Paradigm Founder 120H Loudspeaker Page 2

While far from the largest speakers to have graced the room in recent times, the 120Hs did a more than fair job of both filling the space with sound and conveying hugely exciting and involving music. The crystalline recording quality of Anna Fedorova's Shaping Chopin recital [Channel Classics CCS 43621; DSD128], rewarded us with the familiar combination of beautifully-realised instrumental timbre and a good sense of the concert-hall acoustic.

Yes, we've heard this set rendered with slightly more solid imaging, and an ever-greater impression of the ambience, but the 120Hs still deliver that winning mixture of substance and detail required for a convincing picture of a large instrument being played in a generous space.

Similarly, with 'White Rock Beer… 8 Cents' from guitarist Robben Ford's Pure [Ear Music 0216930EMU], the 120Hs show the same directness of instrumental communication. Straight and to the point, they revel in the tone of Ford's solo guitar, while displaying excellent drive in the accompanying band, underpinned by reliably extended, yet tight, bass.

These are speakers disinclined to attempt to impress the listener with the hi-fi tricks of maximum information, so if you enjoy hunting for creaking chairs or other distractions, they may not be for you. Nevertheless, there's no denying their ability to just get on with the important stuff of musical involvement.


Crossover, DSP and amplifier are mounted into the base of the cabinet with USB port to enable the Anthem Room Correction Technology. Passive crossover is split to allow bi-wiring

Batons Ready...
That's apparent with recordings as diverse as the Genesis retrospective The Last Domino? [Virgin 3542876], where they do a great job of slamming out the familiar hits, mastered by Miles Showell, in a big, bold manner, with pounding bass and fine dynamics. So too with the recent Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin recording of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos [Harmonia Mundi HMM90268687], where the speed and definition on offer makes the musical lines easy to follow, despite the slightly loose soundstaging. This is definitely one that the head-conductors will love, as they'll soon be bobbing along with the music!

Feed the Paradigm 120Hs with the raw energy of Ronnie Wood's Mr Luck – A Tribute To Jimmy Reed: Live At The Royal Albert Hall [BMG 538682242], and the exuberance of both the performances and the live sound is hard to ignore. The take on 'Let's Get Together' isn't going to win any prizes for crystal-clear demo-quality sound, but it's undeniably real musicians doing what they do best, with a real sense of the band rocking out. The sound is rough, dirty and bluesy – as it should be – and the 120Hs deliver it with maximum force, and no shortage of swagger.

Switch to the softer, more 'produced' rock of Paul Carrack's 'Precious Time' from his One On One set [Carrack UK, n/a cat. no.], and what's immediately clear is the sympathetic, detailed view of that superb voice. The production is all about that vocal character, which the speakers deliver in a fine, unforced and easygoing manner, while also opening up the mix and building a sound of intimacy and atmosphere. Yes, it's a close-up recording, and that's exactly how the big Paradigm 120Hs present it, albeit with a lightness of touch belying the presence of that trio of big bass drivers.


Sensitive Touch
That ability with a close-up sound is also heard to good effect on the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne/Renaud Capuçon's sensitive recording of Arvo Pärt's Tabula Rasa [Erato 9029502957]. Here the opening 'Ludus' shows the speakers' superb handling of instrumental timbres right from the off in the rhythmic drive, the solo violin fluid and with good bite, and the light and shade of the piece conveyed with a delicate touch that's absolutely appropriate.

Lovely, too is the way notes decay into the acoustic, plus the sheer speed and crispness of the entire sound. It's a very toothsome listen, these gutsy speakers making the most of the simplicity of both scoring and recording.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
However you look at it, the Founder 120H is an awful lot of speaker for the money, whether in terms of technology, quality of design, build or finish, or the sheer sonic ability on offer. The active bass is both massively powerful and exceptionally well integrated into the passive mid/treble. These speakers make for a compelling listen, really getting into the heart of the music – whatever genre you choose.

Paradigm Electronics Inc.
Supplied by: Pulse Cinemas Ltd, Essex, UK
01279 647 039