FLORIDA 2019: Anthem, Paradigm, Maximum, Tributaries, Clarus, Pro-Ject, Salamander Designs and the sound of science


When Paradigm’s Persona series of speakers first launched a few years ago, I ran (well, drove) to my nearest dealer to hear them. When I arrived, it was also the day that the Persona’s 5F towers had arrived. I helped with the un-boxing and set-up, and was rewarded with getting that first listen. I returned a few weeks later to hear how well they were after an ample break-in period. They had improved from my sense memory, and possibly a little better positioning.


The Story

Most impressive during the launch and my time with Paradigm‘s Persona 5F tower was the use of Beryllium in their mid-range drivers. That metal driver produces a clean and fast sounding mid-range with absolutely no ringing or overhang. Fast forward to the Florida Audio Expo and I’m again sitting in front of a pair of Persona’s but now a hybrid version in the 9H tower. What makes the 9H tower unique in the Persona line other than its size, is that it combines a powered bass section, with a passive upper end. Furthermore, it comes equipped with Anthem’s Room Correction to optimize the bass frequencies to custom fit the listening environment. The Persona 9H is a $17,500 ea USD tower speaker, and it performs every bit like one.


After a few songs, we switch over to the smaller tower in the room, to which at first glance resembles the Persona series. If pressed, I’d even admit that I thought it was a Persona series speaker. However, it is not. Paradigm’s new Premier line of speakers share more than the looks of the Persona series, they share a sonic DNA. Shared is the patented Phase Aligning (PPA) tweeter and mid-range lens. The distinctive perforated lens in front of the tweeter and mid-range drivers increase and smooth output without coloring the sound, while also protecting the drivers from getting damaged. The Premier 800F tower speaker is priced to move at $999 ea USD. What is more amazing, is that the Premier series of loudspeakers are produced in the same factory as the Persona series, in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Anthem’s STR Preamplifier and STR Amplifier rounded out the system, offering ARC (Anthem Room Correction software in the STR Preamplifier. So even when we stepped away from the Persona 9H hybrid model with it’s own correction software, the same customization across all bandwidths was available for the much more affordable Premier 800F towers.

The Sound

The Persona 9H towers sound like a pair of $35,000 USD speakers at every turn. The Anthem Room Correction possibly takes them to another level, but at the price, I’m not giving them any passes. They instead deliver on all their promises. When we switched over to the Paradigm Premier 800F towers, I was shocked at how much of the Persona series sound was passed down the family tree. Of course the Anthem STR Preamplifier running the whole affair was indeed using the same Room Correction software, and the 800F’s benefited. Bass was portrayed in a balanced way that was full-range, but never overflowing the room size. Treble and Mid-Range seemed to have all the room they needed to sprawl out and cast a solid sound-stage.


The System


– STR Preamplifier – $3,999 USD

– STR Power Amplifier – $5,999 USD


– Persona 9H Loudspeakers – $35,000 pr USD

– Premier 800F Loudspeakers – $2,000 pr USD


– HAP-Z1ES HDD Audio Player – $1,999 USD

Salamander Designs

– Synergy Series Modular Audio Rack

All interconnect, speaker, and power cables by Clarus


  1. Wow, look at these prices, just insane. Just a little advice to Audiophiles: “Educate yourself first, knowledge can save you thousands, and think logically.” Is a pair of speaker cables priced $10.000 any better than those of $1.000? Can human ear hear all those frequencies? Is newer equipment better? Do you need fancy power cables, power bars, speaker spikes, special audio furniture, little speaker holders and some other nonsense? If you have money to burn it’s another story.

    • I think this is fine advice for food as well. You really don’t ever need to eat out. In fact, if you do eat out, you can probably just get by with fast food. Right? It’s all calories, in the end.

      Okay, that may not be the most fair analogy, but there is a point there worth poking at.

      Another set of points. 1) just because a thing is cheap doesn’t mean it’s good. 2) just because you want to pay less means that you’re doing yourself or your hobby any favors. 3) things are not cheap simply because we want them to be.

      Just some chicken-flavored sodium bombs to chew on.

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