Paradigm Prestige 75F Loudspeaker Review

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

PRICE $1,499 ea

AT A GLANCE
Plus
2.5-way crossover
Excellent build quality
Amazing soundstage
Minus
Gloss finish needs careful handling

THE VERDICT
Paradigm achieves affordable high-end in the Prestige 75F towers thanks to a beautiful design with furniture-grade finish and reference-quality sound.

With its tall-and-narrow rectangular cabinet, front-mounted drivers, rear-firing port, and cloth grille, Paradigm’s Prestige 75F is the quintessential tower loudspeaker. Fans of new driver types, exotic cabinet designs, the rarest of rare-earth metals, and de rigueur built-in powered woofers might be tempted to pass by (especially when the grille is attached), much as I did figuratively when a pair of the towers arrived. Paradigm had shipped them to use with the company’s Premium Wireless streaming amplifier, the PW Amp (Sound & Vision, June, and soundandvision.com). The Prestige 75F wasn’t the focus of that review, so although I began burning in the pair, I basically ignored them until I’d finished evaluating the PW 600 and PW 800, Paradigm’s self-powered multiroom wireless speaker that operates independently of the towers. At the risk of spoiling things, I’ll say up front that when it came time to test the PW Amp, it became exceedingly difficult to pay attention to the ballsy little streaming amplifier. It was soon playing second fiddle to an unanticipated, towering virtuoso.

Seeing Is Unbelieving
Even if you’re not particularly enamored of passive tower speakers in general, it’s impossible not to feel at least some admiration for the sheer beauty of the Prestige 75F. Conventional in concept, the tower stands almost 37.5 inches tall with a relatively narrow front baffle width of 11 inches and a depth of 1 foot. With those dimensions, a pair of 75Fs won’t become the focal point of your room. Instead, they’ll peacefully coexist with your domestic environs.

Another reason for that domestic harmony, aside from the speaker’s manageable size, is because Paradigm’s cabinet finishes are furniture-quality (better, really). The Midnight Cherry option, for example, is hand-rubbed—as in human hand, not robot “hand”—to a stunning high-gloss finish. Being a jaded cynic, I assumed the included rubber-nib-tipped cloth gloves were mostly a marketing ploy, especially considering Paradigm’s strident admonition to always use them when unpacking or even moving the speakers. The lustrous sheen of the Midnight Cherry finish, though, made it clear that the gloves weren’t a gimmick. They were a necessity. The 75Fs are awe-inspiring works of art and should be treated as such.

I could wax on about the looks of the towers, but there’s plenty of technology behind the magnetically attached grilles to talk about. The Prestige 75F is a 2.5-way design, housing a trio of 5.5-inch woofers and a 1-inch tweeter. The drivers are arranged in a straight line vertically, with the tweeter at the top, and there’s a port on the back. Paradigm says the 2.5-way crossover design—in which all three woofers play low frequencies but only the upper driver continues playing into the midrange band above 500 hertz—helps improve deep bass output and improves the vertical off-axis performance.

The woofer cones are made from brushed aluminum, include surround material that’s over-molded onto each cone’s outer edge (eliminating a glue joint), and are installed in the cabinets using butyl-rubber fasteners to decouple the drivers from the enclosure. The new 1-inch X-PAL tweeter dome is also made from aluminum, but you won’t see much of it because it’s covered by Paradigm’s Perforated Phase-Aligning (PPA) tweeter lens, which both protects the dome and acts as a phase plug to block out-of-phase frequencies, which could be detrimental to the desired frequency response. The 75F also has two pair of binding posts for optional biamplification or biwiring, and it sits on an aluminum base plate with adjustable feet or spikes.

Crickets for Organ and Drums in A+
The first thing I noticed when I began to pay attention to the Prestige 75F towers was the extreme width of the soundstage. During the first few minutes of Roger Waters’ “The Ballad of Bill Hubbard,” the initial silence is punctuated by the omnipresent sound of crickets and a dog bark- ing in the distance, followed by a telephone conversation way off to the left. It doesn’t require a full hand to count the number of stereo speaker pairs I’ve heard in my room that have created such an expansive soundstage and done it so clearly and believably—while maintaining intelligibility in the low-fidelity telephone parts.

The 75Fs also created an all-encompassing front stage for Bert Kaempfert and His Orchestra playing the swinging “Marjoram,” with the horn section way to the right and the bass on the left. There was more in this track to admire as well. The horns were as smooth as the tune itself, with a beautiful clarity that made their sudden, sharp blasts even more intense. And Carla Lother’s voice on “100 Lovers” was smooth and present without being aggressive or too forward in placement.

I think the most entertaining demo track of all was Dirk Sengotta’s drum solo from the Henrik Freischlader Band’s Live. The 75Fs were so punchy and clean in the mid and bass regions that the drum set seemed to take on a life-size, three-dimensional form in front of me. It was impossible not to “see” the hands and sticks moving from one side to the other, back and forth across the set.

To find out what the bottom half of the towers could do, I played “Gnomus” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. At no time during the organ’s descents and ascents through the bass region did the towers either weaken or show signs of strain. The bass was amazingly solid and powerful for a tower speaker of this size, and deeper than I expected it to be. You’d still want a dedicated subwoofer for movies, but the bass output was exceptional for a non-powered tower of this size.

15620692046_15ef40afd1_b

Paradigm’s Prestige 75F tower is a gorgeous piece of craftsmanship and a true work of art. The intense care and attention to detail that went into building these speakers radia= tes like an aura around each one. Remarkably, the combination of subtlety, power, and detail makes the beautiful cabinets dematerialize into an exceptionally wide, ethereal soundstage that’s rare to find in a pair of towers at this price. At $3,000 for a pair, the 75Fs aren’t cheap, but the elevated visuals and ambrosial sonics are worth their weight in gold.

Specs
5.5 in aluminum cone woofer (3), 1 in aluminum dome tweeter; 11 x 37.38 x 12 in (WxHxD), 47 lb Price: $1,499 ea

(soundandvision.com, http://goo.gl/LywwE9)

 

Comments

comments

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn