Paradigm Premier 200B and 600C Review
So let’s start this review with some honesty. I have been, and continue to be, a HUGE fan of Paradigm products. Maybe it’s my Canuck Pride showing through. Perhaps it’s the fact that my first pair of “adult” speakers that I purchased were Paradigm 3SE Mk3’s that my roommate and I spent thousands of hours listening to in the ’90s. I think it’s because Paradigm still produces loudspeakers that are competitively priced, and have good performance. That said, Paradigm did not provide the 200B and 600C Premier speakers for review. I purchased them out of pocket at my local HiFi shop. I did get a healthy 30% off my purchase as a returning customer (MSRP 200B $1296/pair (CAD), 600C $1299/each (CAD)).
|Paradigm Premier 200B||Paradigm Premier 600C|
|DESIGN||2-driver, 2-way bass reflex bookshelf||6-driver, 3-way passive radiator bass reflex center channel|
|CROSSOVER||2nd-order electro-acoustic at 2.0 kHz (tweeter/mid)||2nd-order electro-acoustic at 2.5 kHz (tweeter/mid) and 700Hz (mid/woofers)|
|FREQUENCY RESPONSE ON-AXIS||±3dB from 55 Hz – 25 kHz||±3dB from 60 Hz – 25 kHz|
|HIGH FREQUENCY DRIVER||1” (25mm) X-PAL™ dome, ferro-fluid damped / cooled, Perforated Phase-Aligning Tweeter (PPA™) Lens||1” (25mm) X-PAL™ dome, ferro-fluid damped / cooled, Perforated Phase-Aligning Tweeter (PPA™) Lens|
|MID/BASS FREQUENCY DRIVER||6-1/2” (165mm) ART™ Surround with Carbon-Infused polypropylene cone. Perforated Phase-Aligning (PPA™) Lens||4” (102mm) Black Anodized X-PAL™ cone, Perforated Phase-Aligning (PPA™) Lens|
|LOW FREQUENCY EXTENSION||45 Hz (DIN)||40 Hz (DIN)|
|LOW FREQUENCY DRIVER||N/A||Two 6-1/2” (165mm) ART™ Surround Carbon-Infused polypropylene cones|
|SENSITIVITY ROOM / ANECHOIC||90 dB / 87 dB||94 dB / 91 dB|
|FREQUENCY RESPONSE 30° OFF-AXIS||±3dB from 55 Hz – 20 kHz||±3dB from 60 Hz – 20 kHz|
|SUITABLE AMPLIFIER POWER RANGE||15 – 130 watts||15 – 180 watts|
|MAXIMUM INPUT POWER||80 watts||120 watts|
|IMPEDANCE||Compatible with 8 ohms||Compatible with 8 ohms|
|DIMENSIONS HXWXD||13.25″ × 7.875 × 12.375″ (33.5cm × 19.8 × 32.1cm)||7.75″ × 35.75 × 13.5″ (19.7cm × 90.8 × 34.2cm)|
|WEIGHT||18 lbs. (8.17 kg)||43 lbs. (19.5 kg)|
|FINISHES||Gloss Black, Gloss White, Espresso Grain||Gloss Black, Gloss White, Espresso Grain|
|PASSIVE RADIATORS||N/A||Two 6-1/2” (165mm) ART™ Surround Carbon-Infused polypropylene cones|
The look of a speaker is wholly subjective. I know that some people want their speakers to make a statement and target speaker manufacturers that provide that. For me, I want my speaker to blend into the background when the lights go down. In that regard, with the grills on, the Premier series does that well.
I chose the gloss black finish for my speakers, but they also come in gloss white and espresso grain, the latter of which seems like more of a vinyl wrap than a veneer. They also boast a satin black front surround and have black fabric grills that attach magnetically. I prefer magnetic grills because, in my opinion, it gives the speaker a cleaner and more premium look. A stylized Paradigm “P” is on each speaker and speaker grill.
I love the look of these speakers with the grills off. The satin finish on the fronts and top, the gloss black sides, and the premium materials that make up the woofers and tweeters all combine for a very attractive speaker.
The cabinets are tapered, rigid and well braced internally. They give off a pleasingly dull thud when you rap your knuckles atop them, meaning they should be inert and add nothing unwanted to the soundstage.
Will the grills removed, you will immediately notice the Perforated Phase-Aligning (PPA) lens covering the midrange and tweeter drivers. Paradigm claims that this design will “increase and smooth output without colouring the sound, while also protecting the drivers from getting damaged.”
The Paradigm Premier 200B and 600C also feature the Active Ridge Technology (ART), a flexible surround over-moulded onto the woofer and midrange drivers. Paradigm claims this will allow for a greater excursion, 50% reduction in distortion and a 3 dB gain in output.
Both are featured in their flagship Persona speakers, and Founders series. Paradigm often trickles down technology from their higher-end speakers and putting it into their more modest offerings. I enjoy the fact that Paradigm speakers have some shared DNA and that I can get some of the performance of their higher-end speakers without the price tag.
Listening Space / Equipment
I have these speakers in a dedicated space in my basement that measures 13’ x 21’ x 8’ and I sit 8 feet away. The room is treated with absorption/diffusion along the back and sidewalls, with the speakers positioned about 18” from the wall and toed-in to my main seat.
The front soundstage is powered by my B&K AV5000 and pushes 125wpc into 8ohm, which is overkill for a 90+ dB sensitive speaker. Processing is provided by my Denon x3600, which also provides power for the remaining surround and 4 overhead Atmos speakers. I rounded out my 5.1.4 system with an SVS PB1000.
As far as interconnection and sources, I fall firmly in the camp that doesn’t obsess over sources and cables. I do not subscribe to the notion that a decent cable or source can (or should) add to, or colour the signal chain. I have a solid CD player and streaming boxes.
My first selection is “Take Five” by The Dave Brubeck Quartet from their “Time Out” CD. I love this track because it can reveal any flaws in your soundstage. The light tap of the cymbal and snare is tight and detailed. Bass is good enough for this track without the use of my SVS, but I still prefer the use of a subwoofer to enhance the low end. The midrange is detailed with no muddying or blending of the instruments. What I enjoyed the most is the cohesion of the top end. I find that this track can “break apart” at higher volumes, making the saxophone shrill and unpleasant. I was able to listen to this track at any volume and I never found myself wincing or reaching for the remote. The imaging and sound stage is superb.
Next up is “Rehab” from the late Amy Winehouse’s album “Back To Black”. This one starts with a bang. The bass line is tight and punchy, and never once did I miss my SVS. Winehouse’s raspy voice is detailed and clear. Anyone familiar with this track knows that a lot is going on. A solid bass line, clapping, subtle horns, a keyboard, and even a bell make up an incredibly dynamic soundstage. The Paradigm Premier 200B’s handled this incredibly well and didn’t find that anyone instrument stood out, except when the composition of the song called for it. This means as the horns hit their crescendo, you can still hear the subtle ring on the bell in the background. It was truly a treat for my ears.
My last track was “Billie Jean” by the late Michael Jackson. This particular recording was from “History Vol 1”. Again, starting with a driving bassline and followed with Jackson himself beatboxing, the 200B Paradigm Premier’s delivered. Jackson’s voice is highly detailed and his superb vocals stand out. From the sharp intake of breath that is unmistakably Michael, to the liberal use of snaps and claps, this song is amazing on these speakers. I don’t want to sound like a broken record here, but cohesive is the adjective that is most apt here. The 200B Paradigm Premier’s really brought the soundstage to life.
Movies are far harder for me to be critical of. Some of my favourite movies tend to have sweeping musical scores (Interstellar, Jurassic Park, Star Wars) and I found myself being in awe of how well the 200B and 600C Paradigm Premier’s handled the mess that can be a Nolan film or the detailed score of John Williams.
That said, I chose “Edge of Tomorrow” as my test track. It is a solid mix of action and vocals with an unremarkable score that blends into the background. Sorry, (not sorry) Christophe Beck!
Let’s get this out of the way right away, the 200B and 600C Paradigm Premier’s need a subwoofer for movies. That is not a criticism. I have yet to come across a bookshelf speaker that can match a dedicated subwoofer in terms of bass extension.
The opening scene of “Edge of Tomorrow” is one of my favourites. The action pans around the screen and there is dialogue interspersed with action and explosions and they all mix wonderfully. I think action movies are where the Paradigm Premier 600C, shines. It allows the action on screen to pan seamlessly from bookshelves to the center and maintains linearity that is hard to describe. Dialogue is crisp and, even when a lot is going on, I never found myself asking what the actors were saying.
Gunfire was pinpoint accurate and detailed. You could hear the crack-thump as bullets whizzed across the screen. Throughout, the 200B and 600C Paradigm Premier’s brought the realism.
Whether it be music or movies, the 200B and 600C Paradigm Premier speakers did not struggle to reach insane levels of sound. At 8 feet away, they hit reference volume easily, and they fill my room with sound. It wouldn’t surprise me if these speakers could fill larger spaces, something my other bookshelf speakers struggled to do.
I think it’s safe to say that I love the sound of these speakers. Paradigm is known for its neutrality, with no added coloration. I find the mids and highs detailed and smooth. In my room, I never got a sense of shrillness from the tweeter. It could be due to my room treatment and calibration with my AVR. But, even with Audessy off, these speakers were not fatiguing and I found myself listening to CD after CD as a sipped on some bourbon and enjoyed these speakers.
Bass is just adequate. That is not a criticism. You can not expect a compact(ish) bookshelf to have the internal volume needed to produce deep and rich bass. If you corner-load them, you can get extra bass from boundary reinforcement. However, you risk the bass getting muddy and losing detail in the midrange. I highly recommend a subwoofer with these speakers. Even an SVS 3000 Micro or SB1000 would be more than enough to give these the extra oomph they need (depending on the size of your room).
I keep using the term cohesive when I speak about the Premiers, and there is a reason why. The 200B and 600C Paradigm Premier’s bring the music together in such a way that everything thing is in balance. I can hear nuance, but not in a distracting way. I find myself just closing my eyes and I feel like I am at the venue with the artist, and I think that is the best compliment that you can give a loudspeaker.
I know that I have just gushed about how amazing these speakers are, and I wouldn’t blame you if you accused me of being a card-carrying member of the Paradigm Fan Club. I have been, since 1991.
But, in my 30 plus years of being an audio enthusiast, I have also owned Energy, Axiom, Mirage, Cerwin Vega, Yamaha, KEF, and B&W speakers. I have auditioned countless others, and yet I still chose these speakers.
There are some things I didn’t like. I am not a fan of the espresso grain finish. Again, looks are subjective, but in my opinion, I don’t think it matches the modern styling of this speaker. I would like to see a real wood veneer, but I suspect those finishes are reserved for their Founders series. The 100B comes in a full satin finish, and I would love to see that offered for the full line.
The second thing that I didn’t like was the rubber feet on the Paradigm Premier 200B’s. Mine kept falling off. If they would have been on a shelf, I never would have noticed, but my stands are smaller than the footprint of the speaker and the feet kept falling off. I removed them, and if I ever sell them or change stands, I will get some new 2 sided tape and affix them.
The 200B’s sit in one of the most competitive segments of the loudspeaker market, the $1000 per pair bookshelf’s. I think that Paradigm has a solid offering, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these to someone who is looking for an affordable and high-performing speaker.
For more information, visit Paradigm.com.