Surround Sound Speaker Systems
- Written by Brian Florian
- Published on 09 February 2012
The Technology of the Paradigm Monitor 7 Series Speakers
The Monitor Series 7 lines includes an impressive array of models ranging from miniscule 2-way bookshelves to 5-driver floor standing towers along with several dedicated centre and surround models to chose from. The technology in them is common across the line so we'll have a look at the broader picture before dialling in to the specifics of our review set.
Speakers are mechanical devices subject to the laws of physics in our world. Make no mistake loudspeaker design is very complex, yet there is a baseline of "equations" to it all. What sets one manufacturer apart runs the gamut, but when it comes to the product itself driver technology is everything. Anyone can put a driver in a box, but not everyone can make an excellent driver. While in the humble early years Paradigm was more of an assembler than manufacturer, buying OEM drivers and implementing them in their designs, for the bulk of their history they have manufactured all their own drivers. From the winding of voice coils, to the moulding of cones, to the by-hand assembly of it all. With the Series 7 Paradigm takes a deeper step into outsourcing their manufacturing: long time fans may notice with some concern the conspicuous lack of the "Made in North America" sticker on the box ("...to stay competitive" is of course the sited reason for the shift). Paradigm still designs and prototypes their drivers in Canada, but while mass manufacturing has been handed over to someone else, it is still their design and process which is being duplicated over yonder.
In terms of the drivers themselves, Paradigm has for over a decade now focused on metal dome and cone materials for their transducers. The ideal material in driver design terms is one which is both perfectly stiff and insanely light. Those of us with a few more years under our belts will recall when paper was pretty much the only material, then fabric became all the rage for tweeters and plastics took over the larger drivers. Metal really didnít take off until the past decades because of the one other property you want the material to have: no resonance. Early metal cone/dome efforts were challenged by the materials propensity to want to "ring". But that was then and this is the second decade of the new millennium. In the Series 7 Paradigm has brought in aluminium to replace previous tweeter's titanium while the aluminium mid/bass driver and midrange is right out of previous Reference series generation.
"Oversized magnet" is a bit of a marketing pitch (who decides what size you go over to be oversized?) but even a casual glance at the backside of one of the tweeters shows a decent motor structure. Likewise the mid/bass is of impressive build with its glass reinforced polymer basket. I was once asked to break one during a factory tour and it wasnít the fact that I couldnít break it with just my two hands (I'm no body builder) but rather the sheer rigidity of a "plastic" basket is what impressed me.
Cabinets is something everyone likes to wax poetic about. The bottom line is you want something which is solid and inert without adding unnecessary cost and/or weight. Paradigm has been designing and manufacturing boxes for so long its a no brainer they know where to put the emphasis: even on the smallest bookshelf in the series the front baffle is a full 3/4" MDF and the tower models in the series have internal bracing. The finish is consistent with the value position of the series: no wood veneers but rather your choice of very well done black or dark cherry wood-grain vinyl wrap (go for the dark cherry!).