Paradigm's History

The History of Great Sound in Canada, and Beyond

Did you know that Paradigm loudspeakers are still designed, engineered, and crafted right here, in our headquarters just outside Toronto, Canada? It’s been that way since 1982.

That’s when co-founders Jerry VanderMarel and Scott Bagby decided to, eh-hem, change the prevailing industry paradigm. They wanted to build high performance loudspeakers locally. They wanted to custom-design their speaker components based on science, not speculation. And they wanted to make them available at prices that everyone would appreciate.

To do it, Jerry and Scott tapped smart university audio researchers and the detailed scientific findings from audio studies conducted by the National Research Council of Canada.

Their goal was to achieve a level of performance that would erase the speaker itself from the equation. Pure, lifelike audio, uninhibited by coloration, unrestrained in its ability to translate power into sound. And to do it at a price that would allow anyone to experience this magic.

Jerry (sales, marketing, advertising) and Scott (design, manufacturing) gathered a team of dedicated audiophiles and engineers (and engineers who were audiophiles), and from these humble beginnings, Paradigm was born.

The Paradigm Models 7 & 9 were unveiled at the Toronto Audio Show that year. A dozen dealers signed on to carry the line. (Many of these loyal charter dealers remain proud Paradigm dealers even today!)

The Paradigm Hit Parade - Key Dates in Our Audio History

1982: 12 dealers are signed at our first Toronto show. Many original dealers are still Paradigm dealers today! 

1983: Model 7 & Model 9 speakers become our first bestsellers: "Fabrique au Canada"

1984: "Show, Tell & Demo," our sales force secret weapon, debuts; orders pile up...

1985: Fast expansion in the United States market (see previous item).

1986: Introduction of the die-cast chassis, improving audio performance with reduced vibration and higher efficiency.

1987: Good reviews fuel sales, and significant growth in our dealer network.

1988: We build our first anechoic chamber, improving audio test standards.

1989: Introduction of our first in-wall speakers, AMS–200, utilizing wall space as a high performance enclosure.

1990: Voted "#1 Best Price/Value" by Inside Track Magazine.

1991: Titan becomes our biggest best seller: "So much value it's scary!" 

1992: The innovative Atom "splits," and wins audio performance awards.

1993: Paradigm’s Advanced Research Center (PARC) opens, future birthplace of "The Paradigm Sound." 

1994: PS-1000 (our first powered sub).

1995: Paradigm engineers begin planning their dream manufacturing facility. It will take 5 years to come to fruition. 

1996: Paradigm Reference debuts, part of the Studio Series, which will become our most popular design.

1997: Debut of the multi-application Active 20, already ahead of its time.

1999: Newly developed weatherproof materials allow Stylus to take The Paradigm Sound outdoors!

2001: Paradigm opens one of the largest speaker manufacturing facilities in North America: 225,000 sf of state-of-the-art computer-controlled machinery and hands-on workshops, as well as the hemisphere's largest privately-owned anechoic chamber.

2003: Compact 5.1 Cinema 70CT blows away the HTiB category.

2004: Introduction of the innovative Signature Series, first use of Beryllium tweeters and isolated driver enclosures.

2006: Massive sales, excellent reviews, and loyal customers boost Paradigm's brand recognition on six continents.

2007: Paradigm introduces first-gen Room Correction Technology, giving everyone access to an important professional tool.

2009: The 9000-Watt/6 driver SUB 2 flattens the competition; earns the SECRETS of Home Theater & High Fidelity "Bad Ass Award."

2010: Multi-application Shift Series debuts with audio solutions including sophisticated new streaming technology.

2011: Seventh generation Monitor Series is launched.

2012: Paradigm owns the subwoofer market with subs for every application, in every size from compact to overwhelming.

2014: Prestige Series is an instant classic, with wood cabinets and patented audio technologies.

2015: Paradigm goes wireless, offering great sound from tabletop solutions to surround channels and subwoofers.

2016: Persona debuts: the ultimate Paradigm statement of ultra-high performance, cutting-edge technology and luxury audio design...Nothing will ever be the same!

2018: Revolutionary app control developed for Defiance Subwoofers.

The 1990s were a decade of growth and expansion. The company and its reputation grew. Distribution expanded beyond the Canadian border. Paradigm’s array of application-specific audio solutions grew. And so did Paradigm’s physical space, with the planning of one of North America’s largest loudspeaker manufacturing facilities.

Paradigm started the decade by winning its first "Best Price/Value" award from the prestigious "Inside Track" Magazine in 1990. One of the most successful models of the early 90s was the Atom, part of the renowned Monitor Series. Atom models featured some of the best available audio technology of the day, from Satin-Anodized Aluminum Tweeter Domes with powerful ferro-fluid cooled neodymium magnet structures, to one of the most advanced handcrafted crossover designs, at a surprisingly reasonable price. Atom becomes Paradigm's Number One selling model. "Best Price/Value" becomes the Paradigm maxim.

From the start, a fundamental element of the Paradigm business plan was an intensive, ongoing program of research into the nature of sound and human hearing. Paradigm engineers worked with the National Research Council of Canada to determine and establish norms and standards backed by real science. (Standards set at the NRC were regularly exceeded once the research returned to the Paradigm labs!) In 1993, two leading NRC researchers joined Paradigm to open PARC, the Paradigm Advanced Research Center, in Ottawa. PARC is a state-of-the-art laboratory dedicated to designing and programming electronics, software (including Digital Signal Processing and Computer Aided Design) and other advanced audio technologies. PARC became the home of "The Athena Project," a super-secret scientific initiative to perfect "The Paradigm Sound": low distortion, zero coloration, pure audio realism.

In the mid-90s, Paradigm unveiled its first powered subwoofer. The single-driver PS-1000, at just over 100 Watts RMS, packed such a punch that it convinced Paradigm engineers that powered subwoofers were the future. By the end of the 90s, models like the big Servo-15, powered by a custom-built high-current, low distortion amplifier, were winning awards for thunderous musicality.

In 1996, Paradigm introduced the Reference Studio Series, a family of loudspeakers that set the stage in look and sound for the next generation of Paradigm speakers. With bolted faces prefiguring hip "steampunk" design, and smoothly curved enclosures, these speakers featured innovations like die-cast heat-sink driver chassis, shock-mount isolation chambers, advanced crossover networks, and furniture-grade finishes. Reference Studio Series reset the bar for accuracy, detail and resolution.

Paradigm partied like it was 1999 with the introduction of the Stylus all-weather loudspeaker series, which delivered proven Paradigm sound quality in more rustic environments. The success of Stylus, with its uniquely durable materials, grew into future exterior loudspeaker systems, many of which have braved the elements and are still playing strong today.

Paradigm in the New Millennium

The first decade of the 21st Century saw global changes in the consumer electronics industry. Paradigm was at the forefront, making performance and value their ultimate goal.

In 2001, Paradigm brought its manufacturing home to one of the largest loudspeaker manufacturing facilities in North America: a colossal 225,000 square foot factory housing a massive computer-controlled, robot-assisted woodworking shop, hand assembly lines, advanced testing labs (including dual double-blind listening rooms), and automotive-quality finishing shops. Paradigm took complete control of their manufacturing process, from planning, tooling and prototyping, to driver and crossover assembly, and final enclosure wrapping and finishing. Paradigm became one of the largest driver manufacturers on the continent!

Paradigm's Headquarters

The Toronto factory also includes the largest privately-owned anechoic chamber in North America. This astonishing audio testing facility is accessed by a delicate catwalk suspended inside a completely inert room-within-a-room measuring over 33,000 cubic feet, punctuated by large-scale foam stalactites. This quiet cave allowed Paradigm engineers to isolate audio anomalies, evaluate solutions, and perfectly tune speakers and components to more completely eliminate a speaker’s telltale signature or sound print. The science of tuning is perfected in the anechoic chamber, and critics and customers alike take notice as Paradigm loudspeaker performance becomes increasingly transparent.

On-Site Control = Better Products

Our 250,000 sf factory in Toronto gives us unprecedented control over every detail in the design and construction of our loudspeakers. 

  • CNC (Computer Numerical Control) cabinet construction and finishing, from wood cutting and assembly to veneering, painting and polishing.
  • Injection molding for plastic components, such as baskets, baffles and bases.
  • Grille design and manufacturing on-site, including molding, heat pressing, and finishing.
  • Unique CIM (Custom Injection Molding) capabilities to fabricate cone molding and durable over-molded surrounds on both plastic and aluminum cones.
  • Complete driver and crossover CAD design and assembly facilities.
  • Voice coil winding and assembly.
  • Inductor winding to +/- 0.1 turn precision (several turns beyond the industry standard).
  • PCB through-hole and SMT assembly.
  • The Paradigm Advanced Research Center (PARC) for electronics and software design.
  • Complete painting, powder coating and furniture-grade finishing facilities.

At the same time, the proliferation and accessibility of multichannel home theater and home cinema audio dovetails with Paradigm’s speaker design imperatives. The curtain rises on Cinema Series, a compact, audiophile-level home theater speaker system designed to deliver the 5.1 Paradigm sound in smaller spaces.

The next bold step for Paradigm was the Signature Series, introduced in 2004. The unassuming exterior grille face of the Signature Series hid a strikingly beautiful bezel and cabinet design, itself hiding a cabinet of surprising audio innovations. These included Beryllium tweeters, and uniquely designed driver isolation chambers with patented rear fins, which efficiently dispersed back wave resonances generated by the powerful new motor architectures. Critics called Signature "the real deal," one of the best in a long line of Paradigm performance values.

Paradigm’s global brand recognition grew in the 2000s, thanks to the dedication of a world-wide network of sales people, exclusive dealers and devoted, enthusiastic audiophiles. Paradigm, in turn, dedicated itself to perfectly capturing the pure sound our customers had grown to love and expect. Powered by the critical reception of Signature, Paradigm becomes one of the bestselling audiophile loudspeaker brands on six continents.

Then: Eureka! Ongoing research into how sound acts in a listening area pays off with the industry’s first truly consumer-friendly professional-grade “room correction” technology, Paradigm’s Perfect Bass Kit (PBK). The Perfect Bass Kit was designed and programmed to ensure the best possible bass performance. Using a proprietary microphone and software, the PBK allowed consumers to test their listening space and instantly compare results to a lab performance standard, correcting and eliminating bass wave anomalies and ensuring smoother, more realistically blended bass response in any room. The PBK put professional bass and room tuning capabilities within reach of everyone.

Paradigm’s dominance of the subwoofer category began soon after, with the introduction of the massive SUB 2. This 9000-Watt, six-driver subwoofer set a standard for sub performance as deep as the Marianas Trench and as smoothly realistic as an octobass. The SUB 2 is immediately awarded the very first SECRETS of Home Theater and High Fidelity "Bad Ass Award" for "intense output, ultra-low distortion, substantial build quality and extreme engineering."

In the early twenty-teens there was a growing emphasis on personal digital audio and signal processing, and the first stirrings of "streaming" lower resolution audio files over local and wide-area networks. Paradigm engineers wanted to make certain that the audio reproduction of their speakers retained its lifelike quality in any media, and so they designed speakers using sophisticated new algorithms to optimize and shape frequency response. This was epitomized by the new Shift Series of multi-application loudspeakers introduced in 2010. Shift encompassed a wide array of loudspeakers and components, from wireless sound bars and fully-powered tabletop speakers, to wireless network-expanding links and compact amplifiers. Shift even saw the introduction of Paradigm’s first foray into premium audiophile headphone designs. Paradigm wireless technology will flower in 2015 with the Premium Series, featuring state-of-the-art lossless reception, easy connections, and astounding Paradigm performance levels.

By 2012, Paradigm had stomped the subwoofer category with 21 top-selling subwoofer models, from the compact Ultra Cube (under a square foot) to the custom-designed Seismic 110, which delivered 1700 Watts of peak power. On the other end of the sub size spectrum stood the largest of all subwoofers, the SUB 2 and new SUB 1, with a combined total peak power of over 12,000 Watts. Awed critics labeled it "weapons-grade" bass.

Paradigm dominated the loudspeaker market, as well, with the Prestige Series, introduced in 2014. Prestige, with its beautiful, classic wood finish cabinets and completely updated technology, delivered a performance-to-value ratio that established Paradigm as the leader in both categories, once and for all. Prestige featured newly designed crossovers controlling powerful on-board amplification, and more efficient, resonance-free cabinet construction with Shock-Mount driver isolation. Proudly Crafted in Canada, Prestige achieved a science-backed performance that critics called "intoxicating" and "sophisticated," something we would hear more and more often.

No Mid-Life Crisis for Paradigm

By now, Paradigm was a distinctly middle-aged company. We had lived through our crazy youth. Our experimental teen years. Our diligent twenties. We grew up. And so did you. We began to sense the need for something more... well, "sophisticated." (We warned you: you'd be hearing more of that word.)

So Paradigm engineers, many of whom were "lifers" at Paradigm, cataloged their patents and innovations. They took a serious new look at the in-house design and manufacturing capabilities (some of the most sophisticated in North America). They reckoned with new media, and new technology, and, most importantly, new trends in home design and decor. It was time for Paradigm to combine everything we knew about audio technology with the art of modern luxury home design and decor, to produce a loudspeaker that sheds the expected, that reveals the utterly unanticipated; a truly new Paradigm in home audio: Persona.

Persona®, debuting in 2016, was entirely unexpected. A new level of technology and innovation, new materials and manufacturing techniques, new power and control, and a totally new look for Paradigm: Bold, colorful, forward-moving. The culmination of every Paradigm engineering objective, Persona achieved virtually complete transparency, an unprecedented level of audio realism, with a look and feel that made an authentic statement of organic, purpose-driven design. Critical response rained in from even the most difficult-to-please professional audiophile reviewers: "Outstanding [1]," "Superb [2]," "Impressive [3]," "Astonishing [4]," "Excellent...articulate...believable [5]," and "Easily the best [6]."

  1. Carlo Lo Raso, Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity
  2. Anthony Cordesman, The Absolute Sound
  3. Fernando Andrette, Audio Video Magazine
  4. Deon Schoeman, Audio Video
  5. Piero Gabucci, Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity
  6. Parker Hall, Digital Trends

Persona embodied many firsts for Paradigm. For the first time, Beryllium foil was used for both the high resolution tweeters and the mid-range drivers. For the first time, Paradigm’s rigidly braced non-resonant cabinet sported a unique forward-moving modern design. For the first time, Paradigm combined many of its most effective patented innovations, from Active Ridge Technology (ART) Surrounds to Perforated Phase Aligning (PPA) Lenses, in one loudspeaker.

For the first time, Paradigm became known the world over for redefining the idea of luxury home audio. Persona is one of the most expensive Paradigm loudspeakers ever produced, but it also proved to be an astounding and undeniable performance value.

The sleek and beautiful Persona series aligned perfectly with the power, performance and technology of the Defiance Subwoofer Series, introduced in 2018. Defiance was a game-changing subwoofer, combining Anthem Room Correction (ARC) Technology, the award-winning updated PBK room correction software, with a unique sub-control app. This allowed you to quickly and easily optimize your subwoofer to your system and to your listening space from the comfort of your listening position via your smart phone!

Paradigm Today, and Tomorrow

Heading into the third decade of the 21st Century, their fourth decade as an innovative industry leader, Paradigm’s mission remains true to our beginnings. And so do our loudspeakers. Paradigm continues to lead the competitive consumer electronics industry by staying on the cutting edge of audio science and technology.

Remember that “Best Price/Value” award we won back in the 90s? We won that award a total of 22 times. Award-winning Paradigm products are now carried by more than 25 international distributors and are available in over 55 countries around the world. The new Persona has reinforced our position as one of the best-selling high performance loudspeakers in North America. Our combination of superior performance backed by applied science, with a new vision of luxury design, and a renewed dedication to authentic value, makes us really excited about the future of high-end home audio. We can’t wait to show you what’s next!

We invite you to explore our current lines of superior performance loudspeakers. If you have questions, contact us. We encourage you to be informed. The more you know about high performance loudspeakers, the better Paradigm looks (and sounds).

From Canada with love!

“The Paradigm Persona 7F is one of the most enjoyable speaker sets that I’ve had the pleasure of auditioning in my home. Beyond being a visually arresting example of fine industrial design, they are also sonically satisfying reproducers of music and a worthy addition to the top tier of Paradigm’s offerings. They certainly have that elusive ‘alive’ quality to their sonic fingerprint that eludes many speakers out there in the high-end marketplace. They not only sound the part but look it as well, with a modern yet still organic design that should satisfy any prospective owner for years to come. There is no doubt that Paradigm pulled out all the stops with this one, with the beryllium drivers, advanced cabinet design and other technologies that they refined over the years. They were looking to make a statement and boy, did they. If twenty-five grand just happens to be sitting in your mad-money account and you are itching for a pair of be-all- to end-all speakers, you owe yourself a listen to the Paradigm Persona 7Fs. Outstanding is an understatement!"

Carlo Lo Raso Home Theater and High Fidelity