Surround Sound Speaker Systems
- Written by Brian Florian
- Published on 27 May 2010
Honestly, Paradigm had gotten carried away this past decade when it came to models. They, literally, had too many. They narrowed things down in 2006 when then melded their two longest running speaker lines, the very affordable Performance Series (which included such classics as the original Titan) and the Monitor Series (which included legends like the Monitor 5se MkII). Not counting specialty speakers such as in-wall, outdoor, or lifestyle, this move distilled Paradigm's offerings down to just three price points: the new amalgamated Monitor, the Reference, and Signature series.
Why come out with a new, fourth offering, sandwiched between Monitor and Reference? Special Edition is a nice marketing cliché but in reality this new, limited lineup is Paradigm's essay at applying lessons learned and experience gained from the past five or so years of R&D and manufacturing. In simplest term they are a blend of technology from both Monitor and Reference lines, creating a sort of "Reference" caliber speaker for those who wished it were available at a slightly lower price point. Keep from the Monitor line that which is solid, add from the Reference line that which makes the greatest difference.
In what this reviewer regards as a most welcome return to more traditional esthetics, the appearance of the SE's is delightfully discreet. Eschewing the European organic curves in favor of a traditional box with clean edges, these speakers are free from adornments which would draw attention to themselves, relying instead on exquisite, let me say that again, exquisite cabinetry finish work for their beauty. The deep tone of the rosewood veneer is particularly attractive and very versatile in terms of complementing the space they are in. Under the skin is the remarkably solid construction we have come to expect from Paradigm, at any price point. The plastic frame grills attach via magnets, not snaps, so that if you elect not to use them (the drivers ARE gorgeous) the speakers will look just as "finished" either way. Unlike other grills of the sort which require you to "align" them, Paradigm has very cleverly molded a couple pins into the grill frame which mate with hex nuts on one of the drivers so that the grill sits perfectly square without having to eyeball it.
The tweeter, common to all SE models, is straight from the current Reference/Studio series: their proven 1-inch 'G-PAL', gold plated aluminum dome with a grossly overbuilt motor structure (by any standard), crossed over at a decidedly low 2kHz (2.1kHz on the center channel model). The 5 ¼" Mid-bass driver and 3.5" Midrange (on the center) are also borrowed from the Reference line featuring 'S-PAL' cones (satin anodized aluminum). The 5 ¼" bass drivers are of the tried and true polypropylene. We'll talk about the subwoofer technology in a moment.