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KEF vs Paradigm – Detailed Comparison

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KEF and Paradigm are two renowned and well respected brands in the audio industry that produces high quality speakers, headphones, soundbars, and subwoofers

In this article, we will cover a general overview of both brands, looking specifically at sound quality, durability, price and so on. Of course, each brand has different devices at different price points, however we will compare them as closely as we can.

Quick History

KEF Quick History

KEF has a long and distinguished history. The company was founded in 1961 in Maidstone, Kent, by Raymond Cook OBE, a BBC engineer. The British company specializes in designing and producing high-end audio products, including speakers, subwoofers, and headphones.

KEF introduced Uni-Q, the world’s first coincident source speaker driver, in 1988, and it still remains a landmark feature in nearly all its speakers today.

kef speakers history

The first KEF speaker, the three-way K1, was built from synthetic materials. In 1973, the company became the first loudspeaker manufacturer to implement the use of computers in loudspeaker design and measurement in the whole world.

It continued to develop the use of acoustical, mechanical, and magnetic modeling techniques in speaker design including the Finite Element Analysis in the 2000s, and revealed the Acoustic Compliance Enhancement (ACE) in 2005. In the 2010s, KEF launched the BLADE, EGG wireless speakers, and MUO portable speakers among other brands.

Paradigm Quick History

Paradigm is a Canadian manufacturer of floorstanding and freestanding loudspeakers, home theater systems, stereos and subwoofers. Paradigm started operations in Toronto, Ontario in 1982. All Paradigm manufacturing was relocated to a new factory in Mississauga, Ontario, in 1999.

Paradigm’s business plan from the onset has always included an intense, ongoing program of study into the nature of sound and human hearing. PARC, the Paradigm Advanced Research Center, was founded in Ottawa in 1993 by two senior NRC experts. PARC is a cutting-edge facility dedicated to the design and programming of electronics, software (including DSP and CADD), and other advanced audio technologies.

Sound Quality

KEF Sound Quality

KEF engineers classy, superb-sounding speakers and is one of the finest manufacturers of British hi-fi audio equipment. This is why audiophiles around the world revered KEF for its innovative, high-performance audio systems.

KEF’s company’s ethos are based on R&D, engineering, design, and development found in their trademark technology including:

  • Their Uni-Q driver array and Metamaterial Absorption Technology ensure that KEF speakers produce high-quality natural surround sound.
  • The Metamaterial Absorption Technology is a complex maze-like structure that helps the speaker absorb up to 99% of unwanted sound resulting in less distortion and pure, natural sound.
  • The Single Apparent Source technology helps to eliminate interference and contributes to clear, accurate, authentic, and immersive sound.

Paradigm Sound Quality

What makes Paradigm loudspeakers appealing? The paradigm’s outstanding sound quality results from a long-running program of fundamental audio research that dates back to the company’s inception.

No other loudspeaker company puts their research to the same rigorous testing and measurement as Paradigm does. This is done at one of the largest and most advanced speaker manufacturing companies in North America.

The Premier 800F from Paradigm has amazing sound quality, with a super clear midrange that improves vocals and enough well-integrated low frequencies to satisfy bass fans – and it doesn’t require a lot of power to drive. It’s about as good as a speaker can get for the money.

Features

KEF Features

Here are the main features of KEF products:

  • Uni-Q drivers for the elimination of “sweet spots” and enhancement of surround sound
  • Tweeters mounted into the center of the mid
  • Metamaterial Absorption Technology for eliminating distortion and enhancing the production of pure, natural sound
  • Flexible Port Technology
  • Single Apparent Source Technology

Paradigm Features

Paradigm has been around for a long time and is often regarded as one of the best value speakers available.

Many speaker companies would “update” a popular lineup every 3 to 4 years, but Paradigm went back to the design board every time to be able to improve their features for the convenience of the users.

Below are some of the best features of paradigm speakers.

  • High-quality wireless streaming
  • Aesthetic appeal
  • Options for wall-mounting
  • Low-frequency extension 27Hz (DIN)
  • Maximum input power 180 watt
  • Sensitivity room/anechoic 92dB/89dB
  • The Paradigm subwoofer control app features a Bluetooth connection to make setup and configuration easier.

Build Quality

KEF Build Quality

KEF speakers are designed to look acoustically exceptional and attractive. Besides, they are precisely built to the outstanding standards of KEF.

kef vs b&w

The Reference cabinets are built using finite element analysis to precisely determine bracing geometry and shape and reduce secondary radiation.

kef speaker build quality

The Constrained Layer Damping applied to the finish helps turn any little vibrations into heat that is quickly dissipated.

Paradigm Build Quality

Paradigm claims that all of its speakers are designed and manufactured in Canada. They don’t say “Made in Canada,” though.

PARADIGM speakers

This could indicate that many of the components, such as the drivers and crossover components, are made in another country. This is, however, true of most loudspeakers today, and in fact, the majority of the Premier line’s competition is made wholly in China.

However, most Paradigm products have a solid build and are carefully designed for durability. For example, Paradigm speaker enclosures are made of sound-absorbing medium- and high-density hardboard.

Internal standing waves are eliminated by using acoustic dampening material inside the enclosure. Outside, low-diffraction grilles are used to reduce interference. The diaphragm of their speakers is also mostly made of beryllium foil.

Finally, a multi-step, hand-buffed, furniture-grade finish is applied to create a work of audio art that you will be happy to show off in your home.

Ease of Use

KEF Ease Of Use

The Reference speakers are clearly undemanding in terms of positioning and space as they are sleek and compact. The REF5 and REF107 are good examples.

They are easy to fine-tune to conform to your listening area using the Flexible Port Technology. Also, the speakers and subwoofers come with remote control systems that make them easier to navigate without changing your sitting position.

Paradigm Ease Of Use

Paradigm products come with a manual to help users who are not familiar with the product set up their speakers with ease.

Additionally, Paradigm makes setup and configuration easier because they have high-quality wireless streaming, ports for easy connectivity such as (HDMI, and AUX), remote control support, and the Paradigm subwoofer software application with Bluetooth connectivity, paradigm devices are quite simple to set up and operate.

Users can mix and match speaker combinations of various designs and sizes with Paradigm products, which is very handy for people who have home theaters.

Cost

KEF Cost

Speakers: $50 to $5,000

Subwoofers: $40 – $2000

Headphones: $50 – $500

Paradigm Cost

The use of Paradigm beryllium is one of the features that make Paradigm products cost a bunch. Pure Beryllium foil has been precisely developed to be exponentially stiffer and much lighter than other premium diaphragm materials.

Beryllium is the very best diaphragm material. It has superior transient responsiveness, it is practically transparent, and has negligible audible character. It’s also a substance that’s generally only found in considerably more expensive speakers.

On average, paradigm products are neither cheap nor expensive, it all depends on what you’re looking for. For example, the Paradigm CI home H-55 inwall speaker is sold for about $200, while the Paradigm CI pro-P5-LCR shallow inwall speaker is sold for about $2200.

Here are some price ranges for the different devices from Paradigm audio:

Home speakers: $200 – $2000

Headphones: $50 – $300

Subwoofers: $100 – $1000

Space Requirements

KEF Space Requirements

Vintage KEF speakers do tend to be large and bulky, but this generally applies to all vintage speakers.

KEF considers placement while designing its speakers to make it easier to enjoy listening to surround, even in small spaces. They are therefore small and easy to install. The speakers are also designed with smooth edges to make it easier to place them anywhere in the room.

Paradigm Space Requirements

One of the many advantages of using Paradigm audio systems is the product’s construction. Paradigm has been persistent in creating its product in such a way that it does not take up too much space.

In addition, the paradigm’s loudspeaker and subwoofer products are mostly in-wall, on-wall, and free-standing.

Some Paradigm speakers can be rather heavy however, for example, the Paradigm’s Persona 9H weighs in at a massive 190 pounds.

Remote Controls

KEF Remote Controls

KEF speakers come with remote controls. However, KEF also sells replacement remote control systems separately to make life easier for their product users.

The replacement remote controls are classified into HiFi, standard V1, or Luxury V2. They sell at different prices and come with different features, with the Luxury V2 remote system having the most variety of features.

Paradigm Remote Controls

The Paradigm sound remote control features a wireless range of 5-10 meters and still works perfectly fine. This gives users the ability to operate the speakers even when they are not in close range.

Only a few Paradigm speakers, such as the shift series and the Paradigm MilleniaOne CT Speaker, have a remote control.

In addition to remote control, the Paradigm subwoofer has a control app that is available on both the Apple store for IOS users and the Google Play Store for Android users. The app includes voice assistance, which can respond to a simple voice command that simplifies setup and adjustment.

Connectivity Options

KEF Connectivity Options

Here are the main connectivity options compatible with most KEF speakers:

  • Bluetooth
  • Wi-Fi
  • RCA
  • HDMI

Paradigm Connectivity Options

Here are the main connectivity options compatible with most paradigm speakers:

  • Bluetooth
  • Wi-Fi
  • RCA
  • HDMI

Power Range

KEF Power Range

KEF speakers can rock up to 1000 watts of power and work perfectly well with amplifiers of between 15W and 300W.

The headphones can deliver up to 5mW maximum power output. On the other hand, the subwoofers consume up to 1000W peak power with up to 300W RMS recommended amplifier power.

Paradigm Power Range

Obviously, the power consumption of paradigm devices varies. The power range of an entry-level Paradigm receiver, for example, is around 100 watts.

However, the usual power range is around 400 watts, implying that Paradigm gadgets consume more power than a few other companie’s products.

To get the most out of your focal device, it’s a good idea to read the user manual to figure out what power range it has.

Frequency Response

KEF Frequency Response

KEF specifies a frequency range of up to 47 kHz. The low end of this range depends on the bass extension setting used. However, a wide range of KEF speakers responds well between 64 Hz to 28 kHz.

Paradigm Frequency Response

When it comes to frequency response, the Paradigm monitor 11, for example, has a frequency response of 2dB from 42 Hz to 18 kHz, However, a good frequency response ranges from 20 Hz–20 kHz at 3dB. This indicates that the monitor 11 frequency response isn’t particularly good.

This frequency range is also true for most Paradigm products, but this does not greatly affect sound production.

Conclusion

For over 50 years, Kef remains a reputable hi-fi brand. The sound quality is superb and the speakers are easy to install. The vintage speakers are however bulky and will require large spaces for placement. On the other hand, Paradigm produces great speakers that will provide sterling performance in any two-channel (stereo) or high-fidelity system. If you wish to use them in a home theater system, you will also not be disappointed.

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