Paradigm Reference Studio/20 loudspeaker Robert J. Reina, February 2001
The Paradigm Reference/20 has been upgraded since my original review in Vol.20 No.2. As well as a thicker front baffle, the updated version has much more cosmetically appealing softened edges on its cabinet that, Paradigm claims, improves tweeter dispersion. New damping material on the tweeter and a larger midrange magnet have been added since my 1997 review samples, as well as upgraded resistor inductors and minor crossover adjustments. It's been a while since I heard the original Reference/20s, but aside from the overly prominent high-frequency presentation I noted in my review, which seems to have been tamed in the revised version, the upgraded samples seem very similar to my memory of the originals.
The Paradigm Reference/20s exhibited airy, natural, and detailed high frequencies similar to the Alón Petites' but not as extended, with the lower high frequencies being more prominent than those of either of the Alón or the PSB Image 4T. Bass and high-level dynamic performance were also excellent, but not quite as extended or open at the upper end of the dynamic spectrum as the PSBs'. Overall, the Paradigms sounded more open and transparent than the PSBs and were much closer to the Alóns in this regard, but were not as delicate as the Alóns in their rendition of subtle low-level transient information.
All the speakers excelled in midrange naturalness, dynamic transient articulation, soundstaging, and bass definition within their relevant ranges.—Robert J. Reina