Paradigm Persona 5F loudspeaker Measurements

Sidebar 3: Measurements

I used DRA Labs' MLSSA system and a calibrated DPA 4006 microphone to measure the Paradigm Persona 5F's frequency response in the farfield, and an Earthworks QTC-40 for the nearfield responses. Paradigm specifies the Persona 5F's anechoic voltage sensitivity as 90dB/2.83V/m. My estimate was slightly lower, at 88.7dB(B)/2.83V/m, but this is still higher than average. The Paradigm's impedance is specified as "compatible with 8 ohms." The impedance drops below 6 ohms between 70Hz and 1kHz, and reaches a minimum magnitude of 2.85 ohms just below 20kHz (fig.1). There is also a combination of 5 ohms and an electrical phase angle of –50° at 73Hz; I think this speaker would work best with an amplifier compatible with 4 ohm loads.


Fig.1 Paradigm Persona 5F, electrical impedance (solid) and phase (dashed) (2 ohms/vertical div.).

The traces in fig.1 are free from the small wrinkles that would imply the presence of cabinet-wall resonances, and while I did find some resonant modes when I investigated the vibrational behavior with a plastic-tape accelerometer, these are all very low in level. For example, fig.2, which was taken on one of the sidewalls level with the midrange drive-unit, shows modes at 449Hz and 1kHz, but I am confident that this behavior will not introduce any coloration.


Fig.2 Paradigm Persona 5F, cumulative spectral-decay plot calculated from output of accelerometer fastened to center of sidewall level with midrange unit (MLS driving voltage to speaker, 7.55V; measurement bandwidth, 2kHz).

The saddle centered on 25Hz in the impedance-magnitude trace in fig.1 suggests that this is the tuning frequency of the large, downward-firing port. This was confirmed by the plot of the summed output of the three woofers—all three behave identically—which has the expected minimum-motion notch at this frequency (fig.3, blue trace). However, the port's response (red trace) peaks a little lower in frequency, between 15 and 40Hz. The port's output rolls off smoothly above 50Hz, and while that rolloff is disturbed by a peak at 520Hz, this is well down in level. In the farfield, the woofers (blue) appear to be crossed over to the midrange unit (green) just above 500Hz, rolling out steeply above that frequency.


Fig.3 Paradigm Persona 5F, acoustic crossover on tweeter axis at 50", corrected for microphone response; and nearfield responses of woofers (blue) and port (red), respectively plotted below 350 and 650Hz.

Higher in frequency in fig.3, the midrange unit's output on the tweeter axis is smooth and even, but the top two octaves of the region covered by the tweeter are a little exaggerated in level. The black trace below 300Hz in fig.4 shows the complex sum of the nearfield woofer and port outputs, taking into account amplitude, phase, and the different distances from a nominal farfield microphone position. The broad peak in the upper bass is primarily due to the nearfield measurement technique, which assumes that the drive-units are mounted in a baffle that extends to infinity in both planes. Though the Persona 5F's output is down by 5dB at the bottom of the audioband, the usual low-frequency boundary reinforcement will result in excellent low-bass extension in-room.


Fig.4 Paradigm Persona 5F, anechoic response on tweeter axis at 50", averaged across 30° horizontal window and corrected for microphone response, with complex sum of nearfield responses plotted below 300Hz.

The Paradigm's farfield response, averaged across a 30° horizontal window centered on the tweeter axis, is shown as the black trace above 300Hz in fig.4; it is superbly flat and even from the midrange through the mid-treble. Again, a boost in output is apparent in the top two octaves of the audioband, but the plot of the Paradigm's lateral dispersion, normalized to the tweeter-axis response (fig.5), reveals that the tweeter starts to become directional above 5kHz, which will tend to compensate for the excess of on-axis energy in this region. (I write "tend to compensate" because I note KR did experiment with toe-in to get the most neutral top-octave balance.) The contour lines in this graph are both even and evenly spaced, which always correlates with stable stereo imaging. In the vertical plane (fig.6), the Persona 5F maintains its tweeter-axis response up to 10° below that axis. This is just as well, considering that the tweeter is 42" from the floor, which is above the ear height of a typical seated listener.


Fig.5 Paradigm Persona 5F, lateral response family at 50", normalized to response on tweeter axis, from back to front: differences in response 90–5° off axis, reference response, differences in response 5–90° off axis.


Fig.6 Paradigm Persona 5F, vertical response family at 50", normalized to response on tweeter axis, from back to front: differences in response 15–5° above axis, reference response, differences in response 5–15° below axis.

In the time domain, the Studio HD's step response on the tweeter axis (fig.7) shows that all five drive-units are connected in positive acoustic polarity, with the tweeter's output arriving at the microphone before the midrange unit's, which in turn arrives before that of the three woofers. In each case, the decay of the higher-frequency driver's step blends smoothly with the start of the lower-frequency driver's step, which implies optimal crossover design. Finally, other than a very slight amount of delayed energy in the presence region, the Paradigm's cumulative spectral-decay plot (fig.8) is very clean.


Fig.7 Paradigm Persona 5F, step response on tweeter axis at 50" (5ms time window, 30kHz bandwidth).


Fig.8 Paradigm Persona 5F, cumulative spectral-decay plot on tweeter axis at 50" (0.15ms risetime).

The Paradigm Persona 5F's measured performance indicates textbook audio engineering.—John Atkinson

Paradigm Electronics Inc.
205 Annagem Boulevard
Mississauga, Ontario L5T 2V1
(905) 564-1994

mtrot's picture

Excellent! Your impressions reflect exactly mine about the 3F. Considering that Paradigm only rates low frequency extension to be 1Hz deeper with the 5F over the 3F, I'm wondering under what circumstances it would behoove someone to pony up the extra dollars for the 5F.

gabemtz83's picture

dont base the frequency response based on a spec sheet. The 5F sounds tremendously bigger than the 3F. I own both Persona 7Fs and 5Fs. I recently put the 5F's in my theater room after days of comparing to the 3F. As i already own a set of 7F's in my living room, it was gonna be hard to convince myself to spend the difference for the 5F. After hours of comparing the two i had to go with the 5Fs. They sound so much bigger! Thats saying a lot because the 3F is an incredible speaker!

Kal Rubinson's picture

I cannot say but I recently heard the 3f and didn't find the bass lacking. However, that was under unusual and unfamiliar circumstances.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Is 5F "Persona non grata"? :-)..........

Indydan's picture

I've owned 3 pairs of Paradigms at different price points. I find them good for home theater, but there are more refined speakers for music.

gabemtz83's picture

Persona is not your average paradigm!

Johnseye's picture

I think one of Kal's points was that the Persona's aren't what you've heard from Paradigm in the past. I would agree 100%.

yooperaudio's picture

Thanks for the enjoyable review of the Paradigm speakers. I noticed your comment about the Benchmark AHB2s (which I own) - is the known feature of the AHB2s that you referenced just that they reveal a lot of detail, or that they reveal detail better when floor-standing speakers are positioned in a straight-ahead position (30 deg. off-axis to your nose)? Mine are at about 25 deg. off-axis now (about 5 deg. toe-in from straight ahead), and they are doing very well, but I've never thought of pointing the speakers straight ahead to hear what happens. I've got an equilateral triangle setup, with my seating position maybe 10-12" father out from equilateral apex. Guess I'll try it - thanks again!

Kal Rubinson's picture

This is a work in progress. I have been listening to some speakers "on-axis" with the AHB2s and, for multichannel, prefer it. However, it is not always possible for other speakers.

jeffhenning's picture

"AHB2 question about speaker positioning..."

" the known feature of the AHB2s that you referenced just that they reveal a lot of detail, or that they reveal detail better when floor-standing speakers are positioned in a straight-ahead position (30 deg. off-axis to your nose)? Mine are at about 25 deg. off-axis now (about 5 deg. toe-in from straight ahead), and they are doing very well, but I've never thought of pointing the speakers straight ahead to hear what happens. I've got an equilateral triangle setup, with my seating position maybe 10-12" father out from equilateral apex."

"I have been listening to some speakers "on-axis" with the AHB2s and, for multichannel, prefer it. However, it is not always possible for other speakers."

Seems like a lot talk about speaker positioning and the amp being used.

Again, an AHB2 will have no effect on the speaker's in room frequency response and the speaker's radiation pattern.

Do you need more explanation?

Kal Rubinson's picture

The first two quotes are from another poster and the third does not even imply anything like what you infer. I do not require anything further of you. (This is not to say that I am disputing what you have posted.)

jeffhenning's picture

Your speakers and their frequency response, group delay and dispersion patterns will have several (or several dozen) orders more effect on where you position them in room than the amp driving them. Most likely it will make no difference at all with a load invariant amp like the AHB2.

There is no amp on the planet better than the AHB2. There are a couple manufacturers that make amps on par with Benchmark. Not one of them costs less than 200% more than an AHB2.

I digress though.

Your amp is not the solution or problem. Your speakers and room acoustics are the problem. No amp can fix them. You need better speakers or better acoustics or both.

If you can't win races with an engine that has more HP than everyone else, you should be looking at the set up of your car. And if that is as good as everyone else's, then, you need to look at who is behind the wheel. That works on every race track in the world.

The analogy is valid.

Just sayin'.

Kal Rubinson's picture

I do not know who or what you are addressing in your post. No one has suggested that any of the three amps were a problem or a solution. We are talking about one specific pair of speakers. Just sayin'.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Is it possible to get in-room frequency response for KR's listening room like JA's and MF's listening rooms? :-) .............

Kal Rubinson's picture

AFAIK, JA does measurements in the reviewer's home listening room in cases where the product (usually a loudspeaker) is too large and heavy to be efficiently shipped or for him to physically manuever on his own. In recent memory, he measured the BeoLab90 speakers in my room.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

BTW ......... These Persona 5F speakers are approximately the same price as the Kii Three active, built-in DSP speakers which were favorably reviewed by KR and listed under Class-A Stereophile :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

For passive speakers we could use external EQ/DSP for optimizing the in-room response and to suit personal listening preferences. Lot of home theater processors(pre-pros)/receivers come with built-in EQ/DSP, for example :-) .........

KR reviewed several such external EQ/DSP products in the Stereophile recommended component list :-) ..........

dalethorn's picture

There's a product (a tweak) you can find in most audiophile shops, which looks like a coat hanger with cupped hands on each end. You wear it on your shoulders/neck like a collar and the 'hands' sit behind your ears. The soundstage and sense of aliveness it brings are amazing, and given that the 'hands' can be turned a few degrees each direction helps to tune the response.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Sure, we could use DSP/EQ and, generally, I do. But for stand-alone reviews (i.e., not in my column "Music in the Round"), I always set up and assess the product as will the majority of readers: Without DSP/EQ unless built into the product. The reason is to report on the inherent capability of the product as it comes from the manufacturer.

Now, I am aware that this seems like a false dichotomy because there is no justification for abjuring DSP/EQ with stereo and yet to rely on it for multichannel. I do use for both!

dalethorn's picture

I wouldn't want to take this too far off course, but ..... there are many equipment reviews here that describe (apparently) small differences in sound, where such differences justify a significant expenditure. So when an external/addon DSP is figured in, not only would we be talking about much larger differences in sound due to the user's DSP settings, but I would expect at least small differences in sound from the DSP itself when the settings are flat, neutral, or otherwise zeroed out - just because the DSP was added into the signal path.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be you could review the latest DEQX flagship model HDP-5? :-) ............

Kal Rubinson's picture

I did review the DEQX PreMate in 2014. Is there a compelling reason to review the HDP-5?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I know about your review of the DEQX PreMate ........... I read that review ......... The new HDP-5 has additional capabilities including Roon ...... You can check the DEQX website .......... May be a follow-up review, if possible :-) .........

Kal Rubinson's picture

I do not think the inclusion of Roon justifies consideration since Roon is a known matter. Are there any other significant and new inclusions?

I am not trying to be difficult (although it may seem so) because I am a big fan of DEQX and would consider using it if they offered something that was suitable for my multichannel system. The issue is whether there is a reason for a follow-up.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

From what I see from the DEQX website, we may need several HDP-5 units for multi-channel configuration ...... My interpretation may not be correct ......... You may have to directly communicate with the manufacturer and/or a representative. I'm sure they are gonna be happy to communicate with you. Your review is featured on their website :-) ...........

Kal Rubinson's picture

True. They know of my interest but they have not determined that it is worthwhile for them to make a single device appropriate for a multichannel system. I would love a 6-8channel DEQX.

Russellbobby's picture

and haven't looked back.
Even though they have similar measurements to the 3F they just sound much "bigger". Heard these at Axpona with a pair of Mono Mcintosh MC611 doing 1 kilowatt peaks and these speakers never even shivered. 105 db at 20 ft in a 30x60x20 banquet room. Just saying they will rock as well as play as intimate as you like.
I am only 20 inches off my front wall but still have front to back depth between players. The beauty of the down firing port as you don't need a lot of room with these speakers. Running a couple of Odyssey Kismet monos and a MicroZotl 2.0S and they sound pretty damn nice. Much better in the mid and lower bass and a much more balanced sound overall than the Magico's.

MDKELLY504 Atreides's picture

I own the Signature 6S’s; anyone compare the Performa 5F speakers to the Signatures?