I think of the Paradigm Titan as a sort of grown up version of the brand’s beer budget audiophile classic, the mighty Atom. I first came upon that awesome mini speaker ages ago but never had the pleasure of assessing the Titan. This reconfigured Titan, now in its v.5 iteration, is a good deal larger, pricier and more accomplished than the original model introduced in the early ‘90s (the current, Atom v.5 is closer in size and price to the previous generation Titan, got it?).
Paradigm not only designs the complete speaker, including the drive units, crossover networks, plastics and cabinets, the company resisted the temptation to slash costs and move production off shore. Paradigm still builds all of its speakers, including the least-expensive ones, in its factory in Canada. Not only that, Paradigm engineers design their tooling, production and testing equipment! These guys are serious control freaks (in the nicest sense of the term)!
Where most speaker cabinets are constructed from medium-density fiberboard (MDF), the Titans use more rigid high-density fiberboard to more completely suppress sound-muddying resonances. The Cherry, Rosenut, and Black Ash vinyl wrap finishes didn’t wow me, but they’re nice enough. The Titan sports a cool looking co-polymer/ polypropylene 7.5-inch cone and a 1-inch pure titanium dome tweeter that uses a newly designed WaveGuide to boost its sensitivity over all previous generations of Titan tweeters.
The speaker’s crossover network uses high-power ceramic resistors and air/steel-core inductors; it also uses the same type of film capacitors as Paradigm’s top-of-the-line Reference speakers.
Tip: My sample’s Rosenut vinyl wrap looks like, well, vinyl wrap. I’d go for the black.
There’s something eminently likeable about the sound of these speakers. Sure, the first thing that grabbed me was their freewheeling dynamics and spot-on midrange tonality, but the tweeter can, on some CDs, sound a touch too forward. Even so, the Titans can project holographic soundstaging while maintaining exacting image focus. Deep bass extension isn’t in the first rank, but the Titan’s lithe and wonderfully nuanced response in the 50–100 Hz range accounts for the speaker’s big-hearted sound.
Harry Connick Jr.’s Chanson du Vieux Carre big band CD [Marsalis Music] demonstrated the Titans’ gravitas. Connick arranged and conducted this swinging effort, and I couldn’t help but be impressed with the band’s toe-tapping momentum. The Titans did Connick’s piano particularly well, its percussive transients were life-like, and the band’s hard-hitting brass section remained clear and true. The Titans’ winning poise makes everything go down nice and easy.
The Titan shined with Eric Bibb’s Good Stuff CD [Earthbeat]. Bibb’s honeyed vocals were open and clear as can be, and the sweet sounding acoustic blues accompaniment practically glowed. Turning up the heat with Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible, the sound was no less revelatory. The church organ underpinning a few tunes emerged in all its glory, as did the reverb-drenched arrangements and cavernous soundstage depth. Paradigm has another winner on its hands.