This is my HiFi Review of these stunning Paradigm Persona 3F floor standing speakers. I’m listening to them as a 2 channel solution, though I have seen them in high-end consumer AV cinema solutions, notably at Pulse Cinemas, last July 2019.
Design – Beryllium
With these Paradigm Persona 3F Floorstanding Speakers, there is a heavy emphasis on the drivers that are made largely from the element beryllium. Beryllium is a rare chemical element with low mass, high tensile strength, and high thermal stability. It is incredibly rigid and lightweight; everything an audio engineer desires in a speaker cone and Paradigm are all over it, though it is reflected in the price tag of course. Both the tweeter and midrange drivers have a Beryllium solution, something I’ve only experienced in the Focal Spora No.2 tweeter.
I went to a launch of the Focal Utopia Evo several years ago (with a Naim Statement incidentally) where Focal explained the concepts associated with Berylium, its lightweight and rigid structure enabling it to regain shape ‘fast’ (without resonant harmonics), before the next signal, hence when people talk of a fast speaker they are referring to its ability to deliver a clear sound, without clutter or residual interference from the previous note.
Paradigm use the control in the Truextent® manufacturing process to produce a pure Beryllium foil with a highly uniform grain structure; this is many times stiffer, yet far less dense, than more common cone materials. In industry testing, Paradigm says, “Beryllium cone material exhibits substantial improvements in durability, speed, and reduced interference. It can add more than an octave of distortion-free output.” The Persona range is the only loudspeaker in its class to utilize Beryllium material for both midrange AND tweeter drivers.
The tweeter is a 1″ (25mm) Truextent® Beryllium dome, ferrofluid damped/cooled, Perforated Phase-Aligning (PPA™) Tweeter Lens, Finite Element Analysis (FEA) optimized pole piece assembly.
The midrange driver is a 7″ (178mm) Truextent® Beryllium driver with Inverse Differential Drive Neodymium motor, Perforated Phase-Aligning (PPA™) Lens, SHOCK-MOUNT™ Isolation Mounting System, 1.5″ high-temp voice coil. I’ve obviously copied this from the spec sheet but it gives you a feel for the effort involved in manufacture (and not copying it from a spec sheet!). There are two low frequency range drivers, also 7 inches around with twin drivers in them. The speakers breathe through a downward facing port to allow controlled air flow, and flexible positioning.
The grilles in my pictures are fixed over the beryllium drivers. they are a specific perforated metal design that manages the flow of sound from the driver, helps to align the phase, and minimises phase noise that may be apparent, this is the PPA referred to above. The is a full length fabric grille available, I gather.
These speakers are lavish to the touch, with a firm lacquer feel, hand polished beautifully to a high gloss feel. They are curved at the back with no visible port. The air movement is expelled through the base with a big port, this allows for flexible placement too. They just feel gorgeous with a fine finish all-round. The speakers have a sloped top. I’m a big fan of a sloped top as it allows no room for plant pots, candles, hats or scarves, etc.
All the Persona speakers are handmade in Canada and there is a custom colour/finish service on the site that adds 15% to the bill. I’ve had a good play with the customised site options and the black with black option looks good to me! I simply cannot stop stroking them, they’re that ‘touchable’.
I’m driving these fantastic Paradigm Persona 3F with a Moon 700i v2 integrated amplifier, it is a stunning amplifier partnered with a Moon 780D v2 streaming DAC. I have Atlas Mavros speaker cables and an Atlas Eos modular power conditioner and a couple of Eos dd power leads. I’m using the Moon MiND controller with Tidal Masters.
Towards the end of the review, the Moon electronics went home and were replaced with my own Naim system, a NAC N-272 pre-amplifier with streaming Tidal, a NAP 250 power amplifier and an XPS power supply to the NAC. I’ve got an old school Rega RP3 that does the job for me. Beautiful, too. I was listening in my own living room in the end so my environment may be considered typical in a rectangular room 10m x 5m with a rug and a coffee table between myself and the speakers, about 3m apart.
I’ve just figured this out so here is my Playlist over the last few weeks, it is plain vanilla Tidal I think because it is built in the Naim App which doesn’t feature Masters, don’t judge the inclusion of ‘Cups’! The Moon 780D version of this playlist was over 550 tracks, both Qobuz and Tidal.
Out of the box
The speakers arrived in huge, and I mean huge, double cardboard boxes with packaging, that dense polystyrene stuff and cotton covers everywhere; you’ll need to think carefully about storage as the boxes are substantial. Each speaker weighs 34 kilos; they’re a two-man job, but your dealer is in charge when it comes to delivery and installation, presumably. I recall seeing a pair of Avalon Transcendent speakers being delivered at my place a while ago and they arrived in a wooden coffin style box, like the Ark of the Covenant! I felt the same this time unpacking these guys, I cannot imagine how big the 5F or even the 9F boxes are.
The speakers come with a choice of spikes or flat rubber style shoes that work well for me on the wooden floors.
Let’s have a listen….
The fizzing energy of the track and the quality of the recording is all in the room….. the speakers disappear and you are immersed in a deep well of pleasure and nothing matters, which is what you’re there for, right?
Soundstage, for me, needs a really high quality recording and ‘Flight from the City’ by Jóhann Jóhannsson, is it; if you’ve read this website regularly you will know this track. Here, with the Moon 700i and also the NAP 250 it is big and powerful, and I’m saying big, and deep, and wide. Wow! The fizzing energy of the track and the quality of the recording is all in the room. At this point, the speakers disappear and you are immersed in a deep well of pleasure and nothing matters, which is what you’re there for, right? I took the opportunity to try ‘Money for Nothing’, as you do, and the drums in the intro are pinpoint tight, just as you want it.
Similarly, I always go to ‘Sylvia Plath’, Live by Ryan Adams at Carnegie Hall (Ten Songs version) for detail. It is gentle by contrast to the thunderous soundstage of Jóhann Jóhannsson but nonetheless just as immersive. The fine resolution from the track is fabulous, no, exceptional. I just love the drop of the soft piano hammer in the recording giving you that feeling you’re on the stage. I love the lyrics too. The following track, ‘This is Where We Meet in My Mind’ reveals the rubbing of the fingers on the guitar strings and it is captivating.
My album of the year last year, Calexico’s “Years to Burn” has gifted me the track ‘Father Mountain’ and here it is the best it has been with the quality of the recording, the wonderful guitars, extending beyond the speakers in front of me.
For those wondering, ‘Cups’ in the playlist is there for this section, such is the fine detail of the clapping and the paper cup, not mention Anna Kendrick’s voice.
‘Find the River’ is the widest, most beautifully articulated track from the album, the acoustic guitars make you just tingle, my eyes close as Stipe lifts me up to the other place.
Time for some meat after the introduction, there are immeasurable lugs of bass here. I put on Moby’s ‘Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?’ at “volume” (50 on the NAC) with my family well out of the way and my neighbours in Cornwall and thought I had a wiring problem or something such was the unbounded thunder from the bass line in the track. I turned it down and tried ‘Bonfire’ by Knife Party for goodness sake! Here the rhythm and bounce in the track was outstanding, with the bass line under complete control.
The Moon 700i has, as I have observed, outstanding power and the 3Fs are able to control this input without distortion or bother. A challenging low end track to control is ‘Better Now’ by Post Malone but again the bass is controlled, rounded, with my sternum thumping. These speakers are exhilarating.
For a bit of mid range and male vocal, there is nowhere better to go than ‘Automatic for the People‘ as another 48 minutes and 47 seconds of my life slip by! The most beautiful statement of Micheal Stipe’s talent is ‘Find the River’, if you discount ‘Everybody Hurts’, ‘Ignoreland’, ‘Man on the Moon’ and ‘Nightswimming’!! ‘Find the River’ is the widest, most beautifully articulated track from the album, the acoustic guitars make you just tingle, my eyes close as Stipe lifts me up to the other place. “What about the tone of the speakers, Simon?” “Who cares?”, I reply, and that surely sums these speakers up.
Overall, I really like the controlled tone of these speakers, as I’m generally listening to the music and not thinking about much else; this feels good to me and certainly the Moon electronics complement this speaker well, it would be very interesting to put these speakers up with a NAP 300 or 500 to get a fairer comparison with the Moon 700i.
As demanded by this reviewer, I’m looking for a fast and dynamic presentation. There can be no clutter and sure enough ‘Nobody Girl’ (Ryan Adams, ‘Gold’) turns into a towering ‘Hotel California’ of a track, with the bass thump beautifully presented. Rhythm is always best articulated by The Eagles but for me, this vinyl track on ‘Gold’ beats this for me, despite what ‘Hotel California’ means to me as a track.
I’m left with these Paradigm Persona 3F driven by my own, NAP 250; it is not quite as much fun as the Moon 700i driving them but you really can’t have it all, this is a fine system nonetheless. The Paradigm Persona 3F speakers are a really, really good pair of speakers, I’m yet to hear the PMC fact.12 speakers in hand (so to speak) but these must be up there and they clearly demand a listen if this is where you are budget-wise. I’ll never forget the fun I had with the Sopra No.2s and I won’t forget these speakers in a long time.
I could afford them
But you get what you pay for!
4-driver, 3 way floorstanding bass reflex
Frequency Response +/- 2dB from 48Hz – 45kHz
Sensitivity 92 dB / 89 dB
Impedance Compatible with 8 ohms
High Frequency driver – 1″ (25mm) Truextent® Beryllium dome, ferro-fluid damped / cooled, Perforated Phase-Aligning (PPA™) Tweeter Lens, Finite Element Analysis (FEA) optimized pole piece assembly
Mid range frequency driver – 7″ (178mm) Truextent® Beryllium driver with Inverse Differential Drive Neodymium motor, Perforated Phase-Aligning (PPA™) Lens, SHOCK-MOUNT™ Isolation Mounting System, 1.5″ high-temp voice coil
Low frequency driver – Two 7″ (178 mm) high-excursion X-PAL™ drivers, overmolded Active Ridge Technology (ART™) surrounds, SHOCK-MOUNT™ Isolation Mounting System, 1.5″ high-temp tandem voice coil
Crossover – 3rd order electro-acoustic at 2.4 kHz(tweeter/mid), 3rd order @ 450 Hz
Weight – 75 lbs. (34 kg)
Dimensions H x W x D – 125″ × 9.5″ × 16.875″ (112.6cm × 24.1cm × 42.7cm)
Finish options – High Gloss: Vanta Black, Harmony White Metallic Gloss: Aria Blue, Sonic Silver