We replaced our decade-old Panasonic plasma television with a Sony OLED about a year ago. The industrial design of the Sony is a lot sleeker and made the separate wall-mounted LCR speakers around the television look a bit clunky. Of course, one solution would have been to replace those old LCRs with any number of gorgeous passive soundbars on the market, but I was really looking for something that would wrap around the television in a "U" shape and hide the mounting holes from the old speakers.
I came across the Paradigm's Decor line in my search for a new solution. One thing in particular that stood out to me about the line was the ability to customize the speaker configuration. The Decor line starts with six models with between one and three channels per cabinet. There's a mono soundbar/center channel; a stereo soundbar; an LCR soundbar; a pair of vertical stereo speakers; a pair of vertical L and R speakers with a dedicated center channel incorporated; and the configuration I tested, which is a center channel soundbar with a pair of vertical speakers for the left and right channels.
All of the Decor variants share common attributes. Paradigm's one-inch, aluminum X-PAL tweeters and 4.5-inch aluminum cone midrange drivers are used in each model. Most models have one tweeter and two midrange drivers per channel, with the exception being the Decor 2SC, which uses an extra tweeter and midrange driver in each of the L/R stereo cabinets to create the center channel. The X-PAL tweeters are placed behind Perforated Phase-Aligning (PPA) lenses that not only protect the dome drivers but are also said to act as phase plugs, which boost output while blocking out-of-phase frequencies for a "smoother, extended high frequency response with incredible detail." The bass/midrange driver features a specially designed motor structure designed to fit into a shallow cabinet. Extruded aluminum heatsinks help drain heat away from the 1.5-inch voice coil.
The Decor speakers all use a 2.06-inch-deep, extruded, anodized aluminum cabinet that is cut to order at the exact length needed. The back of the cabinet has an integrated wire management channel and recessed connection terminals to make for neat, low-profile mounting. Each aluminum cabinet has a vinyl-wrapped, MDF front baffle to provide a stable, inert mounting plate for the aforementioned driver arrays. The whole package is topped off with a hand-stretched grille. If your particular television has a bump out as a design detail or for an IR sensor, Paradigm will custom contour the grille for a perfect match. All of the models in the Decor series have the same specifications. The stated frequency range is 140Hz-21kHz +/- 3dB; in-room sensitivity is rated at 92 dB (one watt/one meter), and impedance is listed as "compatible with 8 ohms."
The Decor series ranges in price from $1,499 for the Decor 1C center channel to $3,998 for the Decor 2S/1C, three-piece stereo plus center. This price includes fixed wall mounts. Articulating wall mounts and television brackets are also available. The mounting option I selected was the television bracket system so the speakers would move with the television.
The Decor series are all custom built to order. To get started you go to the Decor Custom Collection page on the Paradigm website, choose the configuration you want, then select your television from an extensive dropdown list. For now, the available models include a wide range of offerings from LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and Sunbrite, but don't worry if have another brand of TV; there is a way to enter the dimensions of your television manually, as long as it's not curved. The whole ordering process can be completed by you or your Paradigm dealer in just a few minutes.
Once the order is placed, Paradigm will ship your custom speakers to you in three days. I have ordered many non-custom, in stock speakers that do not ship any faster, and some much slower than this. Granted, if you order a custom grille, the speaker build time is increased by two to three weeks, but that's still pretty fast for a custom-built speaker.
When the speakers arrived, I called my local custom installer as I did not feel comfortable taking my 65-inch Sony XBR65A1E OLED television down from the wall by myself. Once the guys from the installer had my television off the wall, they carefully placed it face down and removed the mounting brackets. The Paradigm Decor mounting brackets were installed between the television and the wall mount, adding about 1.5 inches of depth. The twin parallel bars of the Decor mount extended past each side and the bottom edge of the television and attached to the speakers. Adjustments on the mounting brackets allow the speakers to be adjusted to make them perfectly flush with the television. The television and speakers were then re-hung on the television mount and the speaker cables connected.
The speakers were driven by my Denon AVR-X4400H, which was fed by my Oppo UDP-203 and a DirecTV receiver. While I used my Bowers & Wilkins ceiling speakers as surround and height channels, Paradigm notes that their Millenia and Custom Install lines of speakers are a good match. I have not had the opportunity to spend much time with those speaker lines, but will be doing a review shortly on the pair of Paradigm Defiance V10s that filled out the bottom end of this system.
Once everything was hooked up, I ran Audyssey on the Denon. The initial results were fine, but I found myself making some tweaks to the response curve on the Audyssey MultEQ app after a couple of days of listening. I bumped up the response a bit on the high end and began fiddling with the integration between the Decor speakers and the subwoofers. The relatively limited low frequency extension of the Decor speakers makes a proper integration with any subwoofer(s) important.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...