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Paradigm Shift A2 - Sound Quality and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



Our Score:


Paradigm Shift A2 Sound Quality

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.

Paradigm Shift A2 Verdict

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.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Sound Quality 8
  • Value 8


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.

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