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The Reviews are IN!

The Reviews are IN!

9 May 2019

Check out the latest review from enjoy the music.com on the new Paradigm 200B monitor speaker.  Find out how to make sure you are sounding good this spring and summer! Contact us today for more information or to place your order.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 2019
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine

Paradigm 200B Small Monitor Speaker
Impressive bottom end for a small loudspeaker.
Review By Dean Cacioppo

Paradigm 200B Small Monitor Speaker Review

  Paradigm Speakers and I have a long, and personal history. Another lifetime ago, I sold hi-end audio at the retail level. Mostly because it was my dream job. Even after I left full time, I would work there on the weekends. Our modus operandi back then was to get the guy who was looking for a new “stereo” and bring them in our big room to let them experience the sound of a real audio system.

Then the next step was to bring them into the “small room” where they could experience some of that same magic in their price range. The majority of the speakers in the entry level room were Paradigm, sprinkled with some Vandersteen and B&W 300 and 600 series. After we walked the unsuspecting electronics buyer through that process… a new audiophile was born.

Paradigm is a Canadian speaker manufacturer, known for providing good sounding speakers with little flash and solid value. In the world of speaker manufacturers, Paradigm is one of the larger companies out there. They have the resources for research and development as well as the facilities to build any level of speaker that they want to. I have always found it impressive when a company would build affordable products that provide real hi-end sound at affordable prices.

When I was asked to review the new Paradigm Premier 200B small monitor speakers I was pretty stoked (and possibly a little biased) because, years ago, I had personally chosen the Paradigm Studio 20 v2 (in cherry) as the monitor speaker in my own home when they were released. Although I have since passed them on to a relative for a housewarming gift, I have always loved those speakers. 

Paradigm 200B Bookshelf / Stand-Mounted Monitor
The Paradigm 200B speakers are a two-way, monitor priced at $500 each ($1000 for stereo pair). The 6.5″ midrange / bass driver and 1″ tweeter are housed within a bass reflex (ported) enclosure and employs a second order crossover (12dB per octave at 2 kHz). The enclosure is well constructed, my demo pair sported a gray woodgrain veneer (called Expresso Grain) on the sides and is beveled to the rear, making them more than just a square box (most likely to reduce internal standing waves) and the port is rear facing.

Paradigm 200B Small Monitor Speaker Review

The front baffle is missing any “plastic plugs” to attach the front grill. Paradigm has opted for a very good looking, totally smooth front baffle that uses magnets to affix the grills. After listening and removing and replacing the grills frequently, I truly learned to love their design, as they quickly and easily attach in exactly the right place. Notwithstanding any direct sonic improvements of their PPA Lens Technology, a side benefit is both the tweeter and woofer are both protected. This lets you remove the grills in a dead room while keeping them on in a livelier listening environment while staying fully protected from little fingers and keeping a similar tonal balance.

Set Up and Placement
My main listening room is quite large at 28′ X 21′ with 9′ ceilings and a very open floor plan. The speakers the Paradigm 200B’s were to be replacing with were Vandersteen 3A loudspeakers, which are a relatively large floor-standing speaker, known for a very solid bottom end. Following a large floorstander wasn’t making it easy for the much smaller speaker to fill such a large, open room. I originally placed the Paradigms in the exact place as my previous speakers, which is about four feet from the back wall and about six feet apart. The 200B’s were placed on some older Chicago Audio Speaker stands that are very heavy and use a torsion bar for rigidity. The stands are 28″ high, which are just about the perfect height for the Paradigms at seating level. Initially, they were almost perpendicular with the back wall with minimal toe-in.

First Impressions
Let me start by saying I believe that most audio equipment, especially speakers, require a much longer burn-in than the manufacturers’ recommendations. I generally burn in speakers by placing them baffle to baffle, wiring one speaker out of phase, and playing white and pink noise through them for a week or two. I was told my demo pair of the 200Bs were already burned in so I skipped this process. Let me note that they did continue to sound consistently better over the time I spent with them.

The amplifier that was set up in the main room was an Audio Research Classic 60 and I was using an Audio Research LS2 for a pre-amp. Although I have not noticed any sonic differences, both of these were produced prior to their acquisition in 2008. I connected the Paradigms to the 8 Ohm tap and assumed the position on the couch.

First up was Dianna Krall’s Love Scenes on 180-gram vinyl. I have used this particular recording for years because of the air, imaging and the incredible stand-up bass. Some of the tracks are recorded dramatically different, so less album flipping for critical listening. My first impressions were the size of the soundstage… it was huge. Much larger than the Vandersteens that the smaller monitors were replacing. On another note, the bass seemed quite thin, but this was somewhat expected when following a large floor-standing speaker in such a large room. I noticed a lack of rhythm, mostly because of the thin bottom end.

This seemed a little odd to me because, in my previous history with Paradigm monitors, they had an outstanding bottom end. Because I was somewhat perplexed, I moved to a different style of music, putting on Bob Marley’s Exodus, which is somewhat defined by the bass line. Once again, things just didn’t seem right.

After running through a variety of music I pushed the speaker back a little closer to the back wall in an attempt to boost up the bottom end. Although the bottom end was slightly better, the image stayed solid, so I kept them closer to the wall for the majority of my time with the Paradigms.

Changing Amplification
If you have ever listened to a speaker with a wild impedance curve that digs down low on a tube amp, you know that you can make even the best voltage driven tube amp cry. That was somewhat of the sound I was getting connected to the 60 Watt-per-channel pentode. I asked Paradigm for an impedance curve for the 200B and because they do an immense amount of testing (they have their own fully isolated anechoic chamber for proprietary testing and measuring) they promptly sent it over. Upon review, the 200B small monitors never dropped below 4 Ohms, so they were not starving for current.

Paradigm 200B Small Monitor Speaker Review

I’m just a regular guy who happens to have a life-long obsession with music and audio, so I generally don’t have a plethora of high quality solid-state amps laying around. I had a 38 Wpc pentode, but that was moving in the wrong direction I dusted off an old NAD 2700 (150 x 2 and bridgeable to 400 Watts) and connected it to the Paradigm monitors and WOW – the 200Bs really came alive.

Let me say that I usually don’t play music too loud. There are times when I crank up Rage Against the Machine louder than the family would like, but most of my listening is at reasonable levels. I can say that with an efficiency of 87dB/W/m, I think the little Paradigms simply needed more power to really come alive. Generally, I would not recommend a mid-range solid state power amplifier over a critically acclaimed tube amp just for power, but the Paradigm 200B speakers certainly appreciated it.

Now The Real Listening Starts
At this point, we are still in the “big room” and have found optimal speaker placement with the rear of the speakers about 15″ from the back wall and about 6 feet apart. As for toe in, the 200B monitors didn’t need much. The speakers held a steady image regardless of angle, showing a good off-axis response. Running through some standard “demo music” such as Dire Straits Brothers in Arms, Miles Davis Kind of Blue, and Paul Simon’s Graceland, the soundstage was very impressive, and the bottom bass has now become impressive in such a large room. Keeping in line with other Paradigm speakers I have experienced, the 200Bs do everything quite well with no major flaws.

By that same rationale, they are not a “one trick pony” type of speaker that may image with awesome depth and precision but lacks tonal balance. These little monitors have a great tonal balance and a solid midrange with a wide soundstage. The last two tracks on Robert Palmer’s Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley kept great rhythm and no sloppy bass. They seem to have a very good off-axis dispersion, so they sound good even when not in the sweet spot. The image is more broad-brushed but always in place, even with the speakers not in the optimal positioning. Playing Roger Waters Amused To Death, I didn’t get the wild, extreme sonic tricks that some other speakers deliver, but they were always very listenable.

Moving To A Smaller Room
Knowing that most people that buy a $1000 pair of monitor speakers will most likely be using them not only for audio but as a part of a surround system, I decided to move the speakers to my bedroom which measures 13.5′ by 20′. Needless to say, the environment that the system is in is an important area that gets overlooked, but has a huge affect on the sound. My bedroom system is primarily set up for casual listening and laying back and enjoying a late night flick. The speakers that the Paradigm 200Bs are replacing are Spendor Preludes on 24″ stands. These older Spendors are known for their fantastic midrange, but have a somewhat bloated bottom end (but not deep) and are a little rolled off on the top end.

The electronics in the bedroom is simply an older Rotel RSX-965 surround receiver, which actually sounds very good for a surround receiver and is most likely closer to what would be powering the 200B’s for most people. For two channel music it is far superior to most mass production, feature bloated, A/V receivers.

The sound in the smaller room reminded me of the bottom end of my old Studio 20’s which were known for having people ask “where is the sub”? The broad-brushed imaging filled up the entire short wall of the room with sound. The Paradigms had a much better tonal balance and reproduced an evener frequency response than the Spendors. I will say they didn’t have that holographic image and lifelike midrange that Spendors are known for, but provided a more all-inclusive listening experience.

 

Deep Dive Into The Sound
The way I look at the evaluation of anything always comes down to value. Do you really believe that when a reviewer talks about a $2000 speaker system that it really could have the “absolute best” at anything? It is relative to others in that general price range. Paradigm’s 200B are $1000 per pair and the buyer knows there are a lot of speakers to choose from within this price range. Many speaker options, such as the highly popular speakers by ELAC for example, will excel at something with major weaknesses somewhere else while other speaker manufacturers choose to focus on not doing anything bad and keeping it solid across the board. Essentially, it comes down to how you listen, what you listen to, the room and the other equipment. The Paradigms fall into the latter of the two.

If I compare against with my Spendor FL-10s on the ARC Classic 60, the Paradigm 200B small monitors have a little bit of a “pinch” in the midrange. Not really a peak, but more of a blind spot. Small, two-way speakers always face a challenge in the midrange as their crossover point is forced in a critical spot. The bottom end, lower frequencies to be specific, was impressive for a small speaker. This is especially true within a smaller room. They seemed to go deeper than you would expect from a 6.5″ driver. Although they seemed a little lean in the mid-bass they may be more accurate than my personal preference. They may have leaned out the mid-bass to avoid mid-bass bloat commonly found on many monitor speakers.

If you like it loud, the Paradigms do perform very well when pushed hard. One of my standards for evaluating speakers is Tool – Undertow. In the old days of high-end sales, we called it “The Tool Test”. Undertow shows off a tremendous rhythm section recorded extremely well with a thunderous bottom end. You just have to turn it up. If you really want to put a speaker through its paces, put them through the Tool Test. The Paradigms passed with flying colors keeping great rhythm and time while playing loud without any harshness.

 

Pairing
I have always believed that the matching of equipment to make a true audio system is much more important than the individual qualities of a specific piece of audio equipment. That being said, it is just as important to know what will “mate well” with a speaker as it is to know how it performed in a specific listening environment. The Paradigm Premier Series 200B should be paired with a powerful, quality solid state amplifier and if used without a subwoofer, should be in an appropriately sized room. From a tonal balance perspective, the ability to remove the grills and still keep the speaker protected (and look good) provides flexibility for live versus dead rooms.

As I mentioned earlier, I believe that most equipment needs substantially more burn-in time than most manufacturers recommend. In my time spent with the Paradigms’ they continued to get better. As time went on, the image became much more defined with more depth. The decay of cymbals faded smoother. The bass went deeper while keeping control.

 

Paradigm 200B Small Monitor Speaker Review

 

Conclusion
There is a ton of competition in the $1000 speaker market. One of the things that many monitor type speakers have challenges with is a fast and deep bottom end without mid-bass bloat. The 200B does not have those issues commonly found in this price range.

We play music in my home during almost all waking hours, and the Paradigm 200Bs, once on the solid-state power, always sounded good. Regardless of the music (and we make the rounds) they were very listenable, even when more expensive and revealing speakers may have shown off the bad sonics of the recording.

This is not to say that the Paradigm 200B speakers “white washed” the sound. That was not the case at all. As a matter of fact, towards the end of my time with the Paradigms, I received the Backert Labs The Rhumba Extreme 1.3 preamp. The differences between the two fine preamps were tangibly revealed on the 200Bs. Full review on the Backert Labs The Rhumba Extreme 1.3 coming soon.

Most people buying speakers in this price range want to enjoy some music (and maybe even a movie) and know they are not missing anything. They want to crank it up every once in a while when no one else is home. They want their music collection and audio streaming services to just sound good.

On the other hand, some people are buying small monitors for other reasons. If you are moving to monitors because you want a lush, holographic image, a deep midrange and willing to sacrifice bottom end, these may not be for you. Paradigm’s 200B monitor speaker is a really solid all-around performer and should be on the list for most people looking for a set of monitors at $1000 for stereo pair.

Tonality
Sub–bass (10Hz – 60Hz)
Mid–bass (80Hz – 200Hz)
Midrange (200Hz – 3,000Hz)
High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)
Attack
Decay
Inner Resolution
Soundscape Width Front
Soundscape Width Rear
Soundscape Depth Behind Speakers
Soundscape Extension Into Room
Imaging
Fit And Finish
Self Noise N/A
Value For The Money

 

Specifications
Type: Two-driver, two-way bass reflex bookshelf
Frequency Response On-Axis: 68 Hz to 25 kHz (+/-3dB)
Tweeter: 1″ X-PAL dome, ferro-fluid damped / cooled
Perforated Phase-Aligning Tweeter (PPA) Lens
Midrange / Woofer: 6.5″ ART Surround with Carbon-Infused polypropylene cone.
Perforated Phase-Aligning (PPA) Lens
Crossover: Second-order electro-acoustic at 2.0 kHz
Sensitivity: 87dB/W/m
Impedance: 8 Ohms
Finishes: Gloss Black, Gloss White, Espresso Grain
Weight: 18 lbs. each
Dimensions: 13.25″ × 7.875 × 12.375″ (HxWxD)
Price: $500 each ($1000 for stereo pair)