The driver array of the Paradigm Shift A2 is a standard 2-way layout. There's a 5 1/2-inch aluminium woofer below a 1-inch aluminium dome tweeter.
A non-ported relatively petite speaker, you might expect these little monsters to have trouble producing enough bass. But this is absolutely not the case.
At moderate volumes with a fairly bass-heavy track, the in-out movement of the 5 1/2-inch main driver is clearly visible - closer to the behaviour of a subwoofer unit than a mid-range driver. Low-end management is good, though, with non-lumpy, non-boomy bass response. Even with tracks mastered with too much bass, the Paradigm Shift A2 coped well. This relatively forgiving nature may not be what you're after if you are looking for a pure studio monitor solution, though.
The top-end is accomplished too. It's smooth, well-defined and has a strong presence without tripping over into harshness. There's a good sense of space to the top frequencies too.
Strong bass and treble make the Paradigm Shift A2 great fun speakers, and unless your source is particularly low-output they're capable of reaching party-fuelling volumes. You do need to be careful when switching between different types of source, though, as we almost blew our eardrums out a few times during testing.
Keep the volume in check and the Paradigm Shift A2 offer a pleasant listen with good clarity for speakers with a generous low-end. However, they are not perfect. There's not a great deal of texture to the mid-range, which can leave vocals and instruments such as violins sounding a little cold and bereft of tonality.
This issue seems to affect orchestral music the most in our testing, where the lack of a kick drum beat and the excess of detail to be rendered in the middle of the frequency spectrum does down the Paradigm Shift A2's best bits and highlights the weaknesses. However, hook the speakers up to some dance music and you have a recipe for good times.
The Paradigm Shift A2 active speakers are a bit too much fun to be considered serious studio monitors, with a clear emphasis on the bottom and top ends of the frequency spectrum. However, if you're after a more casual active speaker that's quick to setup and happy to be swapped between sources from musical instruments to MP3 players, it's a good-sounding solution that looks the part too.