivers made of the same materials sound really bad.

I’m not a fan of the B tweeter and here’s why, I did an A and B test with paradigms S2 v3’s B tweeters compared to infinity’s High energy emit in the infinity Renaissance 90, the B tweeter was rolled off and had nowhere near the detail of the infinity tweeter.

like I said in my above post... with the Infinity I could clearly hear when listening to classical music.. what sounded like to me a chair squeaking in the background, with the B tweeters you could not hear it.

I listened to many recordings while I compared the two tweeters and I was amazed at how much more the infinity tweeters retrieved what was in the recordings, with the B tweeter you would never know those sounds existed in the recordings.

Some people might say... who would want to hear a chair squeak or other annoying sounds in a recording but guess what... if those sounds are there I want to hear them, speakers are supposed to pick up everything in a recording, if they don’t you have to ask yourself, WHAT OTHER SOUNDS ARE THEY NOT REVEALING TO THE LISTENER.
First, beryllium is not 'self damping' but instead 'high damping' and there is significant difference between the two.

 A material that is self damping will absorb energy via internal friction, which is a property of titanium domes but not aluminum or beryllium.

Beryllium on the other hand has 'high damping' characteristics, which simply means the material itself doesn't respond to resonate energy until around 50khz. it makes the need for 'self damping' unnecessary for the application. Aluminium often requires coatings to improve its damping characteristics since its not quite as high damping material.

In a mid range driver, that high damping property isn't quite as critical. Still, the high modulus of the material provides a very stiff diaphragm structure at a given weight. This should permit lower distortion at high dynamics, but other factors like cabinet structure and damping, motor structure, baffle, magnetic flux, coil, former, suspension, and crossover will all play a role.

The question now becomes if the cost of producing this cone with beryllium improves the performance more than placing those financial resources elsewhere. In the high frequency driver, beryllium has some strong advantages and the size of the typical driver keeps the costs manageable. Its advantages still exist in other drivers, but its not as clear cut. Size and shape will also play a notable role on the diaphragm performance.

Kef for example has been able to push aluminum breakup point to above 40khz with a combination of design shape and to what they called 'additional materials'. Likely some sort of treatment or alloy. A different solution to achieve a competitive result. Time will tell if they develop a beryllium based version and if they apply some of that knowledge elsewhere.
We have the KEF Blades on display as well, which use KEF's best drivers,  the Blades Uni Q driver features a driver of Aluminium with a low mass stiffening ring, and the Personas are even more transparent. It is not just the stiffness and mass of the material.

Each driver material has a coloration, it seems Beryllium just has less of a sound and greater speed then Aluminium.
from Stone Studios: Beryllium. Used only by TAD-Pioneer in its professional drivers, beryllium is the ultimate metal for use in diaphragms. It stiffness to weight ratio is the highest of any known metal. Although its self damping is not inherently superior, its stiffness usually raises its resonances to well over 50 kHz, obviating the requirement for special surface treatments. Beryllium is also one of the most expensive materials from which to fabricate diaphragms.
Kef Oclee Jack-Brown states that its an aluminium dome with other materials. Which may indicate a coating over it as compared to the mid driver being a lithium, magnesium, aluminium affair according to their own documents. Likely both drivers are coated to give additional damping and protection. Also, I recall an article which added that their shaping is not quite a spherical dome and this added to the overall stiffness sending the breakup a bit higher. This might be the ring mentioned but the non spherical shape is likely additive.

They statement from Stone Studios agree with my prior post of not being self damping material, or just as poor as aluminium in self damping. But since its nice old stiff material, its self damping becomes irrelevant in audio applications.

Agreeably, any diaphragm material that can resonate and even dampen the final sound. The degree of transparency improvement will exist, but it would mainly manifest itself in the treble, being produced a bit more cleanly than otherwise without, as it will have lower resonant energy from the diaphragm to contend with. Lower coloration and cleaner production.

The transparency description you provide indicates additional design choices by Paradigm to further treble presence. Which as you can surely expect, will make some recordings quite annoying. Great music, bad mastering. The Kef Blade is a very neutral transducer and very even in its dispersion handoff. Its honestly astonishingly linear across the audio band. Not the widest and they don't intend it to be such, but the shaping of the UniQ midrange and the wave guide on the tweeter had the objective of bettering the pairing between the two drivers. When you review some of the measurements, they achieved that goal quite well, but at the expense of some frequency response width. Particularly at the mids. A very good result with only a minor compromise.

I am curios to see that results of the lateral response tests. The acoustic lenses are an interesting approach to overcome the dispersion difference between that large mid range and tweeter. On the Prestige series, that part of its sound wasn't successful at all and it meant a whole lot of extra time in setup to get the sound right. Something like some of the Kef's I had owned are a bit less fussy to get into the right territory. Once there, its fine tuning to get it just to where you like the balance.
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My mistake, the Raal tweeter is not 1/4th the weight of a Beryllium tweeter.

                                            It’s about 40 x LIGHTER!


The average moving mass (weight of the diaphragm assembly with coil and former) of a Beryllium dome is .30 grams.

The moving mass of the Raal 70-10 tweeter is only .0075 grams.

Even though Beryllium is used to cut the weight of the B tweeters dome... the tweeter is still heavy/slow because of the inherited weight of it’s coil and former, it may be lighter than other metal domes but it’s nowhere near as light as a true ribbon tweeter like the Raal.

I’ve listened to many $$ dome tweeters and to me... they are all just too slow, once you listened to a really good ribbon tweeter there’s no turning back, you will hear all what you’ve been missing.


Raal tweeter: 40 x LIGHTER than B tweeter = more accurate to the input signal.
I have never heard a ribbon tweeter but from what I have heard is that they are not really very dynamic. Do you find this to be the case?
Not with a good tweeter like the Raal or any other good push pull design tweeter, I like the sound of some of the older High energy infinity tweeters, the many benefits of a good ribbon tweeter to me outway the slight lack of dynamics if any, go and listen to a pair of speakers with a Raal tweeter or any other high end speakers with a quality ribbon tweeter in them to see what I’m talking about, lifelike imaging with a spacious 3d sound stage.
To me the personas are not a cost no object speaker, if you think they are then you’re kidding yourself.

This is what a cost no object speaker looked like in the late eighties, Infinity IRS V, check it out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPazywXrqJo

http://www.infinity-classics.de/models/IRS-series+Beta+Gamma-Delta-Sigma-Epsilon-1988-95-98/IRS/IRS1...

Introduced: IRS V: 1988
Dimensions: Bass Tower: 90 x 20.3/4 x 28.3/4 in
Dimensions: Mid/High Tower: 90 x 47 x 17 in
Wight: Bass Tower: 1,500 lbs (system)
Bass: 6 x 12 inch poly graphite woofers per side
Mids: 12 x EMIM drivers per side
Highs: 36 x EMIT drivers (12 on the back) per side
Suggested for amplifiers with: 100-300 Watts per Mid/High channel (bass towers have their own 2000 Watts amplifier)
Frequency range: 15 Hz - 45 kHz +- 2db
Crossover frequencies: 70 Hz (variable), 4500 Hz
Special: Servo control unit for bass drivers
Suggested price (system): IRS V: original $ 60,000


No I never said they are a cost no object speaker, I said they compare and can compete with many of the best small boutique companies and can easily compete with with Magico, Rockport, Wilson, B&W, Focals and YG, models that are priced in the $40-$70k price range.

The Persona's were developed to be a practical and affordable line of reference speakers, in some ways they are as good as any of the other reference speakers which is in  transparency, speed, coherence, and holographic imaging. 

The Personas  are a compact speaker and do not have the wave launch of a much physically larger speaker. 

I am very familiar with IRS V and the Genesis series I did a service call to replace the tweeter on a pair of Genesis 2 so I actually do know what they sound like.

In terms of transparency and creating a more holographic image,  the Paradigms are way better, in terms of sheer amount of air moved and image size the IRS speakers are better
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If you are comparing the genesis series 2 speaker in the below link, to the sound of the personas then that is an unfair test and you definitely don’t know what you are talking about as The Infinity IRS V sounds nothing like that little genesis speaker.

The Infinity IRS V will blow away both the persona and the genesis 2, the disparity would be embarrassing.

Genesis 2   http://www.genesisloudspeakers.com/g2series_gallery.html 

Infinity IRS V   http://www.infinity-classics.de/models/IRS-series+Beta+Gamma-Delta-Sigma-Epsilon-1988-95-98/IRS/IRS1...
Enter yThe Infinity IRS V will blow away both the persona and the genesis 2, the disparity would be embarrassing.

No if they were using my electronics on them!  HA!


Happy Listening.
Go and listen to the Infinity IRS V, you can hear them at this guys place and then you will see why the disparity would be embarrassing. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPazywXrqJo
Audiotroy,
The Infinity IRS V compares with the Genesis Prime a $300,000 plus speaker, the infinity tweeters are better as they are push pull, the Genesis tweeters are not, the Genesis tweeters are like the emit r's infinity  used in their lower priced speakers, infinitys mids were also push pull don't know if the genesis mids are or not.
Okeeteekid

This is a thread on the Personas, not a thread on the older Infinity IRS products and of course a gigantic speaker is going to produce a scale that even a top notch speaker such as the Persona can not equil.

I have heard the older IRS as well as the later Genesis speakers, and the Personas have greater treble clarity and a more holographic albeit smaller soundstage, 

The I
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