Here's what I was thinking earlier today: The life of a full-time audio writer can be pretty great because of all the cool gear we review. What's more, you actually look forward to the doorbell ringing because chances are it's UPS, FedEx, or some other delivery service dropping off something new. The only downside to this gig is that you have to unpack and repack this stuff, which can be a hassle. But that's a small price to pay, particularly when a day is as inspiring as mine was today.
This morning my doorbell rang at 10:30 a.m. -- it was FedEx dropping off a pair of Paradigm Reference Inspiration stand-mounted loudspeakers. These aren't ordinary Paradigms, but a special anniversary model created to celebrate the company's 30 years of being in business. This and the floorstanding Tribute are the only two models in this line, and they're both being made in limited-edition runs (300 pairs of Inspirations and 200 pairs of Tributes, from what the reps there tell me). Furthermore, they're being made entirely in Canada, including the cabinets, which makes the pride of ownership for these models that much higher than if they came off an assembly line in the Far East. The Inspirations sell for $1299.99 each, while the Tributes sell for $2999.99 each.
You'd think that the first thing I would do is unpack the Inspirations and set them up in my listening room. You'd think. But what I did was immediately haul both boxes into the back of my Honda CR-V and drive to Canada's National Research Council (NRC) so that they could be measured in the chamber right away. The folks at Paradigm told me they were already well broken in, so it was the most efficient thing to do.
After they were measured, I brought them home, but I still didn't listen to them right away. Instead, I set the pair up on the floor of my unfurnished living room (aka my kids' playroom) and shot pictures of them to show some of the features here (see gallery below). The Inspiration is a really nifty speaker that certainly shares a family resemblance with Paradigm's other models, but it also has some features that no other Paradigm model has, including a special finish that the company calls Dark Garnet Gloss. Look for a full review of this speaker to show up in SoundStage! Hi-Fi in June.
Publisher, The SoundStage! Network
The Inspirations come in separate boxes, but are pair-matched by their serial numbers.
The Dark Garnet Gloss finish is drop-dead gorgeous! The grille, which attaches magnetically, was designed to be acoustically unobtrusive, so listeners can choose to leave them on or take them off.
At the bottom of the grille is the well-known Paradigm Reference logo.
Viewed from the top, the Inspiration's cabinet has the bullet shape that is the hallmark of Paradigm's pricier Signature-series speakers.
The Inspiration's drivers are derived from those used in the Signature series.
The Inspiration's tweeter has a pure-beryllium dome and a neodymium magnet system.
The midrange-woofer has a black-anodized aluminum cone and a corrugated surround. The crossover frequency between the tweeter and the midrange-woofer is 2kHz.
The binding posts and jumpers are quite unlike anything Paradigm has made before.
The Inspirations come with an envelope that . . .
. . . contains a letter that . . .
. . . is personally signed by Scott Bagby, one of the company's original founders. Scott currently holds the CEO and chairman of the board positions at Paradigm. A nice touch.