Speaker manufacturer Paradigm
has a well-earned reputation for making good-sounding and affordable products. In late 2011, Paradigm announced its foray into the competitive world of headphones, specifically a series of three in-ear monitors, the e1, e2m and the e3m reviewed here. All three models are contained within Paradigm's new Shift line
. The Shift line currently includes powered speakers (which we heard at CES 2012
and in-ear monitors. Headphones and gaming headsets will be added soon. Additional Resources
• Read more headphone reviews
from HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
• Learn more in our Source Component Review section
Paradigm has extensive manufacturing and testing facilities in Canada that include a massive 36,000-cubic-foot anechoic chamber. While Paradigm has learned a great deal of information from the anechoic chamber in connection with the design and manufacturing of traditional speakers, headphones require something different in terms of engineering. The Shift group within Paradigm utilizes a head and torso manikin that tests frequency response and is also used for ergonomic design. The manikin and live listening tests are used to tune each of the in-ear monitors to match a particular series of Paradigm speakers, with the e3m being voiced to match Paradigm's Signature Series speakers.
The Paradigm Shift e3m is a compact, aluminum bodied in-ear monitor with a single 8mm driver. Unlike larger in-ear monitors, when seated, the e3m is very unobtrusive. Sensitivity is rated at 105 dB, with a frequency response of 8Hz to 19 kHz. The e3m retails at $130, accompanied by a hard travel case and three sizes of single-flange ear tips, each with a white or red insert for channel designation. Paradigm has also released Sport Ear Hooks, which are flexible polymer pieces that attach to the cables and hook around your ears for a more secure fit. The Sport Ear Hooks retail for $12 per pair and are compatible with all three models. The e3m can be had in either black or white and features the new Paradigm Shift logo on the end of monitor's body. Build quality for these Canadian-made in-ear monitors is quite good, with cloth-covered cables and an aluminum-bodied "Y" piece, microphone/control and connector. Not that you would want to abuse these, but they look like they should easily stand up to the rigors of constant use. Read about the high points and low points of the Shift e3ms on Page 2.