Paradigm Reference Signature Sub 1 and
Sub 2 Powered Subwoofers
All prices in US dollars.
It wasnt that many years ago that Paradigm made only
conventional-looking speakers and subwoofers in rectangular boxes at prices low enough
that most people could afford them. For a very long time, they were known for products
that provided great value but didnt necessarily represent the state of the art.
Though still a leader on the budget side, in recent years
Paradigm has gone upscale to challenge the best there is, and theres no better
evidence of that than their new Reference Signature Sub 2 (front left) and Reference
Signature Sub 1 powered subwoofers. These arent like the Paradigms of yesteryear,
and the company knows it. Their product literature boldly proclaims: "Our most
ambitious subwoofer to date . . . loaded with cutting-edge technology!" A
close look at these two products reveals little evidence to contradict that.
Both the Sub 1 and Sub 2 have hexagonal
"vibration-canceling" cabinets and six drivers, with pairs mounted on three
sides. The Sub 2, considerably larger than the Sub 1, is priced at $7499 and is the most
expensive product Paradigm has ever made; the Sub 1 costs $3499. Both are available in
cherry or high-gloss black.
The Sub 1s six 8" drivers all feature
Paradigms new Non-Limiting Corrugated (NLC) surround technology, which, they claim,
gives the driver 50% more travel, which permits 100% more output (6dB). The same
technology is also used throughout the Signature v.3 line of loudspeakers, which we
featured in our September 10 coverage.
The Sub 2s six drivers are all 10" units.
Because of this drivers larger surround, its cone is already capable of enough
travel, so theres no need for the extra excursion that NLC would provide. Both subs
will reach down to 20Hz, but the Sub 2 is said to play louder with less distortion than
the Sub 1. Still, with those six 8" drivers working together, the Sub 1 should
provide more than enough bass output for most listeners.
Each subs controls are conveniently located on one
side, and digital signal processing (DSP) goes on inside. Both models use one of
Paradigms proprietary Ultra-Class-D amplifiers. The Sub 1 is claimed to deliver
1700W continuously, and 3400W for dynamic peaks. The Sub 2 puts out 4500W continuously,
and 9000W for dynamic peaks.
Paradigm says theyve designed their new subwoofers to
be "the best" in different ways. At $3499, the Reference Signature Sub 1 is
designed to be the best for the price. At $7499, the Reference Signature Sub
2 is designed to be the best, period. Which will people buy? Obviously,
price will be a consideration -- not everyone has $7500 to throw around. Then again, many
do, and for those folks, size will also be a factor. Although the photos dont show
it well, the Sub 2 is about one-third larger than the Sub 1. In fact, when the two models
are placed side by side, the Sub 1 looks almost petite -- which will allow it to
fit less obtrusively in a room. Luckily, theres still some time to decide -- the Sub
2 will begin shipping in October, the Sub 1 in November. [www.paradigm.com]