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Live Stream Replay – Focal VS Paradigm VS Kudos Audio

Paradigm Persona B

We performed a trio test on Friday 24 April: the Focal Sopra No1 versus the Paradigm Persona B versus the Kudos Titan 505. Three masterful bookshelve speakers – monitor speakers – each with their own strong points. We have used our live stream set-up to show what they are capable of. We also shared our measurements with you. Do you want to look back? You can!

Three amazingly beautiful speakers. Now, when do we have a chance to listen to that in one session? Exactly. Almost never. What a terrible job we have :-).

We have the Focal Sopra No1, the Paradigm Persona B and the Kudos Audio Titan 505 in our listening room. Three expensive speakers. But believe us, you know what you’re paying for when you connect them to your amp(s). To give you an idea, we put them in front of the camera for you. And we record the output.

Ow: to get them in your own living room, you’ll need about 10,000 euros. And then there’s the amps, sources and cabling. In short, we’re in the major leagues. Let’s run them by one by one!

Focal Sopra No1

Followers of Alpha Audio know that we have been playing with the Focal Sopra No1 for years. It’s just a very fine speaker. It’s rich in detail, fast, easy to drive, it’s quite simple to match and we can immediately notice differences. In addition, this is – in our opinion – the most beautiful beryllium tweeter we know. No edgy or rough high frequencies. Just sliky smoothness.

Now we can start typing long stories about this Focal. We know this speaker like the back of our hand, of course. But we’ll keep it short. The Focal sounds very balanced (and measures almost like a straight-line!). Pretty energetic – you’re quickly drawn into the music – but not intrusive. The bass goes remarkably deep – but not as deep as a TAD, for example – and holds up well with more complex pieces. That’s an achievement for a monitor speaker, because many midrange models just have limits in the deep bass.

A great strength of the Focal is space and airyness. The stereo image is large. Both in height, width and depth. Your editor finds this particularly important, since air in the presentation contributes to a very large extent to the musical experience. When we play intimate vocal work, we hear the acoustics of the recording room and the artist is right in front of us. If we switch to grand electronic house piece, the space is filled and effects fly around our ears. And that is how it is supposed to be in this price class. That’s what you invest in when you buy a speaker of this calibre. And Focal delivers. It’s as simple as that.

Now the Focal is not supercritical on control, but know that you immediately hear what you put behind it. So scaling up in quality makes sense. But it is not necessary to combine it with a beast of a power amplifier. Just make sure you have a clean system.

 

Model System Sensitivity Freq. Response Units Weight Country Sound Price
Focal Sopra No1 2-way bass reflex 89dB 45 Hz – 40 kHz Beryllium tweeter, W-cone woofer 19 Kg / 19 Kg (stand) FR Open, fast, 3D, powerful and balanced 8000 incl stands

Measurements

The Focal measures excellent. Especially the linear behaviour is striking, also off axis and at a distance. Also, the distortion is already under control from 70 Hz and up. There are models that perform better in the deep bass, but the Focal gives a very balanced overall image. Coherence seems to have been the goal here.

Paradigm Persona B

We were looking forward to the Paradigm Persona B. Partly because of the very good demo at High End a few years ago. It took a long time before the real series was ready for production and delivery. Partly because of the complexity of the hybrid versions with active bass.

The Persona B is the bookshelf version. And with a price of 10,000 euros per pair including stands, you are in the premier league. So, a clean, stable system to drive it is always important with speakers that are this fast and transparent.

Superfast

As soon as we play we immediately hear that this is a very fast speaker. That’s not surprising, considering the use of Beryllium. Both for the tweeter and the woofer. Right: a beryllium woofer. Now your author expected a completely different sound image: much fresher and much brighter. But that’s not the case with this Paradigm. On the contrary, it is rather layed back in the mid-area.

The bass is just like the mid-area (layed back) and the higher-area is very fast. And with that also very tight and rich in detail. On that level it surpasses every speaker we’ve had so far in our listening room. Also the Focal. Angel – by Massive Attack – is so easy to follow that it’s just scary. Every layer in the music is easy to follow, nothing slips… it’s bizarre.

Colleague Yung would like to use this speaker for mixing. Not so much on sound balance – they are not directly suitable for that; it is not tuned linearly, as you can see in the measurements – but on detail, reverb, layering. That’s where this speaker really shines.

 

Model System Sensitivity Freq. Response Units Weight Country Sound Price
Paradigm Persona B 2-way bass reflex 89dB 60 Hz – 45 kHz +/- 2dB – 36 Hz feasible Beryllium woofer and tweeter 14 kg Canada Very quickly. Very detailed. Relaxed mid, rich in bass detail. 10.000 with stands

Measurements

Just a quick word about these measurements. The Paradigm Persona B has a dip in the mid-area. We’ve tried everything we can to explain this. More distance to the mic, different angles and seperate measurements for low and high. The dip is just in the speaker and therefore must be a conscious choice.

The distortion is very low. Right from 20 Hz. Especially the 4th – 6th harmonics dip very deep. That’s very impressive and we almost never see. Also the impulse measurement shows how fast this loudspeaker is. This is technically a masterpiece. The tuning is a matter of taste.

Kudos Audio Titan 505

Kudos has recently became available in the Netherlands. Importer Latham now has it in its assortment and the first dealers are starting to register. Beautiful! Because this is a fine brand. Lovely British. Classic look, but make no mistake: the inside is ultramodern.

We find units from Seas that are made specificly made for Kudos. The panels on the sides are disconnected from the cabinet, so resonances don’t stand a chance. And at the back we see the possibility of active or passive filtering. Super smart, because this gives growth possibilities. And we love that.

The reproduction of these Kudos is friendly. It’s less focused on energy than the Focal and the Paradigm. This is undoubtedly due to the tweeter which is completely different: no beryllium, but a Seas soft dome. Still, it feels nice and open and easy on the ear. A speaker you can listen to for hours without getting tired.

The bass is powerful, deep and detailed. Our model had been playing for about 100 hours, so it will loosen up a bit more when more hours are played with this Brit. Still, we really enjoy listening to the whole thing. Regardless of the genre we play: disco, house, vocal, blues… everything just plays nicely. Exactly what you can expect in this class.

A speaker for a genre? Ow, come on. Stop it: a speaker should play any genre. And so does this Kudos… You ask, we play!

 

Model System Sensitivity Freq. Response Units Weight Country Sound Price
Kudos Titan 505 2-way isobaric 87dB 40 Hz – 30 kHz SEAS drivers (29mm fabric dome tweeter, paper cone woofer) 18 Kg without stand GB Relax, but open. Widely deployable, powerful bass 10.000 with stands

Measurements

Briefly about the measurements: these are perfectly fine. The Kudos is pretty linearly tuned. And that is audible. The presentation is nice and coherent. Distortion is low. Even a bit lower than the Focal. The Paradigm has a slightly higher THD, but wins with very low 4th – 6th harmonics. All in all a technically beautiful product!

Overview

Model System Sensitivity Freq. Response Units Weight Country Sound Price
Focal Sopra No1 2-way bass reflex 89dB 45 Hz – 40 kHz Beryllium tweeter, W-cone woofer 19 Kg / 19 Kg (stand) FR Open, fast, 3D, powerful and balanced 8000 incl stands
Kudos Titan 505 2-way isobaric 87dB 40 Hz – 30 kHz SEAS drivers (29mm fabric dome tweeter, paper cone woofer) 18 Kg without stand GB Relax, but open. Widely deployable, powerful bass 10.000 with stands
Paradigm Persona B 2-way bass reflex 89dB 60 Hz – 45 kHz +/- 2dB – 36 Hz feasible Beryllium woofer and tweeter 14 kg Can Very quickly. Very detailed. Relaxed mid, rich in bass detail. 10.000 with stands

Live Stream Multitest Monitor speakers

Check our lossless samples here. 

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