The Inspiration’s imaging and soundstaging capabilities are likewise very good, with particular strengths in rendering soundstage width and depth. For an example of this quality in action, try the track “Tribute” from Ross William Perry’s It’ll All Make Sense [Kid Blue Music], where you may find, as I did, that the guitar sometimes plays from the far left side of the stage and from a position well behind the plane of the loudspeakers. My point is that the Inspirations do—on good recordings—a very fine job of creating a believable sense of place, a stage upon which the music can breathe.
Even so, I still hold some reservations regarding Paradigm’s use of diffraction-reducing grilles. My take is that this system works to a point, and better on the Inspirations than on most other Paradigm speakers I have heard, but that there is nevertheless an even higher level of three-dimensionality that might be achieved if Paradigm would explore some of the diffraction-minimization techniques competing speaker manufacturers have found beneficial (e.g., flush-mounted drivers, very gently radiused waveguide flanges where needed, cabinet faces with deeply radiused, smoothly curved, “fall-away” front-baffle surfaces, etc.). To be clear, the Inspirations never overtly draw unwanted attention to themselves, and their drive units are superb, but they are still not quite class-leaders in the sonic holography department.
Like most Paradigm speakers, the Inspirations are neutrally voiced and for the most part free from obvious colorations. With that said, however, I should add that, while the Inspirations deliver solid and satisfying midbass output, they offer relatively limited deep bass. Depending on your listening tastes and preferred types of music, you might not notice or particularly care about this characteristic. However, if you have your heart set on enjoying bass response reaching into or below the mid-30Hz region, then you might want to step up to Paradigm’s similarly voiced, but more full-range Tribute floorstander. (Indeed, a Paradigm marketing team member who shall remain nameless once quipped that the Inspiration, though a fine speaker in its own right, is probably “inspired to grow up to be a Tribute.”).
On the whole, I think listeners will find the Inspirations represent an awful lot of speaker for the money. For me, the dead-sure indicator of this was that, whenever I pictured possible sonic competitors for the Inspirations, I found I was automatically thinking of more costly speakers.
The Inspirations do a fine job of representing the whole spectrum of values for which Paradigm stands. They give us advanced materials and technology (e.g., the beryllium tweeter and anodized aluminum mid/bass driver with its distinctive corrugated surround), fine build-quality (the dark garnet-red Inspirations on their matching stands are a sight to behold), and great value for money. But most of all, they provide an accurate, engaging, high-integrity sound, which is what has attracted so many followers to the Paradigm brand for the past thirty years.
SPECS & PRICING
Type: Two-way, bass-reflex, stand-mount monitor
Driver complement: One 1" beryllium dome tweeter, one 7" anodized aluminum mid/bass driver
Crossover frequency: 2kHz
Frequency range: 54Hz–45kHz +/-2dB, on axis
Sensitivity: 92dB (in room), 89dB (anechoic)
Nominal impedance: 8 ohms
Dimensions: 8.25" x 14.625" x 13.125"
Weight: 24 lbs. each
Price: $2599 (optional Inspiration stands, $999)
Paradigm Electronics Inc.
205 Annagem Blvd.
Mississauga, ON L5T 2V1 Canada