Home / TVs & Audio / Portable Audio / Paradigm Shift A2

Paradigm Shift A2 review

Andrew Williams



1 of 8

Paradigm Shift A2
  • Paradigm Shift A2
  • Paradigm Shift A2
  • Paradigm Shift A2
  • Paradigm Shift A2
  • Paradigm Shift A2
  • Paradigm Shift A2
  • Paradigm Shift A2
  • Paradigm Shift A2


Our Score:



  • Powerful, controlled bass


  • Mids lack texture
  • Bit too "fun" to function as serious monitors
  • Distracting front LED

Key Features

  • 5 1/2in aluminium woofer
  • 1in aluminium dome tweeter
  • 2x 50 watts RMS
  • Five finishes
  • 3.5mm and phono inputs
  • Manufacturer: Paradigm
  • Review Price: £658.00


Paradigm isn't a particularly well-known name on the hi-fi scene here in the UK, but it has been around for 30 years. With products like the Paradigm Shift A2 speakers and the recently-reviewed Paradigm Shift E1 earphones, Paradigm is slowly creeping towards the mainstream UK audio fan. The Paradigm Shift A2 active speakers don't cost too much, they look good and sound good too.

Paradigm Shift A2 Design

The Paradigm Shift A2 are active speakers, which means they incorporate both the speaker drivers themselves and amplifiers to power the show. In this respect, they're quite different to the traditional hi-fi speakers they look a great deal like.

With the optional (not included) stand

Boxy wooden cabinets just under 30cm high and 22cm deep, they're not tiny but should fit happily onto shelves, desks and tables alike. They come in five different shades, including block glossy colours and the cheaper black ash grain.

We took a look at the glossy white pair, and they look just the part in a home studio setup. With simple sharp edges and seamlessly finished sides, they look and feel like high-quality monitor speakers - the feel in particular helped by the 5kg weight of each box that results from cramming in all the amp internals into the shell.

Aesthetically, the Paradigm Shift A2's are largely a simple success, but there are a few pointers not everyone will enjoy. The Paradigm logo in the bottom left borders on the garish, and the ultra-bright blue LED that shines from the front of the Paradigm Shift A2 whenever they're on is truly unnecessary.

The optional magnetised full-front grille supplied with each box mitigates this a bit, but the speakers are at their most striking with the drivers exposed.

Paradigm Shift A2 Connectivity

Paradigm is keen to big-up the flexibility of the Shift A2 speakers, but this is something that's supplied by a few ground-level features rather than advanced ones. These speakers are not wireless and don’t let you hook up directly to digital outputs.

The claim of flexibility isn't nonsense, though. These speakers are designed to be either used on their own, or with as many Shift A2 boxes as you can afford.

Each speaker has both stereo 3.5mm and phono inputs and outputs, letting you string together as many as you like. They don't automatically assign channels, instead keeping things strictly manual. The rear control panel houses a switch that cycles between mono, left and right channel modes.

There's a clever simplicity here that, while not exactly high-tech, does make switching a Paradigm Shift A2 between roles as a bedroom studio monitor, a simple music player and perhaps a keyboard amp pain-free.

As the Paradigm Shift A2 are completely closed boxes, with not a port in sight, they're also blessedly unfussy about where you place them. The one downside to the DIY approach is that you have to be a little careful about volume matching.

Each speaker has a volume dial on the back, so if you're using a couple as a stereo pair, you'll need to match them manually. And even with the volume set to "zero", there's still a slight hiss that may annoy if you want to use them as computer speakers.


November 4, 2012, 10:33 pm

Really appreciate the fact that you guys are reviewing speakers a bit more lately. You are my favourite site and your reviews are the best on the web, you should do more speaker reviews as there are a lot of audiophiles out there.

Eric L

July 18, 2013, 5:28 am

I like the fact that you actually mentioned connecting them to the PC and at zero volume there is still a slight hiss. The hiss sound is what made me get rid of my Bose speakers, when with a $200 sound card the slight hiss remained. Optical I believe is the way to go.


October 17, 2013, 1:32 am

I'm using these with my computer connected to a Merdian Director DAC with Transparent The Link interconnect cables. The cables made actually a bigger improvement than I originally thought. The bottom end is actually pretty scary for what this speaker is, and it really made a difference in the upper frequencies and made them smoother. I have mine set at around 10 O'Clock for the volume on the back. I do hear a slight hiss from the tweeter when I'm sticking my ear around an inch away. I was wondering if getting better quality power cables or a certain line conditioner would help matters. I know it might be a long shot, but I'm just asking.

The only down side to these would be the hiss and not having a notched volume knobs, where it was stepped in such a way where it was easier to set them for a variety of volume levels without having to break out a white noise generator and a dB meter, which is what i had to do. But once set, i like these.

As far a monitor being too "fun"? I'm trying to figure out why someone doesn't want good sounding speakers for monitors for a recording studio? most inexpensive powered monitors I've heard sound like crap. I think having monitors too close to one's ears isn't a good idea, since the lower frequencies take a little room for the signal to develop.

Erin KuntaKimchi Bonner

November 29, 2014, 7:22 pm

A year late. Just saw this article, so my apologies.
You don't want a good sounding monitor, it will cover up your errors in a mix. It will add color, that isn't there. The worlds most famous monitors, Yamaha NS10's are famous, because they sound like crap. If you could make your mix sound good on them, then they would more than likely translate well onto other non studio setups.
So if you have speakers that add bass, you end up subtracting bass from your mix, and then play it in another speaker system, to find out it lacks bass. Same for treble, midrange, etc.
Near field monitors are designed to be placed near the listener. About 2.5 - 3 feet is recommended.
Bottom line, you don't want a monitor that adds color, or brightness or bass to a mix. You want it as flat as possible, so that your mix comes out as you want it to come out.

comments powered by Disqus