Paradigm Reference Active 40 Floorstanding Speakers

4.95/5 (21 Reviews)


Product Description

2 way 3 driver bookshelf/stand speaker


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Reviews 1 - 5 (21 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by ncaplin a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: July 2, 2005

Bottom Line:   
I have 3 pair of these Active 40 v2 speakers, all in the very attractive rosewood wood veneer...

One pair comprise a stereo music listening setup in my living room, used in conjunction with an Anthem TLP-1 pre-amp. The other 2 pair are the front and rear speakers in my home theater system, which also has an Active CC v2 and a Servo 15. The pre/pro is an Anthem AVM-20.

Let me start by explaining that when I first setup my home theater system in 2002, I did not get these first. Instead, I bought Paradigm Reference Studio 100 v2 mains, 20's for the rears, ADP surrounds, Studio CC, and drove all with a Denon AVR-5803, to create a 7.1 setup.

I was pretty happy with them, but then I bought a pair of Active 40s and the Anthem TLP-1 for the aforementioned stereo music listening in the living room. The Active 40's sounded great. Over the course of several months, I began to notice I liked listening to music more in the living room. The bass, especially seemed more musical, and the sound stage seemed bigger.

So I setup an A/B comparison in the home theater room with the Denon AVR-5803 driving the Active 40's as a pre-amp and the Studio 100's as their amp. It was a no brainer, and even the wife agreed in a blind test, the Active 40's kicked the butt of the Studio 100's.

I thought it had to be impossible. So I decided to get better amplification for the Studio 100's. I borrowed from my local Anthem dealer an MCA-50 amp and brought it home to drive the Studio 100s. While they improved, especially in the attacks in the high frequencies, they still seemed less musical and satisfying than the Active 40s.

I even took the Active 40's to the audio dealer and auditioned them against speakers costing over $6,000/pair, and while those more expensive speakers did have a clearer high end, they lacked the low-end punch and warmth of the Active 40s, and I didn't find them nearly as enjoyable listening to the type of music I like or ha dto demo (U2, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Sarah McLaughlin, Radiohead, etc.).

Anyway, I sold all my Paradigm Referfence Studio speakers and the Denon AVR-5803, and for about the same money, I bought the 2 extra pair of Active 40's, the Active CC, the AVM-20, and the stands and cables. I kept the Servo 15. Now I only have a 5.1 setup, but it sounds way better. I think generally, it also helps a lot to have the same speakers in the rears, especially for music on SACD and DVD-Audio. The Dark Side of the Moon SACD sounds absolutely amazing on these things.

About the only speaker I've auditioned that I liked better were the larger Magnepans, drivin with very expensive separates. The maggies have the most natural sounding bass and extremely airy high end. But with the necessary amplification, they are expensive, and their size make them a bad fit for my rooms. If I had bigger rooms with higher ceilings, I'd give them another look.

Another way to describe these things is to compare them to Bang and Olufsen, which are also active designs. I found that only the top 2 models in B&O's speaker line sound better than the Active 40's, and the cheapest of these is over $10,000/pair.

Are there better speakers out there? Sure. Better for less money? I don't think so. Too bad Paradigm stopped making Actives. From the selling prices of these things on Audiogon and eBay when they pop up from time to time, it seems there's still a lot of demand, since they're selling for about what they cost new.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2002

Price Paid:    $1700.00

Purchased At:   Used on Audiogon



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by antpitta a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: August 27, 2004

Bottom Line:   
this is actuall a review for the active l/r, a powered woof-mid-woof version of the active 40, or maybe more accurately the studio CC.

local dealer had two of these sitting around for years, never been used. apparently, the amp module went out or was faulty on one of the units, but the other worked just fine. sent the amp off to paradigm, which lost/misplaced/couldn't fix it. SOOOOOO... thought what a killer center the intact one would make, even though they were orig. designed for mains. asked what they wanted, they said $300... knew what the active 40's orig. went for, c. $1800 or so a pair, figured what a deal so traded my studio cc in.

surfed the web and that was about the price for a pair of these beauties also. speaker is black vinyl covered.

anyway, this is WAY better all around than the studio cc it has replaced. has it's own volume, bass/treble contours, even balanced inputs. bass response is esp. outstanding, and i run it full range. very smooth... movie dialog is well resolved and clear. i find the volume control on the speaker more effective than using the gain on the outlaw receiver. matches the studio 60 mains v. 2 very well. works esp well also with multi channel music. opening breaths on beck's cut of "paper tiger" are easily heard, but no so thru the studio cc. now if i could only find an amp for the other one !! (paradigm says they don't have any spares lying around !!)

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1997

Price Paid:    $300.00

Purchased At:   local audio salon



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by witchdoctor a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: October 12, 2002

Bottom Line:   
Bliss!
That's how these speakers sound. They grip music by the balls with a solidness
that keeps everything in focus,no looseness in the bass, plenty of air on top. No smudging of the notes, excellent separation and very musical clarity.
Highly reccomended.

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1999

Price Paid:    $1500.00

Purchased At:   audiogon - used



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Dennis a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: May 16, 2002

Bottom Line:   
I use in a purely two channel system. I was fortunate to obtain one of the last pairs made. When set up PROPERLY with GOOD equipment they lay waste to many pricer speakers and are without a doubt the best speaker Paradigm has made. I cannot find any fault worth mentioning, bass is oh so good and oh so deep. Highs and mids are a joy to listen to. The 40s are at their best with just a slight toe in. The supplied ICs and power cords are junk, and the stands Paradigm sells are not much better.

Associated equipment

Osiris stands
Rogue 99 Magnum W/Sylvania GTAs
CAL-CL-10 W/custom tube dac
JPS Digital AC for CAL
JPS Superconductor+ pre to 40s
HT PRO 11 cords for 40s
Following are ICs being used from Rogue to CAL

JPS Superconductor 2
Magnan Vi
HT Pro Silkway Mk 11
Luminous Signature
Acoustic Zen Silver Reference.
JPS Analog AC on Rogue

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2001

Price Paid:    $1320.00

Purchased At:   Barely used



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Dana a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: February 21, 2002

Bottom Line:   
Simply remarkable! In my quest to find speakers, I auditioned several, including models from Martin Logan, PMC, B&W, Sonus Faber, and Meadowlark.
Yet, none of them could even come close to the Active 40's performance to cost ratio. They are wonderful! In fact, I had to listen to $5500 Meadowlark's to get a reasonable approximation of the sonic performance of the Active 40's. Other speakers were priced even higher...in some cases, thousands more.

Unfortunately, Paradigm has discontinued the Actives so this review may not help many in searching for this fantastic speaker, but I'm so enthusiastic I had to enter a review anyway.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2001

Price Paid:    $1700.00

Purchased At:   Stereoland




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