One of the nicest perks of being a publisher in the AV business for the past 22 years (and counting) is having the opportunity to own damn-near every high-end loudspeaker on the market. Like a small business owner who likes to periodically lease different cars, I have been able to test-drive (actually, own) reference speakers from the likes of Wilson Audio (five pairs over the years), Revel, MartinLogan, Bowers & Wilkins, Focal, Cello, and many others. The one pair that sticks out in my mind was the last pair of Paradigms, which were--at the time--their top-of-the-line Signature S8 V3 floorstanding speakers.
Discontinued now but priced at $8,400 per pair, the S8 V3s were affordable compared to the competition, most of which all had price tags in the $20,000-plus range. The Paradigm S8s were easier to drive than the other high-performance speakers. They also had among the best finishes. They imaged like speakers costing three times the price. Today, Paradigm makes a speaker called Persona that takes the design concepts of the S8s way to the extreme (including the use of Beryllium for tweeters and midrange drivers alike), but to me there's just no beating the value that Paradigm brings to the table.
Take, for example, Paradigm's Monitor SE 6000F floor-standing speakers, priced at a mere $899 per pair. That's right--about one tenth the price of my former reference speakers. These Canadian gems come with a five-driver configuration that reportedly crosses over the tweeter at 3kHz and the mid-woofers at 800Hz. At $899 per pair, you can't expect a rare earth tweeter material like Beryllium, but the 6000F does boast a one-inch X-PAL dome tweeter with Paradigm's perforated phase-aligning tweeter lens, which is seriously a big deal at this price point.
The 6000F rocks an impressive 93 dB efficiency, meaning they can crank out the dBs when driven by anything from a single-ended triode tube amp to a small receiver to anything higher up the amplifier food chain.
The speaker comes in a standard matte black finish, as well as a more exciting gloss white option. I wanted the white but didn't want to wait to get my review sample, so I'm currently rocking the black ones next to my reference white Focal Sopra No. 2s.
Taking delivery of these speakers was much more complicated than setting them up, but that has nothing to do with Paradigm as much as it has to do with the shipping company. Cracking open the boxes was a cakewalk, as the speakers are a mere 44 pounds each. I was able to park them beside (and ultimately in front of) my well-spiked reference Focals and feed the Paradigm Monitor SE 6000Fs a signal within no more than five minutes. Placement? No problem. These suckers image like champions without a bit of fuss. I found the best performance with them in front of my Focals. That's handy, because logistically speaking I just can't move my other speakers into another room no matter how ideal that would have been from a performance perspective. As with any rear-ported speaker, I did find that moving them around a bit affected the low end. But ultimately, I liked the imaging better out in the middle of the room, so that's where they stayed for the bulk of my listening.
I disconnected my SVS SB13-Ultra subwoofer for much of the review, but in a normal situation I would absolutely use these Paradigm Monitor SE 6000Fs in a 2.1, 5.1, 7.1, or object-based surround sound system. I didn't want my powerhouse SVS to influence my opinion of the speakers as I listened to them mostly in two-channel mode, though. I powered the Paradigm Monitor SE 6000Fs with Classé electronics, including 200 watt, class-D power amplification, which is likely a bit overkill but overkill is nice sometimes.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...
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