|The Paradigm array excelled with challenging movie soundtracks like that of Enemy at the Gates as well as multichannel SACD and DVD-Audio music discs.|
The Studio 40 v.3 array excelled with challenging movie soundtracks like that of Enemy at the Gates, a pristine DVD transfer with a beautifully crisp 5.1-channel soundtrack. As Chapter 6 opens, a train pulls in noisily straight toward you, exiting and then stopping diagonally to your left. The train sound covers lots of octaves, so a smooth, well-integrated pan from center to left to rear requires really good channel matching from top to bottom of the spectrum. (It may sound trivial, but to reproduce this sort of effect convincingly is a stiff challenge for any surround sound setup.) As the train rumbles to a stop, its squeaks and groans echo into the surround channels, blending in with low, ambient music. I listened to this passage again and again, straining to hear any imperfections, but the presentation was impressively smooth. Nice - very nice.
Paradigm's Seismic 12 subwoofer is an ultra-compact design sporting two 10-inch passive radiators, a down-firing 12-inch driver, and a high-efficiency switching amp that carries a seismic 1,200-watt power rating. All this firepower delivers the big bass you expect from action/adventure movies. The modest explosions in Enemy thumped my chest with real effect, but sound-spectacular nuggets like the big bike-chase explosion in Mission Impossible 2 genuinely rocked the floor with true deep bass.
No matter what disc I threw at it, the Seismic 12 pounded out the goods, delivering smooth, clean, sheetrock-flexing bass to below 25 Hz. I was surprised that a subwoofer of this sophistication lacked a crossover-bypass input for those who want to use the crossovers in their receivers or preamps. (Just the same, I heard no problems from the nondefeatable filter with the sub's frequency control wide open.)
PLUSSuperb sound quality.
MINUSSub has no crossover-bypass or speaker-level inputs.
Movies aside, I pulled out my favorite 5.1-channel DVD-Audio discs and Super Audio CDs. The Paradigms sounded superb with multichannel music like Alison Krause + Union Station Live (SACD) and Steely Dan's Everything Must Go (DVD-Audio). And natural-acoustic music, such as James Horner's entertainingly Tchaikovsky Meets Prokofiev orchestral score for Enemy,sounded uniformly gorgeous: rich, seamless, warm, but with distinct string bowings and crisp horn attacks along with a well-delineated, lifelike ambience.
The Paradigm Reference Studio 40 v.3 system is a flat-out first-class suite of speakers that can produce the kind of you-are-there realism that many other systems only wish they could achieve. Sure, at $4,500 it's no cheapie - not even close. If you're dropping that kind of coin, you expect superb results, top to bottom, which is exactly what you get.
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