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- Created: 09 February 2013 09 February 2013
To Doug Schneider,
I was just perusing the Paradigm website and I noticed that for the Monitor series it says at the bottom of the page "Designed in North America," while the Studio and Reference series say "Made in North America." I find it sad to see that one of the few holdouts that was still making all their speakers in Canada has now succumbed to greed like all the others. I don't buy the excuse of giving the customer a better product for a lower price. It's all about maximizing profit by using slave labor. Case in point: B&W’s 600 series, two-way, 6.5” bookshelf speakers. The 601 S3 was made in England and cost $450 USD. The current 685 (essentially the same speaker) is made in China and costs $650. I rest my case.
BTW, I just got a pair of new/used Atom V6es on eBay, because Paradigm, like many others, won't allow Internet dealers. They're robbing many music lovers of their fine speakers, because here in Honolulu, as in many other cities, all of the audio retailers have gone out of business except one super-high-end shop that only caters to the wealthy. It's them or Best Buy. And the ones that closed up all told me that it wasn't because of Internet competition, but because they had to sell TVs as well as audio to survive, and they couldn't compete with Target, Walmart and Best Buy on TVs.
Over the last 15 years or so I've owned affordable speakers from Polk, PSB, Tannoy, Monitor Audio, B&W, KEF, Wharfedale, and Celestion, and the Atoms are the best of the bunch.
There’s an interesting story about Paradigm’s manufacturing, which has what I think is a happy ending. I know quite a bit about Paradigm’s manufacturing because I’ve visited their factory many times over the last 15 years. In fact, I’ll visit again in a few days. It’s located in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, and is the most impressive audio-manufacturing facility I’ve ever visited. The products for Paradigm’s sister company, Anthem, are also made there.
Back when I started going to their factory, pretty much everything was manufactured in-house. But a number of years ago, they did start moving some of their manufacturing to China, such as the Monitor series, which is still being made there, and even the cabinets for the Reference-series products, as well as some other things. Thankfully, even though some of the manufacturing was moved overseas, they didn’t diminish the size or capabilities of the factory. All of the R&D facilities also remained in Mississauga. This is in stark contrast to some companies that moved their manufacturing over there and eliminated their home-turf facilities, which I think will prove to be a big mistake in the long run.
Over time, Paradigm experienced some ups and down with the overseas manufacturing -- some of the products turned out better, but with others there were quality issues. Quality is something that Paradigm takes seriously, so they had to tackle that problem head-on. One way was to reject poor products, but when there were too many, it was getting too costly to ship them back. For those, Paradigm started bringing more and more of their manufacturing back to Mississauga. Not only did they start reusing their existing manufacturing resources, but they also worked on improving them to do some of the more advanced work that overseas vendors were providing. The last time I visited their factory, they were doing more manufacturing in the facility than I’ve seen in years, as well as doing things with cabinet building they've never done before. From what I’ve been told, the Tribute and Inspiration 30th-anniversary models will be going into production this month, and I might even see them being made next week. Those models are the happy ending I was talking about -- not only are they being made in the factory, but the cabinets are all being made in Mississauga too, using machines the company shipped over from the Chinese manufacturing plants! To me it’s fitting that Paradigm is making this special series on home turf; as a result, North American buyers of those models can be justifiably proud of the speakers they purchased and where they were made. Likewise, the cabinets in the Studio line are once again being manufactured in Mississauga, and most of the Anthem products have always been and will continue to be made there, including the outstanding Statement M1 mono amplifier, which Jeff Fritz reviewed on Ultra Audio last month. The only Anthem products that aren’t made there are the MRX-series receivers, strictly due to costs.
Insofar as Internet buying goes, times are changing. I don't believe Paradigm sells their main lines online, but they do sell the Shift series through dealers and through their website: www.paradigm.com/shift. Will there be other products available through the Internet? Times are certainly changing, but KEF sells their entire speaker line online and in stores, so anything is possible.
Finally, about the Atom: a fantastic loudspeaker and a real testament to how well Paradigm can engineer speakers that the majority of buyers can afford. I have no doubt that it will remain a staple in their line for a very long time. . . . Doug Schneider