Paradigm’s latest Monitor SE 6000F speaker might be focussed on keen pricing and value for money, but as it turns out, there’s a lot more to this floorstander than affordability …
Canadian audio marque Paradigm has always prided itself on linking performance to value – and over the years, it has deservedly earned a reputation for loudspeakers that overdeliver on their sonic promise, while expressing a strong value proposition, too.
The newly launched Monitor SE range is a good case in point. The line-up consists of two floorstanders, a small standmount and a centre channel. Under scrutiny here is the 6000F, which is the largest of the two floorstanders.
The Monitor SE range is offered in gloss white and matte black, and our test units were finished in the former. The enclosures were flawlessly executed, with crisply rendered corners and smooth, glossy surfaces that created a smart, upmarket impression.
The 6000Fs are tall, slim floorstanders that manage to retain a certain understated elegance. Despite their substantial size, their narrow baffles make the speakers easy to accommodate from a décor perspective, and they don’t overwhelm aesthetically.
Talking of décor, the 6000Fs are located on bolt-on outriders that accommodate either soft rubber pads (for damage-prone floors) or optional coupling spikes. However, it has to be said that the spiked configuration is a must to obtain the best possible performance from these speakers.
Clip-on cloth grilles conceal a vertically arranged, five-driver array. The rear panel sees a single pair of well-finished binding posts, and two bass reflex ports: one dedicated to the trio of woofers, the other for the midrange chamber.
UNDER THE COVERS
The driver complement consists of a 25 mm aluminium-dome tweeter with Paradigm’s perforated phase-alignment lens, linked to a 140 mm mineral-filled polypropylene cone midrange, which features an inverted dustcap, and a roll-down surround.
The three (yes, three!) low-frequency drivers are identical to the midrange, and are located in their own, dedicated and ported chamber.
The crossover is a second-order electro-acoustic design with the HF crossover point set at 3 Hz, and the bass-to-mid transition at 800 Hz. Impedance is a nominal 8 ohms, while a 93 dB efficiency is further evidence of the 6000F’s amp-friendly nature.
With three woofers and two bass ports, I expected the 6000Fs to be generous bass providers, so to minimise room interaction, I opted for a free-standing location that positioned the floorstanders about 80 cm from the side walls and 1,7m from the rear wall.
They were toed in about 30 degrees towards the listening position – and yes we used the supplied coupling spikes to ensure a nicely solid, stable stance. Despite their size, the 6000Fs are relatively light, and thus easy to move around.
For this review, they were powered by our reference Parasound Halo A21 power amp, partnered by a Primare PRE32/MM30 pre-amp, with source material provided by both a Lumin D1 network player, and a Marantz SA-KI Pearl Lite SACD player.
The Paradigms arrived brand new, and my initial impressions weren’t that favourable: they sounded boomy and bottom-heavy, despite my best efforts at positioning them to address room interaction.
I let them settle down for a good 24 hour or so, and when I returned to the listening room the next day, the tonal balance had improved significantly. It took another half-hour of fine-tuning until I was able to sit down for the first of several enjoyable listening sessions.
I expected the Paradigms to sound big and forceful, but given their physical presence, assumed that transparency wouldn’t be their strongest suit. The three-woofer array also suggested real bottom-end wallop.
In practice, it was the generous, carefully layered and all-embracing soundstage that made the strongest initial impression. The Paradigms allowed the music to flow with an ease and grace the easily filled the listening room, and provided a believably dimensioned, expansive and detailed sound picture.
The tonal spread was broad but satisfyingly linear, with no untoward emphasis in the bass departments, and smooth transition from low to high frequencies. The bass delivery showed plenty of pace and punch, but never overwhelmed, providing a reassuringly solid foundation for the rest of the tonal spectrum.
The midrange had ample presence and texture, but remained slightly aloof, offering ample insight and access without becoming too rich or saturated. That also set the tone for trebles that were clear and even slightly bright, but never edgy or agitated.
I liked the way the 6000Fs delivered their sonic message with substance and conviction, thanks to a combination of tonal breadth and three-dimensional staging.
They approached Snarky Puppy’s fascinating Culcha Vulcha with unflustered confidence, presenting the deep, funky bass with power and precision, while precisely placing the percussion across the soundstage, and doing full justice to the multi-layered synths on ‘Big Ugly’.
Impressively, the Paradigms were able to largely disguise their point source role on that soundstage, almost disappearing completely and allowing the music to flow freely, which contributed to an overall sense of involvement and realism.
That sense of engagement, of being part of the musical action, was even more prevalent when listening to the utterly enthralling performance of cinema soundtrack maestro Hans Zimmer and his majestic ensemble, captured live in Prague.
The 6000Fs portrayed the pathos and splendour of the ‘Gladiator’ medley with real weight and gravitas, doing full justice to the deep-reaching bass notes, while easily reflecting the impetus and spread of the strings.
Detail retrieval was particularly impressive, given how densely populated this arrangement is, and the sheer number of performers on stage. The Paradigms never lost their poise, but also allowed the music full freedom of expression, while keeping close tabs on the subtler elements of the performance.
Brandi Carlisle’s spell-binding By The Way, I Forgive You sounded lucid and approachable, with the singer’s vocals dominating centre stage, but never to the detriment of the delicate acoustic guitars, stirring bass lines and almost thunderous percussion.
The 6000Fs easily recreated the ambience of the performance, and painted a finely focussed sound image that placed voices and instruments in a perfectly proportioned, three-dimensional space, demanding total listener immersion.
The title track off Luke Winslow-King’s Blue Mesa sounds deceptively simple, with the vocals floating over a bantering bass and gently duelling guitars on an intimately rendered soundstage.
The 6000Fs reflected the delicacy and the details of the recording with a relaxed, engaging ease that invited the music right into the listening room, and created a close rapport between the music and the listener. The guitars had just the right mix of texture and attack, while Winslow-King’s understated vocals remained keenly, cleanly focussed.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It would be easy to dismiss the Paradigm 6000F as just another big and hearty floorstander, ready to rock its audience with loads of punch and pace, while paying little attention to the need for focus or finesse.
Instead, these floorstanders display a much broader range of talents. Yes, they can rock and roll, but they deliver an inherent musicality that allows them to dig deeper into the heart of variety of genres with both confidence and sincerity.
Add unexpected transparency, and a penchant for generous and detail-rich staging, and the result is an entertaining loudspeaker pair that provides a lot of musical bang for the buck.
Enclosure type: Floostanding bass-reflex
– 1x 25 mm aluminium dome tweeter
– 1x 140 mm polypropylene midrange
– 3x 140 mm polypropylene woofers
Impedance: 8 ohms nominal
Sensitivity: 93 dB
Frequency response: 40 Hz – 21 kHz (±3 dB, on-axis)
Power handling: 100 watts maximum
Dimensions (HxWxD): 1 050 × 230 × 360 mm)
Weight: 19,9 kg
Marantz SA-KI Pearl Lite CD/SACD player
Lumin D1 network player
Primare PRE32/MM30 pre-amp
Parasound Halo A21 power amp
KEF R500 loudspeakers
Snarky Puppy – Culcha Vulcha (Decca/Groundup 96/24 FLAC)
Brandi Carlile – By The Way, I Forgive You (Atlantic 44/16 FLAC)
Hans Zimmer – Live In Prague (Eagle Records 44/16 FLAC)
Luke Winslow-King – Blue Mesa (Bloodshot 44/16 FLAC)
Diana Krall – The Girl In The Other Room (Verve SACD)