Mini Review: Paradigm Powered Atom speakers

Apr 3, 2010
16,022
0
0
Seattle, WA
#1
Paradigm announced a while ago the powered version of their Atom speaker (http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/speakers/bookshelf/active-atom). Alas, it has long been delayed. But I had an opportunity to listen to them for a couple of hours.

The product is being marketed under the subbrand "shift" which has their hip products such as headphones. In other words, the target market is younger crowd, introducing them to better sound.

The units look just like the current Atom. Here is a picture of them if you have not seen them:


But internally, the new unit has two 50 watt amplifiers in each speaker, one driving the woofer and the other, the tweeter. Despite all that, they are very attractively priced at $249 each.

We hooked them up to our high-end music system which has the Berkeley DAC and such. This is in a large showroom so I expected the sound to be anemic. To my surprise, it was not. You could easily go as loud as you wanted. The bi-amp configuration keeps high frequency distortion under control so you don't get the traditional clipping effect with single (small) outboard amplifier.

The bass performance was quite good. It was tight and belied the size of the speakers. That said, I would probably get a small sub to go with them for deep bass.

I think the goal here for any speaker of this sort is to outperform the plastic junk speakers that are computer accessories. On that front, the mission is accomplished. These speakers sound better and look better than most offerings there.

Our rep had a nice demo scenario. He plugged in the Apple Airport Express to the AC plug and then simply pulled out his iPhone (or was it iPod Touch?) and started to play music! The audio went out of the Express into the speaker input jack and that was it! Talk about a great way to play music at parties and such. And wonderful way to attract the new generation to better sound.

For grins, we powered on our Mark Levinson 53 and Revel combo that is normally in that setting. Well, the difference was immense. The combo had so much less distortion and better fidelity. For $75K, I was relieved that it could do that :D. So this article is not about audio alchemy. The powered atom is about getting lots of sound for little money and not doing it in a cheaply looking and sounding device. If you have more money, you can do better. But for a compact device with no wires and so little money, it is a nice solution.
 
#3
The Paradigm shift site was short on details. Is this speaker ported or not? If ported, where is the port?

There are a number of powered speakers in the under $ 500 / pair range. I use Audioengine A5s in a near field application and like them very much.

Bill
 
Apr 3, 2010
16,022
0
0
Seattle, WA
#4
I want to say they are not ported as I don't recall seeing one but this was a brief evaluation and I focused on listening tests only. I will ask and report back.

On Audioengine A5s, they show $349 on their web site so the price must have gone up since you bough them. That said, I agree there are a lot of products in these price ranges.
 
#5
I want to say they are not ported as I don't recall seeing one but this was a brief evaluation and I focused on listening tests only. I will ask and report back.
Thanks.

On Audioengine A5s, they show $349 on their web site so the price must have gone up since you bough them. That said, I agree there are a lot of products in these price ranges.

A5s are still $ 349 / pair. There is a plus model with remote control and rca inputs for $ 50 more.

I'll be looking at pro audio monitors when I upgrade from the A5s.

Do you still use and like the NHT M-00 monitors? Which sub?

Bill
 
Apr 3, 2010
16,022
0
0
Seattle, WA
#6
OK, I heard back and as I had assumed the Powered Atoms are sealed/non-ported design.
A5s are still $ 349 / pair. There is a plus model with remote control and rca inputs for $ 50 more.
A couple of things. The Atoms have *two* amps rated at 50 watts in each enclosure and use a DSP to optimize things in a true bi-amp configuration. The Audioengine says there is a stereo amp for the pair so it seems they are not bi-amped.

Second, the price above is for direct sales to customers. The price I gave is the MSRP for dealers of Paradigm. If they cut us out, I am sure the price would be lower :).

Do you still use and like the NHT M-00 monitors? Which sub?

Bill
I do. The sub I got was the one they recommended with the package. My sub is buried in my office so hard to look up the model number but I can do it if you can't figure it out.
 
Feb 8, 2011
19,285
84
48
Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada
#7
Emotiva now make active powered speakers as well; Airmotiv Pro, three different model sizes.
At affordable prices too (starting at $399/pair). ...But it's the tweeter driver that is the real star, a Ribbon tweeter! ...They also use bi-amplification.

=> Would be real sweet to compare the powered Atom with the Airmotiv 4.
* http://emotivapro.com/products/powered_monitors/airmotiv4.php

Just sayin'.


P.S. Amir, feel free to let me know if I'm infringing across the US borders. ;)
My intention here is purely as a comparison/information, no more.
 
Last edited:
Feb 8, 2011
19,285
84
48
Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada
#9
Paradigm Atom speakers truly rocks! ...Where it counts, in the Mids!

Amir, the speakers I recommend the most (90% of the time) to my peers all over are Paradigms.
Not because they are Canadian made and designed in the best facilities by the best people in the business, but also because of their Performance/Value ratio.

Plus much much more...


* By the way, I own a pair of Atoms myself, but not this version,
a much older version and extremely good for the price that I paid then (very close to MSRP).
 
#10
OK, I heard back and as I had assumed the Powered Atoms are sealed/non-ported design.
Thanks. Sealed box designs are less common than ported speakers so it is good to learn of another sealed box choice.

A couple of things. The Atoms have *two* amps rated at 50 watts in each enclosure and use a DSP to optimize things in a true bi-amp configuration. The Audioengine says there is a stereo amp for the pair so it seems they are not bi-amped.

Second, the price above is for direct sales to customers. The price I gave is the MSRP for dealers of Paradigm. If they cut us out, I am sure the price would be lower :).
I'm not sure why you are reacting to my earlier posts in this way. I remarked on the existence of powered speaker alternatives by which I meant both active crossover speakers and those with a passive crossover after the amplifier.

I also remarked that I owned the Audioengine A5s and liked them. I made no comparison to the active Paradigm Atom speakers. I did not mention the price of the A5s in my first post and offered a clarification to your reference to the price as having gone up.

I don't see that your remark about MSRP for the Paradigm speakers has much practical value to a consumer. Paradigm sells through dealers so the price a consumer pays will be what a dealer charges. Audioengine sells direct or through some internet based dealers at prices chosen by the sellers. It is up to the purchaser to decide whether a product seems to be good value and to decide whether he or she wants to buy from a dealer or from an internet based seller.

I do. The sub I got was the one they recommended with the package. My sub is buried in my office so hard to look up the model number but I can do it if you can't figure it out.
My memory is that NHT used to recommend the S-00 subwoofer but it isn't listed on their website for sale now. If you were using some other NHT sub-woofer, I might learn how that that subwoofer worked with the M-00 monitors.

Bill
 
Last edited:
Apr 3, 2010
16,022
0
0
Seattle, WA
#11
I'm not sure why you are reacting to my earlier posts in this way. I remarked on the existence of powered speaker alternatives by which I meant both active crossover speakers and those with a passive crossover after the amplifier.

I also remarked that I owned the Audioengine A5s and liked them. I made no comparison to the active Paradigm Atom speakers. I did not mention the price of the A5s in my first post and offered a clarification to your reference to the price as having gone up.

I don't see that your remark about MSRP for the Paradigm speakers has much practical value to a consumer. Paradigm sells through dealers so the price a consumer pays will be what a dealer charges. Audioengine sells direct or through some internet based dealers at prices chosen by the sellers. It is up to the purchaser to decide whether a product seems to be good value and to decide whether he or she wants to buy from a dealer or from an internet based seller.
Since this is a thread about Paradigm powered atoms, I assumed your mention of other speakers in $500 range and the brand you owned as competitive alternatives. In that light, I tried to do a comparison of the two based on what I could glean from the web site. To the extent they are different in some respects, it is useful information for folks reading this thread. If all was known to you, that's cool. We write for everyone else who is also reading these threads :).

My memory is that NHT used to recommend the S-00 subwoofer but it isn't listed on their website for sale now. If you were using some other NHT sub-woofer, I might learn how that that subwoofer worked with the M-00 monitors.

Bill
As you may know, NHT as a company has been going through many changes. They shut down and then re-opened the company. So maybe they cut out the sub because it was not a money maker for them. I have not kept up with their recent going ons as I worry about the longevity of the company as few have survived such transformations.
 
Apr 23, 2016
325
0
0
#12
Paradigm announced a while ago the powered version of their Atom speaker (http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/speakers/bookshelf/active-atom). Alas, it has long been delayed. But I had an opportunity to listen to them for a couple of hours.

The product is being marketed under the subbrand "shift" which has their hip products such as headphones. In other words, the target market is younger crowd, introducing them to better sound.

The units look just like the current Atom. Here is a picture of them if you have not seen them:


But internally, the new unit has two 50 watt amplifiers in each speaker, one driving the woofer and the other, the tweeter. Despite all that, they are very attractively priced at $249 each.

We hooked them up to our high-end music system which has the Berkeley DAC and such. This is in a large showroom so I expected the sound to be anemic. To my surprise, it was not. You could easily go as loud as you wanted. The bi-amp configuration keeps high frequency distortion under control so you don't get the traditional clipping effect with single (small) outboard amplifier.

The bass performance was quite good. It was tight and belied the size of the speakers. That said, I would probably get a small sub to go with them for deep bass.

I think the goal here for any speaker of this sort is to outperform the plastic junk speakers that are computer accessories. On that front, the mission is accomplished. These speakers sound better and look better than most offerings there.

Our rep had a nice demo scenario. He plugged in the Apple Airport Express to the AC plug and then simply pulled out his iPhone (or was it iPod Touch?) and started to play music! The audio went out of the Express into the speaker input jack and that was it! Talk about a great way to play music at parties and such. And wonderful way to attract the new generation to better sound.

For grins, we powered on our Mark Levinson 53 and Revel combo that is normally in that setting. Well, the difference was immense. The combo had so much less distortion and better fidelity. For $75K, I was relieved that it could do that :D. So this article is not about audio alchemy. The powered atom is about getting lots of sound for little money and not doing it in a cheaply looking and sounding device. If you have more money, you can do better. But for a compact device with no wires and so little money, it is a nice solution.
Nice review, I bought one to use as my VOG channel. I tested it out on my desktop compared to the Paradigm Reference Active 20 as a stereo pair. The Active 20's cost $800 each. In comparison I would guess the active atom cost at least $400 each. It has a perfect timber match for my HT. You can see the white speaker pointing down on my sofa and the active 20 on the tall stand.

WP_20160819_007.jpg
 
Last edited:

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. A place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss existing and new audio products, music servers, music streamers and computer audio, digital to audio convertors (DACS), turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel to reel, speakers, headphones, tube amplifiers and solid state amplification. Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing