Paradigm, Anthem, and Saturday Audio Exchange

A $20,000 system is probably no one’s idea of cheap, but it’s affordable-ish by AXPONA standards. And if the sound quality of such a setup is as good as it was in room 394, where Chicago dealer Saturday Audio Exchange had again partnered with Canadian marques Paradigm and Anthem, we’re getting into bargain territory.

I have a weakness for these brands, which is why I purchased an Anthem STR integrated a few years back. Five grand for a Stereophile-recommended, class-A-rated "watershed product" (in the words of TJN), with room-correction built in? Sounds good to me, literally and figuratively. I also loved having Paradigm’s Founder 120Hs in my listening room for a couple of months (see my review here). They are still the speakers that, for most listeners with a budget of around $10,000, I’d most highly recommend.

At this AXPONA, the news from the Paradigm / Anthem team wasn't heart-stopping. Some of the Founder series speakers are now available in colors whose names made me think of Gen-Z slushies: Ruby Frostbite, Azure Ice, and Frozen Charcoal.

The system at hand consisted of a pair of $6098 Founder 100F passive speakers (the 120s have amplification on board for the bass drivers only, so you’ll still need an external amp). An Anthem STR preamp ($4299) fed the signal to the $6499 STR power amplifier. Doing deep-bass duty was a Paradigm XR11 sub ($3999). AudioQuest cables tied it all together like it was the Dude’s rug.

I listened to Freya Ridings' "Lost Without You," Gregory Porter’s "Hey Laura," and Radiohead’s "High and Dry." Soon my foot was tapping without orders from my brain. "Nothing is missing," I wrote. Thom Yorke's keening plea brimmed with despair, and the system brought it all home with full-bodied faithfulness and exactitude.