Paradigm Premier 700F Speaker System Review


Premier 700F Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Defiance X-12 subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $4,700 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp detail
Big, powerful sound
Minus
Tower unstable on thick carpet
Poorly designed grilles

THE VERDICT
The Premier range is far from the most expensive in Paradigm's speaker lineup, but the performance and build quality that it offers lets it compete with speakers twice the price.

The other day a friend who's neither a videophile nor an audiophile dropped by my home to watch a movie. A pair of loudspeakers I had just finished reviewing for Stereophile, our sister publication, were sitting in a corner, waiting to be packed up. When I told him their price—$6,000/pair—he appeared shocked. Even Paradigm's affordable new 700F speakers, then as now serving as the left/right channels in my system, are pricier than he would like were he to invest in a system of his own (unlikely!).

But most home theater fans know better. Spending as much for speakers as you might for a top-of-the-line 65-inch UHDTV isn't something they would consider outrageous. Case in point: Paradigm's Premier series. Consisting of six models ranging from the $800/pair 100B bookshelf speaker to the $2000/pair 800F tower model, this series counts among the most intriguing new entries for a 5.1 surround sound speaker system priced under $5,000.

Features
Paradigm boasts that its speakers are designed and built at its own facility in Canada. But they don't use the more specific phrase, “Made in Canada.” I suspect that might mean that many of the parts, perhaps the drivers and crossover components, are manufactured overseas. However, that's true of most loudspeakers today, and in fact most of the Premier line's competition is manufactured entirely off-shore.

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I chose a review system anchored by the $1,600/pair Premier 700F tower. For a center I chose the smaller of the two Premier centers, the Premier 500C. The 500C is a three-way with a separate midrange—the best design for a center speaker apart from a model that's identical to the left and right channels (which in most home theaters would block the screen!). A pair of Premier 200Bs filled out the system as L/R surrounds. These use the same tweeter as the other models, together with a 6.5-inch woofer. While the 700F and 200B are rear-ported, the 500C is sealed. All Premier models are said to be compatible with 8 ohms, though no minimum impedance is specified.

Both the cones in the 700F and the woofers in the 500C are made from carbon-infused polypropylene. The 500C's midrange is black-anodized, pure aluminum X-PAL, a material that's also used for the tweeter domes in all of the Premier models. The surrounds of the cone drivers use Active Ridge Technology (ART). According to Paradigm, this increases driver excursion for lower distortion and higher output (claimed at 50 percent and +3dB, respectively).

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All midrange and tweeter drivers in the Premier line are covered in perforated metal shields—Paradigm's Perforated Phase- Aligning Lenses (PPA). Try to keep up with the acronyms! These are said to not only protect the drivers but to also function much like phase plugs by increasing and smoothing output.

The 700F and 200B cabinets are shaped with gently tapered sides (on the top in the 500C), a design that is said to reduce internal standing waves. I'm skeptical of this benefit, however, since the standing waves generated in the small internal dimensions of a loudspeaker cabinet are typically at a high enough frequency to be easily suppressed by damping material. But the curves do give the speakers a more elegant, upscale look than the usual flat-sided boxes. All Premier speakers are available in Gloss Black, Gloss White, or Espresso Grain finishes.  

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The towers and center speaker each have two sets of binding posts (I used them single- rather than bi-wired), while the surrounds make do with a single pair. The back of the removable grilles that come with the speakers are covered with plastic stiffening ribs, with small openings apart from a single larger one for the tweeter. The ribs partially block the midrange driver, which would appear to defeat the purpose of its PPA lens. While the grilles clearly degrade the sound, they're held in place by magnets and are easy to remove and reattach if they're needed to protect the drivers when not in use.

Floor spikes are provided with the 700Fs, but I didn't use them. Large, thick rugs cover most of my home theater space, and there are hardwood floors beneath them that I don't want damaged. The thin Premier towers proved a little unstable on the rugs minus the spikes, so to avoid accidents I attached a set of aftermarket outriggers (available from soundocity.com) that I've used in the past with other slender speakers.

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For a subwoofer I chose Paradigm's new Defiance X12, the second largest model in the Defiance range. The X12 uses a 12-inch driver with an ART surround that's mounted in a bottom-ported cabinet and driven by a 650-watt RMS amp (1,300-watt dynamic peak). Available only in a satin black finish, its key feature is Paradigm's Anthem Room Correction (ARC). This uses Anthem's app for setup with a smartphone, tablet, or computer, and its menus offer a variety of adjustments, including preset Music, Movie, and Night modes. (I used Music mode for both music and movies.)

Of the three available setup methods for the X12 subwoofer, I opted for the most basic: using my iPhone X with its own internal microphone. The results were excellent, and I felt no need to go further. But if you do, the next step up would be to use an Android or iOS device together with an external Anthem microphone (included). The sub also offers a wireless option with an (optional) plug-in module, though I didn't test it.

Setup
I used my Marantz AV8805 surround preamp, along with a Parasound Halo A 52+ five-channel amp (rated at 180 watts into 8 ohms, all channels driven) to drive the Paradigm system. My players were a Marantz UD7007 for two-channel music on CD and an Oppo BDP-203 for movie discs. Cables were Kimber AGDL for a digital coax link from the Marantz player, generic HDMI from the Oppo, Cardas Hexlink unbalanced interconnects to the amp (for the left and right channels), and AudioQuest Rocket 88 to the speakers.

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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