Getting reference-grade or, in the case of Paradigm, signature-grade sound in a compact on-wall package is no easy feat. Many have tried and few have succeeded, so I was apprehensive when I demoed Paradigm's new Signature W5 on-wall loudspeaker, which claims to pack all of the glorious Paradigm Signature sound into a compact, elegant and affordable design. Did they succeed? Yes, and then some.
Retailing for $2,999 each, the Signature W5 looks like an LCR, meaning it can pull double duty as a main, as well as a center channel. However, Paradigm offers the Signature W5 in a center channel called the W5 C. For a seamless multi-channel system, I would recommend using multiple W5 Cs as surrounds in either a 5.1 or 7.1 configuration. The Signature W5 comes in three finishes, Cherry, Natural Maple and Piano Black, with the requisite hardware to wall-mount it out of the box.
This is a six-driver, three-way loudspeaker, featuring a single one-inch pure beryllium dome tweeter, mated to a single four-and-a-half-inch midrange driver, two seven-inch bass/midrange drivers and dual seven-inch bass drivers. All six drivers combined give the Signature W5 a reported frequency response of 70Hz-45kHz and a surprising efficiency rating of 94dB into a stable eight-ohm load. Paradigm does claim low-frequency extension to reach 44Hz, but I wouldn't forego a sub or two if I was building a home theater around the Signature W5. You'll be glad you did.
Click on Page 2 to read the High Points, the Low Points, and the Conclusion.
• The Signature W5 possesses every ounce of the Paradigm Signature sound
without taking up valuable floor space in your living room or listening
• Paradigm's ability to pack such rich, nearly full-range sound into the
compact and elegant chassis of the Signature W5 is astonishing.
• I've said it time and time again, but the Signature's beryllium dome
tweeter is among the best there is in terms of high-frequency detail,
air, dynamics and natural musicality.
• The Signature W5's midrange is to die for, sounding rich and full,
though not overly tubby or warm, making it ideal for film dialogue, as
well as a wide range of musical tastes.
• The Signature W5's bass, while surprisingly deep, is still going to
need a sub. However, what it possesses is so nimble, taut and rife with
detail that perhaps in small rooms, it may be enough for most people.
• Spatially the Signature W5 images more like a floor-standing speaker
than an on-wall, having surprising front to back extension, as well as
side to side; both are equally detailed and spacious. Does it beat a
floor-standing speaker? No, but for an on-wall, it's a best in class.
• For true full-range performance, you'll want to mate the Signature W5s
to a capable and quality sub, which may or may not tack a few thousand
dollars onto the system price, depending on your tastes.
• Because of the placement of the speaker's binding posts and quality of
sound, you're going to want to use quality speaker cable, which means
running the cables inside your walls. This is not mandatory by any
means, but trust me, you would not be out of line using something like
Transparent reference speaker cables on a pair of Signature W5s, for
they're that good.
• While able to be powered by a simple 100-watt receiver of nearly any
make and model, you're going to want to mate the Signature W5s with some
quality gear, say, an Anthem separates system or beyond. I demoed with
an all-McIntosh front end and didn't think it to be extreme in the
least. However, whichever route you choose by not going with a $1,000 or
less receiver, you're going to improve the sound quality, but you'll
also increase your budget.
At just under $3,000 apiece, the Signature W5 is not cheap. However, it
gets nearly 95 percent of the performance of its larger floor-standing
sibling, the S8, yet takes up zero real estate doing so. When you
consider the sheer level of performance and enjoyment the Signature W5
provides, then take that and match it to its cost compared to the
competition, while a bit expensive, a Signature W5 system is an absolute
high-end bargain. The Paradigm Signature W5 is one of the best on-wall
speakers available today, period.
• Read more on-wall speaker reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
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