PARADIGM Persona 5F

TR18.08.2019

Floorstanding loudspeakers

Paradigm’s audience expects lifestyle products so the styling with its gently sloping curves and finish is top notch. On the Paradigm’s website one can configure its own variant by choosing from 18 beautiful cabinet finishes (with emotional names like Dakota, Merlot and Amethyst), 5 colours of the front baffle, 2 colours of metalwork and – surprise – 2 colours of drivers.

Function and form

95%
Ease of use
65%
Sound
98%
Appearance

If nothing else then a big part of 5F’s cost is justified by beryllium drivers - the Persona has a 1" beryllium dome tweeter and 7“ beryllium midrange driver, an arrangement that raised my expectations very high – some of the best world’s speakers utilize this metal. Both drivers are hidden behind perforated metal grilles that officially make the sound better phase-aligned, unofficialy it is an important safety measure as the beryllium is not only very stiff and lightweight but also quite brittle and toxic. The Persona 5F sports 3 aluminum cone bass drivers (7”) in each cabinet plus a bassreflex port that fires into a predefined gap between the cabinet and the speaker’s metal plinth. Cross-over points are 450 Hz and 2.4 kHz.

Bass management

Weight
64
Slam
75
Articulation
68

The trio of woofers produces ‘elastic’ bass that induces a sense of great dynamics. Paradigm specifies the Persona 5F from 45Hz (on axis, +/- 2dB) which I think is a very fair way of doing things. Literally it means that the speaker can deliver this value in anechoic conditions, in real room you get much deeper bass, further augmented by the reflex port. Still, the bass balance of the 5F favours precision and punch to weight and momentum. This way the Paradigms sounded less ‘epic’ on heavy soundtracks like the Zimmer & Wallfisch’s Blade Runner 2049, and more competent on audiophile cuts like those from Chris Jones’s Roadhouses & Automobiles on Stockfisch Records.

On the other hand it is good that designers resisted to overload the bass part and kept the seamless blending of highs, midrange and bass in terms of speed.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
84
Air
75
Transparency
74

Favouring the top end and doing so in a very clean ‘beryllium’ manner the Persona 5F is a fantastic illuminator. There is no dark corner in music that remains unexplored and the speaker really shines in conveying the nuances of recordings like reverberations, soft sounds trailing off, small resonances coming from instruments, a sense of air, and other microdetails that contribute to really detailed presentation. For the audiophiles in us the 5F’s way of doing things is pure bliss, however there were some instances when I felt that the combination of a recording and the Persona’s are a bit too much of the good thing. Like with Rodrigo y Gabriela’s 11:11 the strings were too much accurate and too much hyperrealistic to be believable.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
68
Dynamics
65
Temporal resolution
67

The slightly upward balance of the speakers will ask for careful pairing with electronics and cables. It will be a challenge to find those that are superbly transparent (not to spoil the airiness of the Persona 5F) and ‘warmer’ than usual (to facilitate the Persona’s human factor). Though I did not have the chance throughout this review, I would like to hear the 5Fs with some good valve amplifiers – like Manley - that would bring a character of red wine and perhaps a bit of colour to the Paradigm’s pure vodka-style presentation. I would not be afraid of doing so – the 5Fs are quite sensitive speakers (93dB) so one does not really need too many watts for make them play loud.

Spatial resolution

Holography
77
Soundstage width
79
Soundstage depth
75

No matter what was said, it is thanks to the clarity of the sound that soundstaging becomes is delight. The Paradigm lets you know each nuance of where performers or their instruments are and what they do. The whole presentation is not embracing, rather it is projected into the room, but projected with great acuity and sense for pinpoint imaging. The balance can be manipulated by toe-in to which the quite directional Paradigm is quite sensitive. During listening I was struggling between the two worlds constantly – the one which gave me the studio-level detail (with the speakers firing to my ears) and the one which was more forgiving yet perhaps also less audiophile (with the speakers firing further behind my head).

The Paradigm Persona 5F is an ambitious speaker that will have to fight against well established brands that also do have fantastic floorstanders in this price range, like Bowers & Wilkins, KEF, Focal, Audio Physic, Aurum Cantus, Revel or Sonus Faber. Yet it has its own virtues and could be an entry ticket to high-end audio for Paradigm.

Price as reviewed:450 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

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Associated components

  • Sources: C.E.C. TL51XR
  • Amplifiers: Mark Levinson No.526, Mark Levinson No. 432, Emotiva XPA-DR1 monoblocks
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Kubala-Sosna Emotion
  • Loudspeakers: Revel Ultima Studio2
  • Power conditioning: IsoTek Titan, Nordost Qb8, Blackwater Continuum NST2

Gallery

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