What is the Paradigm Soundscape?
This beast of a soundbar from Paradigm is almost the polar opposite of the last product of its type I reviewed for AVForums.
Paradigm Soundscape Design & Connections
If your TV is wall mounted, this of course won’t be a concern and Paradigm supplies a mounting rack in the box although Paradigm does not supply the anchor bolts or screws because choosing the appropriate ones will be dependent on the surface on which it is to be mounted. There are fairly detailed instructions in the owner’s manual but it’s probably not something for a complete DIY novice to tackle – it would hurt if it landed on your foot, for one thing, as the build quality is bordering on industrial grade. That feel is only given more weight should you choose to remove the protective cloth grille at the front to reveal the driver array. There’s no doubt that this provides an impressive sight but if you have little ones about the house, it’s probably best to keep the drivers protected.
Paradigm Soundscape Setup & Operation
There are a five buttons on top of the unit that allow you to set volume levels, select sources and navigate around the menu system with visual feedback being taken care of by a display panel which is positioned top centre at the the front of the unit. That menu system isn’t the most intuitive we’ve ever come across and involves using all four directional buttons to find what you need but you’ll (probably) get to grips with it eventually.
Paradigm Soundscape Features
Given the absence of an HDMI input/output, it’s good that the Soundscape is able to learn the infra-red codes from other equipment. In practise, it’s a case of entering the appropriate area of the menus, selecting a command for the system to learn and then pressing a button on your chosen remote – usually your TVs, we would expect. This is a good feature but we would also like to have seen the inclusion of an IR repeater function, allowing you to access the TVs menus and features with ease, should the IR path be blocked. This is a premium grade product and it’s something we’ve seen on soundbars costing far less so we definitely count it as an omission.
Paradigm Soundscape Audio Quality
Where to start? OK, beginning with the claims that the physical separation of each of the drivers allows for a true stereo soundstage. Yep, we can testify that the Soundscape is infinitely superior in this regard when compared to your typical soundbar but put up against an equivalent set of stereo speakers, of course it won’t be able to compete but it does an amazing job nevertheless and it does sound like a real HiFi system when driven with two channel music, regardless of type. The presentation is incredibly fast and dynamic but still mellifluous when required and no matter what was asked of it, the Paradigm delivered a tremendously composed performance.
We have a catholic taste in music so the Soundscape was ‘treated’ to a mixture of old school Hip Hop, female jazz singers, Led Zeppelin, John Grant, Elbow and The Beach Boys as testers and the delivery of each was tremendous. But it’s likely that the primary deployment of the Soundscape will be as a sonic accompaniment to your TVs pictures so how it performs with TV and movies – in particular – is probably more critical and, again, the Soundscape is not found wanting. In fact, it’s like no soundbar we’ve ever heard, in many respects.
Not that the Soundcape is really lacking in anything and should come as no surprise that it will play really loud without distorting, thanks to dedicated amplification for each driver unit. This is a spectacular soundbar, without question, but you don’t have to run it full throttle to appreciate it as it will operate at night-time friendly levels when needed and still have enough dynamism to keep you happy. That’s another job well done by Paradigm and further proof of the engineering know-how behind the Soundscape.
Paradigm Soundscape Video Review
- Incredible HiFi sound
- Proper separation
- Fabulous with 5.1 sources
- Can add an external sub
- Too tall for lots of TVs when table mounted
- No HDMI will concern some
- It's pricey
Paradigm Soundscape Soundbar Review
The design of the Soundscape is such that all the drivers are independently amplified and completely isolated from one another, allowing it to produce a true stereo soundstage for two channel, whilst also being fabulously capable with multichannel movie and TV sources. The delivery is accurate, involving and exciting for your typical film soundtrack whilst beautifully composed and assured with musical duties. You can even add a more little low end impact with an external subwoofer, either wired or wirelessly with the supplied adaptor, but it packs a punch regardless and its performance is thoroughly bombastic, in any case, with a refinement in the mid-low notes unique in this product sector.
This is a premium soundbar in every sense - although some might bemoan the lack of HDMI connectivity and an IR repeater function would be useful – but in terms of how it sounds, it currently has no equal. There will some who claim it madness to spend somewhere around £1,300 on a soundbar, when a perfectly decent separates system can be had for that, but if it has to be a soundbar and you want the ultimate example, then you’ve just found it.
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