Paradigm Reference 9SE Mk2 Floorstanding Speakers

Paradigm Reference 9SE Mk2 Floorstanding Speakers 


2 way bookshelf speaker with 2 8 inch woofers. Mid 90s.


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[Aug 08, 2009]

The third pair of speakers I purchased new were Paradigm Studio/20 v.3. That was a couple of years ago. The first two speakers were also Studio/20s. The first was a v.1, and my mom has it now. I won't get it back for (I hope) a very very long time. The second pair was a v.2, which I took with me wherever I go. They're in my bedroom now. I'll never part with them.

Weeks after I purchased the v.3 (my current office speakers), I saw someone selling 3 pairs of Studio/20 used for $250/pair on usedvictoria! I didn't know about this website before, but now I don't buy new speakers anymore. They didn't stay up there for long.

Ever since then, I've been searching for "paradigm" on usedvictoria a couple of times a week. The "paradigm reference" series has gone back many years now, and the older models had different names. They started out being called 5se/7se/9se. Later those were "replaced" by the Monitor Titan, Monitor 7 and Monitor 9 speakers respectively, which you can see/hear at Sound Hounds. The Monitor 11 runs at about $1500 new.

Interestingly, the "Monitor" series are no longer considered part of the "reference" line. They are much cheaper than the "Studio" speakers (which are considered "reference" now). Sound Hounds no longer carries the Studio line - only the Monitor line, figuring that is what the people want in this economy. And I'm inclined to agree. But one thing that is different about the monitor 7/9/11 vs the 7se and 9se: They each have an additional bass driver. Which means they all take up more power.

In the past month, I purchased 2 used pairs of 1st gen Paradigm Reference speakers: The first was a pair of 5se for a steal at $125. They sound quite nice, but no better than my Studio/20s. Actually, I prefer the Studio/20s to 5se quite a bit. 5se might have a bit more bass, but the Studio/20 are richer all around. More detailed, etc etc. So I was still curious to see if I could find a used pair of Paradigms that I liked better than the studio 20.

After some more shopping around, I picked up the 9se-mk2 (mk2 means rev.2). I am still amazed by the deal I got, when I think about it. These are 3-way floorstanding speakers. The bass is beautiful, but it also has incredible richness of detail. I hear things on it that I totally missed on my Studio/20! Everything I'd expect from a "reference" speaker: the best $300 I ever spent on speakers. And reading up more on its specs and the history, I realize basically, these were the top of the line paradigms in their time. Exactly what I was looking for! I'm never selling these babies.

So zoom ahead to the present. Habitually, I still search for Paradigm speakers, just to see what's out there, and how much they cost. I guess I was keeping my eyes open for a pair of Studio/40s or Studio/100s that I could perhaps hear. Not that I wanted to own them, but I was curious to know what they sounded like. How much better could they be? Does anyone ever sell them?

And sure enough, on August 5, someone out in the west shore put a pair of Studio/60v2 for sale! For a ridiculously low price of $375. And someone else nabbed them within hours and took them home to Victoria. I phoned *him* and asked him if I could hear them.

So he brought them over to my house this morning. We did some speaker testing. HE was interested in trading them for cash + one of my studio/20s. I was ready to do the swap, but after we listened to 4 different pairs of speakers, in the end, I decided to keep what I had. Why?

Because the Studio/60 sucked up a lot more power than the 9seMK2, and didn't sound any better! In fact, I liked my Studio/20 better than the 60 for simple sound reproduction. You didn't have to turn up the volume as high, and the bass was just as good on the 20v2 with one bass/mid driver as it on the 60v2 with two of them! In fact, the second bass drive on the 60 seemed redundant and nothing more than a power suck to me. I suppose the Sudio/40 (and possibly the recent Monitor series) would have similar problems. Interestingly, the Studio/60v4 and 60v5 have an additional bass driver on them, which means they need even more power, and that's why they cost even more. It seems to me, Paradigm is trying to sell more expensive speakers by just hanging more expensive parts on them, but perhaps you just need more expensive amplifiers to take advantage of them.

Now, to be honest, I don't have what is known as a 'biamp'. Apparently, you can hook up the bass and the midrange to separate speaker wires, if your amplifier supports it. The speakers support it. But my amps do not. I don't feel like going down that road right now. I hear that the Studio speakers sound much better when you do though.

I found there is a 'minimax' when it comes to bang for your buck with Paradigm speakers. If you have a regular stereo amplifier, and want *small* high quality speakers, the Studio/20s are unmatched. But forget about the Studio/40 or above. If you want bigger speakers with more bass, go for a "Reference SE" or "Monitor" lines instead. These give you excellent value for your money. Chances are the older "se" Reference speakers of yesteryear are better than the equivalent Monitor speakers of today!

Some think there was a "golden age" of Paradigm when they were making their best speakers. I tend to agree. If you're looking for a good pair of used speakers and you have 200-300 to spend, try to get one of these : Studio/20 (v1, v2 or v3), 7se or 9se mk1, mk2, or mk3. If you only have 100-200, grab a "5se" (mk1, mk2, or mk3) if you can find one. Any of these speakers will probably give you lots of listening pleasure. I've also heard good things about the "Paradigm Phantom", in the same pricerange, but I haven't heard one yet.

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