Paradigm Monitor Series 7 Sub 10 Subwoofer - Extended, Clean Bass From A Tiny Box!

      Date posted: August 25, 2013

Paradigm Monitor 7 Sub 10 Monitor Sub 10-front
Sugg. Retail: approx. $849.95 to $929
Manufacturer: Paradigm Electronics Inc.

I’ve been living with this simple-looking little subwoofer since before we moved into our new house, and so have auditioned it in two different environments, one quite big, the other even bigger. The previous room was something of a tuned pipe, 32 by 12 feet, with additional smaller spaces at both ends with doors, so added volume was possible. But it was still a largely rectangular radiating area, whereas the new room’s nominal dimensions are 38 by 28 feet, with irregular walls, and fewer directly opposing surfaces, with further irregularities in ceiling height. It took me a while, with quite a bit of measuring here and there, to find the right corners and other places for my Tube Traps, Room Tunes, and other tubular and panel sound control or absorption devices. But that’s probably a good subject for another highly illustrated Audio Ideas column.

Here we have a diminutive sub, with quite a lot of engineering effort and trickle-down technology from previous more expensive Paradigm Signature and Reference models. The Monitor 7 Sub 10 is quite unassuming in both size and cosmetics, and there are many much less expensive seemingly comparable models out there from both reputable speaker companies and those whose products are concomitantly compromised technically as their price is reduced. The stores are full of such boom boxes, which seldom go much below 40 Hz, and usually have non-defeatable bass peaks, usually between 60 and 90 Hz, with a lot of doubling (or harmonic distortion) of lower frequencies. The crossovers are minimal and prone to add more distortion to the driver output, and usually, the poor tuning of the port ensures crappy bass response no matter where you place it in the room, but even more sonic mud if you put them in the corners.

These may be marginally acceptable in a low-end audio system that comes with today’s cheap big-screen TVs, but completely unacceptable in any audio system that pretends to high fidelity, and these generally give subwoofers a bad name to many audiophiles. But to those in the know, a sub like this is actually rather under-priced, when one hears what it can really do. However, before getting to that, let’s look at how design and manufacture make such a product possible for under $1000.00. The Paradigm website noted above offers some straight talk about their technology, with a wee bit of braggadocio:

“A compact footprint without compromising bass output or bass extension. Trickle-down Paradigm Reference technology…despite cone size, the NLC™ non-limiting corrugated Santoprene® surrounds help cones move huge volumes of air for bass so loud and so deep it will send the cat running for cover.
State-of-the-art room-tuning technology. Don’t worry about perfect placement, put the sub where it looks best and let Paradigm’s Perfect Bass Kit™ (sold separately) dial in perfect bass. Go wireless! Paradigm’s PT-2 transmitter (sold separately) can be used with up to four Monitor subwoofers simultaneously.
The clean, modern aesthetic matches the new Monitor Series 7 speakers. The Monitor Series 7 subs were designed, engineered and manufactured in our state-of-the-art Toronto, Canada facility.”

“Input Facilities: Line-level Inputs; Control Facilities: Auto On/Standby; Subwoofer Level; Subwoofer Cut-Off Frequency (continuously variable 50 Hz – 150 Hz); Bypass Option; Sub/Sat Phase Alignment (continuously variable 0° to 180°) 900 watts Dynamic Peak Power / 300 watts RMS Sustained; Ultra-Class-D™ Power Amplifier with Unique Switching Power Supply.” Sub 10 Amp Panel

“BIG Power from a Compact Package: The low-noise high-power compact transformer (0.29 lb/0.13 kg) boasts an ETD core purpose-designed for smaller applications that must have high power. Noise suppression networks and top quality MOSFETs help to achieve high current but with quiet operation. Unlike conventional Class-D amplifier designs, our design inherently rejects variations in the power supply. Full-Bridge Output Stage: Operates from split power supply rails ensuring exceptionally low distortion. Not only does the design increase the speed of switching it also dramatically increases switching efficiency.”

“Precision Driver Components and Military-Spec (FR-4-Rated) Glass-Epoxy Circuit Board: Reference-quality component parts and a circuit board painstakingly designed by hand guarantee an enviable degree of performance and long-term reliability even under extreme conditions. Unique Temperature Sensors: Maintain a safe operating temperature even when the Monitor subwoofers are operating under maximum output conditions. Superior Short Circuit Protection: Should current through the MOSFETs exceed our internally preset limit, the Digital Signal Processing (see below) disables the output stage. Reaction time is typically within 10 μs.”

“Digital Signal Processing: Monitors the line current and voltage so that long-term average output power remains continuous. Sophisticated mathematical algorithms shape frequency response, ensuring accurate, consistent and musical bass without distortion even when the subs are pounding out bass at the highest levels.”

A high stiffness-to-mass ratio is an important aspect in a woofer’s ability to deliver that loud, deep, clean and articulate bass we all desire. In this case, in-house injection-molding and a 30% carbon content made for a wonderfully stiff cone while the polypropylene, an inherently well-damped material, delivered the necessary lightness, the cone is never weighed down in its movement.”

An extreme low-density thermoplastic elastomer, Santoprene possesses the flexibility and durability of rubber but with longer life expectancy and improved tolerance for operating extremes — exactly what we want in a woofer. Building on our success with this design in our high-end Signature series, Paradigm engineers created a new 3D model for the more compact Monitor subs. We applied FEA to conquer areas of concentrated stress, verify and perfect symmetry of motion and push the limits of excursion. The corrugations were also optimized — height, width and quantity — to assist in achieving the unbelievable one and a half inches of excursion on SUB 12 and only slightly less in its smaller siblings. Dimpling and cone wrinkling? Non existent even at full-on output. We then molded the surround over the cone edges to ensure a superior long lasting bond.”
Sub 10 Cutaway View
There is also a cutaway drawing which shows the substantial box construction of the Sub 10 and its siblings, the Sub 8 and Sub 12. They definitely pass the rap test (and that’s not with what I call anti-music!), and may hurt one’s knuckles if rapped too hard, but you won’t get shot!. As far as porting is concerned, it’s strictly the driver that radiates, and this should mean better control and accuracy if properly implemented, as well as greater flexibility of placement.

The Sub 10 is the middle model in the range, which is why I chose it for review, the size very attractive, with plenty of extension and dynamics for most audio of home theatre systems, and I was quite curious about how it would fare in my much bigger new listening space. I did some pink noise listening tests with the microphone several feet away from the Sub 10, and could also visually confirm its lower octave performance on my Audio Control 1/3-octave realtime analyzer, which showed minimal doubling above 20-to-40 Hz fundamentals in the octaves above, meaning very clean deep bass from this quite tiny box.

It will therefore be less placement sensitive, but one should never put a sub in a corner, because it simply invites it to excite all the room resonances it wants to, effectively making the room’s contribution greater (and less linear) than that of the subwoofer. That may sound impressive, but will not result in well balanced bass, but rather, very uneven response exaggerated by room boundaries and other corners especially.

I put the Sub 10 near a stairway, with a Tube Trap on top of it, something I’ll show in a later Audio Ideas column profiling this new listening and viewing space. With no major boundaries nearby except behind, and that not extending to the ceiling, it operated very well and smoothly through its range right down to about 20 Hz, and slightly below. I was very impressed by its clean, unobtrusive deep bass contribution to the musical presentation, though I will admit to using it with an outboard electronic crossover. I’ll have to leave the addition of the optional Perfect Bass Kit (PBK) with its calibrated microphone for a follow-up, as moving interrupted this review process.

Still, I can conclude that the Monitor Series 7 Sub 10 is an unusually good subwoofer in the $1000-or-less price range, and would be hard to beat for deep bass performance at twice the size and twice the price. It is an exceptional piece of compact audio engineering by a top Canadian speaker company, and I bought the review sample to augment my multichannel audio system.

Andrew Marshall

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