Kudos to Paradigm for bucking the trend to move production “off-shore,” or buy drivers from outside suppliers—the company still designs and builds the complete speaker, including the drive units, crossover networks, plastics, and cabinets in Canada.
Paradigm Reference Studio 60 v. 4 speakers are the entry-level towers in the Reference Series, but that’s like saying a Boxster is a budget Porsche. Standing a statuesque 40.5-inches tall, the Studio 60s cast a striking presence in my listening room. The gently rounded top panel and front’s subtle bulge around the tweeter housing were distinctive design touches. Lower down, the outrigger feet look neat and provide extra stability. The Studio 60s’ vinyl finish knocked a few points off the allure, but the speakers’ build quality feels solid.
On the other hand, the Studio 60’s gold-anodized aluminum dome tweeter, aluminum midrange driver with a solidaluminum phase plug and mineral- filled/polypropylene woofer would look right a home on a far more expensive speaker.
TIP: Paradigm recommends leaving the grilles on the speakers, and my listening tests confirmed that assertion. They sound best fully clothed.
The Studio 60s’ midrange clarity allowed vocals, strings, guitars, and horns to all ring true. The treble is less pure, but still good, just with more grain and coarser textures than the real thing. Bass goes nice and low, and while dynamic “slam” was healthy enough, it was not in the first rank.
The Studio 60 keyed into the electricity surging through The Larry Coryell Organ Trio SACD [Chesky]. Clearly, guitarist Coryell studied Wes Montgomery’s groovier records from the 1960s, and yet there’s no denying the Coryell record has a more contemporary feel and sound. The guitar tone is big and fat, and Sam Yatel’s Hammond B-3’s breezy runs and swells were all tasty. Paul Wertico’s drums’ presence was vivid, though his cymbal crashes had a bit too much zing.
But the Studio 60s’ midrange is the star attraction—it’s fast, clean, and clear. Charles Wourinen’s Percussion Symphony [Nonesuch LP] was a feast for the ears. The metallic instruments in the orchestra had a beautiful burnished quality, and the marimbas, vibes, and tympani drums were all palpable in shape and form.
The Studio 60 v.4 zeroes in on the music with great accuracy. Still, I would have appreciated a smoother treble and more visceral jolts from a speaker this size. Even so, on a purely musical level, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Studio 60.