Paradigm has never shied away from building decent-sized loudspeakers and the 110cm-tall Monitor 11 v.5 should be all the evidence you need of this!
Paradigm is not one of those manufacturers content to design a speaker then manufacture it unchanged until the tooling wears out. It instead constantly tweaks, upgrades—and even re-engineers—its models to improve their sound or the technical performance (power handling, etc) or just to cut costs. Its ‘Monitor’ series is a case in point. I know for a fact that Paradigm has been constantly revising this current generation for at least eight years, and there’s been a ‘Monitor’ series speaker in Paradigm’s range for nigh-on thirty years! The Equipment Paradigm also has never shied away from building decent-sized loudspeakers and the 110cm-tall Monitor 11 v.5 should be all the evidence you need of this! I should explain that when I say ‘decent sized’ I am actually lamenting the modern trend of most loudspeaker manufacturers to make their speakers smaller and smaller, which they usually justify on the basis that ‘our customers like the idea of small speakers’. Sure customers like the idea of small speakers, but once you’ve proved to them that small speakers can’t possibly deliver deep bass, can’t play as loudly as larger speakers and will have higher levels of distortion when you try to play them at an equivalently high volume as larger speakers, it’s my experience that those self-same customers suddenly begin to see the virtues of larger speakers. Put it this way… I like the idea of being able to tow a caravan with my Hyundai Getz, but I know that it’s not a good idea. But don’t be imagining the Monitor 11s will tower over your head: 110cm is only a little over a metre high, so they’re what I’d call a ‘comfortable’ size… probably too large for a bed-sitter, but they’ll easily slot into any ordinary-sized living room. As for their other dimensions, well they’re 215mm wide and 401mm deep, which gives a volume of around 61 litres. You can gauge a fair idea of the build quality from the weight: each speaker tips the scales at around 25kg! If you have already peeked at the price (and I am aware that you probably already have!) you may be wondering how Paradigm can build what appears to be either a four driver, four-way floorstander, or a four-driver, three-way floorstander, for this kind of money. The quick answer is that it’s neither. Yes, there are four drivers on the front panel, but the design is a 2-½ way design, using a second- order electro-acoustic crossover at 600Hz and a 3rd-order at 2.3kHz. This simplifies the crossover network enormously and, because it cuts the component count and reduces the values of the components, it cuts costs. Apparently quality control is also easier with a 2 ½-way than with a three-way, which means they’re less expensive to mass-produce. The two bass drivers, which operate in parallel, have 190mm diameter, carbon-infused polypropylene cones, driven by 25mm diameter high-temp multi-layer voice coils wound on ‘Apical’ formers. The cones are supported by die-cast chassis, rather than by pressed steel. The distinctively coloured bass/ midrange driver (well, actually, the high-hysteresis butyl suspension is an off-white, nearly cream colour, and the cone is semi-translucent polypropylene that appears to be tinged with a creamy colour) also has a diameter of 190mm. This cone is what Paradigm calls an ‘M-ICP’ type, which essentially means that the cone has been designed in such a way that it has the lowest mass possible for its size and application. The letters actually stand for ‘Minimum-Mass Injection-Moulded Co-Polymer.’ The tweeter is a 25mm ‘H-PTD’ dome. Again those letters! This time around, the letters stand for ‘High Efficiency-Pure Titanium Dome’. Protecting the dome is a grid that doubles as a wave-guide. What all this means is that at low frequencies (below 600Hz), all three cone drivers deliver bass, which means the total cone area available for bass is about the same as if Paradigm had used a single 328mm driver… and that’s big! Between 600Hz and 2.3kHz the cream-coloured driver operates all on its own, so there aren’t any phase-related problems, and you get a clear point around which your ears can re-create the stereo image. Above 2.3kHz, the tweeter’s on its own, but since this is quite a high crossover point, it enhances the power-handling capability of the tweeter, so that it’s able to handle more power than if Paradigm had chosen a lower crossover point. At a time when loudspeaker manufacturers all around the world seem to be moving their production to China, Paradigm is one of the few bucking the trend. Not only is R&D based in Canada, but also all its manufacturing. Paradigm not only designs and builds all its own drivers, but also its own cabinets.