Within its 220,000-plus square feet of factory space in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, visitors can see how Paradigm’s “crafted in Canada” speakers are born.A recipe is a set of instructions to create a particular dish. Using specific ingredients you can make everything from bread to soup to mouthwatering entrees. Not everyone is a good cook. Pizza, for example, can be delicious or terrible. Both have crust, cheese, and sauce, and although they may look similar, they can taste very different.
Similar to a chef of a fine restaurant creating a recipe that stands out from his competition, loudspeaker manufacturers use a recipe of sorts to create unique-sounding products to appeal to their customers. Recently, Paradigm, the 32-year-old Canadian loudspeaker company, took a step back from its previous recipe to redesign and reengineer an entirely new speaker line, called Prestige.
This new concept was born nearly a year ago when Paradigm started asking current customers what they liked and did not like about speakers. This survey helped drive the company’s new project, and this week I was invited to its factory in Mississauga, Ontario, to experience the final stunning results.
In recent years we’ve been conditioned to believe that speakers must be small and that surround sound isn’t necessary. Paradigm’s Prestige will remind you what we’ve lost—what we have been missing.
Within its 220,000-plus square feet of factory, visitors can see how Paradigm’s “crafted in Canada” speakers are born, from the folded cuts of wood (to keep the same grain lines), to the way each piece is assembled with care. They are not just following a recipe; they are making a new one, a better one.
From the folded cuts of wood (to keep the same grain lines), to the way each piece is assembled with care, Paradigm is not just following a recipe with its loudspeaker designs; they are making each speaker better than the first.
Utilizing what it calls “ART’ (Active Ridge Technology) Paradigm’s engineers fuse the surround to the cone, (this is called “overmolding”). This newer technology allows for a greater excursion for a 3dB gain in distortion-free output (50-percent greater) compared with a driver with standard surrounds. This makes the speaker more durable and reliable, for “a lifetime of superior sound,” according to the company.
Paradigm speakers playing music on the factory floor.
An entirely new paint area, better than some auto detail shops, has been built inside the facility. The hard work shows with brilliant new finishes like midnight cherry (their most desired option.) All colors have stainless hardware that would be a shame to cover with a grill, creating the bold new look of Prestige. With such details, it is easy to see that this is not a rebrand, but a from-the-ground-up build of an entirely new line.
Paradigm employs about 150 people at their plant, and throughout, the atmosphere was upbeat. I loved that the company’s own bookshelf speakers were mounted everywhere in the facility playing music for employees. They were listening to what they were building, which demonstrated to me that they have a passion that flows through all facets of the organization.
During our tour, a short film announcing Prestige was shown to visitors, then the company brought down a massive screen to introduce the final product it to all the employees, reminding them that they’re part of something bigger, something new.
How do they test to make sure the sound is on target? In an anechoic chamber of course!
We ended our day with the engineers who showed us how the speakers start as 3D renderings on a screen, to 3D printings from one of their 3D printers, to beta testing, to the final product. How do they test to make sure the sound is on target? In an anechoic chamber of course! (Being 13 feet up on the grid had me gripping my cell phone extra tight.) If you have never been inside an anechoic chamber, it is a bazaar experience, as there is no echo in this dead room. For me, a “Type A” personality, I started to twitch after a few minutes, but for those that don’t like stimulation, they were calmed by the lack of it.
In the blind listening test room, a curtain is drawn, and music is played.
Next was the blind listening test. In this room, a curtain hid the speakers, and music was played. You’re handed a remote where you can pick between the three hidden speakers. There is some science, but in reality you pick your favorite-sounding product. Yep, I picked the Paradigm.
We ended the day playing with a pair of Prestige 85F (F is for floorstanding).
We ended the day playing with a pair of Prestige 85F (F is for floor standing). They were as easy on the eyes as they were on the ears.
Paradigm is one of those rare companies that doesn’t seem to be standing in its own way. One arm is offers Shift products (headphones, soundbars, and powered speakers) and the other arm is creating high-end luxury speakers. The result is one great big hug of outstanding audio. They’re playing the game from both angles instead of fighting the trends of the world (great soundbars while building better speakers).
With the finest ingredient and great care for the process. It appeared to me that Paradigm has created a recipe for success.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.